The Money Has To Come From Somewhere

Limited Resources

A friend and I were chatting about something that concerns both of us, what appears to be an endemic problem of military families expecting to get deals and discounts and free stuff all the darn time, just because they’re military.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a military discount as much as the next girl.  On the other hand, it concerns me when I hear complaints such as “housing is raising my rent to $200 a month less than BAH” or “military kids should get in-state tuition anywhere they want to go” or “why won’t the military pay to move my six dogs to England?”  It gives the impression that a) military families expect a lot, and b) the speakers think there is an unlimited amount of money floating around everywhere.

For those of you who may not have considered things this way, I’d like to point out that every single resource out there is finite.  There’s a limited amount of money in each and every pot, whether it be Home Depot’s ability to offer military discounts, or the MWR-run recreation programs.

Let’s take MWR-run recreation programs as an example.  Let’s say that a certain base has swimming pools, and they charge for the use of the swimming pools.  And then, let’s  imagine that the community gets all in an uproar about having to pay to use the swimming pool, and MWR decides that there is enough interest in swimming that they’ll drop the fees for the pool.  That’s awesome, right?  Well, yes and no.  It’s nice not to have to pay to go to the swimming pool, but someone’s paying for those lifeguards and chlorine and lane lines.  So, what happens?  MWR has to look at their budget and either cut another program, or charge more for another service.  So, for example, that Zumba class that you love might disappear, or you may have to pay and extra $5 to register your child for soccer.

This same principle applies to everything.  If Smoothie King gives you a 50% discount off your smoothie because you show your military ID, that money is either coming out of the owner’s pocket or the employees’ paycheck or prices have to go up for everyone else.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take advantage of military discounts and deals when they exist, I’m just asking that you remember that nothing happens in a vacuum.  Every business or organization or program works with a budget, and the money’s got come from somewhere.  Sometimes, free isn’t really free.

If you’d like to take advantage of some of the generously offered discounts and deals available to the military, check out the Discount Center.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.