From The Mailbag: Reader Is Glad for Emergency Fund

December 16, 2012 | Kate Horrell

It is unusual for me to get a positive email, and they make me happy. Reader Christine has given me permission to share her story that highlights the need for an emergency fund. I’ve edited it a bit for space and clarity.

My husband and I met at a training school and we got married after we graduated. I was leaving the service and as a National Guardsman, I had to report back to my home state before I was fully released from service. My husband was attached to a unit in California, but went to Texas for additional training. Once I was released from the service, I went to Texas to join my husband and we took care of all those pesky spouse tasks. His BAH should have been based off of where his permanent duty station is located in California. However, since I was living in Texas, the confused SM helping us out decided we should get Texas BAH. My husband started getting a glitch on his pay stub where is was subtracting (a very small amount) of BAH instead of crediting us with any BAH AND it was giving “advance pay” which we never asked for.

We didn’t get this fixed until a month later when we PCSed to Hawaii. We decide to buy a house. We applied for a mortgage loan, however the aforementioned glitch has seriously messed up the last few pay stubs. My husband goes to finance and THATS when they realized that all of the BAH that we received in Texas was wrong because it was supposed to be California BAH. The finance office then decides that the only way to fix it is to have US pay back ALL of the BAH we received in Texas so they can pay us the California BAH we were supposed to get. They give us the option to either pay it with a cashier’s check or they can take it out of his paycheck.

Since I had a TON of pay issues when I was in the service, I had a nice amount saved up for something like this. Because want one normal paycheck for the house loan, we decide to pay it in a cashier’s check. The next week, my husband goes to finance with the check and the finance clerks tell him that they decided to just take it out of his pay check.

As you can see, Christine and her husband have had a crazy run with finance. It isn’t at all unusual…have I ever told you about my friend Russ, who PCSed overseas and somehow the Army pay people decided that he’d left the military?

Emergency savings are important for everyone, but they are even more important for those of us who deal with many moves and layers of bureaucracy. I’m sure that many of you have similar stories of pay gone wrong. I hope that they had happy endings, as well.

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