There is a lot of budgeting advice to be found on the Internet, but not all of it factors in the different lifestyle of military families.
The military way of purchasing a home, food, clothing and other essentials may make some advice irrelevant or provide opportunities to take it even further.
Here are six areas of military life to consider saving some money:
Shopping Discretion at the Commissary
While location may be convenient, the commissary does not always offer the best deals for your budget, especially without the option of off-brand products. Meat and produce may be on the cheaper end in the commissary, but be sure to look into store advertisements online to find better deals that can save you a few bucks.
Once you find deals, you can do what military money saver Stacie Kimball recommends and keep track of grocery expenditures with a price book.
Just write down the place and item you bought, the price of it and when you got it. Once your information compiles over time, you can plan your future shopping trips based on the sale patterns.
Shopping Discretion at the PX/BX
You may be able to save some money at the PX/BX with a price-matching guarantee if they have one. If you find a cheaper product online or in ads, print off or tear out the “proof” and save some cash.
The gas prices on base are going to be cheaper than the locations outside the gates, unless you go to the stations directly outside of the gate. Those, according to Kimbell, are typically less crowded and a bit cheaper. Over the year, those small savings can add up.
An alternate route to paying for expensive dry cleaning for military uniforms. You can buy a fabric care book and teach yourself to delicately care for your uniform—better yet, check the local library to see if you can save even more money.
Evaluate Your BAH Options
Living on or off base is a big decision for many reasons, but when it comes to budgeting, you’ll need to consider your potential BAH. Weigh the amount of BAH you can receive vs. saving money on rent, electric, gas, trash and water bills if you live on base. That way you can choose the option that saves you the most money.
Refinance Your Mortgage
If you own a home and are locked into an unwieldy interest rate, it may be worthwhile to refinance, especially with the current low rates. Refinancing means lower monthly payments. Refinancing a $200,000 mortgage at 5.5 percent to a 4.5 percent rate could save you $125 per month.
The VA Streamline refinance can help homeowners seamlessly secure a lower rate, sometimes without the need for an appraisal.
Photo thanks to Auswandern Malaysia under a creative commons license from Flickr.