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Living on Your Military Paycheck

Service member holding cash

You can take control of your financial future today. Start small with a few simple changes to save more, spend less and better manage your day-to-day finances.

Pay Raises

Military personnel receive pay raises that are linked to private-sector raises, as measured by the Employment Cost Index. These raises are for both reserve and active-duty service members.

  • Draw a line in the sand. Give yourself and your family a start date and commit to making changes from that date forward.
  • Find out how much income you have to work with. See the Basic Pay tables for active duty and reserves and log in to myPay to manage your pay and other financial accounts. Find out if you’re eligible for the Basic Needs Allowance.
  • Make a spending plan and stick to it. Calculate your expenses, review what you spend and pledge to better manage your money.
  • Hunt for places to trim spending. Downgrade to a lower monthly cable or cellphone plan and use those savings to reduce your debt down a peg or two.
  • Shop your commissary and save an average of 30% on groceries and household items. Shop your exchange to make tax-free purchases.
  • Think before you buy. Walk away from big purchases or a string of small purchases. Ask yourself if you really need them – really wanting them doesn’t count. If you can’t justify an expense, it’s an expense that you don’t need right now.
  • Save for big purchases instead of charging them.
  • Check your attitude when it comes to earning extra income. When you need to pay bills, a “that job is beneath me” mindset won’t get you very far.
  • Pay in cash. You’re less likely to waste money when you’re handing over actual currency.
  • Avoid being an emotional shopper. If “retail therapy” or “mental health purchases” thrill you, just wait until you experience how fabulous it feels to be debt-free.
  • Save on expensive air travel by booking your next flight on Space-A passenger transportation. When military flights have extra seats, they open them to military families for free or at a lower cost – and you save big.
  • Take tips from the experts. Get professional advice on how to efficiently pay down your debt and get a grip on your finances.
  • Read the fine print. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can show you how carrying credit card balances keeps you locked in debt.

You’re ready to tackle these challenges and you have support in your corner. Let the financial experts at Military OneSource or your installation’s Personal Financial Management Program help you with financial planning, debt counseling, budgeting, spending plans, overall money management, military loans, mortgage or rent help, and more.

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