As with any new job, for newly enlisted military personnel, getting that first paycheck is a great validation (and often a huge relief).
Military personnel are paid on the 1st and 15th of each month. If those days fall on a non-duty day, you are paid on the duty day preceding. Your pay is direct-deposited into your bank account. Note that you can also elect to be paid monthly, but it might be difficult to budget that way.
How to Prepare for Your First Air Force Paycheck
Ideally, you should set up a bank account (either savings or checking) before you depart for Air Force Basic Military Training. Bring your account information and an ATM/debit card with you. If you don't have an account set up, one of the first things the staff will do is require you to establish an account at the base credit union or base bank.
During your in-processing, you will complete paperwork to begin your military pay.
Getting Your First Air Force Paycheck
When will you receive your first paycheck? It depends on when you complete your paperwork and when it's processed. The date you fill out the paperwork during in-processing, and the date the information is input into the Finance Computer System are not the same dates. It may take as long as 30 days for you to see your first check, so try to budget accordingly.
Once it arrives, your first paycheck will contain all the pay you've earned up to that point. For recruits without dependents, that means base pay only. If you enlisted with an advanced rank, you will be paid the basic pay for that advanced rank, even though you don't get to wear the rank during basic until your graduation.
How Much Will I Receive in My First Air Force Paycheck?
For those with dependents, it means base pay and housing allowance. If you have dependents, you'll also receive a family separation allowance, but that won't start until you've been away from your dependents for 30 days.
Your first paycheck will be pro-rated to the number of days you've been on active duty. For example, if you receive your first paycheck 30 days after arrival, you will receive the full-rate of the monthly pay and allowances in that paycheck.
If, however, you receive your first paycheck two weeks after arrival, it will contain half of the monthly base pay and half of the monthly housing allowance (for those with dependents). Of course, taxes and other deductions (such as the deduction for your basic training debit card account -- see below) are taken out.
Basic Training Debit Card
Be aware that while you may receive everything you need at basic training, only actual uniform items are issued for free. Non-uniform items, such as notebooks, pens, flashlights, etc. are not.
A couple of days after arrival, you'll be issued an official basic training "debit card." This card has part of your initial military pay deposited in a special finance account. When you need to purchase something that is not issued free (such as running shoes, soap, shampoo, haircuts, laundry costs, etc.), you'll use this card. Any funds remaining on this card when you finish basic will be added to your next paycheck.
Bringing Cash to Air Force Basic Training
You are allowed to have cash at basic training. How much you can have at any one time is up to your training instructor, but it probably won't be a large amount. Except when you're using the cash, to buy a soda or candy bar, for instance, all your bills must be locked up in your security drawer, and you must enter and keep track of the serial numbers for each bill in your pocket notebook.