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25 Money-saving Tips for Military Families

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Want to protect your hard-earned cash? Military discounts go a long way. Always ask retailers, restaurants, airlines, motels and other establishments, “Do you have a military discount?” Here are 25 other money-saving tips. Go ahead, wave your frugal flag.

Save at home

  • Do-it-yourself repairs and maintenance. Whether it’s painting a room, doing yard work or making minor repairs, even those who are all thumbs can often handle these tasks. And if you’re already a do-it-yourselfer, you can take on bigger projects. Check out service member deals at home improvement stores.
  • Trade time/repair skills with a neighbor. Swap services or trade time (a Saturday, for example) with a neighbor. You may know plumbing and your neighbor may be handy with a hammer. Trading time with a trusted neighbor can extend beyond home repairs to helping with yardwork, babysitting, etc.
  • Use coupons. Use coupons or join a coupon exchange for home services that require a pro.
  • Shop garage/yard sales and second-hand stores. You can get great deals on things like furniture, dishes and clothes.

Save on entertainment

  • Think free outings. Check out the local parks, memorials and art galleries. Have a picnic. Go on a walk, hike or stroll. Have kids? Take them fishing or to the playground.
  • Have a leisurely lunch. Have lunch out and eat dinner in. Lunch is often cheaper than dinner. Or, when you’re out for dinner, split an entrée.
  • Host a pot-luck dinner. It’s cheaper, you will satisfy a variety of tastes and you won’t have to do all the cooking. It’s also fun and social. Tip: Have everyone bring a specific or assigned dish so you don’t end up with too much of the same thing.
  • Seek discounts at amusement parks and museums. Most offer military discounts. Browse “military discounts at amusement parks” and you’ll find a bunch. The same goes for museums. Better yet, visit the DOD MWR Libraries to find a range of fitness, recreational and skills development programs, tickets and more — some at reduced rates.
  • Shop online. Sure, you’re already doing it. But you can shop for just about anything online and compare prices. And don’t forget to search for online coupons.

Save on clothes and school supplies

  • Look for deals. Shop at your military installation’s commissary and exchange. Shoppers typically save more than 30% compared to shopping off base. Or shop at outlet and discount stories. Consignment and thrifts shops are good too. And look for deals online.
  • Stock up on basics during sales. When you find good deals on socks and underwear, buy a few extra pair to lock in the savings.
  • Get the most from your wardrobe. Sticking to similar color combinations or buying clothes in neutral colors lets you do more with fewer pieces of clothing.

Save with military travel deals

  • Visit national parks for free. The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. A free annual pass is available for current U.S. military members and their dependents.
  • Go camping. It can be cheaper and more fun than hotels, and there are numerous options throughout the United States geared specifically to service members and their families. But if camping isn’t your family’s thing, pick kid-friendly hotels that don’t charge extra for children.
  • Travel off-season, with a group or on a tour. These often turn out to be cheaper options.
  • Use Department of Defense lodging services. Military families are eligible to use military lodging around the world, ranging from cottages on the beach to world-class resorts or recreational lodging facilities. Destinations include big cities, resort towns, mountain top retreats and overseas locales.
  • Fly for free. Service members and their families can fly free or at very low cost when space is available on military flights. Space-A Travel can be tricky at times but can save you lots of money on flights.

Save on transportation

  • Walk, bike or use public transportation. It’s cheaper and healthier for you and better for the environment. If these aren’t options for you, then consider carpooling.
  • Shop around for car insurance. Compare rates online and consider a higher deductible on collision coverage if your car is older. While you’re at it, keep your car well-maintained — and DIY, if you have the know-how.
  • Buy a used car. A two-year-old car can save you thousands versus buying a new car. But be sure and have a mechanic check things out before you buy.
  • Do your research whether you are buying a new or used car. Gain confidence at each stage of the car-buying process and have some fun along the way through this course.

Save on utilities

  • Do the basics. Turn off the lights when you are not using them and unplug your computers, appliances, and charging cables if practical. Visit the Department of Energy’s Energy Saver website. Don’t heat or cool rooms you don’t use. Close your fireplace damper when it’s not in use.
  • Insulate your attic or other unfinished spaces. Use storm windows and weatherproof your home to reduce heat or cooling loss.
  • Watch the thermostat. Setting the temperature inside your home between 68 and 72 degrees may keep you comfy, but it can take a toll on your wallet. Consider a higher setting in the summer and use fans when you can. And consider setting it lower and wearing extra layers of clothes during the cooler months.
  • Double check your cell phone and cable bills. Make sure you’re not paying for needless services. Also, bundle your phone, internet and cable, if you can. And if you don’t have unlimited data, watch your usage on mobile devices.
  • Buy energy-efficient appliances. Look for the Energy Star label.

These are just some of the ways to save. Remember to present your military ID card at your installation’s Information, Tickets and Travel office to get the best deals locally and out of town.

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