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Written by: Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®, Martie Gillen, Ph.D., MBA, AFC®, CFLE, & Nichole Huff, Ph.D., CFLE

To effectively serve clients, Personal Financial Managers must stay current with trending financial topics. By doing so, they can deliver relevant content in briefings and anticipate questions to prepare responses for.

Below is a brief description of five trending financial topics related to current events, economics, legislation, and consumer behavior. Implications for military families are described.

High Inflation

Two years of above-average inflation have raised the price of many goods and services (e.g., food, housing, utilities, airfares), thereby reducing purchasing power. Like a regressive sales tax, inflation’s impact is felt the most by those with low and moderate incomes (e.g., junior enlisted military personnel). While the consumer price index (CPI) has trended downward from 9.1% in June 2022, many high prices still remain.

Increased Insurance Costs

Property insurance premiums (both auto and homeowners) have risen significantly in recent years, putting a strain on military family finances. A primary reason is increased costs for auto parts, building materials (e.g., lumber and roofing materials), and labor. PFMs can help clients review their coverage and make inquiries about potential policy discounts.

Increasing Debt

Rising interest rates as a result of 11 Federal Reserve interest rate hikes since March 2022 have increased interest charged on variable-rate credit cards and loans. This, coupled with inflationary pressure on prices, has led many households to take on more debt just to pay living expenses. Service members face additional challenges such as PCS moving expenses and loss of a spouse’s income.

Entrepreneurship Paths

One of the career tracks for the military Transition Assistance Program (TAP) is entrepreneurship. In addition to starting a full-time business, viable self-employment paths that have emerged in recent years include the gig economy (i.e., project-based independent contracting as a freelancer), content creation (e.g., a blog) with affiliate link payments, and social media influencing with sponsored advertising.

Online Gambling

Young males, the largest demographic within military ranks, are especially attracted to online gambling. Online gambling in all forms (sports betting, casinos, poker, etc.) is on the rise, and legalized sports betting has spread nationwide. As of November 2023, 38 states plus Washington DC offer legal sports betting in some format; further, 26 states allow online sports betting via either smartphone apps or websites.

For additional information about recent financial trends, check out these on-demand webinars:

Credit: By Coloures-Pic on Adobe Stock