As everyone should have heard by now, Congress came to an agreement and passed another continuing resolution to fund the government until Thursday, by which time they say that they will have passed a budget. In the short term, this means that military families should not have to worry about the 14 April 2011 pay, and no ones leave will be canceled, and the commissaries will remain open.
Long term, however, there is still much to consider. Our country is in horrible financial shape, and the 2012 budget is likely to be just as contentious as the 2011 budget. It is not at all unreasonable to think that we will find ourselves playing out this same scenario over and over again. Eventually, there will be a government shutdown and military pay will be delayed.
There are a million reasons why a service members could not get paid as expected. It could be that their reenlistment paperwork didn't get into the system properly. They could PCS and get "lost" in the system. They could have a huge overpayment and not know it until they discover that they have a zero paycheck due to a repayment. A garnishment could accidentally get attached to the wrong pay account. They could change banks and an account number could be mis-entered. The government could shut down without approving Defense Appropriations first. Heck, the current Congress could back out on their agreement and not sign a budget by next Friday.
Regardless of how or why military folks don't get paid, it happens. ALL THE TIME. Military families, just like any other family, must be financially prepared to go without their expected pay. Financial readiness is key to being a military family who thrives despite chaos instead of being crushed by it.
Over the next few weeks, I hope to focus on different aspects of financial readiness - increasing income, cutting living expenses, reducing indebtedness, and building savings. I know that it is hard, especially when you are not making much and especially if you have kids. However, hard doesn't mean that it can't be done. With enthusiasm and education, you can put yourself in a position where you can survive even if your pay is delayed.