Smart Shopper

More | Blogs: The Pinch - ShopGirl | Facebook | Contact Coupon Lady

Military families can find deals at commissaries

  • Follow Smart Shopper

I’m a transplant to the area. Augusta became my home after the Army brought our family here. My husband was stationed at Fort Gordon from 2002 until 2006.

Although he is no longer on active duty, he still works with the military. We have many friends and family who still serve. In fact, I recently attended my nephew’s Marine training graduation. I am proud to support the military in any way that I possibly can.

I realize that many service members, past and present, are feeling the effects of the sequester. Currently, Fort Gordon is operating with just 70 percent of the previous year’s operating costs, and further cuts are possible. Active-duty families and retirees are trying to find ways to make their budgets stretch to prepare for any further reductions in salary or benefits.

Among other things, the loss of case lot sales at Fort Gordon has hit military families hard. Normally held twice a year, the sales offered customers a chance to buy in bulk at heavily discounted prices. Manufactures would often have product representatives at the sales with special coupons to lower prices even more.

Without the case lot sales, military shoppers have to get familiar with area stores and seek savings options both on and off post.

Shopping at the commissary is a bit different than shopping in town. First, coupons do not double at the commissary. Second, a commissary shopper will be charged a 5 percent fee for administrative costs.

Military shoppers can only use one coupon per item. Commissary patrons are often given access to special coupons, known as “military” or “commissary” coupons, but they are actually manufacturer coupons issued especially for military shoppers and cannot be combined with any other manufacturer coupon.

Because the commissary is not available to the general public, comparing prices can be tricky, but establishing a price book will help a shopper find the best prices on produce, meats and dairy.

Most commissaries rotate sales on Thursdays. To find out what is on sale, go to www.commissaries.com and log in just as you would on the post exchange (PX) Web site. After logging in, click on the tab “What’s on Sale” and begin matching your coupons to the sale items listed. Try to match up coupons with items that have 20 percent to 40 percent savings to get the best deals.

If you enjoy fresh produce from local sources, the commissaries are holding a nationwide farmer’s market event until mid-July. They will offer fresh produce in a farmer’s market style setting.

Traditionally, the commissaries’ biggest savings can be found on meat and produce. But selection can be limited, and off-post chains sometimes offer steeper discounts as loss leaders. Costco and Sam’s Club offer discounts for larger quantities. Memberships to both places have been offered on sites such as Groupon, Living Social and Mamapedia, which make the membership fee more manageable. Smart shopping is possible with a little know how. Hooah!


Search Augusta jobs