Being uninsured sucks. I still make an effort to stay on top of my medical care. I go to the dermatologist once a year, the dentist twice a year and I also go for my annual check up at my primary care doctor. All of this, for the most part, is paid out of pocket. Here’s how I do it.
- In my monthly budget, I have $100 budgeted for “medical and dental costs”. Some months it’s a little more and some months a little less.
- Although I don’t carry medical insurance, I do have the Ameriplan dental plan. It is not insurance but it is a discount plan that my dentist accepts. It costs $20 a month for my entire family and saves me about $300 a year. After the $240 annual cost, I come out about $60 or more ahead each year. This plan saves me about $50 per cleaning and checkup and then another $40 or so per procedure (fillings, emergency care, sealants, etc)
- My dermatologist is really expensive but he is THE BEST at what he does. When I go in for my skin checks and all the other stuff he does, it is usually more than I expect. I pay $100 that day (from the budget) and then once I get the bill showing the balance due, I IMMEDIATELY call the billing office and set up a payment plan to pay off the balance. In addition, they do give me a “cash/self pay discount” which most doctors will do if you just ask (it is usually at least 10%)
- With my primary care doctor, I pay an $80 “deposit” when I go in and then they bill me for the balance. After I had my last checkup, I got the balance for the remainder of the bill and it seemed a little high. After 3 phone calls (totaling about 1 hours worth of my time), they figured out that I had been billed on the wrong code and my bill for $175 was really supposed to be for $102 once it was coded correctly and my “cash discount” was applied. I saved $73 by spending one hour of my time making phone calls. ALWAYS call and ask if you think something is wrong. It doesn’t cost anything to ask! You should know what you are paying for!
- Be honest with your providers. I make it very clear that I am a self-pay patient. All of my doctors have been very helpful in finding prescriptions that are on the free prescription list at Publix or on the $4 prescription list at Walmart. One time I needed a prescription that was $175! There was no other option available but my doctor checked their room of samples and found a full sized tube of the prescription for me and gave it to me for free ! As an added bonus, the package had an online survey for me to take and that got me a $25 Amazon gift card for taking the survey! Don’t forget to ask about “over the counter” medications as well. They often have lots of samples to give away so don’t be shy!
- Ask your doctor about free clinics. The primary care doctor group that I see also runs an after hours free clinic for patients without insurance. While I go to their regular office for my checkups, all of my other visits can be done at the after hours clinic for free and they also have access to my medical records because it is run by the same group of doctors. Going to this after hours clinic can also get me reduced fees on any necessary labwork that I need done.
Hopefully this post gives you a few new ideas on how to save some money on medical care. Your health is important and you need to take care of yourself, even if you don’t have insurance.
Earlier this week one of Ben’s teachers and her daughter both came down with a stomach flu. Now, it seems Ben has caught the same bug. Yuck. It is just a normal part of having kiddos in school …. they bring things home with them!
A few years ago, I hit upon this brilliant (yet obvious) idea of using the 48 oz. large tubs (3 pounds) that our butter comes in as, well, “puke buckets”. Here’s what’s great about this idea:
- They are free! All you have to do is clean them out once the butter is gone.
- It gives me the chance to recycle them and reuse them
- It is MUCH nicer to throw up in a clean butter dish than it is to stick your head in a toilet or a garbage can
- Since we have so many of them, we can keep one in every room so that there is always one nearby for emergencies when someone cannot make it to the bathroom in time
- You can even keep a few clean ones in the car (along with the lids so that nothing spills)
- They are smaller and easier to manage for little kiddos but they are also large enough to hold a lot!
- Once they have been used, you can either clean them and reuse them again or just throw them away
In addition to having a few of these butter tubs always on hand, I also make sure that I always have these items in my kitchen:
- Lysol or Clorox wipes for all the door handles, faucet handles and toilet handles
- Lots of washrags
- Lysol spray for disinfecting mattresses
- A few extra bed sheets and towels
- Baby wipes, kleenex, paper towels and toilet paper
- Crackers, chicken soup, dry cereal and a clear soda like Sprite or ginger ale
Keeping these items on hand and ready to use makes dealing with a stomach virus a lot easier (because going to the store with sick kiddos, or when you are sick, sucks!)! If you plan ahead, you can grab these things when they go on sale or whenever you have a coupon too!
With Ben’s birthday this month, I was on the hunt for some new games for his Leapster 2. I ran across a great deal at the Just Between Friends sale that I posted about last month. I ended up getting him 14 new games for basically nothing! Then I realized that the case he was using to hold the 14 games he already had would NOT hold 14 more games! He was using a padded, zippered black cosmetic bag to keep all his games in and would just keep the Leapster loose without being in a case.
I started looking for a case for his Leapster that would also hold all (soon to be) 28 Leapster games. Most of the cases on the market hold 1 or 2 games and also the Leapster but I needed something better than that. I determined that it would be great if it was “padded” and could hold everything and had a handle. Then it occurred to me that we had a few leftover lunchboxes from the past few school years!
I quickly dug out last years Star Wars lunch box and sure enough everything fit! It is one of those “soft-sided” lunchboxes so it was padded too! Of course it also had the handle! Another plus is that it will hold MANY more games! Whoop! I love it when I come across a solution that works for FREE using something I already had on hand!
