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Per Diem

September 18th, 2009 at 07:25 am

My husband has been traveling. This often works out as a financial benefit to us. While he travel the Army pays his all of his expenses, including food and lodging. Meanwhile, I don't have to buy groceries here at home for him. He also isn't buying fuel to travel locally to and from work.

I asked for this trip if he knew what the per diem was for meals. No, he did not. I looked it up. For this location it was $46 per day. The trip was for 11 days. Because two of those are travel days he will get reimbursed 75% of the per diem. My trusty calculator says he can spend up to $575 on meals for 11 days. Wow! I realize when travel meals can add up, but this is for one person!

I told him before he left it would be nice if we could make a little money on the trip. Honestly, I'd be fine with $10 a day or $100.

He says he's buying meals at the nearby Air Force base, where a soda is $0.30 and a large salad bar salad is $0.60. He's also buying a meat, vegetable and starch for all under $5! It's like he's gone back to the 1950's. Really, where in the United States can one get so much food for $5?

Turns out he's only spending about $10/day on food! Um...that's a lot left over from a $46 per diem. We may end up with over $300 extra in our pocket! It's been awhile since this has happened to us. Usually, he doesn't travel for that many days in a row. Usually, he just spends carefree without knowledge of the per diem.

Oh...I just got a great idea how to use some of the money. My husband has a birthday in October. I'm going to get him something really good. Really good! And no... I won't use all the money!

As a side note to this positive income news, I do feel guilty that we make money this way off the government. I'm sure this is not exactly wise use of government tax dollars. Right now, those are rules and sometimes we use them to our advantage.

8 Responses to “Per Diem”

  1. mrs. Says:


    What a fun extra bonus! Got to love found money!

  2. Broken Arrow Says:

    Wow, that's a nice perk for the military.

  3. monkeymama Says:

    My first job out of college only paid $30k per year (mind you, this was an expensive area!!!). BUT, I always got paid per diem for working long hours, and mileage reimbursement (lots of local travel). & most of that went to our home down payment... IT's not just the government - I mean the private sector does the same, mostly by law. HEck, I Wasn't even traveling overnight. Was $1k/month, on average, tax-free reimbursements. (I drove a LOT and worked a LOT of hours).

    Congrats on the windfall!

  4. frugaltexan75 Says:

    Nice bit of money to do something good for your husbands birthday. Smile

  5. pjmama Says:

    You shouldn't feel bad for taking advantage of the benefits the military is offering you. I'm sure you and your husband have made many sacrifices in order to maintain his military career. You deserve them! So be happy Smile and congrats!

  6. Nika Says:

    I also love it when my husband is on TDY. It saves money on tolls and time on his commute.

    And the Marriott points - we got to stay in luxury hotels in the center of Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna, Hong Kong, DC...

    But mainly, I get to miss him - and there is a certain freshness in a relationship when we spend few days apart. I get to miss him and appreciate him more. I'm so excited the day before he is scheduled to come home.

    He normally does spend less money than his per diem, but not much - he has to eat healthy and that tends to be more expensive (vegetables and fish only taste well and prepared in a healthy way in nicer places). But this is what this money is for and I am glad he does it - health is important. Also, when colleagues or people he works with there go out to a dinner or a drink, he joins them. I think socializing is important when one is building career.

    And speaking of other benefits - did you know that some hotels have a policy to allow gov. employees use government rate while on personal travel? In some places it can be a really good deal.

  7. creditcardfree Says:

    Nika, I completely agree about missing him and appreciating him more when he returns. Fun!!

    I did know about getting the government rate on personal travel, too. It usually makes for the best deal.

  8. FrugalFish Says:

    Don't feel guilty about the extra cash. That's the going rate to feed a person "on the road"- if he chooses to spend less, then there's no reason the benefit can't be yours.

    My DH travels for work a lot these days (usually 2-4 days at a time) and is reimbursed per diem for meals. Last summer he was gone for 2 weeks and found that it was not hard to spend that amount of money on 3 decent, nutritious meals each day, especially when you may not be familiar with a particular area. That trip in particular, I think he spent a little more than his per diem.

    The only reason we "make" money when DH is on travel is because he's not here spending his regular paycheck!

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