The US Army is doing away with a once-a-month paycheck option. So if you’re currently serving in the Army, this is for you.
Starting October, active Army members will join fellow service members in other branches who receive a mid-month pay deposit, which is an advance of half of what the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) estimates for your monthly payments. The DFAS usually issues a Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) to explain the breakdown of your pay. Then the end of the month pay covers the monthly payment minus the mid-month pay that was sent in advance.
Army members’ salaries are based on their base pay, Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), and special pay. Since most of these are calculated monthly, the Army, which used to follow this pay period, had a more straightforward accounting when they issued LES to members. However, the default program for other branches is twice a month (except for the Air Force and Space Force members, who have an option to opt for once-a-month pay).
“The Air Force and Space Force will continue to offer the once-a-month pay option for members,” according to Laurel Falls, Department of the Air Force spokeswoman.
As for the pay dates, these will change, too. For the once-a-month payments, the Army used to send in the LES total the day after the last day of the current month. So, for example, if the pay period is the whole month of September, the previous day would be Sept. 30. Then, Army members receive their pay on Oct. 1, even though it’s a Saturday.
But, with this new schedule, it would mean that paycheck (starting October) will have a cut-off of Oct. 14, and payment will be sent the following day. The end of the month cut-off for Oct. 31 will be paid on Nov. 1. Note that bi-monthly payments would include other allowances and bonus estimates. If there’s an extra or shortage in the calculation, it will all be adjusted on the second pay cut for the month.
How Will This Affect Your Spending?
For most, receiving monthly payments work better because you see (and hold) the total amount you need to budget for the rest of the month. It’s easy to tell yourself, “I will put the $200 aside for savings, and I can allot $50 for my leisure budget.” But, as financial experts say, it is best to account for your leisure or “fun activities” so you don’t squeeze yourself too much.
Then other necessities like rent, utilities, and transportation can easily be set aside when you are budgeting on a monthly basis.
If you’re used to seeing your entire paycheck for the month, the shift to a bi-monthly paycheck could be an adjustment. This means that instead of setting aside $500 upfront for rent, you will have to cut it down to $250 and wait for the next part of the monthly payment to come in to complete the full amount.
For others, this could be a pretty easy adjustment. But if you are new to this type of payment structure, you have to create a budget schedule that would work around bi-monthly payments. An example is setting aside the entire $500 for rent on the first half of the month’s payment, minimizing your expenses for that period, and rescheduling other utility payments, so they do not overlap.
For more information, check out DFAS.