From the Mailbag

Recently, a friend emailed me to vent about the cost of a Family Readiness Group (FRG) event.  She explained the event and then the cost (which was a lot.)  She said that she had declined the invitation due to the cost, and she sounded a little angry at being asked to attend something so expensive.  She also asked if she was being unreasonable.

This stimulated a lively debate amongst our group, and got me thinking about some of the incidental costs of being a military family.  Whether it is a required new uniform item, attendance at a social event or paying into a coffee fund, there are some expenses that are unique to military families.  Even expenses that also sometimes occur in the civilian world, but are voluntary, are often mandatory in the military.  There are also a lot of things that aren’t mandatory, but are the right thing to do.  Just last weekend, my husband and I attended a dining in.  It was $90 a person, which is ridiculous expensive for our budget, but my husband felt it was important that we go.

Who decides about these expenses, and who decides what is optional and what is mandatory?  The answer is different for each individual item.  Obviously, we don’t have control over uniforms. We might, however, be able to influence the types of events that our FRG plans, or be the person who goes out and finds a way to offset expenses that come up.  Sometimes, as my friend did, we can be the person who stands up and says, “That is a little out of my budget.”  (I love these people.  They help us all!)

I’m curious:  Do you find that military life makes unusual financial
demands?  How do you handle them?  Do you have any advice for the rest
of us?

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.