My husband deployed shortly after our wedding, leaving me behind with very little knowledge about anything related to military life. And while he was deployed, our country went to war. Not being able to communicate regularly (or at all) with my service member on his submarine meant that it was one big guessing game when it came to extra pay.
All I knew was that when I checked our account at the ATM during the deployment, a giant figure popped up (to my 22-year old eyes). This was significantly larger than it had been just weeks before on our Maui honeymoon, where we’d stopped at Taco Bell for cheap eats.
Me: Well, I guess the government is extremely appreciative of my husband’s service, and is rewarding us with a generous financial contribution…cha-ching!!
NOT SO FAST
You can imagine my surprise when he returned home from deployment and was informed that his name had mistakenly been grouped with those who had re-enlisted while underway. The bonus he had wrongly received would have to be returned. Come on, man! Ultimately, he was due family separation allowance, combat zone, and sea pay, which altogether might add up to a monthly car payment.
That’s when I learned a valuable lesson as a military spouse: There is a slight bump in pay during deployment, but not as much as you might think.
Much has been written on saving this money, budgeting, and being financially wise during deployments.
You know what hasn’t been said as much?
That keeping your sanity for months on end while acting as sole entertainer of children day in and day out requires some cash flow.
Temporarily suspend your frugal ways
If you’re anything like me, you shop at the Commissary to save on groceries, you Redbox movies because the theater isn’t as cheap as it used to be, and you haven’t indulged in spa treatments for yourself in years because it seems more practical to spend that money on your kids’ soccer cleats and dance classes.
Well, enter deployment.
There are simply a lot of hours in the day, you don’t need me to remind you of that. And since nobody is coming through the door in the evening to entertain the kids while you put your feet up for a hot second, throwing money at your problems is temporarily justified.