A-1. Leave and Earnings Statement
The leave and earning statement (LES) is your detailed pay statement, which is issued at the end of each month. It shows your entitlements, deductions, and allotments, and it provides a summary of all pay transactions. It also shows your end-of-month pay and where your pay is being deposited. It is your duty to review the LES and ensure the information is correct. If you find an error, report it to your chain of command immediately.
1. ID/Administration. The first section is the ID/Administration section. It shows your name, social security number (SSN), pay grade, pay date, years of service, ETS date, your branch of service, the code number of your servicing finance office, and the period covered by the LES.
2. Entitlements. The second section is the entitlements section and lists all of your pay and allowances. Some common entries in this section include:
Base Pay: Soldiers base pay is taxable and is calculated according to pay grade and years of service.
Allowances: Soldiers are entitled to non-taxable allowances in addition to monthly base pay.
Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS). BAS is tax-free money the Army pays Soldiers who are not relying on Dining Facilities (DFACs) for all their meals (i.e., married Soldiers).
Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is tax-free money the Army pays Soldiers for housing.
Clothing Allowance (CA). Active duty enlisted Soldiers are paid a tax free Clothing Allowance to defray the cost of maintaining uniforms and replacing worn-out uniforms.
3. Deductions. There may be several deductions taken out of Soldier’s pay, such as taxes and fines.
4. Allotments. There are various types of allotments and limits as to the number of allotments Soldiers may have at one time.
5. Summary. Provides the dollar totals of various sections and of your LES.
6. Leave. Shows a running balance and a history of your leave account.
7. Federal Tax Section. Federal taxes are figured on your pay.
8. FICA Section. Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes are figured on your taxable pay. FICA data is shown in the first five blocks.
9. State Tax. (Similar to Federal tax block)
10. Pay Data. DFAS uses the "PAY DATA" section for information about entitlements that relate to your pay account.
11. Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). This section shows information pertaining to your Thrift Savings Plan. The TSP is a program available to you, which invests a portion of your pay into a variety of available funds
12. Remarks. This section shows your entitlements and deductions so far this calendar year. Other than that, the "REMARKS" section explains entries in the other sections, as well as other useful information.
A-2. Managing Personal Finances
It is your duty as a Soldier to fulfill all of your financial obligations and provide for your family members. There are several key components to achieving this task. Take action to ensure you are receiving your paycheck and have financial systems in place to meet your needs. Inquire with other individuals about the services they receive and make educated financial decisions.
MyPay: Soldiers can review and print their leave and earnings statement, thrift savings plan investments, savings deposit program Statement, allotments, savings bonds purchases, and direct deposit amounts at https://mypay.dfas.mil/mypay.aspx.Ensure you visit the official military web site only.
Sure-Pay Program: The Army requires all Soldiers to enroll in the sure-pay program. This means that you must have your paycheck deposited directly to a checking or savings account. If you close or change this account, you must ensure that you go to your local PAC and fill out the proper forms to update your Sure-Pay data.
The Army will pay you once per month on the first of each month, or twice per month on the 1st and the 15th -your choice based on your budget requirements.
You must carefully review your monthly leave and earning statement to ensure that your pay is being deposited properly and you are receiving all of the benefits (Base Pay, BAH, etc.) that you are entitled.
Bank Deposit Account: There are some key items to consider when choosing the financial institution at which you will keep your direct deposit account.
First, inquire if there is a monthly service charge for maintaining a checking account. Numerous institutions offer free checking, as long as you have set up Sure-Pay.
Then, inquire if there a charge for using ATMs. Cash withdrawal charges can be expensive, and often banks do not charge ATM fees at local branches. Ask yourself, “Does the bank have branches available throughout the U.S.?”
Third, as the Army requires frequent moves, it is important to consider a bank that provides service at numerous military installations where you could be stationed.
Lastly, while a local bank may be your best option, you may have to change accounts when you make a permanent change of station move.
Check Writing: Managing your checkbook will be a critical factor in properly administering your personal finances. You must pay close attention to each transaction to ensure you always know your checking account balance; this ensures you have sufficient funds in the account and do not write a fraudulent check.
There are several consequences for writing a bad check. First of all, your bank and the institution to which the check was written may each assess a service charge often as much as $30 each or more if they use a percentage system based on the amount of your check.
In addition to service charges, your reputation and credit rating will be damaged, making it difficult (and more costly) to purchase a car, home, or other items requiring a loan.
Also, you could lose check-writing privileges on post, and if you bounce a check on post, your commander and 1SG will receive notification, and you may be reprimanded or punished.