Between the Services…Inconsistancy

My family is vacationing at the next military base over, staying at a small cabin.  We’re on an Army camp and in the two days we’ve been here, I’ve noticed a lot of differences in cost between different things here and on our Navy base.  It got me thinking…why isn’t there more consistancy?  Why does everything have to be so different?  I certainly understand economic factors, but I often question what seems to be the vagueries of how things get funded, which means how much I pay for things.

In this trip, I’ve noticed that the laundromat is twice as expensive here, but the car vacuum is less expensive.  The swimming pool costs a lot more here, a way lot! Upon further reflection, these are just small examples of the bigger picture of being a military family.  Services, such as child care, the gym, and the pool cost money to run, and military families pay for a portion of those costs.  What gets a little whacky is when different pots of money are allocated towards different programs, and the remaining portion that is paid by the consumer (us!) varies greatly, depending on what pot of money is paying for which program at which time.

Simple example? A few years back, we were stationed on an Army base and registered our kids with Child and Youth Services on base. The registration didn’t really do anything except allow us to register for other CYS programs. I think we paid $30 to register our kids, then a few months later came the big announcement that a new program had started that was going to waive all CYS registration fees. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit if that new program has since run out of money, and now people are paying again. After all, that’s the way it is, right?

My children have even noticed this cycle. My oldest got to participate in a great teen adventure camp this summer, courtesy of the Navy. The second daughter lamented that she wouldn’t be old enough for two summers, and that “by then, the money for this program will be gone.” Sad thing is, she’s probably right. Programs are planned, get funded for a few years, then languish in the land of lost funding. Doesn’t seem to be a very efficient way to allocate your money, does it?

I’d love to hear your wacky funding stories, if you have any. Or if you just want to vent, go right ahead. We’re here for you.

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.
  • Kim

    And then there’s duty where you live far away from ANY military installation for several years. No CYS, no commissary, no PX, etc…it all adds up. I know that it’ll never be completely “fair” or 100% equal and I don’t expect that. But I agree that allocated money could be handled a little differently somehow.
    I enjoy your posts, by the way!

  • Jan

    How about that an Air Force family gets paid to live on an Army base? Army housing is always considered inadequate!
    I wouldn’t mind if all exchanges were merged- as long as the Navy or Marines ran it!
    Really, there are problems with the system all together. Instead of working together- it is a competition.
    I am pretty worried about the privatization of on post/base housing. They are allowed to rent to retirees and civilians who work on base if there is room. What happens when loads of civilians are in and suddenly there is a call up and not housing for the active duty. (The DC area is really going to feel this one).

    • Sarah

      On our post when we lived in Germany, Air Force families got paid more to live in Army housing than soldiers got paid in hostile fire pay downrange…uh, whaaa?

  • jdyoder

    The BIGGEST difference I found nearly defies explanation. Here in the US anyway a couple years ago. I could stay in an AF Lodge for under $30. But the cost in the Lodges was around $70. Facility/ amenities all about the same. Duh?

    • jdyoder

      It was the Navy Lodges with the $70 price tag.

  • Chief

    AHHHHHHHH I remember when it was all run by military personel, cheap labor, EEEEEEEE HAWWWWW enter progress, now run by civilians sooooooo everything costs more, go figure.