It’s been all over the news for months. Commissary closures have been the big discussion throughout the country, and military families have been feeling the stress and suffering already. With an average of 30% savings at the commissary, how can military families set themselves up to ease into this big change that may be on the horizon? Here are some tips that will help protect your family from feeling the effects of commissary closures and pay-cuts.
- Create the ultra stockpile. While stockpiling can already help a family stretch their grocery budget, making a game plan to stock up on 6 months of your essential non-perishables will create a cushion to help you get used to the sales cycles of other stores. Items tend to go on deep discount every 6 to 8 weeks, so you’ll be able to see when your favorite pasta, brown rice or olive oil will be at it’s best price. Until then, take advantage of the commissary’s coupon deals, and the manufacturer coupons available in your local sunday paper to fill up the pantry.
- Use alternative food sources. Now is a good time to find out if a small garden is allowed at your base housing. Planting just a few items like tomatoes, sweet peas and lettuce will help to offset your grocery budget. Also, search for CSAs in your area, or even local farms that may allow you to buy half a cow or other proteins. These memberships can be split with other military families, which will help the whole community save.
- Contact your favorite brands. In the age of emails, texts and apps, we tend to forget how important a letter can be, especially when you are a loyal customer. Look for addresses for your favorite grocery brands and write them about our current situation. Most brands will send you coupons for free product, while others may mail you a small stockpile of actual product. The good news is that companies will send you coupons once every 6 months. All you have to do is ask.
- Win your financial cushion. Did you know that at any given time, a blog or website will be giving away gift cards to your local grocery store, or even regular Visa or Amex gift cards? Why not win these to help stretch your budget? This is a bit unorthodox, but it has helped my family when we need a little extra funds to stock up on proteins and special dietary items. One easy way to keep up with these giveaways and contests is to create a Facebook group with a few fellow military families, and you’ll alert each other of any new contests you may come across. Make sure to follow all rules and regulations, which are usually very simple, and you’ll be surprised at how much you can win. Also, pay attention to the hashtag #giveaway and #contest on twitter for up to the minute giveaways.
- Have a talk with the whole family. When times like these are given to families like ours, it’s time for a talk with all members. Explain to your kids how the closures will cause changes within your family, and ask them for their input on how you can handle it as a team. You’ll be surprised by the inventive and useful ideas they will come up with, mostly because they appreciate you including them in the game plan. Make this a monthly meeting, just in case a family member may have new ideas of how the grocery budget can be stretched even further.