Becoming a parent can be an exciting, and also stressful time in life. On top of the new changes, being a military family comes with another layer of challenges…most especially when it comes to moving to a new duty station. Although the transition may not be ideal at times, the military provides resources to help new and seasoned parents with saving money.
Tip #1: The Commissary
Coming from personal experience, I can confidently say that shopping at the commissary has been my favorite money saving tip. Whenever I’ve done a comparison on food prices, going on post for groceries has always been cheaper compared to off post. One reason the commissary prices are more favorable is due to them not charging state or local food tax. The commissary does charge a 5% surcharge, but this specific tax helps with the store upkeep and construction of new stores. Without these surcharge calculations, the overall savings in commissaries would be 25.7%. The produce is always fresh, and personally I have never encountered a problem with the meat or chicken I’ve purchased. Shopping at your local commissary is such a great way for military families to save money. I have been taking advantage of the commissary savings since a young age (a daughter of a soldier and now a wife of a soldier), and there is no doubt that shopping there will save you and your family money.
Tip #2: MWR (Morale Welfare and Recreation) for Trips
Utilizing the MWR office to help plan trips and family vacations has been a game changer. They have taken the stress out of planning and have helped with saving money. Going through the MWR office to rent equipment like camping gear, skiing/snowboarding gear, fishing gear, etc., will also help with saving money because of their competitive prices.
A personal family favorite was using this office while being overseas. Being in a country that does not speak English can be intimidating. Naturally, planning a vacation in this environment would be a bit challenging. During our overseas tour, our MWR office had weekly trips planned and offered transportation and a tour guide/translator. Because of these trips, we were able to enjoy traveling during our time overseas. We visited areas we would have never even thought of visiting. The MWR office helped make our time overseas special and memorable.
Tip #3: American Forces Travel Website
There is a website for military personnel and families (that is supported by Priceline) that helps with planning your next trip. Using this site is as easy as visiting American Forces Travel, verifying your identity and lastly, starting to plan your next trip. This site helps with finding hotels, rental cars, flights, packages and cruises. This site helps military personnel and families find the best deals while also saving money.
Tip #4: Military Discounts in Restaurants
This is my favorite money saving tip that I’ve been using for years. There is a good chance that a number of restaurants and establishments near a military base will offer a military discount (normally, it’s 10%). Although it is only 10%, that’s 10% that you are saving. After a while, all those savings add up. The next time you are unsure whether or not a restaurant offers a military discount, ask. My belief is that the worst they can say is no. If they say yes, you just saved a little bit of money to put towards those other necessary child-related expenses.
Tip #5: Free Breast Pumps
After speaking to a few new moms they all have agreed that one of the many things they are grateful for are the free breast pumps provided by Tricare. One of the brands Tricare covers is Medela. Medela Breast Pumps retail between $180-$240 on Amazon. It’s comforting to know that Tricare (the military’s insurance) covers this expense, making it one less thing for new parents to worry about. Two other breast pump brands that are covered are speCtra and Ameda. Visit www.tricare-breastpumps.com to find out more information on how you can receive your free breast pump.
Tip #6: Grocery and Nutrition Help
WIC (Women, Infants and Children) is a government program that is administered state-by-state that some families may qualify for. Qualifications depend on the amount of children you have and your household’s income. This program offers a variety of benefits, which include nutritional counseling and food coupons. These coupons are accepted in grocery stores including the commissary.
Tip #7: Medical Care
Besides breast pumps, Tricare also offers care services for moms and their babies. Some of them include comprehensive prenatal services, ultrasound, birthing, antepartum and post-partum services. There are several resources available depending on what you need throughout your pregnancy. Call Tricare and see what care is available to you to make this special time in your life as easy and as comfortable as possible.
Tip #8: Free Baby Showers
Being a military spouse means there will be times that you will be away from friends and family. This can be especially hard if your family is stationed overseas, or if your significant other is deployed. These circumstances should not take away the experience of having an enjoyable baby shower. Thankfully there are support groups for women in these types of situations. These programs bring celebration to women who need that extra morale boost and support. These programs are listed below:
- Operation Baby Shower
- Operation Shower
- Operation Help a Hero
- Star Spangled Babies
- Operation Showers of Appreciation
- The USO’s Special Delivery Program
Tip #9: Doulas
Doulas are very helpful to new and seasoned moms. They are trained to support women through the birthing process. They differ from doctors and nurses because they are focused on moral support rather than medical help. The Military Doula is an organization that partners pregnant military wives with trained doulas who volunteer their time. As of right now, there are a total of 76 doulas who are volunteering their services with the Military Doula Organization.
As you can see, the military has such great money saving resources for parents. Most especially in special times such as welcoming a new member to your family. We’ve only listed some of the many resources that Tricare offers to moms and some of the money saving perks the military offers to service members and their families. Being part of a military family can be challenging and it takes a special group of people to do what we are doing. Our lives are dedicated to the military, so let the military take care of you.