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 

  Tweet this now

Tip of the Day

  • Written by Guest Blogger | March 1, 2014

    Are you ready to set your #savings goal and make a plan to achieve it? Take the Military Saves Pledge today http://ow.ly/C7sGZ

Saver Stories View all »

From Shopaholic to Saver

Written by Jackie Toops | January 13, 2021

Many of us spend too much money on things we don’t need, but we don’t always know why. It’s easy to get a quick fix from retail therapy, but before we know it, our hard-earned money is gone. Oftentimes, when we engage in a “shopaholic” lifestyle or sporadic shopping sprees, we still experience feelings of emptiness, but to make it worse, we now have debt, too.

Khanmany was a shopaholic who turned everything around. She is active duty Navy and shares, “I was spending too much on things I didn't need. I was going shopping for no reason and was trying to fill a void. I was running up every credit card I owned to include Victoria's Secret, Military Star, Navy Federal, TJ Maxx, JCPenney, Macy's, USAA, and was only paying the minimum payments.”

Read more...

Making Saving Automatic Leads to Personal Success

Written by Lila Quintiliani | May 27, 2020

Ryan’s savings journey started when he was an active duty airman. Frequent deployments and temporary duty assignments gave him the opportunity to save. By the time he transitioned out of active duty, he had built up a healthy rainy-day fund and had started to aggressively save for retirement.

Read more...

Building a Six-Figure Savings While Enjoying Life

Written by Jackie Toops | November 13, 2020

Does the idea of saving up hundreds of thousands of dollars seem impossible? How about doing it while still living an enjoyable lifestyle?

For military spouse Martina and her husband, an E-5 in the Navy, accumulating a six-figure savings has become a reality. One might think that in order to save this much, it would take a great deal of sacrificing and forgoing a certain quality of life, but Martina and her husband would disagree. “Over the past few years (about five), we've managed to save almost $120,000 while mostly living on one income. We've learned so much about easy ways to save money and live a good life,” shares Martina.

Read more...