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One of perks of being a military family is the discounts on goods and services we use every day. From saving money on a home improvement project to dining for less at a favorite restaurant, military discounts are popping up just about everywhere, sometimes in places you least expect them. 

So how can you find all those amazing military discounts? Sometimes, all you have to do is ask.

I was shopping at New York and Company the first time I discovered that not all military discounts are advertised. While fumbling for my credit card at the check-out counter, my military ID card fell out of my wallet. “I see you’re military,” the employee said. “That’s an additional 15% off your total purchase.”

I was a frequent customer there. How did I not know this? There were no signs anywhere in the store offering a discount, nothing was advertised online and I had never been asked at the cash register if I was a military family member. It never occurred to me to ask.

It turns out these hidden military discounts are quite common. All it takes to uncover them is a simple question: “Do you offer a military discount?” 

Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts. From amusement parks to cell phone services to cars to hotels, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the deals you can end up with simply because you asked.

Worst case scenario, you get no for an answer and you have to pay full price. Best case scenario, you land yourself some savings and find a new store that now fits into your budget. Plus, you might even get a discount at a store that doesn’t offer one for no other reason than you requested it and a kind business owner wants to show appreciation for your service.

It might initially feel awkward to ask for a discount, but the more you ask, the more you’ll get the hang of it. In my experience, most people are happy to say yes to the request, and many times, those who have said no, do so apologetically. Some employees have told me they wish they offered a discount or that they were working on getting one. 

If you still don’t feel comfortable asking face-to-face, do some research before shopping. Check out local businesses online or pick up the phone and call for more details. Make sure you ask specific questions about eligibility since some discounts are only offered to active-duty servicemembers, while others are available for retirees and family members as well. 

You never know when and where you’ll stumble across a military discount, and because most require a valid military ID as proof, always remember to carry your ID with you. Also remember that store policies may change over time and may be different in various locations, especially during military-related holidays like Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.

And remember the most important thing when it comes to military discounts: it never hurts to ask.

-- Heather Sweeney can be reached at Heather.Sweeney@monster.com.

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