It isn't a surprise that when military families go through tough, economic times they would want to find ways to get necessities for less. After all, military families typically have a lower income. Furniture is one of those necessities that rarely comes cheap when it's new. When furniture is pre-owned, it is usually damaged. However, there are ways for military families to get furniture for less.
Go to your local family support center and ask for the loan attic. In the Air Force, its called the Airman's Attic. Young families can go to the Attic and get furniture to borrow until they get their own or, in many cases, for free. Sometimes they even have canned goods and/or toys for children. Just remember to give it back when you're done with it and, as you progress in your career, donate some of your own.
Drive around base neighborhoods on Friday and look for Yard Sale signs. Military families have yard sales almost every day-even in the winter. The reason is that some families bring more goods from their large, overseas homes to their stateside, much smaller houses. They might have too much furniture than they are allowed to bring overseas. Either way, when a family gets orders to go to another base (known as a PCS), they usually have to get rid of extra furniture and goods fast. This is an excellent time to get a deal.
Find out when the bulk trash pick-up days are and drive around the night before. This is especially effective right after yard sales because military families often have to throw away what they couldn't sell. This could be your chance to get some furniture for free. Families will even help you load the furniture into your truck. They're just happy to get rid of it.
Look for the local consignment shop on base. This is another place to get good furniture. Although yard sales and free furniture can be a bargain, sometimes you want to get things that are a little higher quality. Consignment shops are good because they won't sell something that they can't make money off of, which is typically around 25%. The prices are still pretty low, so its still a good deal!
Some bases also have Non-Appropriated Funds sales where they get rid of old office furniture and equipment. The selection isn't always the best, but it never hurts to look, especially if you need extra computer chairs or shelves. Some military branches have a "PCS" season when families get orders to other bases. Find out when that is and you can expect more yard sales.
Paul Bright has been writing online since 2006, specializing in topics related to military employment and mental health. He works for a mental health non-profit in Northern California. Bright holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of North Carolina-Pembroke and a Master of Arts in psychology-marriage and family therapy from Brandman University.