Monday, October 25, 2010

Paycheck Question

I recently received a reader e-mail from a new Army spouse regarding military pay:
I’m newly married to an Army Soldier and he is going to be deployed to Afghanistan soon. Will the Army send me a paycheck monthly or does my husband have the final say about money? And how much money will I receive and when will I receive it if I do?
Thanks, Trisha
Hello Trisha,
Congratulations on your marriage! I’m sure you are going through a big culture shock right now – adjusting to military life is never easy, especially dealing with deployments!
OK, to answer your question, military members’ paychecks are directly deposited into the military member’s account. This is required by the military – it must be directly deposited (no payments by cash or check). The Army will only send this to the account on record, and they will not automatically send you a check unless your name is also on that account.

Family separation pay.  
You may have heard about family separation pay from another military spouse. This is a tax free military benefit that military members with dependents receive while they are separated from their spouses due to military related duties that last 30 days or more. This benefit is to help take care of additional expenses while the military member is deployed, but he will not receive it until he returns from the deployment. Again, this money will be direct deposited into his account. It is also important to note that the money e earns while he is in Afghanistan will also be tax free because he will be serving in a tax free combat zone.
I am sure you will need access to funds while your husband is deployed, so the best thing to do is work out a financial system before he leaves – that way you will be taken care of and have access to money while he is gone, and he will have the peace of mind knowing that you aren’t left wanting.
The most important thing to do is communicate with your husband about both of your financial needs. Deployments are stressful, and you don’t want to add the stress of money on top of it.

Here are a few things you can do to ensure you have access to your husband’s military pay:
  • You can open a joint account with your husband so you have access to the funds.
  • Your husband can set up an automatic allotment that will send you a set amount of money each month from his paycheck.
It is important to note that so far as I know, there are no requirements that he set up a joint account. But he does need to ensure you are taken care of and that all his bills are paid while he is gone. You can work with him to try and set things up so that you can take care of the bills while he is gone. That will give him one less thing to worry about while he is in a stressful situation.

Where to sign up for a joint savings account:

You can sign up for a joint savings account at any local bank or credit union, or you can use an online bank such as USAA or ING Direct.

Setting up a joint financial system:

There are many pros and cons to setting up a joint financial system, and I encourage you to look into it. If you decide to go this route, I encourage you to communicate often about money so both of you are on the same page. Money can be stressful, and frequent communication can prevent many financial problems. Here is more information about financial planning for military families.
Best of luck to you both, and I wish him a safe return.

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