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The Dude
09-09-2005, 06:43
Hello everyone.

I was wondering if someone could maybe give me some advice or tell me how they might have dealt with a situation similar to mine.

I'd like to join 20th SF as a REP-63, I'd be looking at maybe leaving early spring or so.

What I've been struggling with is how to afford it. I currently make in the mid 50s. I'm not worried about affording deployments so much, because I know there are some bonus and tax incentives, etc. What worries me is the initial training OSUT, Airborne, SFAS, etc.) and how to overcome that income disparity.

It's not that I'm whining about the pay, it's just that housing in my area is notoriously expensive (DC Metro), so our house payment is a fairly significant part of our monthly budget. I have my first child on the way, and I'd prefer not to lose my house in serving my country. It'd also be a much easier sale to the wife if I could assure her that our financial risk is minimal. Do you guys know of any options I might have, or know other guys that were in a similar situation and how they handled it?

sharkmanII
09-09-2005, 07:06
You just suck it up and drive on. Every one of us had to start at the bottom and work to get where we are. I know "You can't have your cake and eat it too" is an over used cliche but... . Do you attempt to be a true warrior or do you want to be a "wannabe warrior"? Good luck with your decision. :confused:

Pete
09-09-2005, 07:28
Save up, pre-pay where you can, skimp where you must. Dive less, eat in and stay home.

Somebody in training does not need to be worried about the wife and kid.

Without focus you may need to change your dream. With focus you "may" be able to live your dream.

The Dude
09-09-2005, 07:42
Sure, and I understand all that. I guess what I mean is something along the lines of say, getting something like a home equity loan to cover the difference, and being able to work your normal job enough time to cover it.

That was more along the lines of what I was asking about, not the suck it up focus encouragement. That's great too though.

Pete
09-09-2005, 07:52
...I guess what I mean is something along the lines of say, getting something like a home equity loan to cover the difference, and being able to work your normal job enough time to cover it....

Even with no turn-backs the Q course takes a long time. It will be here at Ft Bragg and your family will come with you (I do not recommend that route). Some do better with their family in town, some do not. Some find time for an extra job, some do not. Some who come without their families turn into party animals, some do not.

There is no one size fits all answer. The first item should be stay out of debt and then you work it out from there. Put it on the table and see if your family can make it only on your military pay while you are down here.

The Dude
09-09-2005, 08:04
There is no one size fits all answer. The first item should be stay out of debt and then you work it out from there. Put it on the table and see if your family can make it only on your military pay while you are down here.

Yeah, that's what I'm doing at the moment.

I just figured there had to be guys who were in the 20th who a) joined late while having and maintaining established careers and/or b) were good with money.

sharkmanII
09-09-2005, 08:20
I'm not trying to rain on your parade. I think it's great that you want to be part of "our world". There is always a need for another warrior. Pete had it right with getting the family involved and realizing what the challenges will be. It is not easy, you and the family have to be willing to make a lot of life changes and take some risks with all of your futures, personal and financial. Again good luck with the decision.

jatx
09-09-2005, 09:16
Go to www.esgr.com for lots of good info. Try to get your employer to provide continued health benefits or your family while you are in training, many have been persuaded to do so. Also, consider switching jobs to an employer recognized by ESGR, you might be able to get some pay differential that way. Just be sure to be honest about your involvement with the Guard upfront, so they don't feel betrayed later.

Consolidate any federal student loans and put them on an income-contingent payment plan.

Good luck.

Archangel
09-09-2005, 10:42
Yeah, that's what I'm doing at the moment.

I just figured there had to be guys who were in the 20th who a) joined late while having and maintaining established careers and/or b) were good with money.
I'm in the 20th & I make about as much as you in my civlian career. I also have a mortgage that is around $1500 & a car payment around $550 (not to mention the other bills associated with those two). You have the advantage of having a wife who has the potential to bring in a second income. I don't. I'm just sucking it up & driving on. There are no secret recipes. It's just how much are you willing to sacrifice to do what you want to do in life.

This calculator may help give you a good idea of what you will make during your service to our country: http://www.ngaaz.org/input_form_ad.aspx

aricbcool
09-09-2005, 11:30
El Dude,

Do you have a college degree? If so, why not go AD as an Officer?

Not only would you be able to support the family, you could do Army things all the time. :lifter

--Aric

The Dude
09-09-2005, 11:49
Jatx - thanks for that link!

