When your military family member is deployed overseas, whether its Iraq, Afghanistan or another location, care packages and other mail can make their day. But the costs can add up quickly especially when you factor in mailing the package to them. Here's a few tips to help save money.
1. Buy in bulk
Visit Sam's Club, Costco or another warehouse to buy the items he requests most in bulk. Beef jerky, powdered drinks, cookies and chips in individual serving size packages are all great things to send to your soldier. Divide the items up among several boxes and make your dollars last longer.
2. Send boxes priority through the post office.
The post office offers two different sizes in their flat rate priority boxes. These boxes cost $8.10 to mail no matter how much they weigh. Take advantage of this. You can also pick up the boxes, mailing labels, packing tape and customs forms for free from your post office. Or if you prefer, you can order them online or by phone. Check their website (www.usps.com) for more information.
3. Send him stationary, cards, etc. that can be sent back home.
If your soldier has access to a PX, the supplies are limited especially when it comes to greeting cards. Save him money and time by sending these items to him when you send his care packages. Remember, when he sends letter mail, no stamp is needed.
4. Sign him up for a care package donation service.
First, check with his unit to be sure it is permissable to give out his address. If so, let others know he would like to receive care packages or mail. There are many of these sites online such as www.give2thetroops.org. This service is free.
5. Send single serving packages
While this may not save you money, it will prevent waste on his end. If you send a full size bag of chips, its likely to go bad or worse, be invaded with sand before he can finish them. Individual size servings will stay fresh longer and will prevent him from having to throw it out. Also makes it easier for him to share with friends!
6. Use newspapers for packing material
We all know that boxes sent overseas should be packed securely. Instead of paying extra for packing or filler material, use your local newspaper. Not only is it a great filler, it also gives him news from home. Use the sports section or comics to make his day.
Sending care packages doesn't have to be expensive. The important thing is to send things to your soldier so he knows you are remembering him and thinking about him. The highlight of his day or week could very well be receiving a package from home.
Stacey Abler is an Army Wife and owner of the website, http://www.marriedtothearmy.com.
In addition, she also operates several Cafepress stores - http://www.cafepress.com/soldierswife for Army families and http://www.cafepress.com/soldierswife2 for Navy, Marine and Air Force families.