My husband’s income increased through deployment. He made more money as a major than he was making as a civilian. Our expenses changed, also, with his absence. He was not spending money and was no longer part of the budget for food, clothing, gasoline, and entertainment. I continued to work, and with both of our incomes and this decreased spending, we were able to accumulate a large savings account.
This situation is much different than in previous wars, when young men entered the service at much lower pay rates and, if married, their wives were usually not professional, career women, so money was often tight for those military families. Kathy shared her discomfort initially in this situation.
I met many military wives in a support group. They were in similar economic situations and their spending was unbelievable. I think I tried hard not to increase spending with our savings goal in mind. Some spending, I believe, is tied to emotions. When I was feeling angry about our situation, I spent money. As the savings account grew, I relaxed a little and spent a little more on myself—haircuts, dining out, clothing, and makeup. Other wives were remodeling their entire homes, buying new homes, and getting new vehicles. When my husband returned, we went on a bit of a spending spree, and we don’t feel the same financial pressures we did before we accumulated the savings account.
Not all military families experience such increased financial resources. However, without the draft, enlistment demands have changed the level of incentives currently offered.