HONOLULU - Military personnel in Hawaii have an opportunity to affect their paychecks this year by participating in a Cost of Living Allowance Living Pattern Survey, or LPS.

This survey of families\' shopping patterns is taking place March 1-31, and affects the COLA that military personnel stationed in Hawaii receive each month. The approximately 30-minute online survey asks service members and families to identify the off-base retail outlets they use when they shop for food, clothing and other goods and services, such as restaurant meals, hair care and auto repair.

The survey requests information on how often and how much military families spend when they shop on the local economy or off base, and how often and how much they spend when they shop at the commissary, exchange and via the Internet. The data collected in this survey will be used to adjust the Hawaii COLA.

The LPS is one of the building blocks of COLA. Every three years, an LPS is conducted to update local economy outlets where military families shop and the frequency in which they shop at these outlets.

An annual market basket survey, or the Retail Price Survey, collects the prices of 120 goods and services from these identified outlets. These prices are then compared to those in the continental U.S., or CONUS, and a Cost of Living Index is computed that reflects the difference.

The Hawaii COLA allowance is designed to compensate service members for the difference between the costs of goods and services in CONUS, and the same goods and services in Hawaii.

All uniformed military members with Hawaii as their permanent duty station for at least three months and who do not reside in the barracks should take the survey, including U.S. Public Health Services and Hawaii Army and Air National Guard personnel.

Service members are encouraged to take the survey at home with their families to ensure that input is received from the people who actually do the shopping for the household. Maximum participation is key to a successful Hawaii LPS, and ultimately, a fair and accurate COLA rate.

Take the survey at https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/oscola/lps/hawaii/.

Page last updated Mon March 7th, 2011 at 12:34