Americans employed in the U.S. Armed Forces are more likely to be overleveraged financially when compared to their civilian counterparts. The Investor Education Foundation of FINRA, the largest independent securities regulator in the U.S., conducted the survey of servicemen and women to foster good investment sense in this heretofore underserved segment of the population. More military members are paying a mortgage, and more tend to have larger amounts of credit card debt, when compared to the civilian population. The survey shows just more than half of military respondents (51%) report owning a home, compared with 57% of civilians. Nearly all military homeowners (93%) reported having a mortgage, far greater than the 64% among civilians. The report also found age gaps are a likely driver of the results, as more respondents from the military were not yet old enough to have paid a 30-year mortgage in full. For example, only 31% of those between 18 and 29 reported owning a home, compared with 51% of those between 30 and 39, and 72% of respondents 40 or older. Credit card use appears even more pervasive among military families than civilians. Nearly half (45%) of military credit card holders engaged in two or more transactions that resulted in interest charges or fees. About 14% of military respondents reported having both a mortgage and a credit card balance of $10,000 or more. “The survey results show that, while our men and women in uniform are doing better in some areas than civilians, they are also significantly deeper in debt than the general population,” said John Gannon, president of the FINRA foundation. The military survey from FINRA was developed in consultation with the Department of the Treasury and the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy, and represents the first such data set of its kind. Write to Jacob Gaffney.

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