Learning how to save money is important for your military family
Most military families are trying to stretch every dollar of their paycheck as far as it can go in today’s economy. It is important for your military family to learn how to save money by changing your daily habits.
Living beyond one’s means can lead to stress, enormous debt, and relationship issues. Begin to live a frugal lifestyle to save money regularly and decrease debt.
Military families often need to take charge of their financial status, to climb out of debt, and to feel good about their finances.
Track your spending and start saving!
Knowing where your money is going is a big part of taking control of your finances. It is hard to find ways to save if you do not know where you are spending the excess.
If you know you are overspending in one area, it is much easier to fix that specific issue.
Get things for free or a reduced cost
Most people spend money on things they could get for free, buy at reduced prices, or pay for things they could do themselves.
It might take more patience and time, but when you are trying to tighten your spending, it’s worth the savings.
Here’s some ideas on things you can get for free or reduced pricing:
- Check out books from the local library instead of buying them from a bookstore. People who read a lot could save a lot of money if they didn’t pay for most of the books that they read. Did you know that many library systems (including military base libraries) have audiobooks and movies for free as well? Additionally, libraries offer classes, story times, and a variety of activities that can be fun for members of your family. Stop by your local library today to see what services are offered for free!
- Before you purchase something, check online to see if someone is selling a gently used version of the same item or if there is a curb alert for items in the base neighborhood Facebook pages – especially when it comes to baby gear, exercise equipment, and furniture!
- Clip coupons and shop for sale items. If a company extends an offer to your family for a military discount, make sure to utilize the savings.
Save Money on Dining Out
I am guilty of loving to dine away from home but the cost does add up quickly – especially if you have older children! Many families eat out at restaurants regularly and could reduce their food costs if they ate more meals at home.
It’s not always realistic for families who depend on eating out at restaurants to completely cut this out of their lives. These families need to concentrate on eating out for less.
You can drastically reduce the cost of eating out by sharing a meal. The portions that are served in most restaurants are too big for one person anyway. Two people could each order their own side salad and then split the main course.
Don’t order beverages that cost money; stick with water.
Instead of going out for dinner, eat at a restaurant for breakfast or lunch. The prices are usually less high before dinnertime. Our family is all about this on the weekends! We love to dine out for lunch and then have a small, inexpensive meal at home for dinner.
Save Money on your family’s Household Expenses
Keeping a household up and running can be very expensive. There are many ways that the cost of maintaining a household can be reduced. Seven ways to do this are:
- Get the internet, phone, and cable services in a package deal. Don’t pay different companies for each one separately.
- Make a list and stick to it when you shop. My mama always told me to never grocery shop when you are hungry because you’ll always buy more than you need. There’s definitely truth to that. Also, if you don’t have a meal plan and know what you’re shopping for, you will quickly find that you are overbuying things you may already have in the pantry at home, or buying things that will never get used. (I’m a rockstar at buying an excess of bagged salad and letting it go bad in the fridge every time I go to the store if I don’t have a list.)
- Lower the phone bill by getting rid of caller ID, call waiting, and any other extra services that the phone company bills for.
- Shop around for different insurance rates and try to lower auto and homeowner’s insurance premiums.
- Keep up with regular car maintenance to avoid damaging your car and needing big repairs.
- Pay the bills on time and online. Make this an absolute priority because paying thirty-dollar late fees every month can add up quickly. Pay the bills online. Families who pay their bills online not only save money on stamps but also avoid late fees by making payments directly to the companies or creditors through their bank accounts.
- Sell things you are no longer using. It’s amazing how much money you have in your home on things that you no longer use. Whether it’s clothing, electronics, furniture, or home decor, you are likely to find a buyer for things you no longer need. Take items to a consignment shop, hold a yard sale or sell online on eBay or Facebook marketplace. (This is great to do before a PCS, but also thinning down the extra once a year makes your life easier when you get ready to PCS, plus it gives you more space in your home!) When I first started using Facebook marketplace to sell items we had moved 4 or more times and never used. Porch pickup was a popular option in the area we lived in, so I would place the item on our porch with the recipient’s name on it and tell them to leave the money in a specific place – like under the doormat. Well, I’m pretty sure my husband thought I had taken up dealing drugs because every time we’d come home I’d reach under the doormat and pick up some cash. I made over $1000 ridiculously fast simply selling things we weren’t using anymore but were still hauling around with us in boxes when we moved. (And WAY better to not go over weight allotment on a PCS where you’d have to pay for that excess!)
Consider whether you should live on or off base
Depending on your duty station, one way for your military family to save money is to live off base in a home or rental that is less than your Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). When calculating this idea, be sure to include other expenses such as lawn care, electricity, HOA dues, etc that may be included in base housing and is not usually included when you live out in town. In many duty stations, you will find there is excess in the BAH funds if you choose wisely.
Use the facilities on base as a military family to save money
While every base is different, they all have events, activities, and stores that are available to you as a military family for a reduced cost (and some things are free!)
Shopping on base can be significantly cheaper than purchasing from other retailers. Did you know that there is price-matching at the Exchange? Simply bring in the advertisement from a competitor. Oh, and shopping at the commissary or Exchange is tax-free! Yay for more money saved!
Looking for things to do? See if your base has bowling, restaurants, a marina, movie theater, pool, golf, or gym. Every base we’ve been to is different, but there is always something going on!
And don’t forget to check out your local MWR and ITT office for ticketed events and discounted travel to help you save.
Make the effort as a family to start to save money today!
Anyone can start to save money today by getting things for free if possible, eating out less, and saving money on household expenses.
It takes effort and time to start living frugally but getting out of debt and saving money is worth the exertion.
While you may feel like “I’m so behind! I should have been saving for years!”, just remember: The best time for your military family to start saving money was in the past, the next best time is today!