When Will I Get My First Pay? and How Much Will I Get Paid?

Money in a stack.

When you are new to the military, everything is confusing.  The language, the clothes, the paperwork, and the pay.  I see the same questions repeated over and over:  When will the first pay come?  How much will it be?  How will I get it?

Nearly all the time, these questions come from people who are leaving for basic training and leaving a family behind, or from a spouse who is waiting at home while their new enlistee completes school.   Since I hardly ever hear this question from singles, I’m going to answer it for the married crowd.  Please, please be aware, this is all anecdotal evidence and it is different for each branch of service.  Your recruiter will hopefully give you more branch specific answers, but if he doesn’t, you can use this to help figure it out.

When a new military member enters basic training, they will need some documents to make sure that their pay and allowances are set up correctly.  First, they will need the routing number and bank account number of the account into which they want their pay deposited.  They will need to take marriage certificates, social security cards and birth certificates for the spouse and kids.  In most cases, these get mailed home shortly after arriving at basic.

In my totally unscientific poll, the average amount of time before the first pay was deposited was 21 to 35 days, with just a few people stating that their pay took longer.  The Marines seem to be different, though, and I have heard numerous people say that the Marines didn’t have access to their pay until the end of basic training.

You also need to know how military pay is calculated and paid.  The whole pay period is a month long, from the 1st until the last day of the month.  Most pays and allowances are paid on a monthly basis, including base pay, basic allowance for housing (BAH) and basic allowance for subsistence (BAS).  For the mid-month pay, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) will calculate what the monthly amount will be and then pay half, using the information that is current up until that date.   Sometime around the 22nd-24th of the month, DFAS will finalize the month’s accounting and issue a Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) for all the military members.  The LES lists all the pays and allowances, all the deductions for things like Social Security and taxes, and any allotments for savings, bills, etc.  The LES will come up with a grand total for the month, then list the amount paid mid-month, and calculate the amount that will be paid in the End of Month (EOM) pay.

My friend Hank has done a great article explaining the LES at Military Money Might:  The Secrets to Understanding Your Spouse’s Leave and Earnings Statement (LES).

The amount of each pay will be erratic at first, for a variety of reasons.  At many Basic Military Training locations, the new recruits are issued a debit card to use in the military exchange, and that will come out of one of their first pays.  It can take a while for BAH and family separation pay to get properly organized.  In addition, everything gets paid retroactively to the first day of BMT, so you might have a big check, then a smaller one thereafter.

The military doesn’t hand out pay stubs like many civilian jobs do.  Everything is available online at a website called MyPay.  You can learn more about MyPay access at How To Access MyPay.

Please leave comments, errors and suggestions below.  I am hoping to develop this into a really comprehensive guide to help all new military families.  Thanks for your help.

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.

46 Comments on "When Will I Get My First Pay? and How Much Will I Get Paid?"

  1. Hi,

    I very much appreciate the information. I have been told several different dates to expect a first pay check. My husband began his military journey (Army National Guard) on November 22nd. In your experience, would I be correct in assuming we won't see anything until Christmas? I have been told that I can expect to see it on Dec. 8th, 15th, 22nd and the latest info I received is Jan. 1 but I don't know who the most credible source is. Any insight you can offer is greatly appreciated.

  2. My husband left for training may 3 2011 and on his mypay account for june 1st it states that he is getting paid $0 what does that mean?

  3. Hey! My husband left for the Air Force BMT May 29th, it's now June 15th and he has only recieved $500 (nearly 3,000 less than his contract stated he would recieve monthly including BAH) Who do I contact to find out what's going on? I need to pay bills and buy groceries for our toddler and myself (I'm 5 mo pregnant). Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you!

  4. You are not alone…my life left for bmt for the army and I also have to feed my son and pay bills…I recently had 2 transplanted in January…I also have to get my medicine…she left on the 29th as well

  5. KateKashman | June 20, 2012 at 2:13 am |

    Dear real army soldier, we try to be helpful and respectful here at The Paycheck Chronicles. As a military wife who has given up many jobs due to PCSes, and also did not work when our children were small, I am offended by your comment. Many military families find that their lives are improved by having a stay-at-home spouses.

