Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Do I work? Is the JAG pay 'enough'?

To answer the first question, no, I don't work. We had 3 kids when J joined the AF and I have never felt like we didn't make 'enough' money. To start, Texas was a very cheap area to live. Coming from California EVERYTHING was cheaper in Texas! Out of seven JAG wives in Texas only one worked. She was a school teacher and they didn't have kids so it made perfect sense for her to get a job. I remember her saying once that the money she made allowed her to buy more things she wanted not just the things they needed. Most of the JAG wives here in Germany don't work either, but we are in a foreign country which may make job hunting a little difficult :)

However, 2 factors come into play for us. First, we don't currently pay any law school loan payments each month. The University J went to offers a loan repayment program for those graduates who take government jobs and make under a certain $$ amount each year. Well, we fit that category. Otherwise we would have to pay $700 a month toward student loans. Which we save at least that much a month anyways but if we had to pay it then our savings wouldn't be as high and we wouldn't feel comfortable like we do.

Second factor, I am frugal by nature. I don't buy whatever I want but at the same time I don't feel deprived. If we want to go out to eat, we do, just not multiple times a week. If I want a new dress, I buy it. Our home has nice things, (admittedly I'm on the vain side a little) I like nice clothes for me and my family but somehow we have enough money.

I'll also note that once J became a JAG we have NEVER received such huge tax returns before. Last year we received nearly $11,000 and the year before that (where we were AF for only half a year) we got $8,000 back! BAH is not taxed so you actually make more money than the IRS docks you for.

Lauren, I remember thinking the same thing you did before J started working as a JAG. J went to a top 10 law school and his peers we're coming out making double, nearly triple with bonuses than what he started off earning. With that said, for our family, money hasn't been a worry at all. Obviously, we're not rolling in the dough like his peers are but my girls get to be with their Dad each day so it's worth the pay off :)

If there are other JAG wives reading this and you have good input please speak up and I will post your comments because this is a good question. It was definitely one of my main concerns before J accepted the position.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Q & A: Support System & Childcare

Question: My husband and I are considering JAG too and I am currently pregnant with our third child ( our other two are two and one years old). My concern is feeling overwhelmed with no support system in an unfamiliar place. How have you managed with your three? What type of support system do you find on base? Are their daycares on base and what's the pricing generally for them?

To start off, I am extremely lucky and grateful that I belong to a world wide church. With that said, wherever I move I instantly have a Bishop to call and a church family who is there to help me with my move, adjustments, really anything I need. So I am not the most qualified to answer your question. BUT, the JAG Core is a great resource to start from.

Both bases I've been at have had a great support system among the JAG wives. They do regular get togethers, playdates, park groups, etc. When someone has a baby we offer help with meals, watching siblings, etc. At a larger base you will have more JAG spouses, at a smaller base there may only be a few of you so support will vary. Your concern is valid but if you are the least bit outgoing you will find your own support system because EVERYONE around you is in the same boat and you become each other's temporary family.

I don't use the CDC (on base childcare) so I'm not much help there either. In Texas, drop in was difficult and it was $5 an hour per kid, if you could actually get in. That was the rate for drop in only. Also, I'm pretty sure there is priority to children whose parents are both serving in the military. That sums up what I know about CDC...sorry!! But you can look up any base on the web, search for the CDC and ask them for more information.

I'm still here!

I'm still here, we've just been travelling a ton!! I wanted to post the comment from a reader for all to see (in case you don't actually go to the comments and read them yourselves.) Here is what an anonymous fellow JAG wife has to say.

"I'm an Air Force JAG wife too! I agree with most of what you said. I was so scared of what it would mean for my husband to join the military, but fortunately it has been a great blessing to our family. I, too, had a lot of civilians telling me that being an officers wife would mean entertaining, going to important functions and so forth. I have not experienced that one bit. As far as my husband liking the work: he likes the legal work. Unfortunately, he gets stuck with a lot of non-legal work as well. I'm not sure if that is the case with your husband, but it is something that my husband is tiring of. Anyway, things might change with our new assignment. He will be in 2 years in January, and next summer we will go to our 2nd assignment. Perhaps he will start to be able to specialize and enjoy the work more."