Wife and kids: the quickest way to earn more pay?

Getting married or having kids could earn you more pay as a military service member. Just don’t be hasty.

If you have spent even a day in the military you know that pay is the number one driver of happiness.  Or, at least it can be the number one driver of sadness and desperation.

Lots of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines try to boost their pay any way they can.  Some of the ways include:

  • Earning language pay by passing the Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT)
  • Going to a special school like Airborne, Dive, Jumpmaster, Air Assault, etc.
  • Busting your ass to get on a meritorious promotion board…and winning it
  • And on, and on, and on…

Another path that some service members take is to get married or to have kids.  Many times I’ve seen folks living in the barracks looking in awe at the luxurious lifestyle of those who live off-base or off-post.  You can almost see the wheels turning inside their heads:

If I could just find a man/woman who is smokin’ hot, who loves to ride around in my Nissan Skyline or my IROC-Z, and who desperately wants to help me earn a few hundred dollars more each month just by living in the same house as me…I’d be set!

red chevrolet iroc-z

It happens over and over.  A young soldier/Marine/sailor/airman falls in love one weekend.  The next weekend, they are married and moving out of the barracks (or dorm), packing all their things into their two-door, imported sports car.  Skipping and whistling because they’re so happy to be gaining a bit more pay per paycheck (don’t worry about the extra expenses they are also adding…like rent, groceries, utilities, etc.).

But is the pay increase  really all that significant?  The chart below shows the impact on a service member’s pay from having dependents.  Use this as ONLY ONE thing to consider before you say ‘I do’ or make a baby.

2017 military bah chart with bah differential

If you’re wondering what BAH differential is, not to worry.  We’ve got your six.

BAH Differential

This is the amount of money you would receive if you are assigned to single-type housing (i.e. a barracks room), and you have an obligation to pay child support.  The catch is that if your child support is less than the BAH Differential would be, you won’t get the Differential.

Bottom line:

Make sure you know exactly what will get added to your pay before you get married or have a kid.  Doing either of those things simply for a little wallet cushioning may not be the greatest idea, but that’s up to you to decide for yourself.


Sandboxx is an app for service members, recruits, their families, and supporters. It was created by two Marines and a Marine father who wanted to make it easier to stay in touch with family when off-the-grid without a phone and with units when they were back home. Download Sandboxx free.

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