Review Your Leave and Earning Statement (LES) to Understand the Fine Print, Savings Status

It’s National Payroll Week - a time to celebrate employees. It’s also the perfect time to take a look at your or your spouse’s Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) to make sure you understand the fine print.

Here are some things to review the next time you get paid:

  1. Are you saving automatically?

Saving automatically is the most effective way to save. Each time pay day comes around, your savings will increase, and you’ll be less likely to spend money you could be saving.

Setting up automatic savings is easy. Assess your finances to determine how much money you can comfortably afford to set aside. Then you or your spouse can set up an allotment via MyPay, or use your banking institution to automatically transfer money from your checking account to a separate savings account. >> Learn more about automatic savings.

Once the allotment is in place, you’ll begin to see these deductions in the LES. Think of automatic savings as a way to set it and forget it; you’ll never miss a savings deposit again and you’ll be one step closer to your savings goal each pay day.

  1. Do you know the difference between net and gross income?

Gross income is the amount of money paid before any deductions take place. The amount actually received from a paycheck is net income. Net income is what’s earned after Social Security and Medicare (FICA), federal and state taxes, and other similar deductions have been taken out. >> Learn more about National Payroll Week.

On your LES, you’ll be able to see the gross income – including base pay, meal allowance (BAS), housing allowance (BAH or OHA), and any special bonuses – listed under “Entitlements.” Here you’ll also find any hardship duty pay (HDP), family separation allowance (FSH) or other special pay.

The “deductions” section shows exactly how much money was taken from your paycheck for your social security, Medicare, and taxes. You’ll be able to see the total withheld this pay period, as well as the total that has been withheld to date, this year.

To ensure that the correct amount of taxes is being withheld per pay period, look closely at the “Fed Taxes” and “State Taxes” to see your marital status and exemptions. If you see that your filing status is inaccurate, be sure to consult with your Personnel/Finance Department and update this in MyPay to get this squared away. This will help ensure a smooth process when you apply for an income tax refund next year.

Want to know more about reading your Leave and Earnings Statement? Check out this resource from SaveandInvest.org.

  1. Are you saving for retirement?

When it comes to planning for your future, late is better than never, so don’t feel badly if you’re getting a late start. There are always options available for you, at any age. If you are a member of the uniformed services or Federal employee, you have access to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). Eligible service members now have access to the new Blended Retirement System.  

Unfortunately, many spouses and family members do not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k) plan.  Even if a spouse or family member's employer doesn’t offer a retirement plan, you can still save for their retirement, and get some tax benefits in the process, by putting money in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

Now’s a great time to review your paystub to read and understand the fine print and to assess your savings status.


Let Military Saves help you save money so you can feel confident about your finances. It all starts when you make a commitment to yourself to save. Take the first step today and take the Military Saves pledge to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth over time. And it doesn't stop there. Military Saves will keep you motivated with information, advice, tips, and reminders to help you reach your goal. Think of us as your own personal support system.

TAKE THE PLEDGE


Reviewing your Leave and Earning Statement (LES) can help you save money and plan for retirement. v/ @MilitarySaves! https://bit.ly/2wW4HCh 

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