All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. There are actual studies that show leisure activities make for a more productive workforce. Luckily, that military identification card is like a ticket for free or discounted fun no matter what your interest is. There are tricks to stretch any budget using a military discount – both on and off post.
First Stop: Base
Ryan Guina, who serves in the Air National Guard, founded The Military Wallet — a personal finance and benefits website for military members, veterans and their families, to give this exact type of advice to others. He helps the community “better manage money and understand the variety of programs and benefits available to them,” according to the business website. He says the first place he recommends looking when it comes to off-duty recreation is the installation Morale, Welfare and Recreation (known as MWR) center.
“Most bases have an MWR Center where you can rent certain equipment for local area sports and activities. This is a great way to get introduced to a new sport or hobby, as well as save money instead of buying gear right away. Many bases also offer inexpensive activities at on-base centers – including fitness centers, bowling, golf, paintball, running trails, libraries, and on some bases near a body of water, marinas where you can rent boats, fishing gear, and other equipment,” he said
In his own experience, Guina had the opportunity to go deep-sea fishing near Keesler Air Force Base for only $10 compared to the typical cost of $150 per trip.
Don’t Buy New
The cost of a new hobby can range from a few bucks to hundreds or thousands of dollars. Rather than investing that kind of money into a new activity, Guina says to look into buying used equipment.
“You can save a lot of money buying used gear that is in good repair. In many cases, you can save well over half the price of a new item. Start by looking for specific items on your local Craigslist, used-sporting goods stores, Ebay, yard sales, PCS sales, and word of mouth,” he explained.
Always Ask for a Military Discount
For years, businesses and corporations have found their own way of saying thank you for military service by offering unique discounts to those with a military ID. It may not be publicized so a good rule of thumb is to either research on the company’s website ahead of time or ask at checkout. Guina says it never hurts to ask — the worst they can say is no.
“Ask for military or group discounts. Many organizations offer free admission, membership, or other discounts to service members — all you have to do is ask. You may also be able to negotiate discounts if you organize a large group of people to attend your gathering,” Guina said. “This can work for something as large as a unit event, or sometimes even as small as a group of five to 10 people.”
Other Places that Offer Deals Annually
There are a whole host of private organizations and large corporations that offer military-specific deals yearround. Whether it is weekend liberty or holiday leave, you can plan an entire itinerary around who has bargains.
Outdoor adventures: Sierra Club Outdoors plans outings for military and veterans to go rafting, hiking, climbing, bicycling, and more. Find a local chapter at https://content. sierraclub.org/outings/sierra-cluboutdoors.
NATIONAL PARKS: Military members and their families get free access to over 2000 recreation sites. For details, go to https://www.nps.gov/ planyourvisit/passes.htm.
ARTS AND THEATER: Blue Star Families works with the NEA to connect the military demographic to museums at no-cost. A list of participating locations is housed on their website.
AMUSEMENT: For daily fun at several amusement parks, there are various deals for free or discounted access.
- Waves of Honor Sea World, Busch Gardens, Sesame Place https://Wavesofhonor.com
- Shades of Green Disney www.Shadesofgreen.org
- Great Wolf Lodge Water Park and themed resort with 17 locations nationwide in 2018 www.Greatwolf.com/heroes
The options are endless. With a little research, a small budget can stretch far. Plus, more money in your pocket means more opportunities to explore whatever is unique at your duty station. If you’re unsure of what to do with your free time, MWR plans day and weekend trips. Check out your installation’s website for the latest updates on upcoming activities in your area.Read comments