Archangel - you're right. My wife actually makes more than me, it's just that our mortgage payment is much higher. A large part of my motivation for finding information like this is to put her mind at ease about this, since that's what she's most concerned about. I'd like her to be as supportive about this as I can since I've heard that can have a great effect on one's performance at SFAS and the Q course. I personally don't think it's going to be as bad of a hit as she seems to think. Thanks very much for that calculator, although something must be wrong with it at the moment, it keeps getting an error message. I'll check back on it later.

Aricbcool - That's a valid comment and I can only say there are several reasons. One motivation for going in, aside from serving my country in an excellent unit, is to learn new and interesting skills. Everything I've checked about the officer program says that I'd likely lose some of that ability to choose what I do "based on the needs of the army." Everything I've read about the 20th impresses me and there are certain jobs in SF that I'm particularly interested in (like the 18C MOS). Plus, my wife's career is going very well, and I don't want to sidetrack her if I don't have to.

Thanks for the comments everyone. More is always appreciated.

Kyobanim
09-09-2005, 11:53
For the mortgage, try talking to your lender and if you get no joy out of them, there are plenty of others that will be happy to talk options with you. Try contacting a financial planner. They specialize in helping you with your money.

When loans are concerned, there really isn't any easy path, but I'll bet you can find a patriotic/sympathetic company to help you out.

aricbcool
09-09-2005, 17:52
Jatx - thanks for that link!

Aricbcool - That's a valid comment and I can only say there are several reasons. One motivation for going in, aside from serving my country in an excellent unit, is to learn new and interesting skills. Everything I've checked about the officer program says that I'd likely lose some of that ability to choose what I do "based on the needs of the army." Everything I've read about the 20th impresses me and there are certain jobs in SF that I'm particularly interested in (like the 18C MOS). Plus, my wife's career is going very well, and I don't want to sidetrack her if I don't have to.

Thanks for the comments everyone. More is always appreciated.

I understand. My wife is a domestic engineer. Thus, home is where the kids are.

Honestly, whatever works for you and yours is the best way to go. Just thought I'd throw the O option out there. :)

Phantom
12-25-2005, 20:10
Hello Dude,

One thing not yet brought up, is that one thing you will be entitled to (in addition to your base pay and possible bonuses) would be BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing). As non-prior service, you may not have considered or known about this.

For Active Army, the current BAH rate for E-1 through E-4 with dependents for DC053 is $1614 per month. You may draw this rate while in Initial Entry status. Once you are assigned to Ft. Bragg for the pipeline, it will probably be considered a permanent duty station for pay purposes (QP's please correct me here if I am incorrect) and your authorized BAH rate would drop to the rate for the local area (NC182) which is $867.00 per month for E-1 through E-4.

The rate for National Guard may be slightly different, and there may be different rules as to what location your BAH can be based on (you might get to keep the BAH or something close to it for DC instead of Ft. Bragg).

Good luck to you whatever your course of action.

You can read up on BAH/etc. >>HERE<< (https://secureapp2.hqda.pentagon.mil/perdiem/bah.html)



Hello everyone.

I was wondering if someone could maybe give me some advice or tell me how they might have dealt with a situation similar to mine.

I'd like to join 20th SF as a REP-63, I'd be looking at maybe leaving early spring or so.

What I've been struggling with is how to afford it. I currently make in the mid 50s. I'm not worried about affording deployments so much, because I know there are some bonus and tax incentives, etc. What worries me is the initial training OSUT, Airborne, SFAS, etc.) and how to overcome that income disparity.

It's not that I'm whining about the pay, it's just that housing in my area is notoriously expensive (DC Metro), so our house payment is a fairly significant part of our monthly budget. I have my first child on the way, and I'd prefer not to lose my house in serving my country. It'd also be a much easier sale to the wife if I could assure her that our financial risk is minimal. Do you guys know of any options I might have, or know other guys that were in a similar situation and how they handled it?

dennisw
12-26-2005, 00:43
Sell your house. Put the equity in the bank. Find a cheaper place to rent. Maybe when you get out, prices will have dropped as interest rates rise and you'll be able to buy back in the market without losing anything.

Unless your house is made out of gold, don't let a mortage dictate your future.

Dan
12-26-2005, 08:06
BLUF: You need to focus on doing two things during this time (1) being a good soldier and focused intensity on the Q (2) being a good husband and father.

