Paycheck Chronicles

From The Mailbag: First Military Pay


If I had the power to force recruiters to explain just one thing to their recruits, it would be to give them realistic expectations about when they will see their first military pay arrive.  All new recruits need to know this information, but it is particularly important for enlistees who have left a family at home.

I get letters like this all the time:

My husband left on the 23 of August for the Air Force. We have 2 kids and a paycheck hasn't posted. I'm getting worried because he's the sole income. I don't know who I should talk to but I don't have any money left. Do you know who I can contact? These letters make me sad and frustrated and angry all at the same time.  I get enough of them that I understand that people have unrealistic expectations about when their spouses is going to get paid.  I don't know if that is just people being unrealistic, or if there is something happening at the recruiters thatHere is my response:

Military paydays are on the 1st and 15th of the month, unless they fall on the weekend or a holiday, in which case they are paid on the business day prior to the weekend or the holiday.  First military pay typically takes between 3 and 6 weeks to be paid, and the money is deposited into the account that the service member designated during his initial processing paperwork.  It will be paid back to the start, but that doesn't help you now.

Because he started on the 23rd of August, I would guesstimate that his first pay will come either today or on the 30th of September.  If he had your bank account information, it should be deposited to that account.  If he did not have the correct bank account information, he may have had to open a new account.  Have you been able to talk to him at all yet?

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do and no one that you can call, for two reasons.  First, because your husband is the only person who can deal with his pay issues.  Second, because there isn't anything to fix.  It's normal.

In the meantime, do you have any savings or available credit you can use to pay the bare essentials?  Can you borrow from your family?  Call your creditors and explain the situation...they may be able to give you a little leeway, or at least there will be a note on your account about why your payment is late.  Focus on the things you NEED:  food, diapers, gasoline if you need it to drive kids to school or the doctors.

I'm sorry that the recruiter did not tell you to prepare for this.  You may find this article helpful:

Good luck to you!

If you know people who are joining the military, please share this information with them.  Being the "at home" family when your loved one goes to basic military training is hard; it is much harder when you are stressed about money.

And c'mon, recruiters, get with it!

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