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Thread: Joining the Air Force at 17

  1. #61
    Senior Member Stalwart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BENDER56 View Post
    ... and even when I was in, too.

    I joined in '84 as an A1C and retired in '10 as a MSgt. Now, I'll admit my wife also worked for much of the time I was in, but due to the frequent moves she never got far up the pay hierarchy and usually worked at jobs paying slightly above minimum wage.

    Anyway, we never had any financial problems. We always had enough to pay for everything we needed for ourselves and our kids, most of what we wanted, and still had plenty left over to save and invest. Of course, it helped that neither of us have extravagant "wants".

    My last three years on AD I was making more than 70K. And this was for a guy without a degree.

    I never understood all the, "Oh, woe is me," whining I heard throughout my career about being so underpaid and impoverished. I got paid the same as them and I was doing just fine, thanks. I dunno, maybe I was paid from the double-secret military pay scale and didn't know it.

    It might be before your time, but in 2000 there was an infamous article published in the Washington Post and written by a former member of the Congressional Budget Office entitled, "Our GIs Earn Enough." In it, she made a decent-enough case that military compensation didn't actually suck as much as everyone seemed to believe. Well, from the uproar it created in the rank-and-file military you would have thought the god-hating commies themselves had descended into main-street USA and canceled weekends forever. Thankfully, some SrA wrote a sappy, ad hominem "reply" that got emailed around the world a hundred times and reinforced everyone's certainty that we all lived in suckville and made everybody feel better. I just don't get people.

    Now I get $36K for staying home and sitting on my ass. God bless 'Murca.
    One of the big problems (maybe the biggest) we have in the military with our pay etc is we have way too many junior people on the lower end of the pay chart (avg for an E3 is about 21k per year in pay -- 35k with benefits etc) who are trying to support a family on their pay with a lifestyle that does not conform to their income. It is entirely possible to do it on $35k or $40k a year but you have to adjust your spending on non-essentials to do it.

    As an E3 living in the barracks (& I had no bills) I had more money than I knew what to do with, as an E4 I lived out in town in a decent apartment, as an E5, E6 & E7 I lived in a small beach house on the Atlantic Ocean in NC and still had more money per month than I spent. I didn't get married until I was an E6 and until our current house (I am now an O4) we never really changed the size of the home we had (we went ahead and got a house we think we will be in for 10-15 years.)
    The most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears.

  2. #62
    Senior Member Rusty Jones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stalwart View Post
    I would ask, how many companies would take a high school graduate with no training and pay them roughly $21k per year (avg for an E3) add in about 15k in benefits (free medical, free dental, valuation of their pension, tax fee housing allowance or housing provided etc.) and then pay them while they are trained for their job (1 month to sometimes 18+ months); add in eligibility for 30 days of paid leave from our first day of employment vice a graduated system (which usually at good companies starts at 7 or 10 days per year -- unpaid), granted we have to take leave where sometimes a civilian may not, but we also get time off work to go to medical & dental -- readiness is part of our job etc.

    Now, at my level with all my pay & allowances I gross right under $130k per year and I have quite a bit of responsibility associated with my job.
    You may actually take home more than a civilian who grosses $130K, if you take this into account: take your BAH and BAS, and use the "gross up" calculator at paycheckcity.com. Since those allowances are tax free, you would need to figure out what the gross amounts would be if they were not tax free. That's how I gauge what military members actually make when comparing them to civilians.
    "Well... Uber's going to "driverless" cars soon, and their research probably shows that they're a natural fit (when it comes to getting paid for doing nothing)."
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  3. #63
    Senior Member Stalwart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rusty Jones View Post
    You may actually take home more than a civilian who grosses $130K, if you take this into account: take your BAH and BAS, and use the "gross up" calculator at paycheckcity.com. Since those allowances are tax free, you would need to figure out what the gross amounts would be if they were not tax free. That's how I gauge what military members actually make when comparing them to civilians.
    I definately do, since my BAH alone is about $42k of my gross. Also factoring that I get medical and dental for me, medical for my family (our daughter's 7 surgeries in the past year have been almost $150k alone) etc.

    I don't try to discourage people from getting out / encourage them to stay ... but when I talk to folks who are getting out, money is almost always a factor they bring up. My advice is to take whatever you gross and add about 25-30% ... that would be where you need to start to maintain your standard of living / purchasing power etc. If you are getting out, to increase your standard of living you will add even more. Of course cost of living is a factor; if you are moving from DC to rural North Carolina then you can afford to not 'make more money' but still live better than you were. A friend of mine in the USMC did the opposite: got out of the military and went from North Carolina to DC after landing a job where she was making $6k more a year than she was making in NC and was originally really excited about it. Her standard of living sucked, which made her miserable and not too long after she relocated away from DC out to Montana.
    The most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears.

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