If you think your spirit would be broken without your cup of a certain coffee bar cappuccino, forget about it. Frugality doesn’t have to mean a fun-free existence. Sure, you may have to shuffle some things around, but there are lots of easy ways to save money without sacrificing fun.
Save money while shopping
- Use the commissary. The commissary can be your best friend when it comes to saving money. With everything sold at cost (plus 5 percent) and tax free, you might even be able to splurge a little on those fresh ground Brazilian coffee beans.
- Use coupons. You don’t have to spend all day clipping to get a good deal using coupons. You can grab a few coupons at the commissary entrance and be on your way to saving money. For example, if you get $2 off toilet paper, buy a few. It won’t spoil and you’re getting a great deal, so you can divert those dollars to other places in your budget.
- Take a list to the commissary and eat before you go. Ok, we all know how easy it is to grab a few “extras” when we go shopping while we’re hungry. But did you know that it can also wreak havoc on your budget? To avoid temptation, eat before shopping and stick to your list.
- Look at the price-per-unit cost, not the total cost, to comparison shop for the best value. Grocery stores can be sneaky. They’d love it if you bought a high-priced brand instead of the generic version. They stealthily distract you with the seemingly lower total price, while they bury the price-per-unit in small print. Check both and decide for yourself which is the better buy.
- Buy in bulk. You don’t have to fill a chest freezer every time you buy in bulk. Just look for items on sale that you can easily freeze and use later. You’ll save loads this way rather than having to pay full price each time you need it.
- If you have TRICARE, use a military treatment facility, if possible. Save that $12 copay at civilian medical facilities if you live close enough to use your local military treatment facility.
- Use the exchange store. No one likes to pay sales tax so save yourself some money by shopping at your installation’s exchange store, tax free.
Less expensive recreation ideas
- Go to the theater on post. You shouldn’t have to take out a second mortgage to take the kids to see the newest release. The kids can sing along with their favorite character and you can sing a happy tune about saving a bunch of money at your local installation theater.
- Work out using the installation gym. Start using your installation’s gym and build muscle to carry all that extra cash you’ll save on gym membership fees.
- Use the bowling center on post. Bowl a strike at the bowling alley on post for much less than paying for a gutter ball off post.
- Visit your Information, Tickets and Tours office. You don’t have to win the lottery to have fun. Visit your ITT office for discounted tickets on all kinds of activities. Your kids will enjoy the family time and you can de-frizz your stuck-in-the-house-with-the-kids-all-winter hair.
- Secure military lodging for leisure travel and accommodations. Get out there and have some fun. Make more memories by taking advantage of low-cost military lodging. See Military OneSource for more information.
- Use Armed Forces Recreation Centers. Don’t break the bank visiting such exotic places as Hawaii, Germany and Korea. Check out the Armed Forces Recreation Centers for a cost-effective alternative.
- Check out Space-A. Save your hard-earned money and get from point A to point B using Space-A, for little or no cost. Visit Military OneSource’s Space-A travel information or the Air Mobility Command for more information.
There are plenty of other recreation activities on your military installation available for no cost or next to nothing. See Military OneSource’s Installation Locator for your installation’s website.
Saving money in general
The kids need this. You want that. How is it even possible to save money nowadays? Well, being frugal is a good place to start. For instance, if you start conserving energy in different ways, you’re going to save money on your electric bill throughout the year. Check out these tips for spreading out your paycheck so it’ll reach further:
- Make a budget of all your expenses and bills and stick to it. It’s easy to draw up a budget; it’s a lot harder to stick to it. If you run short something has to give, like eating out. Stay on budget and live within your means so you won’t ever have to live paycheck to paycheck.
- Ask for military discounts. The next time you’re in a store, see if they give military discounts. Many retailers don’t advertise the fact; you just have to ask.
- Conserve electricity, on and off post. So you think leaving a light on here and there and setting your thermostat to 80 while having the windows open for some fresh air is no big deal, right? Even if you live in installation housing, this is a bad habit. Start conserving electricity since you won’t always have the military paying your electric bill. Simple things like shutting off lights and unplugging appliances when not in use can add up to some big annual savings.
- Don’t buy the book. Borrow it from the library instead and pocket the savings.
Use these military-specific tips on ways to live frugally and see how much fun you can actually have. Share your own money-savings ideas for everyone to use. We all like to save money where we can.