Are You Prepared For Not Getting Paid?

The federal government hit its debt ceiling (again) yesterday, and is currently funding operations under “special measures.”  Why should you care?  Because the federal government’s financial problems have the potential to mess with all military-related pay and benefits, depending on what happens and how it all falls out.

What Would Happen If You Didn't GetGenerally, when I write about these issues, I get a lot of comments telling me that I’m exaggerating and just trying to make headlines.  That’s never been my intent, and it’s not my intent now.  It is a fact that there is always the potential for something surprising to happen, and for it to affect your paycheck.  Whether it is a federal government issue, a Defense Finance and Accounting System (DFAS) issue, a bank problem, or something with your particular pay, there will be times when your pay is messed up.  As my smart friend Rob Aeschbach says, “This won’t be the last time your pay is wrong.”

If you’re not facing the fact that someday your pay might not show up as expected, then you’re just being silly and setting yourself up for a mess when something happens.

Because experience shows that something will happen.

If you are reading this, and the prospect of missing your next paycheck makes you feel panicked, then you are the person I want to talk to.

Dear friend, I know what I am saying seems impossible, but please, find a way  to build up some savings.  A good starting goal is $1,000, after which I want you to shoot for at least one full paycheck.  It might mean cutting back on an expensive pleasure, or taking a part-time job, or selling your excess stuff.  It doesn’t really matter HOW you do it, as long as you do it.  If you can cut your living expenses by just 10%, you’d have a month’s worth of expenses saved in just 10 months.  If you can add a tax refund or some yard sale cash to the savings, you’ll be done even faster.  And you’ll be prepared the next time your pay doesn’t come as expected.

No one can anticipate when a bank error or problem with your pay account might happen.  Some worries are more predictable, like this debt ceiling issue.  Our country has been in this situation before, more than once.  While it has been literally decades since the military was not paid on time, it has happened, and it will probably someday happen again.

Would you rather be prepared for it, or have your world thrown into turmoil?  It’s your choice.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Marcus

    Agreed. Step one toward a sound financial plan is to have an emergency savings account for unexpected expenses (vehicle repair, pay problems, etc).

  • guest

    How about saving all you can, just because you can’t trust banks or anyone else, not to steal your money?