Warning, major vent ahead. If you're not in the mood to read it, skip ahead.
My husband's 1 February 2011 pay was deposited to our Navy Federal Checking account last night. Yesterday was 27 January. There is no holiday this weekend. They just deposited it early as part of their new "early deposit" benefit for active duty military members who have their special Active Duty checking account.
I understand why Navy Federal has made this change to their accounts. I'm sure they got millions of calls every payday, with customers asking "when will my pending pay actually be available." That was a lot of work just to explain that the pay would be available on payday. Also, they were probably losing customers to USAA or one of the smaller banks or credit unions who releases pay funds one day early.
I'm sure many people will think that early pay is a benefit, but I don't. On a personal level, we have a budget and it is based on getting paid on the actual payday. I like knowing when we will get paid. Heck, I've been thinking about going to once a month pay because I think it would be simpler. Getting paid early means that there is all this extra money sitting in my account, just asking to be spent.
From my perspective here at The Paycheck Chronicles, I think this is an educational nightmare. I already have readers who swear that I am an idiot for stating that the paydays are on the 1st and 15th, with weekend and holiday adjustments. I don't care if people think I'm dumb, but I do care that military members don't know when they get paid. Every time there is the slightest ambiguity about payday, my email and comments are flooded with people who want to know what day they will have access to their funds. It would be very helpful to those people if I could give them one answer: you will get paid on payday. But no, the banks and credit unions have to make that difficult. It has turned into this ridiculous game of "well, if you have bank A, you might get paid on Friday or you might get paid on Monday" and "if you have bank B, you should see your pay on Saturday but not on Friday." My readers are often searching for coins under the couch cushions to make it to payday, and I can't even give them a semi-educated guess when they might get paid again.
I've gotten quite a few comments from readers that these unpredictable pays make it hard to budget, and I agree. What is supposed to be a benefit turns into a problem when people can't anticipate the day that they will see their pay. At least with USAA, it is supposed to be one day early (though it seems that it is often more than one day). I can't even figure out what Navy Federal's schedule is supposed to be. In addition to these two huge institutions, there are dozens of smaller banks and credit unions that have their own pay posting procedures.
My last complaint (I promise) is that posting deposits early has the potential to make long pay periods even worse. I'm not sure how this is going to work out in real life, but I can totally see a situation where, due to early depositing, an already long pay period get stretched even further between paychecks. I really, really hope this doesn't happen, but it seems rather inevitable to me. The banks and credit unions are at the mercy of DFAS to release the pay information. There are going to be times when DFAS doesn't release that information to the banks as early as usual. Throw in a weekend, or a holiday, and who knows what might happen. I hope I'm wrong.
Okay, vent over. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.