Decreasing Cost of Living Allowance at Misawa in 2018

  • Published
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Cost of Living Allowance rates at Misawa Air Base will decrease significantly in 2018.

Service members will see the change start in January's first pay period. The decrease is the result of a host of factors, including Retail Price Schedule data, exchange rate fluctuations and the prices of goods and services in the Continental United States compared to the prices of similar goods and services in Japan.

At Misawa AB, decreases in the costs of furniture, household goods, recreation and groceries account for this year's COLA decrease.

While no one likes to see a decrease in their monthly paycheck, service members will have the opportunity to directly influence 2019 COLA rates by participating in the Living Pattern Survey this summer. The web-based Living Pattern Survey asks service members at which local stores they shop and what percentage of their shopping they do at the commissary and Exchange versus off-base. The data is then combined with demographic factors such as rank, time in service, number of dependents, and housing status to calculate COLA rates.

"The Living Pattern Survey is our primary opportunity that comes along once every three years to provide direct input into the COLA formulation process," said U.S. Army Maj. Tiffany Harris, the U.S. Forces Japan financial manager. "It's critical we have maximum participation and service members take the survey seriously in order to provide an accurate picture of spending habits on and off base to reflect a more accurate view of living costs in Japan."

For those service members concerned about the financial impacts of the 2018 COLA decrease, there are resources available to help. The Airman and Family Readiness Center offers the "The Money Mastery" class once a month and can assist military families with creating a budget that reflects the reduction in take-home pay. The next class is Dec. 12 and Airmen can sign up at the A&FRC. Call 226-4735 for class details.