10 Ways To Save Money For Military Families

JD Collins

Saving money on a military budget is about knowing and using your resources. Whether they’re new to the military or been in it for years, some service members and families can be oblivious to the great deals and offers around them. Here are 10 ways to save money for military families.

Movies

Base movie theaters are always cheaper than civilian theaters. They may not have as many selections, the newest movies, or the comfiest seats but if you’re just interested in seeing a movie, base movie theaters are a great option.

Speaking of movies, skip the redbox and borrow movies from the base library. Depending on the library, they can have quite a good collection of good movies to watch (for FREE!).

Price-matching at the Exchange/NEX/BX/MCX

The military stores do price match when you bring in the advertisement from a competitor. And they’re tax-free. If you’re good about using credit cards, the Military Star Card can also save you some money as well.

Purchasing Gas

Gas on base is generally cheaper than those off base. HOWEVER, one thing I learned from living in Hawaii is that they operate within the 5 mile range. As in, they mark their prices down compared to commercial gas stations within a 5 mile radius. Therefore, say you live in the suburbs and the base is in the city, it may be cheaper to get gas near your home than on base. This is because the base that’s in the city marks their prices down compared to other city gas stations (which generally tend to be more expensive).

Shop at the Commissary

All commissary stores now offer the rewards card. It is a card for you to load up on coupons with before you shop. Hand it to the cashier when you checkout, and watch your total go down. If you’re buying a few items, do self check-out or tell the cashier you’ll bag them yourself if you don’t have the money to tip the bagger. (You should always tip the bagger for good service)

Cars

If you’re looking for a used car, check out the lemon lots on base. They may or may not be lemons but some owners may need to PCS soon and are willing to sell great cars for a great deal. In terms of maintenance, some bases have an auto shop where DIY-ers can work on their own cars with lifts. These auto shops may also provide discounted safety inspections and a car wash station as well.

Entertainment

Check your local MWR sites and magazines for cheap to free events and offers. When I worked on base, there was always a special deal for entertainment such as bowling, arts & crafts, golf and other events. The MWR ticket office also features great deals on local attractions. Some can even plan your whole vacation for you.

Fitness

You know that you can use the base gyms for free/or low cost. If you live in military housing, see if they offer any fitness classes which are free to residents. If you’re one for group fitness, join the intramural leagues on base: softball, volleyball, flag football, etc. Their fees are usually much cheaper than you would get out in town. If you like to fly solo, ask around your military community for a military-affiliated personal trainer. They often have great discounts and access to base.

Military Housing/Civilian Housing

Depending where you live, it may be more cost effective to live in non-military housing and pocket the extra BAH money. However, if you have a big family and live in a high cost area, it may be more cost effective to live in housing. Really, truly think about the costs of either option before you commit to a long lease.

Veterinary Services

For basic shots and routine services, check out the base veterinarian. The costs are much lower than a civilian veterinarian. Speaking from experience, it may be tough to get an appointment, but that’s the sacrifice you make to save some dollars.

Food*

*This is purely from experience. Holiday Brunches/Buffets at base catering halls just always tend to be cheaper: Easter Brunch, Mother’s Day Brunch, Thanksgiving dinner. I know at the bases I’ve been at, they’ve also let families into the chow hall for Holiday dinners. Look to see if they offer the same deal. It’s like a buffet for $5-$10!

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