Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How much does it cost to be a Midshipman?

My Dad would say that life in the Navy for a young single man was this: you could get your paycheck, blow it in town, and come back broke to a roof over your head, and four meals per day. (Taco Bell did not invent the fourth , nighttime, meal-- the Navy did). I never agreed that this blog was purely polite dinner conversation, so I decided to discover if this held true for midshipmen at the USMMA. Mids and Cadets at the other four service academies start receiving a stipend on day 0. In fact, all Midshipmen at the USNA are paid the same rate- it's just that the seniors have a lot fewer deductions than the fourth class. At the USMMA, a real neat and motivational promotional video ( ) notes that you receive pay while at sea. In fact, it's quoted by the first class that the stipend received from sea year minus midshipmen fees paid each trimester add to a positive sum for you. (I'm waiting for my check to arrive from my week on a ship in Baltimore, but I trust it will). That figure assumes that you won't spend all of your cash in Bangkok. So what must you do to live off your stipend? Limit snacking-- comissary food (free meals) is to be consumed only at designated mealtimes, in the dining hall, or a box meal if on a team trip, on watch, or while in the infirmary. Having commissary food or utensils in your room will make you eligible for Extra Duty hours. 6 hours of work is a lot to pay for that banana. Have a restricted social life-- I'd say that there are likeminded midshipmen who would enjoy on-campus, free, activities while their classmates splurge in the city-- but I fear that you're one of few! That was also a pun. Midshipmen on restriction go weeks without going out on the town-- but I'd recommend you not put yourself on restriction to make for fiscal discipline. Videogames are a good investment. $60 will buy you weekends worth of entertainment, and, if it's the right game, you'll have plenty of friends to play with. World of Warcraft, Modern Warfare, and Halo are popular. You could also take a knack for reading or aimless cruising of the internet, but be ready for nicknames. Use the "free" laundry service-- no, it's not free, but you paid for it in your midshipmen fees. Drop off one day, pick up the next, except for Sundays. Just be sure you have a pair of PT clothes for the day your laundry's gone. Resist the temptation to buy things you don't need- you'll be tossing a lot of it before going to sea, anyway. Your entire room just won't fit into two suitcases. Yes, I've bought things I regret paying for, but my case is very mild: I've heard of a classmate buying an "unneeded" I-phone. Be athletic- or rather, "sportif", a word borrowed from the French. Sticking to a workout routine, taking extended jogs on weekends, or having an affinity for shooting hoops will take up some idle time that you might otherwise be spending cash during. Also, you might feel enough self-esteem that you have no need to prove yourself as a party-hardy. No one insisted that my next door neighbor stay out past midnight-- after all, he was the star swimmer. Eat meals on campus-- resist the urge to order out. $10 saved by having a meal at the commissary rather than ordering, once per week, adds up to some change. It's okay to "be full" when your pals order over the phone. Got to go to dinner at the chow hall before it closes.

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