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How Joining the Military Allowed Me to Stay At Home

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Before Sam joined the Army, we lived paycheck to paycheck. Our pay was eaten up by a mortgage, 2 cars, and a new baby.

It was the insurance that killed us though.

Each month, Sam paid nearly $400 to his work insurance for us to be on it. This was through his job which was with the state. Then – we had a $6,000 family deductible we had to meet each year, and they only covered so much after that anyway.

Every year we met the deductible – just in time for it to restart all over again.

Once we started receiving bills in the mail for thousands of dollars due to our daughter needing to be seen at Children’s for her severe reflux, we knew something had to change. We couldn’t pay as much as we were every month and have any money left.

We ended up selling our home and second car, then moving to a bigger city and renting an apartment for a year. I had been at home with my daughter for almost a full year and the thought of going back to work full time was so hard. We didn’t know if we had any other choice. Sam had made a transfer so we still had the same insurance.

When he began to talk about the Army, I htought perhaps he’d lost his mind. We’d already been through 4 years with him in the Marine Corps, multiple deployments – including one to Iraq – how could he want to do this again? I saw how passionate he was about it though, how much he’d missed that routine and life the past 6 years out, and began to reconsider.

Once he was in, he had 3 months to get ready before he went to his school for his new job. As we talked about what it meant for our future, we realized that if we continued to live a bit more frugally than we had in previous years, I could stay at home.

Being in the Army means we get a housing stipend. Choose wisely and you can end up in a cute home with money left over for utilities at some posts. We chose Tricare (military insurance) with a deductible for Bella and me, but it’s only $300 per year. After that, everything is covered. If we go on base, there isn’t any deductible.

When Sam is away, we get extra money – the amount depending on how long he’s gone and where. This helps with extras – a sitter to relieve me for a few hours, someone to help with yard care, extra money to go see him if we’re able.

We are able to pay down quite a bit of our debt and set a budget. Being at home allowed me to work from home as a freelance writer, a dream of mine since I was a little girl. Most of that money goes to our adoption.

The military isn’t anything you’ll get rich from. But it provides us with a dependable, ample amount that lets us both do what we love. And that’s worth more than anything.