Everything else will fall into place including your finances. As far as your financial query it's hard to give any advice because you have too many variables it seems that are unclear to me like:
- How many months can you live off of your emergency fund (with no other help financially)?
- do you have any other debt and if so how much?
- will the wife lose her income when she is 8 months pregnant?
- how long before she can go back to work to get income flowing?

The best advice I've heard so far, based on what I understand, is from dennisw to sell the home, rent, save enough for 100% down, buy with cash later, and enjoy things debt free. Reason being that if you didn't have 3-6 months of living expenses in an emergency fund, you wouldn't be coming here asking for advice on finances!

Without knowing some of the above variables, the best advice I can give is to get on a good financial plan. Here's a few good plans:
- Get the book (Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey (daveramsey.com)
- I'm not sure if they have a book, but (crown.org) has a good plan too.

dennisw
12-26-2005, 13:42
This next little bit of advice is free of charge. Having raised two kids and been around the block a few times, it's my opinion, kids need more than college funds. They need a mom at home. I realize your wife makes good dough, but your baby only has one childhood.

The wife and I struggled after she quit her job to raise the kids. Would not trade it for the world. Be careful or your little one will be raised with other folks' norms and standards.

I know it's tough, but no one said it was supposed to be easy. Just my 2 cents.

Sten
12-26-2005, 17:34
This next little bit of advice is free of charge. Having raised two kids and been around the block a few times, it's my opinion, kids need more than college funds. They need a mom at home. I realize your wife makes good dough, but your baby only has one childhood.

The wife and I struggled after she quit her job to raise the kids. Would not trade it for the world. Be careful or your little one will be raised with other folks' norms and standards.

I know it's tough, but no one said it was supposed to be easy. Just my 2 cents.

Or a dad at home.

Stiletto11
12-27-2005, 09:04
One small piece of advice: Make sure you know what you are getting into and why. Once committed, you will find a solution or the solution will find you.;)

The Dude
01-03-2006, 12:04
Thanks again for the advice everyone. I don't think this is as undoable as my wife does, and really I'm looking for ways to help make my case and make her more supportive. I am interested in how the BAH thing works for guardsmen. The military pay compensator that someone was kind enough to provide the link to can vary wildly by location. Getting a good grip on that would really help me in figuring out the exact adjustment from a monthly budgeting perspective.

As for the wife working and having the kid, well, I'm fortunate in two respects there. Her job gives her a fair degree of leniency regarding their "work from home" policy, and on the days she does have to go in to the office, my mother is close enough to be an inexpensive babysitter.

Thanks for the book recommendations.

Surgicalcric
01-03-2006, 17:22
Once you start OSUT you will be paid BAH for wherever your family is residing (search for figure by zipcode.) You will also be paid a Family Seperation Allowance of $250.00 as well as Basic Allowance for Substinance of $274.00.

You will need to decide if they (wife and child) will be accompanying you once you PCS to Bragg or whether you wish to come here without them. Understand that if you wish for them to stay there (wherever that may be) your orders, as cut by the State, will have to specify that you ARE NOT authorized movement of family. If you chose this route, you will ONLY be paid BAH for where your family is residing. You will not be given a barracks room after SFAS, which means you will have to pay for an apt out of pocket.

This sucks...I cant tell you how many guys I saw in the NG Liaison's office complaining about the policy.

Hope this helps you in making your decision.

Crip

The Reaper
01-03-2006, 17:39
Not to be unsympathetic, but that is the way it works for AD soldiers as well. You can leave your familiy whereever you want, but you are out of pocket for expenses if you are PCSed and are not in the same house.

Under most circumstances, barracks in CONUS may not be utilized to house geographic bachelors. Exceptions may be granted to certain groups in priority order by the installation commander, if he has excess housing and no one waiting for quarters. Fort Bragg does not have that exception.

Wait till some of you find out what happens when you and the wife undergo a legal separation. AR 608-99 is not exactly soldier friendly.

TR

18C4V
01-03-2006, 18:15
If you chose this route, you will ONLY be paid BAH for where your family is residing. You will not be given a barracks room after SFAS, which means you will have to pay for an apt out of pocket.

This sucks...I cant tell you how many guys I saw in the NG Liaison's office complaining about the policy.

Hope this helps you in making your decision.

Crip


It all depends on the state whether or not you get "dependants not authorized". California does PCS orders which is totally stupid. NG SF soldiers go back home after the Q. Usually the guys who own homes get screwed by this policy. Home owners become geo bachelors who have to maintain a mortgage for their HOR and maintain an apartment off at Bragg (while getting BAH for Bragg). I did that for 14 months in the Q and that sucked financially.