    Also, I think that Jermaine is the husband.

  6. Donna M. Robidoux | August 13, 2012 at 6:10 pm |

    Hey, these wives are pregnant and or have very young children to care for. Have you tried to be both mom and dad lately? I can tell you, It’s Not Easy! Lay off these precious souls!

  7. Hey, my husband left for BCT for the army august 20th and started august 25th. When will his paycheck including bah go into his account? I am 8 months pregnant and have to pay for bills as well as my sons circumcision before my 35th week.

  8. MyHusbandMyWorld | October 17, 2012 at 10:47 pm |

    For "real army soldier" My husband is gone too. We have 3 kids. I have a fulltime job with 20+ employees AND I am in college. Kids, work and college with an active military husband is beyond difficult. All these moms need things just like I do, money or attention or a support system like this site. If I could be home and dedicate myself to my kids and school and not work, I would. Pretty sure anyone would.

  9. Hey “Real Army Soldier,” I am a soldier, and I applaud these mothers who go above and beyond for their families. Why don’t you GET A LIFE AND QUIT TROLLING SITES LIKE THIS, JERK!!

    To the ladies and gents on this site that take care of their homes, thank you.

  10. My husband left for Army BCT on Nov 7 & actually started on Nov 12…his LES for 121130 has all zeros…why is that? i am trying to support my daughter and myself on just my paycheck and I dont want to worry him, but miney is tight and we needed his pay. thanks.

  11. *money is tight…excuse me

  12. I have a question my husband got to reception on jan 2 and bct started on the 7th of January. When will our first payday probably be , just wondering so I can let the bill people know.

  13. My fiancee left for basic on january 7th, and i have not seen any money deposited into our account. Would it be safe to assume she will be paid March 1st, 2013?

    I have read it could take 30-45 days and i believe today is the 46th day, and she was taking care of her BAH because she left a lease. Can that have delayed the ENTIRE process?

  14. im joining the navy but i have so many concerns, people say that the military is a scam and the pay is like working at a fast food resurant. and the recuiters lie so much they say that during boot camp your apost to make 1,200-1,700 dollars a month but that turns out to be a total scam. in reality you only get paid like 300-500 if you are an E-1 or E-2 the higher the rank the higher the pay. but i feel like if someone is going to join the navy or the military than you should tell the truth dont beat around the bush or deceive them because once they agree with you and sign that cantract they are summited to the goverment and they are putting there lives on the line for all of us so they need to stop and the olny reason they lie is because the more recuits they get the more money they get and thats not fair at all. everyone should be equal.

  15. RealNavyWife&Sailor | May 27, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  16. My husband left the 13th & we received a large check in our bank account we set up for direct deposit on the 31st. It was nice to receive pay so quickly. But how OFTEN does he get paid? Once a month?

  17. Hi I’m about to in list to the US Army I’m married with 3 baby’s at home and a wife should I satay at my job and work to save money before going into basic training so we don’t have to struggle or do we get paid the BAH right away?

  18. Hi I’m about to in list to the US Army I’m married with 3 baby’s at home and a wife should I satay at my job and work to save money before going into basic training so we don’t have to struggle or do we get paid the BAH right away?

  19. Kate, my husband left for basic training June 11th 2013. He has called twice to see if his money has been deposited. Well it is pending and it's a huge chunk of change. Was there a mistake? I don't know how this could be possible.

  20. My fiance left for national guard basic training on june 24th and started july 5th..does that mean ill be waiting til september before he gets paid? we have a joint account and 2 kids..im freaking out.

  21. i am a mom of someone that left for basic on june 19th he first went to fort jackson was there intil june 26th they ship him out june 26th for ft.leonard wood trying to find out when he will get paid anyone know on how that works i heard on the 1st and on the 15th would be paid is they a chance it may be once a month

  22. Anybody know if you get more money if you just recently got married?

  23. Aidyns mommy | August 1, 2013 at 7:48 pm |

    have you ever heard of a stay at home mom… THAT IS A JOB! And trust me, its not easy. children deserve to be raised by their parents… not by someone else because both of the parents "need" to work.

