Having a career in the military can be a great way to provide for your family with a steady paycheck. In addition to basic pay, your service member will also receive BAH, BAS, and other special pays based on what they are doing during their military career. If they deploy, they might earn extra military pay, and when re-enlisting, they might earn a bonus.
Money can be a sticky subject but there are some things to be aware of when it comes to money and military life. Here are a few things to keep in mind whether you are new to military life or have been a military spouse for some time.
Usaa and NavyFed pay a day early
Both USAA and NavyFed will pay a day early. This can get a little confusing when the 1st or the 15th falls on the weekend or even a Monday. There always seems to be some questions about when you will actually be paid. Here is a list of 2019 USAA Paydays and 2019 NavyFed Paydays.
Raises might take time
Your spouse comes home and tells you they got a raise. You re-do the budget to reflect the raise, but then, the next time they get paid, you don’t see the extra money. Raises are not always going to happen in a timely manner. The good news is, they will receive back pay based on the date they did get the raise, once it goes into effect.
If the military screws up pay, you will have to pay it back
Is your spouse still getting extra deployment pay after they get home? Does it seem like you are getting extra BAH? If you notice anything like that, please know that eventually, the military will figure it out, even if you don’t tell them.
And when they do, they will take that money back quickly. If you or your spouse notice an issue, your service member should talk to Finance, and make sure not to spend any of that extra money or you will find yourself in trouble when the military takes it back.
Saving money is always a good idea
Savings during military life is always a good idea. You never know when you might need that extra cushion. A PCS might cost you more than you think, military pay could get messed up and your spouse might end up with a less than normal paycheck, or you might need to take an emergency trip back home.
Setting up automatic savings is easy. You can usually do so with your bank. Even if you can only save $20 extra dollars a month, that can add up. Take a look at your budget and figure out where you can start saving.
You 100% need a budget
If you don’t already have a budget, start today. Having a budget is going to help you stay on top of your money. You need to take a look at all the income you and your spouse are bringing in and where all of your money goes.
Keeping a budget will also help you stay on track at the grocery store, what you spend on fun, and for clothing and other items your family needs. USAA has free budgeting tools and Mint has some free budget templates you can use.
Moving back to the US can shock your budget
If you have been stationed overseas, and move back to the US, you can be in for some sticker shock. There are a lot of expenses that can come up when you move back to the states from overseas.
You might end up living in a hotel longer than you thought you would, and could be tempted by all the stores and restaurants you have been without during your time in another country. Be smart with that and try not to go too crazy when you first move back. You will also be losing COLA, which you might have gotten used to receiving each month so make plans to redo your budget, even before you arrive back in the states.
Use a bonus wisely
During your service member’s time in the military, they might be able to earn a bonus. If they do, you are going to want to make sure to use that bonus wisely. Think about what would be best for your family.
You can use a bonus to pay off debt, put towards a new home, take a trip, save for retirement, or pad your savings. While spending a bonus upgrading all your electronics or buying a brand new car can be tempting, make sure to make wise choices with any extra money that comes into your home.