Most active duty military families live paycheck to paycheck, so tips for being frugal on a military budget are a must if you want to avoid debt! Being in the military has many perks and advantages, but you do need to be resourceful with your income in order to stretch it out. Having been a military wife for the past 2 years, I’d love to share a few tips for being frugal that I’ve learned along the way. There are lots of things military spouses can do to help save pennies here and there, so read on!
1. Join Coupon Rewards Programs
There are more than several websites out there geared towards military families, with multiple tips for being frugal to save on your grocery bill and coupons specifically for military families available for you to print off at no charge. One of my favorite websites is called militaryshoppers.com and it has tons of coupons to select from. You can also sign up to receive commissary coupons in the mail, plus a rewards card already loaded with coupons if you go to commissaries.com. This card is re-loadable monthly, at no charge to you!
2. Military Discounts
If you are active duty, retired, or reservist personnel, or if your spouse qualifies in one of these positions, then ask for a military discount ANYWHERE you go. Most places offer one and it never hurts to try. Always show your military I.D. card when asked to see a valid picture I.D. You may not always receive a military discount, but some places offer free parking, free drinks, a free pass, a free meal, free dessert, free souvenir, kids eat free, or some other bonus as a thank you for serving in our military. Here is a list of just a few of the places that offer military discounts: Lowe’s, Aeropostale, Maurices, Denny’s, Old Navy, Pearl Harbor, and Ultracuts.
3. Switch Your Bank
If you don’t use a bank that has military bonuses, or is geared for specifically serving military, then you should switch over as soon as possible. Military banks and/or credit unions have wonderful customer service as well as great rewards. No ATM fees is one of my favorites. My husband and I are familiar with USAA, but you can also look into Armed Forces Bank, Bank of America, and Chase Military to name a few.
4. Shop at the Commissary
The commissary will generally have to very best rates on your everyday grocery items compared to other stores like Wal-Mart or Target. If you have close access to your commissary, take advantage of it! I find the best prices for produce, dairy, and meats at my commissary. Some items I can buy cheaper at other stores, like cereal, crackers, canned goods, etc. This is where it pays to do your shopping in several places!
5. Plan a Vacation for Less
If you are active duty military, then you know that planning a vacation can take months of saving up every extra dollar! There is a website that can help you find the best rates and even get you discounts on your next family vacation! Sign up at govvacationsrewards.com. It’s free, and they even start you out with bonus points for an added discount on your first booking!
6. Support Businesses Who Support Military
If you know of a business, local or chain, that supports our troops, please don’t hesitate to give them your business! Businesses in towns where a military base is located will often do days where they offer free services (free meals, car washes, quotes, rentals, etc) if they receive enough local support and especially on special dates like the 4th of July or Veterans Day, even Memorial Day! And if you are a returning customer, there may even be added benefits.
7. Make Friends with Other Spouses
One of the most important things I can stress is to make friends with the other spouses on base! Keeping up with your inner circles has more than one benefit. The two main advantages that I’ve found is always being in the know about special sales, promotions, or clearances going on in the area. And of course, you will have a trusted friend to swap out childcare, pet care, or other services with if you make and keep your friends!
8. Take Advantage of Things Offered on Base
Depending on how large your base is, there is generally a large range of things readily available to military personnel either free or at a low cost. The things that come to my mind are the gym, golf courses, school supplies, inexpensive rentals, childcare, playgroups, exercise classes, support groups, and many other things. Take advantage of things offered on your base!
9. Get Your Taxes Done by a Professional
One of my top tips if you’re in the military is to make sure you get your taxes done by a professional. Most military don’t receive back everything that they are supposed to, due to using a free website or someone who isn’t trained properly. It’s worth spending the little extra money to get your taxes done when you consider all the extra money you get back!
As you can see, there are many different ways to pinch pennies and save money if you are in the military. Of course, regular common sense applies to your budgeting too, these are just a few EXTRA money-saving things you can do if you or your spouse is in the military. Do you have any tips or ways that you have cut your budget back since joining the military?