If you’ve been a military spouse for even a little bit of time, you’re probably a bit familiar with BAS. And if you’re not, that’s okay too! (After all, that’s why you’re here, right?!) BAS stands for Basic Allowance for Subsistence. It’s meant to help to cover room and board for someone in the military. Contrary to popular belief (and old wives’ tales), BAS is only for the service member. It does not take into account the military member’s family. That means, that you will receive the same amount for BAS no matter the size of the family– no kids, 100 kids, a spouse… it doesn’t matter.
Even though BAS is meant to help the service member buy food, it doesn’t not have to be exclusively used for only the service member since the money for BAS is paid directly into the service member’s paycheck. That means that with smart budgeting and buying, it is possible to make BAS work for your whole family. Here’s how to do that:
Know the BAS Rate
BAS is really simple to figure out. Is your service member an officer or enlisted? There are two rates: one for officers and another for enlisted. BAS also changes depending on the year– make sure you know what this year’s rate is and that it is being accurately reflected in your service member’s LES.
Understand the Commissary
The Commissary is not always the cheapest option. I repeat: the Commissary is not always the cheapest option. Often, military families shop the Commissary because they believe it is the smartest financial decision. But sometimes it’s not. There are really long complicated reasons for this that I won’t go into here. Here’s what you do need to know: use the Commissary as another tool in your money-saving toolbox. Check out the sales. Take coupons with you. Use Ibotta or Checkout 51 to save even more money on top of what you save with coupons or sales. But make sure that you’re not just blindly buying at the Commissary– if you haven’t done your research, you may just be blowing money.
Go Off Base
Being loyal to one store can really hurt your shopping budget if you’re not looking for great deals. Don’t be afraid to go off base to shop.
Eating out, prepared foods, and heavily packaged foods all cost more money than grocery shopping and making dinner from scratch. If you’re looking for serious ways to make BAS stretch for your family, spend more time in your kitchen than the drive-thru.
Be Smart When Eating Out
But eating in all the time isn’t necessarily the easiest (or practical) thing to do all the time. If you or your family needs (or wants to eat out), be smart about it. Cut back on your bill by ordering water, not soda or alcohol. Don’t order dessert. Buy a special. If you call out, pick it up rather than having someone deliver. And if you’re trying to break your dining out habit, schedule the days that you will and plan the meals you’re going to make.
Stack Those Stacks
If you’re a big couponer– that’s awesome! Use those puppies to your advantage. If you’re not– it’s okay. No matter what, you should be using coupon apps like Ibotta. (I know, I know, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again!) Ibotta gives you the opportunity to save more money with a few snaps and taps of your screen. You can stack it on coupons, which means even more savings. If you’re not a couponer, you can still use it and save a substantial amount of money over time. You can cash out with gift cards or straight to your PayPal account.
If your area has local farmer’s markets, definitely, definitely check them out. Often farmer’s markets are on par or cheaper than grocery stores’ produce… and there’s a bunch of different ways to save at a farmer’s market too. Make sure you read my post all about saving cash there.
I could write a love letter to Aldi’s, that’s how much I love this store. Every few months, John and I make a staples run to Aldi’s where we buy our kitchen staples– flower, sugar, cooking spray, seasonings, you get the picture. The savings at Aldi’s make a big, big difference, especially when you’re on a small, small budget.
Buy on Clearance
Most grocery stores have a clearance section. It’s usually an endcap on an aisle. Find it. Love it. Check it every time you go to the grocery store. Many items end up on clearance for a variety of reasons. The might be seasonal items, items past the “best by” date, or items that just haven’t sold well and they need to unload them. Stock up on non-perishables like pasta. Be careful though– don’t buy cans that are bulging or dented and watch out for food that might be stale.
Of course, these aren’t the only ways to make your BAS stretch and cover your food budget. What tricks and tips do you have? Share them in the comments, please!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Unilever & Operation in Touch via MSB New Media. The opinions and text are all mine.