  24. people throwing out the birth control word. lets talk about these women that join the military and get pregnant right after basic work only part of the time and get full pay, maybe they should quit living off our system. i go to school full time work full time have a small child and im pregnant with another. if it wasnt for family helping me out i couldnt do it. not all these women have families to help them out

  25. Found this may be useful to those wondering when they may see pay.
    http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/joiningup/a/recrui

  26. Vice Admiral | August 25, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
  27. Vice Admiral | August 25, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
  28. Independent_army_wife | September 17, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  29. Krissy M. Hunt | September 17, 2013 at 8:48 pm |

    Do the 21-35 days start from their ship date to reception or the day they leave reception to actually start basic ??

  30. I have a concern. I’m a single mother and will be joining the Marines. Do you know if I will get paid during my basic training so I can send my son money? Or will I have to wait until my training is over? And if I do receive payments during, do you know how much it will be?

  31. Hi my husband left oct 7 but didn’t start basic until the 16th. I have the bills paid for, for all of Nov but not Dec. and don’t have enough saved to make the payments. He is done at basic on the dec. 17th when should I be expected to get paid the recruiter said at the end of oct. but it looks like everyone is saying differently should I get one for sure on Nov. 15th?

  32. I leave for BIT Army on November 5, and I know the pay for the first few months can be sketchy but I'd like to know if my pay, assuming everything goes according to plan, should be deposited 21-35 days after I ship out or after reception is over? I just would like to know what to tell my husband to expect. Thanks :)

  33. My wife left for basic on oct 27 and I believed she was still in processing until the 4th of this month. We are behind bills. She filed all her paper work for bah long before she left for bmt. We have also been getting the run around as to when she will be getting that money. I just want to know if anyone out there has an idea of when we will get it. It is the 15th of november and Im just trying to keep afloat of our finances.

  34. hiii m going to join miltary army what salary will i get??? nd when???

  35. Hi, thanks for the info. I will like to know will I be getting my regular pay like my rank even though I'm not going to basic training right away. I know there's a bonus & my pay can be good because I have like 56 college credits. Will I still get paid every month.

  36. Armylifearmywife | August 4, 2014 at 1:23 pm |

    Hello, my husband left on the 14 of July 2014, he was processed by the 19, and begun his BCT on the 21. I called DFAS, and they said he would have his pay at mid month, the 15. I am hoping, lots of bills adding up. What I am wondering is will he also receive BAH, and BAS? I know it will be retroactive from the 14 of July. Also, will he receive the bonus for signing up as well on that pay. I am beyond stressed. I work and go to school, but he is the main money maker. This is not our first military rodeo, I just didn't remember it took this long 5 yrs ago.

  37. My husband started basic training on October 7th, 2014, and it is now 12/15/14, and I have yet to receive any money from him, and no money shows up in our direct deposit for his paycheck. why is that?

  38. keseanna gray | May 27, 2015 at 10:39 pm |

    My husband left for Air Force bmt and I was wondering how does the base pay and bah work into our account? Like will we get the whole bah on the 1st or would it be split.

  39. KOtto102714 | July 14, 2015 at 8:32 pm |

    My husband left for Basic on June 29, 2015. He has been held in reception for almost 3 weeks. He is supposed to start basic training this Friday. A lot of the guys in his bay have stated that they will receive pay on the 15th of July, tomorrow. Others have been told it will be received on the 1st of August. Should I expect anything any time soon? It was my understanding that the soldiers get paid after 3-6 weeks of being in actual basic training. So, I guess my questions is: Does reception count? Should I expect to receive pay tomorrow or the 1st or later?

  40. help!! I"m am about to take me nieces three kids Oct 20, she will be deployed. i need to know when can i expected to receives payment due to the fact that I"m on a fix income. My income will support them for one month only with bills going past due.

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