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Should I Join the U.S. Coast Guard Series - The Pay

Updated on March 31, 2019


We always hear the stories about how military personnel hardly are paid anything and military families are always struggling financially and whatnot, so today’s article goes into more depth about pay for the Coast Guard. I cannot speak for the other four branches, but I can say that the pay will most likely exceed your expectations, especially if you haven’t worked for much better than minimum wage. There is more to your paycheck than just the base pay that you see all over the internet, and we will begin to dive into this.

The Breakdown

I won’t get into specific figures, and what I am about to explain applies to most small boat stations on the continental U.S. On top of the base pay, you will most likely be entitled to a housing allowance; due to the fact the Coast Guard rarely have barracks, a food allowance, a uniform allowance, a cost of living allowance, and an additional allowance if you have dependents. The housing allowance, commonly referred to as BAH (basic allowance for housing), is where your main portion of income will come from, especially depending where you live. As I said, I won’t give specific figures, but most likely your BAH will exceed your housing costs, in addition to your bills, and will still have a lot left over. This is definitely possible if you have several roommates and split the costs. Keep in mind, you still have your base pay and you’re other allowances on top of that. Another small detail about the allowance is that it is usually not taxable, so whatever the figure is is truly that amount.

Of course, you will always have people that have negative income, and you are scratching your head as to how they manage that, until after reviewing their lifestyle and coming to a conclusion. For starters, they have the latest and greatest vehicle on the market; they are ordering pizza every day, buying red bulls every day, and buying things that make you wonder why anyone would need that. If you work around computers, you may have even seen people ordering hundreds of dollars’ worth of junk on Amazon. Their goes the week’s pay. None of this means you can’t enjoy the better things in life, but people have to understand their limits and if someone is complaining about not having enough money, reflect on their spending habits. You might have even encountered someone who needs to spend their money on something serious, like an emergency, and they say they do not have it while buying a five hundred dollar game system. Some of you might laugh at this because you have seen it first hand, or am reading this with disbelief. One thing about the military, it takes all kinds and you will see all kinds. The point of all of this, the pay is great, but you have to still be smart with your money, otherwise you will be the latest victim of negative income.

So how does this all relate to the Coast Guard? The pay is better than most places out in the wild, especially for someone in their late teens and early twenties. It must be decent if you have people in their late twenties and thirties going through basic training, no joke on that. You definitely will be able to live well with the income, but it is not an invitation to live a multi millionaire’s lifestyle. One other thing to remember, it is not guaranteed and will not last forever.


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