The Once-A-Month Pay Option

Once upon a time, a long time ago, the military received their pay once a month.  I’ve heard stories of lining up at the pay office to receive their cash..$18, $24, $53.  Things sure have changed.  One big change to military pay happened when servicemembers were given the option to receive half their pay 15 or so days early – a mid-month paycheck.  Though most people now think this is usual and the way things are regularly done, historically it is an optional benefit to help military families who might have difficulty budgeting across an entire month.

When you receive mid-month pay, what you are receiving is an interest-free advance of half the estimated amount of total pay that you will receive for the entire month.  It is pretty clear on the LES – the mid-month pay is listed as a deduction from the month’s total pay. Sample military LES

Here’s the interesting thing, though…you don’t HAVE to get paid twice a month.  If it works better for your family, you can choose to do the once a month pay option.  Some people think it is brilliant, some people think it is useless.  I think it is nice to have choices.

If you think you would like to switch to getting your pay only once a month, remember that because the mid-month pay is an advance on the end-of-month pay, you’ll go that first month with only a half a paycheck at the beginning then no pay until you receive the full month’s pay at the end of the month.  This is not going to be easy if you are living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Your finance folks should be able to help you make the switch, and if they can’t, ask them to find out how.

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.
  • Kent

    This also depends on when you set it up. If you set it up at the beginning of the month than you wont receive a mid-month, but will get a full months pay at the end. This will limit having to go 6 weeks on half a months pay.

  • Megan

    How does one go about switching to a once a month? I asked my husband, and he has no clue, and wasn’t presented the option when he went in.

  • RYAN


  • Leto

    Someone please tell me the step by step information upon setting up my finance to get paid only once a month in the Army.

  • You go to S-1 finance.