Why Military Millennials Have More Financial Sense

I am a veteran, and Navy Federal’s “Millennials and Their Money” highlights something I know to be true.

I am a millennial. Studies and statistics suggest many people in my generation lack financial discipline, but I’ve never felt that way about myself. And I have the military to thank.

My name is Mike Zaleski. I am a veteran, a former credit union employee, and currently an account management coordinator at Callahan & Associates. I know I am somewhat different from my generation, and Navy Federal’s 2017 Millennials and Their Money survey shows I’m not alone.

Current and former military millennials are nearly twice as satisfied with their current financial situation compared to their civilian counterparts. According to the survey, 51% of military as the survey calls current service members and 49% of veteran millennial respondents former service members indicated they are satisfied. This is in stark contrast to non-military millennials, who report only 24% satisfaction.

Why? because we servicemen and women have several financial advantages baked into our lifestyle and training.

For one, I’m not buried under a mountain of student loan debt like others in my generation. That contributes to my personal financial satisfaction and long-term outlook. In fact, according to the Navy Fed study, 91% of military and 92% of veteran millennials are on track to meet financial goals, compared to 75% of non-military millennials.

Beyond debt, the difference in satisfaction can be partially attributed to the higher average household income that service members have, though it is also important to consider financial attitudes. According to the survey, military and veteran millennials are nearly twice as likely to rely on financial advice from professionals than non-military millennials and also are more interested than their peers in using virtual or online agents to aid in financial management, according to the study. ContentMiddleAd

Military and veteran millennials’ preference for professional advice lines up directly with one of the most common sayings in the military: Don’t remake the wheel. Service members are trained to learn from and apply what others have done before them. This attitude seems to carry into their finances.

The structure of military pay and quality of role models are two more factors responsible for the financial savvy of current and former service members.

Unlike many civilian jobs, military pay structure is segmented similar to a household budget. In addition to their base pay, service men and women receive allowances for housing and clothing, and those with dependents receive additional payments. This makes budgeting simple: If I only receive $1,650.00 in allowance for housing, I know how much I can afford to spend on a house.

The morale of our service members can be greatly impacted by factors outside of the workplace, such as spending time away from and providing for growing families. As a result, commissioned and non-commissioned officers take a hands-on approach to mentoring their soldiers.

During my time in the Army, we had annual briefings on finances and resources available. Sure, we all groaned about sitting through these presentations or as we called them, Death by PowerPoint but there was a wealth of good information in them. By the time I was honorably discharged, I had received dozens of hours of education and assistance that my civilian friends had not, which has helped me develop into the financially responsible individual I am today.

The military provided me a place to finish growing up during my young adulthood. As young adults, the structured lifestyle gives us an opportunity to develop personal, professional, and financial skills while being surrounded by the best support structure in the world. Our nation’s armed forces pride themselves on creating the best soldiers in the world and in the process, they also create well-rounded professionals with a keen financial savvy.

October 2, 2017

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