Published: December 30, 2022
For military families, the uncertainty of frequent moves, deployments, and other unexpected events can make saving for the future feel like a never-ending obstacle. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to stretch your budget and save money. Here are our top tips for doing just that, using the new year as a new opportunity to prepare for the unexpected.
Have an Emergency Fund
An emergency fund helps you prepare for unexpected costs that can strain your budget. Setting aside money each month will ensure you have enough to cover any unanticipated expenses.
If you’re wondering how to save money to start an emergency fund, here are some simple steps:
- Set a goal: Determine how much you want to save and plan to achieve that goal. Automate your savings so that money is regularly transferred from your checking account into your emergency fund.
- Track spending: Track your spending for at least one month so you understand where your money is going and where you can cut back. This is a great way to identify areas you can reduce spending and increase savings.
- Take advantage of money-saving resources: Many banks offer online tools and apps that make saving easier, such as rounding up your purchases to the nearest dollar and transferring the difference into your savings account. You can also look for discounts, coupons, or other resources offered through your installation or local military community that may help save money.
Get Creative with Your Food Budget
Making meals at home can be a great way to save money and keep you on budget. Try buying in bulk when possible and using leftovers in creative ways. You can also look for discounts and coupons on ingredients. Many grocery stores and websites offer discounts on certain products or special deals when buying in bulk. It’s also worth checking out farmers’ markets, which usually have fresher and more affordable produce than supermarkets.
Additionally, getting into the habit of meal planning can help you stay organized and avoid overspending on food. Take some time each week to plan out what meals you’re going to make and shop for ingredients in advance. Doing so will give you the opportunity to ensure you have everything on hand, so you don’t have to make any last-minute trips to the store. With some planning and preparation (and a little bit of creativity), you can make healthy meals that stretch your grocery budget.
Reduce Unnecessary Expenses
Improve your financial health by saving wherever you can. Here are some ways you can cut back on unnecessary expenses in the new year:
- Create a budget: Establishing a budget and sticking to it is the first step to saving money. Make a list of all your expenses, including rent/mortgage, utilities, car payments, and so on. Then create a budget that fits within your income and stick to it. Doing so allows you to easily monitor unnecessary spending (from dining out to entertainment and shopping).
- Use cash: Withdraw the amount of money you plan to spend for the month and use only that. This will help you avoid overspending and save money in the long run.
- Shop around for lower prices & deals. Be an informed consumer by scouting out the lowest available price on items you’re planning to buy. Also, read customer reviews to ensure you’re making the best possible purchasing decision.
- Access free resources: Blue Star Families has free resources that can help you save money. Keep your spending down and utilize quality entertainment at no cost – through programs, perks, partnerships, and more.
As a military family, you’ve come to expect the unexpected and be prepared for anything life throws at you. One of the best ways to be ready for those surprises is to save money – even if you have a tight budget, helping to alleviate stress and focus on what’s most important: you & your family.
By: Marla Bautista