When trying to find the bright side of a deployment, military spouses will often agree that the advantage lies in the extra income. Along with the obvious tax-free combat pay, there are extra pays, lowered interest rates on loans and credit cards and improved investment and savings opportunities.
Unfortunately, many of us take the extra funds for granted, incorporating them into our monthly budgets and adjusting to the higher income with ease. It’s never hard to find more things to spend money on, whether it’s noble donations to charities or a few extra meals out each week. Spending money is easy. Saving money, on the other hand, isn’t quite so simple.
At a financial freedom seminar I recently attended, a fellow military wife gave me a very helpful piece of advice. She said you should never budget the extra pay. Anything above what your spouse is paid here the in United States is temporary, and shouldn’t be included in your budget. She suggested using the extra money to enhance savings or pay loans off early, but not to count on that money for living expenses and bills.
At the same time, she warned against using the extra money to buy things on a whim, a trap I fall into often, particularly with purchases under $5. But enough of those $5 purchases can quickly eat away at extra money that could be better spent paying off some of those student loans.
Still, as practical as I’m trying to be, I’ll confess to a special fund set aside for a dream trip to Ireland upon my husband’s return. After all, we all have our little indulgences.