This post is sponsored by DiscountGlasses.com. All work and opinions are my own.
The first few years of our marriage, John and I were just scraping by. I had quit my teaching job to move to a different state to be with John and, because of PCSing and teaching certification timelines, we had decided that it wasn’t prudent for me to try to become a teacher in Virginia. It didn’t make sense– I would probably get my certification just in time to move again. Instead, I took up freelance writing. We were squashed between student loan payments, a unexpected car purchase, and the loss of one entire income. It was not a great place to be.
For one reason or another, military families often find themselves scraping by. Heavy spending times like the holidays or the beginning of school can strain finances and make those months tough and tight. But there are innovative and different ways for military families to save cash, beyond camping out at back-to-school sales and couponing.
There is no longer a single online purchase I make without first seeing if the website is listed for cash back on Ebates. Over the past four years, I’ve gotten more than $1,000 back through purchases that I would have made anyway. It either comes by check or by PayPal (you choose)– but it is literally money you can put in the bank. I’ve used Ebates for home purchases, clothing, electronics, even flowers that I’ve sent to my mom on Mother’s Day. All kinds of retailers– from big box stores to electronics to clothing stores– have cash back offers through Ebates, so you can outfit your kids for a little less. Sign up for free and start getting cash back right now.
2. The commissary or grocery store
If your kids brown bag it to school, it’s time to start stocking up on the essentials you might not have during the summer. You can always save at the grocery store by buying in bulk, rather than buying single serving snacks and prepared foods. Save even more by using Ibotta, a cash back app that can be used at most grocery stores, including the commissary. Ibotta lets you know what rebates are available on what brands of food, regardless of the coupons or sales that you shop, which means more money in your pocket. (Yes, you can stack sales, coupons, and Ibotta together.) Cash out instantly through PayPal or Venmo, or choose gift cards from retailers like Starbucks, Amazon, and Target. Sign up today and get an extra $10, so you’re already halfway to your rebate.
3. Glasses and contacts
Need new glasses or contacts for school? (Or just looking for a great deal?) They can cost a lot, especially if more than one person in your family needs a new prescription or a fresh pair of lenses. Buuuut… there is a different way with a lot of options for saving a boatload of money if you go online. DiscountGlasses.com is currently running a 30%-off Back-to-School sale that can also be combined with coupon codes.
DiscountGlasses.com and its sister site DiscountContactLenses.com have a military discount, too. (Remember, TRICARE doesn’t cover glasses or contacts for family members. That’s directly from TRICARE’s website.)
Grab 10% off with the code MILITARY. And yes, they do ship APO/FPO. DiscountContactLenses.com will do it for free if you spend $99, and shipping is is free for any order on DiscountGlasses.com.
And if you’re a new customer on DiscountContactLenses.com, you can get 20% off through their newsletter. (Repeat customers can keep their eyes peeled for 10 or 15% off coupons, too.)
Remember my Ebates trick? DiscountGlasses.com is currently offering an additional 7.5% cash back and DiscountContactLenses.com is offering 5% cash back. That’s on top of the discounts and free shipping, and it’s cash back– not points. Cold, hard cash.
You can read more about DiscountGlasses.com and DiscountContactLenses.com on my other blog post about my glasses conundruum.
4. Tax-free weekends
While not all states offer tax-free weekends, some do. If you live in one of those states, making your big back-to-school purchases like computers, clothing, and shoes can make standing in lines (or shopping early in the morning) worth it. Of course, your savings depends on the sales tax in your state.
5. School supplies
Some organizations–both local and national–offer free school supplies and accessories to military kids this time of year. Keep your eyes open for announcements on base and through social media from partners like Operation Homefront and the USO. You may have to reserve your spot or show proof of military affiliation or spouse’s rank as some of the opportunities are limited to those with the greatest need. Make sure to pay attention to the details and directions so you don’t waste your time and the volunteers’.
While it goes without saying to watch sales at clothing retailers, you might want to take a second look at thrift stores, on base or off. While some may balk at thrifting because of the perceived negative connotations, it’s an eco-friendly way to keep quickly growing kids in clothing that they may no longer fit in a few months. Thrift stores on base are usually run by a spouse group or charity, so the money you spend also stays in the community for scholarships, grants, or emergency funds. It’s a win all around, I think.