16 Tips for Monthly Savings

Veterans often need to continue a lifestyle of resourcefulness after their military service is over. Retirement pay and pensions sometimes need stretching to cover the monthly costs of running a household, and disabilities can interfere with a veteran's ability to earn a good living wage in the civilian world. Luckily, there are ways to cut corners on monthly expenses without sacrificing a family's quality of life. Below are the top tips to help manage housing, transportation, food and health care costs.

Housing

  1. Live in a house that fits your family's size. The more rooms in a house, the higher the cost of heating/cooling and maintaining them. Empty nesters may consider renting out extra bedrooms to generate income from otherwise wasted space.
  2. Perform routine maintenance. Prolong the life of HVAC systems by changing filters monthly. Clean out gutters to prevent costly damage to roofs and siding. Cleaning away built-up dust and lint on refrigerator and dryer vents prolongs the life of the appliance and eliminates a potential fire hazard.
  3. Install low-flow plumbing. Older homes may still have toilets and showers that lack water-saving features. Low-flow showerheads can still provide adequate water pressure while reducing water usage as much as one gallon per minute. Further reduce water bills by promptly repairing leaks.
  4. Cut back on communication and entertainment. Cancel unnecessary premium cable TV channels, reduce your Internet connection speed and get rid of your landline phone if you find you rarely use it.

Transportation

  1. Keep vehicles maintained. Proper tire inflation, regular tune-ups and oil changes all optimize gas mileage. These regular visits to a mechanic can also help identify small problems before they turn into big repair costs.
  2. Buy a car with good gas mileage. Choose the smallest car that comfortably fits your needs, especially if you have a long daily commute. Doing so can cut your monthly gas expenditures in half.
  3. Consider carpooling. Connect with people who are going the same places as you and try to ride together to save on transportation costs.
  4. Tweak your auto insurance. Increasing your deductible can shave up to 15 percent off monthly insurance premiums. Shop around for the best rates and request quotes for multi-policy discounts where you carry home and auto insurance with the same provider.

Food

  1. Make menus and lists. Save money on food by writing down weekly or monthly menu plans and creating shopping lists from them. Sticking to a list curbs impulse shopping and can also result in eating overall healthier meals.
  2. Buy generic and local foods. Generic foods often come from the same production lines as name-brand foods and, in most cases, taste almost identical. Seasonal, locally grown produce is usually healthier and cheaper than the fruits and vegetables at the grocery store.
  3. Dine out less and drink water. Cooking at home is almost always cheaper than eating out. When dining out, consider sharing an entrée or using a coupon to save on the bill. Drinking water is healthier than consuming sweetened drinks, and it is usually provided by the restaurant free of charge.
  4. Add vegetarian meals. Meat is usually the most expensive ingredient in any meal. Eating meatless at least once a week is not only frugal but healthy.

Health Care

  1. Practice self-care. Eating nutritionally, getting enough sleep and incorporating activity into your daily schedule all serve to keep your body functioning well. Stress-reducing techniques such as prayer, meditation or yoga also help reduce blood pressure and contribute to overall well-being.
  2. Quit bad habits. Smoking, using recreational drugs and drinking alcohol all contribute to sickness and disease. Reigning in these damaging behaviors saves money in two ways: by not purchasing these items, you free up money to use for other expenses, and later on, you save in health care costs.
  3. Get a Flexible Spending Account. These allow you to set aside pre-tax dollars for health-related expenses. Having an FSA also provides peace of mind because money is there for doctor's visits and prescription refills, when needed.
  4. Try home remedies. Before rushing off to see a doctor for a cough or cold, research and try home remedies first. A warm salt water gargle is a time-tested sore throat remedy that is virtually free.


What Are Food Stamps?

Food Stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is a federal- and state-funded program that provides low-income Americans with food assistance benefits. Eligible individuals and families can use their state-issued electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards, which are regularly replenished with a set amount of benefits, to purchase approved food items. Learn more about the SNAP program and how you can start receiving benefits here.


Who Is Eligible to Receive Food Stamp Benefits?

Before you can begin obtaining food items with state SNAP benefits, you must apply to the program and prove that you are eligible. All applicants are subject to various requirements established by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. These involve household income limits, resource limits, work requirements and more. To find out if you qualify for SNAP benefits, download our guide today.