Whether you’re a military family or not, saving money is probably something your enthusiastic about. And most of those “how to save money” hacks are applicable for military and civilian families. But, there are some ways to save money that are specific to military families only! Go us! 🙂 Today I rounded up my 5 favorites:
1. Live Off-Post
I’m putting this one first because it has the power to be the singular MOST effective way to save money. Obviously, you could purchase a house well beyond your means and it would only be a financial sabotage. Or pay rent/bills above your BAH, and that would also be ineffective and detrimental. But I suggest researching your BAH (literally, google it) and then shop for houses whose monthly average cost (including upkeep) is lower than your BAH. If you set aside $200 of your BAH every month for only a year, that would still be $2400 in savings. It adds up!
2. Check the LES Monthly
Errors, overpay, underpay, unfair withdrawals…don’t wait and get money revoked! This one is unfortunately not a guaranteed “money-maker,” but it can be. It can be an extremely effective preventative against losing money that is supposed to be yours. One of the most common complaints I’ve heard from wives is that their soldier is incorrectly charted for eating on the DeFac meal plan (aka: the family isn’t receiving their BAS–basic allowance for sustenance). Fix it! The Army will backpay you for ANY missed funds, so be diligent to get all the money you deserve! But don’t let the Army accidentally overpay you either. If your soldier is no longer supposed to be receiving jump pay, but is–fix it! The Army always, always, always notices, and it’s a big headache (and heartache) to have to backpay the Army for months of unearned pay.
3. Save All Military Clothing
My word of advice: don’t throw ANYTHING out. Save the “not-so-favorite” socks and uniforms for packing lists, field uniforms, etc. There may be times where he has to have a pre-packed bag full of items, and he won’t want all of his favorites to be in there. He also probably won’t want to shell out the cash to purchase dozens of brand new items that are going to go straight into his pre-packed bag, completely unused. Those mandatory packing lists are the perfect place to stuff old and used items that he isn’t going to need available in his locker. The best part about old?– FREE! Occasionally (again, extremely infrequently) he will get to trade in some of his items for new items. This rarely happens. But when it does, you don’t want to be missing some items that you are supposed to be trading in. Also, you don’t want to have to pay out of pocket for something he is supposed to be turning in, but no longer owns!
4. Use the Free Resources the Army Gives You
Did you know that the Army offers discounted tickets to many, many events around the country? This is not just a military discount at Disney World (though boy do they offer deals on that!) The MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation association) has an entire ticket chart offering discounts at various attractions around the country–for things as small as tour rides in Savannah to things as big as passes at Universal Studios. Look into the MWR ticket offers before you make big purchases! Also, the Army offers a variety of free workshops– resume builders, career networking, etc. You can earn scholarships as dependents (wives and children) and get financial aid for school. The list goes on and on. While you will still have some fees to pay, many of the paid-clubs on military installations are a fraction of the cost of their civilian opponents. If you’re looking for a casual soccer league for your children, or a summer pool pass, definitely look into the opportunities on post before you decide to go elsewhere.
5. Look to the Army’s Opportunities to Lessen your Financial Debt
Do you have college loans? There are *some* programs that can help pay for those <– for the soldier’s loans at least. Do you have high car insurance and credit card interest on your account? You can get those refinanced through a military banking source. Navy Federal has one of the best rates for car payment interest, and USAA offers some of the best credit card deals. There is also a Military Star Card that offers On-Post discounts on gas and shopping. Look into the military options you qualify for because they can almost always shave off some of the debt and bills that your past civilian life heaped upon you.
It goes without saying that any department store you shop at is a good place to ask for a military discount. Don’t be shy! It’s your right as a military dependent–and there is no shame in flaunting that. You’re not begging for a free handout, you’re giving stores the opportunity to [willingly] show their support of our troops! Unfortunately, many stores do not offer military discount (don’t ask me why…grrr). But there are more ways to save money than a token 10% discount on four tee-shirts at Old Navy. <–they have a great military discount program for the record. Do you have any techniques? Share them in the comment section below!