5 Ways to Save Money While Serving in the Military

| October 12, 2013
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Saving enough money to live comfortably is challenging for everyone, but those serving in the military face a unique set of obstacles. From the additional costs of frequent moving to the challenges of holding down a civilian job, military members often struggle to make ends meet. Fortunately, by following these five steps, service members can effectively budget, save money, and build a financially stable future.

Apply for Military Scholarships

One of the most effective ways to save money while on active duty is to apply for a military scholarship. As a service member, you have a number of loans, scholarships and grants at your fingertips. If you served in Iraq or Afghanistan and have already accrued school debt, you may also qualify for student loan relief. The majority of military service members will eventually pursue careers in the civilian world, and taking advantage of education benefits will prepare you for a career that is both fulfilling and financially rewarding.

Make the Most of Your Military Pay

A military salary is unlikely to make a service member wealthy; however, there are ways to utilize the pay you receive while serving on active duty. One way to increase your military pay is to get as much training and education as possible. You can also receive additional pay for certain jobs such as hazardous duty pay and submarine duty pay. Save additional money by pocketing your food and housing allowances. If you are able to find inexpensive housing off base, you can keep the extra money you are allotted for Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). Additionally, instead of paying to eat at the chow hall, buy your own groceries, limit how frequently you dine out and pocket your Basic Allowance for Sustenance (BAS). Another thing to be aware of is how you are spending your travel pay. It may be tempting to use your per diem to live it up while traveling, but saving that extra money will be well worth it when you return home.

Use Your Military Discounts

Many companies are eager to offer discounts to those who are serving our country. While it may not seem like much, taking advantage of these discounts can add up, saving you a significant amount of money. Major businesses, ranging from car companies to department stores, offer discounts to military members and their families. You can search discounts online to find the deals that fit your specific needs.

One of the greatest discounts the military provides is free travel to military bases around the world. The Air Mobility Command (AMC) offers free flights to service members and their families. This is a great opportunity to save money on family trips, as military bases are often just a short distance from popular vacation hot spots.

While these discounts can save you money, it is important to be aware that some discount claims are actually scams. Military members are especially targeted by housing scams, as veterans are frequently looking to relocate in a short period of time. The Better Business Bureau is a great resource for deciphering whether or not a company is legitimate.

Rent Out Your Home

Constantly moving from one home to another can put a financial strain on military families, especially if it results in paying for two homes at once. To ease this burden and make extra money, many military families turn their previous houses into rentals. If your home is in good shape and is easily rentable, this is a great way to not only save money, but also earn some extra cash along the way. By renting out your home, you can cover your mortgage payment while building equity and easing the burden of selling your house.

Postpone Having Children

It is a common misconception that having children will lead to receiving more military pay. In reality, a service member is only paid an additional amount for a spouse. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does offer an additional amount for dependent children on a veteran’s compensation award; however, when compared to the overall cost of raising a child, it is hardly worth it. Additionally, obtaining a higher education will be less of a burden if one does not also have to devote time and money to child rearing. Postponing having children until after you have completed your time in the military, finished school and started a financially stable career is ideal for creating an economically secure future.

Devoting your time and energy to serving your country should not mean giving up financial stability. While saving money as an active military member is challenging, by following these five tips, you can build your savings, pursue a successful career, and experience economic security.


About the Author: Sara Van Pelt is a contributing writer and has proudly served in the National Guard since 2004.


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Category: Budget, Family Finances, Saving Money

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