How Would YOU Rather Be Paid?

I learned some interesting things when I was researching the Roth TSP pay snafu in February.  First, I learned that a lot of my friend don’t contribute to Roth TSP, which surprised me.  Second, I learned that a surprising number of my military friends are taking advantage of the once-a-month pay option.  Who knew?

I recently ran across some information at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) website that state that the monthly pay option is only available to Air Force and Army personnel.  However, one of my Navy friends reports that her husband is on the monthly pay plan, as well.  I am befuddled as to how he organized this, and I am a little bit jealous.

This got me thinking about the reasons why some people prefer the monthly option and others prefer the twice monthly pay schedule.  I can see all sorts of arguments for both sides, even though I prefer the idea of monthly pay.

Then, a recent comment mentioned that the services had once considered switching to a every-other-week, 26 pay periods per year plan.  I think that sounds awful, but apparently the idea is popular with a lot of folks.

So, I am curious:  Which option do you currently use?  What would you do if you had any possible choice?  Why, and why not?  What would you think if the current system were changed?

Here are my answers:  My husband is paid twice a month.  If I could choose, he would be paid once a month, but semi-monthly is fine.  This is because our largest expenses (housing) are billed monthly.  I’d also prefer to budget food on a monthly basis, because the current system can challenge people when one pay period might be 19 days and then another might be 12.  I think I would have a hard time adjusting if our pay came every two weeks, but I would work it out eventually.  None of it is really awful as long as the pay is still coming in.

I really look forward to your comments.  I love learning more about how different people see issues in different ways, and exploring all sides of a conversation.

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.
  • Lynell Watts Jr

    To me it would be like being on full active duty getting paid, every two weeks. No different. I would like to get paid ever two weeks myself.

  • guest

    I’d honestly prefer the every two weeks idea, mainly from an investing standpoint because it would allow us to dollar cost average our share purchases every two weeks in our taxable accounts…and it would be nice to have that month where we could move money over 3 times versus 2. And yes, I realize this can be done with monthly pay as well, string it out over the month, but I am a SUPER impatient person and would dump it in all at once and then be like now what?

    I see what you are saying about housing, the way we got around all that is that we pay a month ahead for our largest expenses, for example our April mortgage payment was paid on March 2nd

    We don’t use the Roth 401k option much either, only when he’s deployed. For us we need the tax deduction to keep us out of AMT zone. We fund separate Roths then funnel to a taxable account.

    • Claudwens N.Norelus

      Any pay is good,at least you getting paid and on time.Here I’am a Military veteran of both the Navy and the Marines’s General;was in charge of plotting the war for the Military.An ex-General of Military and the Pentagon. I haven’t gotten a cent from the Military for going to war for them.Instead they rather lie to my face and say they don’t have me on record.I remember at times I would spend four to five days in the air fighting the middle east Army nonstop,because even they know I mean business.They sent almost all their air-war-pilots at me;and I destroyed them all. While at night my Troops were sleeping. I was blasting the Iraqis jets,for the simple fact that I gave my word to many back in the U.S. How could I have been forgotten.I even did payroll for the Marines for Bush.Bush and the Military wanted me to go back.I went back on 9/2011 for about two weeks. The I told The ex-President I retire. Don’t forget I was the General of the Pentagon and the Military not a regular soldier. Tell the Military to get their facts straight.

  • Dave Li8ndbo

    I want to change banks for my Direct Deposit. I have called the 800 number several times and a recording comes to call back later because of high volume of calls. I am on the internet now to find out how to change from one bank to another to NO avail. The web-sight says it is FAST AND EASY…….ya right. I have been searching for 2hours now. When does the fast and easy come in? Any answers from from anyone on my my problem?

  • Bethany

    If you prefer once a month pay, a work around would be to set up an allotment for the total amount of pay. For example, say a servicemember has $1000/pay deposited in his account after taxes, TSP, etc. He sets up an allotment of $2000/month to go to his usual bank account. He would now have $0 for each direct deposit, but the allotment of $2000 would arrive on the first of each month. It probably wouldn’t work perfectly since paychecks vary from month to month, but you could get close.

  • MMMM

    The once a month paycheck just removes the mid-month advance, so I really fail to see how it helps with anything (remember, the 1st and 15th is incorrect, it’s the 15th and the 28,29,30,31). I’d actually think it would cause many problems in the adjustment from having an advance to not having an advance, and maybe beyond that (if people worry about going 19 days between checks, what will they do over 31?).

    Could I do the once a month pay system, yep I budget monthly. But why do so? You’re just giving up interest that you could be building in your “high yield checking account.”

    It’s not a whole lot, but in the climate of 1.0% pay increases why not collect every penny you can.

    But back to the question. I get the mid month advancement, and do so because it earns me just that much more in interest.

    • Dave


      The pay advance means interest to me. This is significant over time.

      Not sure if I’d like the every two weeks. Probably, that would mean more money sooner, but it does throw a bit of a wrench in the monthly budget. I’d just change my budget strategy I suppose.

    • Kate

      MMMM, I’m curious about your assertion that military paydays are not the 1st and 15th. Where do you get this information? It is clearly stated on the DFAS website that “Active duty members are paid twice a month. Pay days are the fifteenth of the month and the first of the following month.”

      If you look at any payday calendar from a military source or a military-friendly bank or credit union, they indicate that the military paydays are the 15th and the 1st, unless either falls on a weekend or a holiday.

      And in my personal experience, that’s when payday happens. I’d really like to learn more about what you know.

      • GAM

        The military, like most companies pay your for the work you have completed not the work you are going to complete. Getting paid on the 1st of the month isn’t your pay for the upcoming month, it is your pay for the previous month’s work. Now if you have Navy Fed or USAA you get that check on the 28, 29, 30, or 31st.

        What MMMM is saying is that by getting half your pay 2 weeks earlier allows you invest or at least have money earned sitting in your accounts making interest instead of Uncle Sam holding it and continuing to make interest for 2 more weeks. Might not think 2 weeks adds up but over a career it would be amazing what that little bit of extra interest being made can do for you.

        If your still confused look at your LES. In the top right corner there is a box that says ‘Period Covered’. You always get your LES at the end of the month you are getting paid for.

  • guest

    How would I rather be paid? Weekly and in gold! The paper stuff is near to worthless, just like the government’s word.

  • george

    Getting paid every two weeks,i think would give you two extra weeks pay i believe.