A WingMoms Guide to Saving for BMT Graduation
1. Start planning NOW! If your son or daughter is just thinking about joining the Air force, go ahead and start saving. If they’ve signed the dotted line but haven’t left for BMT yet, go ahead and start saving. If they’re already in BMT, get to saving ASAP!
2. Make a realistic plan. Have that all important “sit-down” discussion with your family. If your AB can be a part of it before he/she leaves for BMT all the better. Really crunch the numbers and decide if everyone in the family will be going, or maybe one or two. Open a savings account for BMT only and DO NOT TOUCH IT except to purchase flights, hotels, rental cars and spending money for when you’re with your newly coined Airman.
3. Mark Your Calendar. Yes, put the graduation dates down (AF WingMoms has a complete list of the events and times just for you), but also include “goal dates.” Every week set a goal for how much cash you put in your BMT Account. If you reach the goal great, if you exceed it even more great! However, if you are just short of your goal, then be sure to add it to the next week and save, save, save!
4. Research, research, research! Did I say research? Yes! That’s what can save you mega moolah in the long run! Take advantage of the internet and look at all of the discounts sites you can (Travelocity, priceline, hotwire, kayak, etc). Go to AF WingMoms and see what other families used to save money. Find that best possible deal you can and grab it immediately, or start budgeting for it. Remember, online deals don’t always last! Of course, try to refundable tickets or transferrable ones just in case your AB is recycled.
5. Down to the Nitty Gritty. Now it’s time to start saving! You don’t have to shut yourself I the house for 8 ½ weeks, but cut back on going to restaurants, movies and such. Take the money you’d spend for that and put it into your BMT savings account. You’d be shocked how much you can save that way! Start paying for everything in cash. Debit and credit cards make it way too easy to lose track of how much we spend. Basically, give yourself a weekly allowance.
6. Just Get There! If you are on a tight budget, forgo getting the banners and t-shirts you may see other families getting for graduation. Those are great things to have, but they’re not mandatory. If you just gotta have a banner, make one yourself, they’re just as nice and straight from the heart. In the end, your Airman just wants to see you!
7. Keep that Change! Every time you pay for something, round it to the next dollar and put that extra change in your BMT account. If something is $4.10. Take that 90 cents back and tuck it away for BMT. It adds up fast!
8. Sell Something! Garage sales, bake sales, lemonade stands, car wash, dog wash … go ahead and give it a try! Get the kids involved, the family, your friends and really have some fun while making some extra cash. Do NOT make this your only means of revenue. Also, do NOT do this last minute. If your sale is a bust and you waited until week 7 that could be a disaster. Be sure to check with your local laws and ordinances when it comes to sales.
9. Online Sells. Craigslist and ebay could be your best friend if you don’t want to go the garage sale route. Look around the house and sell what you don’t use using those online websites. It’s true that one man’s trash is another’s treasure! Do a little research to get the price right and don’t forget to add in some extra bucks for shipping costs (if applicable). Of course, be safe during the exchange and meet somewhere public with a friend or family member with you!
10. Run for It! If you or your friends are runners or walkers, consider putting together a running group and run for donations in 5ks and marathons. Not only will you get in shape you can raise money in a fun way! Keep in mind there are entry fees to most races, so a sponsorship from a friend, family or local business will help!
11. Party Time. Having a birthday while your AB is gone? Perhaps a wedding or anniversary or the holidays? Instead of presents ask your friends and family to chip in for the trip. You can even put together a wish list so they “choose” the item they want to “purchase” for you. Here’s an example:
• Hotel for one night — $80 — total requested: 4
• Meal with my Airman —$50— total requested: 8
• A Day at Seaworld —$20— total requested: 4
You get the idea, have fun and put any amount you want. Any little bit helps!
12. Get the Boss Involved! If you’re one of the lucky ones with a cool boss, see if he/she will help. If it’s a suit and tie kind of place, see if the boss will allow employees to donate $5 or $10 for a “Casual Friday.” Everyone who chips in will get to wear jeans to work that day. Or see if they’ll through a little office party with a donation jar. If it helps, ask a friend or co-worker to ask for you.
13. Get to Work! You just might have to work for it … and that could mean a part-time job. Deliver pizzas for a few weeks, clean houses (even it’s just your friends’ homes!), walk dogs, be a pet sitter. Get creative!
14. Just Ask. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. If you have friends and family who can and will help you, let them. Pay them back as soon as possible, even if it means a payment plan when you return.
15. Say Thanks! With a call, a letter or a handshake … just be sure to thank everyone who chips in for your trip.