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Military Servicemembers Display Financial Preparedness During COVID-19 While Borrowing Activity Increases

February 23, 2021

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) and Wells Fargo’s latest military financial readiness survey highlights the financial health of military households.


“By clearly outlining the unique financial challenges of military families and veterans, our survey presents a roadmap that helps us take action based on areas of greatest need.”

Members of the armed forces, their spouses and veterans are no exception when it comes to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and financial well-being. According to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) 2020 Military Financial Readiness survey, sponsored by Wells Fargo and conducted by Harris Poll, it is clear, among military households that their professional training left them better prepared for crisis management during the past year. With a continued reliance on an uncertain gig economy and a trend toward increased reliance on borrowing, military and veteran populations see a distinct mix of challenges and opportunities when it comes to personal finances.

While almost three-quarters of service members and more than half of veterans credit their military training for their pandemic preparedness, more active-duty military households have been impacted financially by COVID-19 than veterans and others in the general population. That level of preparedness may come in handy as reliance on the gig economy remains high for military households during a time when the private sector economy has not fully recovered from the initial impact of the pandemic.

“Financial readiness of service members and veterans has been a key focus of our work since the very beginning,” said Rebecca Steele, President & CEO of the NFCC. “By clearly outlining the unique financial challenges of military families and veterans, our survey presents a roadmap that helps us take action based on areas of greatest need.”

Key Survey Findings for Military Households and Veterans

The COVID-19 pandemic may be a contributing factor to increased payday loan usage, as 52% reported difficulty finding adequate loan options during the pandemic.

  • Active duty servicemembers are more than 2x as likely to have taken out a cash advance or payday loan in 2020 than in 2019.


Complications with Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves during the pandemic may have contributed to military spouses’ employment challenges and destabilized their employment status.

  • 1 in 5 military spouses said they were not at all financially prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic.


Many servicemembers report positive financial behaviors despite the challenges they faced.

  • More than half (56%) of active duty servicemembers say they keep a budget.


While many veterans are confident in their ability to meet financial commitments some express concerns.

  • Almost half of all veterans (49%) wish they had more information about financial resources specifically for veterans, and a similar amount (50%) feel there are not enough financial resources available specifically for veterans.

“The pandemic has amplified the need for more affordable sources of credit for service members who may be facing gaps in income,” said Darlene Goins, head of Financial Health Philanthropy at Wells Fargo. “With Wells Fargo’s support, NFCC offers free access to financial coaching to help military households plan, create a budget and prepare for future emergencies. Ultimately, the goal is to create a safe space to work through financial challenges.”

Military family and veteran assistance from nonprofit NFCC counseling agencies can be found by calling 877-404-6322 or visiting

About the NFCC
Founded in 1951, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) is the nation’s first and largest nonprofit dedicated to improving people’s financial well-being. With a national network of member offices serving 50 states and Puerto Rico, our NFCC® Certified Credit Counselors are financial advocates, empowering millions of consumers to take charge of their finances through one-on-one financial reviews that address credit card debt, student loans, housing decisions and overall money management. Make one of the best financial decisions of your life. For expert guidance and advice, call (800) 388-2227 or visit today.

About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company is a leading financial services company that has approximately $1.9 trillion in assets and proudly serves one in three U.S. households and more than 10% of all middle market companies in the U.S. We provide a diversified set of banking, investment, and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through our four reportable operating segments: Consumer Banking and Lending; Commercial Banking; Corporate and Investment Banking; and Wealth and Investment Management. Wells Fargo ranked No. 30 on Fortune’s 2020 rankings of America’s largest corporations. In the communities we serve, the company focuses its social impact on building a sustainable, inclusive future for all by supporting housing affordability, small business growth, financial health, and a low-carbon economy. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.

Additional information may be found at | Twitter: @WellsFargo.