Paycheck Chronicles

Between the Services...Inconsistancy


My family is vacationing at the next military base over, staying at a small cabin.  We're on an Army camp and in the two days we've been here, I've noticed a lot of differences in cost between different things here and on our Navy base.  It got me thinking...why isn't there more consistancy?  Why does everything have to be so different?  I certainly understand economic factors, but I often question what seems to be the vagueries of how things get funded, which means how much I pay for things.

In this trip, I've noticed that the laundromat is twice as expensive here, but the car vacuum is less expensive.  The swimming pool costs a lot more here, a way lot! Upon further reflection, these are just small examples of the bigger picture of being a military family.  Services, such as child care, the gym, and the pool cost money to run, and military families pay for a portion of those costs.  What gets a little whacky is when different pots of money are allocated towards different programs, and the remaining portion that is paid by the consumer (us!) varies greatly, depending on what pot of money is paying for which program at which time.

Simple example? A few years back, we were stationed on an Army base and registered our kids with Child and Youth Services on base. The registration didn't really do anything except allow us to register for other CYS programs. I think we paid $30 to register our kids, then a few months later came the big announcement that a new program had started that was going to waive all CYS registration fees. Wouldn't surprise me one bit if that new program has since run out of money, and now people are paying again. After all, that's the way it is, right?

My children have even noticed this cycle. My oldest got to participate in a great teen adventure camp this summer, courtesy of the Navy. The second daughter lamented that she wouldn't be old enough for two summers, and that "by then, the money for this program will be gone." Sad thing is, she's probably right. Programs are planned, get funded for a few years, then languish in the land of lost funding. Doesn't seem to be a very efficient way to allocate your money, does it?

I'd love to hear your wacky funding stories, if you have any. Or if you just want to vent, go right ahead. We're here for you.

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