In the week since I first asked if the federal government reaching the debt ceiling would impact military families, many more people have come out and made statements on the subject. People who are supposed to know these things. People like Admiral Mike Mullen, Representative Michele Bachmann, and Military.com's own Terry Howell. In general, everyone agrees that military pay should not be affected, but everyone also seems to agree that it is possible for military pay to be impacted by however this situation unfolds.
I'm not trying to be alarmist, I'm just trying to be practical. I don't think that the military will end up being a victim in the debt ceiling drama, but it could happen. The military is the biggest piece on this political chess board, and every player is going to use that piece in whatever way will help them accomplish their goals. From a personal standpoint, every person who relies on the military to pay their bills needs to understand this, and be prepared for the possibility that someday all this political posturing might just result in late pay, or interrupted benefits, or some other negative consequence for military families. This will probably end up being a bunch of unnecessary worrying, but the potential for serious consequences absolutely does exist. It makes me sick to think that military families are being used for political advantage, but it happens every day in one way or another. Threatening pay whenever there is a serious budget issue is just the largest and most dramatic example.
And, now I put on my personal finance hat. Many people are fascinated with the politics and the legal ramifications of everything that is happening. Me, not so much. I just want to make sure that everyone is aware of the possibilities so that they can prepare themselves. In my perfect world, nothing bad happens but military families use this possible crisis as an opportunity to put their financial houses on a little better foundation, to consider ways to decrease expenses and increase income, and to pay off that nagging debt.
Chances are, all this worrying will come to nothing, but there are no guarantees. As our country struggles with continuously mounting financial challenges, military pay will probably continue to threatened. As the saying goes, the best defense is a good offense. Take a little time today to set up an offensive strategy so a delayed paycheck won't become a personal disaster.