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FORT LEE, Va. – The idea of saving money sounds appealing but the road to get there can be overwhelming. April’s Military Saves Month campaign walks you through setting a goal and making a savings plan to improve your financial life and build wealth.

Commissaries worldwide join the effort by spreading the Military Saves Month message and providing a financial benefit to our military patrons.

“Providing a significant savings benefit for our patrons, the commissary can help you make the most of every dollar of your planned food budget,” said Marine Sgt. Maj. Michael R. Saucedo. “Not only that, we can help you afford healthier eating, because fresh and nutritious alternatives are both plentiful and economical making the commissary your partner both financially and nutritionally.”

Military Saves, a participant in the Department of Defense’s Financial Readiness Network, seeks to motivate, support and encourage the military community to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth.

Start on your journey to financial improvement by taking the pledge on MilitarySave.org and choosing your savings goal to help formulate your simple savings plan. Then Military Saves will help keep you on track by sending short reminders, resources and tips on saving and living well while spending less. Small changes can go a long way to set you up for financial success.

Not surprisingly, much of the monthly budget is spent on groceries. Your commissary benefit can help you stick to your food budget and keep more money in your pocket, while also delivering healthy and fresh food in the process. On DeCA’s “We’re Stronger Together” webpage, you’ll see the following ways to maximize the use of your commissary benefit, in store and online:

·        Your Everyday Savings! (YES!): Your commissary reduces prices daily on hundreds of the most frequently purchased popular brands. Look for the orange YES! shelf labels in your commissary aisles.

·        Commissary Rewards Card: Download digital coupons right to your card and save at the register. If you don’t have a card, ask a cashier for one, then visit the DeCA website to register your card.

·        Print Coupons: Before your commissary trip, visit the Savings Center on DeCA’s website to find resources with lots of printable coupons. If you’re at the store, check out the wide variety of coupons displayed throughout the commissary.

·        Commissaries.com sales flyer: Before visiting the store, view the sales flyer on the website while making your shopping list to ensure maximum savings. You can also sign up to have the flyer sent to your email.

·        Commissary Store Brands: Your commissary offers high-quality, low-cost private label choices on food and non-food items, healthy, organic products, and baby and child care solutions to provide even greater savings. Look for DeCA’s Freedom’s Choice food or Home Base non-food products along with other private label items such as TopCare health and beauty, Full Circle Market natural and organic food, Crav’n dairy and frozen snack food options, Wide Awake ready-to-drink coffee products, Tippy Toes baby items, Pure Harmony pet food and Flock’s Finest wild bird food.

·        Meal planning: Not only will meal planning help you save money on take out, it will help you use all the food you purchase at the commissary, reducing waste and impulse purchases. To take the work out of meal planning, DeCA has created two dietitian-approved dinner menu plans including weekly shopping lists, each for an entire month of family meals.

These monthly menu plans are available on commissaries.com at these links: Meal Plan #1 and Meal Plan #2. Choose your preferred plan and simply print off the shopping list for the week, add breakfast and lunch items and your shopping list is ready. You will have everything you need for the week. If you would like to create your own menu plan tailoring it to your family’s preferences, use our easy-to-follow planning aids, the Dietitian-Approved Menu Planner and the Weekly Meal Plan Worksheet.

Make sure to include quick and easy options for those nights when you don’t feel like cooking. DeCA has prepared a list of no-fuss entrées chosen from the many dietitian-approved “Thinking Outside the Box” recipes featured on commissaries.com.

The list features links to quick-prep “Thinking Outside the Box” recipes using a slow cooker, microwave or pressure cooker, as well as make-ahead freezer meals, one skillet meals, and entrees using prepared high-protein foods like rotisserie chicken and canned tuna.

“It’s important for service members and their families to know that it’s never too late to start saving for the future,” said Angela Caban, director of Military Saves. “Small steps in building a savings habit can make a big difference over time and the secret to saving is simple.

“People with a plan are twice as likely to save successfully, whether you are saving for an emergency, retirement, or another goal,” she added. “Military Saves Month is the perfect opportunity to set your savings goal, make a plan, and learn how to save the most effective way –automatically.”