Even if you decide to rent the place out and PCS the family, guess what? The waiting list for on post housing will be months.....Housing told me that it will take 7 months for me when I first started weighing my options before I decided on being a geo bachelor.

Guess what if you're from California........ as a NG soldier you will not get TLE nor will you get DLA for your PCS move to Bragg and for your PCS move back to your HOR.

You really have to plan for all sort of contingencies otherwise you will be distracted while you're in the Q and may have to drop out. I've known a few guys who did drop out due to poor planning with their finance.

Razor
01-03-2006, 20:56
Family Separation is now $250/month? :eek: Wow, it was $75/month just 10 years ago; that's quite an increase.

Stiletto11
01-05-2006, 10:19
One option might be to link up with others of like mind and split the costs as a geo-bachelor. It sucks but you have a mission to accomplish.:D

The Reaper
01-05-2006, 10:33
One option might be to link up with others of like mind and split the costs as a geo-bachelor. It sucks but you have a mission to accomplish.:D

Lots of that going on, apartment construction is booming.

TR

18C4V
01-05-2006, 12:24
One option might be to link up with others of like mind and split the costs as a geo-bachelor. It sucks but you have a mission to accomplish.:D


Great advice!!!! just be careful in whose name is on the bills: lease, electrictiy, phone , cable, internet etc....

Otherwise you could come back from a phase and find out that a roommate got dropped and left without leaving money or a message.

Martin
01-05-2006, 12:54
Great advice!!!! just be careful in whose name is on the bills: lease, electrictiy, phone , cable, internet etc....

Otherwise you could come back from a phase and find out that a roommate got dropped and left without leaving money or a message.
Or, if you sign the dotted line, could make an estimate of how much it will cost per month and try to hold one month worth of money from everyone in reserve.

Martin

fsamimi
02-27-2006, 13:57
Also, Google the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act (SCRA). I searched for this but didn't see any references on this site.

DanUCSB
02-27-2006, 17:44
I am not NG, but I have been AD with dependents. I, also, currently live in a place that is very expensive (Santa Barbara, CA), with a wife and two children.

And the best piece of advice I would give is to restrain your habits.

The biggest problem with making money, from my perspective, and especially if you are going into the service, is that it's way too easy to just assume that your current standard of living is the minimum you deserve. It's happened to me, it's happened to a lot of people. But the fact is, almost everyone has a whole lot of creature comforts that aren't exactly necessary. You don't need a mortgage. You especially don't need a car payment. I am yet a young man, and one thing I've noticed amongst many of my 'peers' here is that everyone assumes that they should have all the luxuries and creature comforts of a successful middle-aged businessman (your own home, a new car, several credit cards, that big screen TV... all with payments attached)...

... even while they are still in their twenties.

In short, live within your means. You can do it, quite happily, after an initial adjustment period. If your means ain't up to your livin', your livin' best change.

dennisw
02-27-2006, 21:00
Dan hit the nail on the head. My wife teaches stress management at a local college. As part of the course they have to keep a diary or daily journal. It's amazing the stress they put themselves through. When I went to college I was truly a starving student. No one expected you to have money. However, today, a guy going to school has to have a nice car, take his girl out for expensive dinners and buy her gifts.

They work full time and go to school full time. It's hard to really study under those conditions. Mostly I believe they incur way to much debt.

Petelink
03-22-2006, 21:12
I was in the same boat as you, Dude, even joined the same unit you probably will (B/2/20 in Glen Arm). It was rough but there are ways to make it easier. Talk to guys from the unit down at Bragg and they'll fill you in, or PM me. I will say this: leave the wife and kids at home in DC. It will allow them to stay in a comfortable place where they have friends and a routine, and it will allow you to focus entirely on the task at hand. Plus you live close enough that you will likely be able to go home on many weekends. I've seen this work for several people, including myself, but the key is to not get sucked into the party scene. Married guys who are newly geographically single can get into trouble, especially during phase III and language school when you're essentially on a 9-5 schedule with evenings off. It probably goes without saying, but don't be a medic, almost earned me a divorce and my head still hurts from all the "discussions" my wife and I have had over it. Not sure if you've decided on an MOS, but if you are planning on coming to B/2/20 we really need commo guys. Best of luck with this tough decision, I have no regrets.