In the wake of budget cuts to the defense budget, military families will likely have to do more with less. Armed forces leaders recently told Congress that they’ve slashed spending in nearly every category, and there’s not much left they can afford to cut, Fox Business News reported. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the uncertainty of budget cuts is causing more stress to the troops than the proposed long-range plan to halt wage increases.
With unpredictability approaching, families of the armed forces should begin planning on ways to stretch their dollars, especially if PCS moves are on the horizon. With that in mind, listed below are three ways a military family can get the most bang for their buck:
1. Use military identification at select retailers: More popular brand names are beginning to incorporate savings programs for Armed Forces members into their business models. Military families who are looking to purchase specific items for the home, for example, can benefit from flashing their military ID at a number of company locations, according to ID.me. Sites like these allow soldiers to shop with their troop identification online, and the same companies honor an ID at their brick-and-mortar locations too. Businesses such as Sears, Overstock and Carhartt offer various savings programs for active and former military personnel, which can be especially helpful if a family needs new furniture or appliances upon moving to a new location.
2. Profit on your PCS: Military moves can be an unfortunate reality for military families, but they don’t have to be stressful. Companies like uShip provide a do-it-yourself option so families can properly budget their move without having to worry about hiring a service to do it for them. Families who choose to take the shipping of their items into their own hands rather than relying on the government can benefit greatly from this. With uShip, families can pocket the remaining funds they’re allocated if they’re not used in the move. Even if a husband and wife decide to hire movers, companies like uShip offer a streamlined way to find and choose the best options. All families have to do is list their items they wish to move, and uShip’s marketplace creates a bidding war for the service, hence driving down costs and keeping money in the pockets of those who serve.
3. Plan for the future: Part of smart financial planning also includes budgeting for the future. Service members who have served at least three years since Sept. 11, 2001, can invest in themselves by utilizing the post 9/11 GI Bill that the government provides. The bill can cover the full cost of in-state tuition and fees at a public college for four academic years or provide up to $17,500 every year for a private school education, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Longtime members can transfer their benefits to a spouse or children as well. Alternatively, military members can also take advantage of a multitude of tax breaks, including low-cost life insurance programs and IRA accounts that aren’t taxed when funds are withdrawn, according to financial planning website Kiplinger.