I’ll admit it with a twinge of shame, I’m a particularly frugal guy. I prefer to buy most of my stuff in bulk (At Costco or Sam’s Club) and break it down using my Foodsaver to minimize waste. Almost all of my light bulbs are fluorescent, and I just recently applied a tinted film for my downstairs windows to block the glare and insulate better. I buy most of my clothes from the sale racks, I’ll frequent Ross and hold out for sales when I go to regular stores. I prefer eating out with a coupon, but if I don’t, you’ll often catch me ordering from the dollar menu.
This guy knows how to stretch a dollar. I know there’s folks even more hard-core than I am, to the extent of making their own laundry detergent; but I digress…
Saving money is always a priority of mine. “Waste not, want not” and “A stitch in time saves nine” were the types of phrases that struck with me when I decided early on that I wasn’t a fan of needless expenses. Buyer’s remorse has taught me well enough and early on, it pays to shop around. But don’t get me wrong, I love spending money… my approach just allows me to spend more of it in the long run.
Over the years, I’ve found some great ways to save green, and although some of this comes from my personal experience – most of it didn’t address how Veterans in particular can save money. Needless to say, a lot of these results came from my own research in finding out just how much better you can benefit financially when you apply the advantages of a Military Service record. Your dedicated service came at a price, but it also came with a load of benefits to show America’s appreciation for our armed forces. The following list of five are the top benefits I have found for Active-duty and retired members of the US Military.
If there’s any sure way of getting more bank for your buck, it’s in higher education. This is one of the best investments you can make in your future. Former servicemen and women may find that their experience, training and discipline will give them a leg-up on the rest of the general student body in pursuing a degree. The best part about it though, is that through the GI bill it’s not much of a burden in getting started. Many private and public universities have counseling departments specialized in assisting Active Duty Military and Veterans in finding ways to finance or subsidize their education. Look at it this way, Uncle Sam is willing to fund your education for one big reason… he’s counting on you to make more money with a degree than you would have otherwise, and through the income taxes you’ll pay on your higher income, your subsidized education will have paid for itself. There is a strong correlation with the opportunities open to a job candidate and the level of education he or she has attained. In any case, this is one sure way you can improve the general quality of life for yourself and your loved ones.
For many veterans, the subsidized health care ended shortly after active duty. For many others, it will continue on for life. If any part of your healthcare cost is subsidized by the US Government, you will want to take advantage of all benefits it has to offer. Healthcare is a cost that is only increasing with time, and with many fears that the Medicare system could potentially be bankrupt within 10 years, one must feel lucky to have some of these costs covered by Uncle Sam.
This doesn’t just mean using your benefits to head off to the ER once your steak and french fries diet has caught up with you; this means going in for annual physicals, getting your blood pressure, cholesterol, and other things like bone density tests, melanoma biopsies and prostate exams. Benjamin Franklin once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Making the necessary changes through preventative medicine to avoid diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes is all something you can start on NOW, and it will be cheaper than treating the disease later. Personally speaking, I’ve enjoyed employer covered insurance, but at the present time, I am self-insured. My rates are better than many men my age, but the prohibitive cost still makes me think twice on whether or not a doctor’s visit is necessary. If any part of your healthcare is free, seize the opportunity!
3. Financial Benefits Assistance
There is a myriad of associations and resources in helping veterans to get the most of the benefits guaranteed them by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Government. Sometimes, one must work with assistance to navigate the difficult and cumbersome systems required to obtain full benefits. The following sites appear to have a theme centralized on helping Veterans capitalize on the benefits to which they’re entitled.
For those who qualify for the VA Loan or the VA IRRRL/Streamline line, the benefits are obvious; especially when compared to conventional and FHA loans. For starters, the VA Loan is one of the only loans that will allow you to borrow up to 100% loan-to-value. The VA loan does not require mortgage insurance, and offers 30 year, 15 year, and Hybrid rates. One of the sweetest benefits of the VA loan is the Streamline Program, which allows borrowers to refinance their home without having to re-qualify with assets, income, debt, and value calculations. No appraisal is required, and closing is always nothing-out of pocket. Although some restrictions apply, this loan offers options where thousands of traditional homeowners would otherwise have none. Low VA Rates is a specialist in the VA’s lending program, and is one of many entities in helping Veterans to take advantage of all their benefits provide.
I had no idea about this, but apparently Veterans can travel on the cheap. You will have to inquire with most of the major Airlines directly to determine if they have discounts offered (seasonal) for our Veterans. Many cruise lines like Carnival also offer discounts for Military as well. Amtrak offers 15% discounts, and even Greyhound offers a 10% discount to Military and their family. Most travel search engines do not have a Military discount option built-in, so your best option is to do your travel shopping with the regular search engines, and then see what type of rates you can pull up from the various institutions that come up in a Google search on military travel discounts.
I’m a big fan of getting things on sale. I’ll never go to Bed Bath & Beyond without the 20% coupon they send me every month. Last night, I found a deal on a computer monitor at Staples that was not only on sale, but had a $25 coupon I could apply at checkout, all thanks to a great website I found while researching this article – The Top 10 Money Saving Sites. Now, that’s a website that anyone can use, but one website in particular stood out, Veterans Advantage – because it caters directly to Military and their Families, much the same way USAA caters banking and insurance to our Veterans.
Here’s a quick summary of what membership with Veterans Advantage includes:
- Target – save 10%
- Dell – save 10%
- AT&T – save 8%
- T Mobile – save 10%
For most of us, the cell-phone discount itself would pay for the membership, not to mention the other hefty discounts offered in travel and retail.
another great site:
Nobody is immune to the effects of our recent economy. Anyone resourceful enough and patient enough can save a whole lot of money, but it’s clear that with a little more digging, today’s Veterans can find ways to save even more than the typical American. I’ve always known about the VA Loan and it’s superiority in providing options to borrowers including those with difficult circumstances. It’s great to know that beyond the VA Loan, that there are numerous options available to our dedicated servicemen and women to get more for their money. I hope you find this list helpful in getting the most bang from your buck.