Needless to say, Ben is loving the new “Leapster case” because he loved that Star Wars lunch box! I can’t wait to see his face when he gets the 14 new games I got for him too! Here is what it looks like inside with everything in it (before the new games are added) !
As many of you know, I used to be pretty active with coupon shopping (you can find all of my couponing posts HERE). Now that there is an Aldi near my home (less than five minutes away), my need for coupons has greatly decreased. I let my two newspaper subscriptions run out and then cancelled them. I thought that would be the end of my couponing. Apparently this is not the case.
While I am definitely not couponing as much, I find it interesting that once I stopped my subscriptions, I continued to get coupons. Every week, there is a free newspaper distributed to my neighborhood (by the regular newspaper delivery guy) and in that free paper are the same coupons that were in the Sunday paper! All this time I had been paying for two subscriptions when I could have been getting the coupons for free! Jeesh! Oh, and since my single, male neighbor doesn’t use his paper I get that one too! So, same amount of coupons FREE!
So, if you have a newspaper subscription just for the sake of getting coupons, start watching the driveways in your area. If you see that they are getting a free weekly paper, maybe you can cancel your subscription and save a few dollars.
We only have six weeks left before school is out for the summer. Can’t believe that they school year went by soooooo fast! I have started kicking around ideas for things to put on our summer to-do list. Having gone through years of therapy with Ben, I try to really structure our summers so we have time for fun as well as get some things accomplished. He does not do therapy during the summer – we work on getting those goals accomplished at home so we can have some family time without being overly scheduled.
Here are a few ideas to get you started planning some summer fun of your own!
- Sign up over at KidsBowlFree.com so that the kiddos can bowl for free all summer! They also have a form for the adults to sign up at a rate of $25 or so for four adults on the pass ~ that is a HUGE savings!
- Regal Movie Theaters does the Summer Movie Express with $1 movies on certain dates during the summer
- Michael’s craft stores have the free Passport to Fun kids crafts during the summer. Check your local store for details.
- Home Depot has free Kids Workshops one Saturday each month
- Cinemark movie theaters has the Summer Movie Clubhouse program where it costs $5 to go see all ten films (or $1 per film if tickets purchased separately)
- Going to the public library is free and ours has a great selection of movies and books that keep my kiddos entertained for hours and hours and hours at a time
- Check around at local museums, science centers, etc to find out when their “free entrance days” are
- We spend a lot of time outdoors, and usually go to the beach, springs or local pool at least once a week. I make sure to pack a cooler with drinks and snacks so I don’t have to buy any (BIG savings there!)
- Family game day is always fun! We do board games or video games and snacks
- Friday is ALWAYS movie night at our home ~ complete with movies from Redbox or the library or Netflix, pizza, soda, popcorn and candy
- Pinterest is a WONDERFUL source for cheap ideas to keep the kiddos entertained! There are tons and tons of great ideas and things to try! Over spring break we have used a few of them . DIY slurpees were a total HIT and my son thought that taking a bath in the dark with glow in the dark bracelets in the water was super COOL!
- It takes a little planning but lots of fun can be had for very little money! If you sign up for emails from Groupon.com , LivingSocial.com , and HalfOffDepot.com you can get INCREDIBLE deals for local attractions that might otherwise be out of your price range. For example: I just got 3 tickets to CoCo Key Water park that would have cost me over $70 but I paid $31 ! That is more than half off and wayyyyyy less than the cost of one ticket to Wet N Wild! We have also gotten great deals on ice cream, mini golf, an indoor trampoline arena, Monkey Joes, and various restaurants all for more than 50 % off!
- Shopping centers and malls offer a lot of entertainment for free! Here in Orlando we are lucky and have Downtown Disney which hosts a T-Rex Cafe complete with dino bones excavation area (free to walk through and see the dinos and play in the excavation area), Lego shop (free to go in and play with all the cool legos!), free boat ride across the waterway to the shops, and lots of other free and neat things to do and see! Most malls have an indoor play area these days and the mall also offers an opportunity for the older kiddos to window shop.
- Teach a skill ~ my kiddos all loved learning to cook and sew! You can have some fun, get things done (hey, you have to eat anyhow!) and teach a valuable life skill all at the same time. Pinterest is a great source of kid friendly recipes and craft / sewing ideas too!
- On the weekends we usually wander over to the Dollar Tree so that the kiddos can spend some of their allowance money (you can see my post on WHY my kids get allowances HERE). Kids get thrilled even when the only have $1 to spend! At the Dollar Tree, the possibilities are endless!
- Get a cheap game from Gamestop. Not many people know that if you go into Gamestop and tell them that you are looking for Wii games under $5 (or whatever system you have) they will print a list of all the titles they have in stock that are under that price! $5 for at least a full day of fun is a deal! You can also rent the newer video games at Redbox for $2 plus tax.
Hopefully this list of ideas gets you inspired to schedule some summer fun of your own! I would love to hear back from you if you have any ideas to add to my list!
With two of my girls grown and out on their own (and even out of the state!) I find that sometimes the easiest way to keep up with what’s going on is to check their Facebook accounts. The problem with that is I don’t want to be a Mom all over their page, you know? So, I am always on the lookout for new ways to post on their page so that they know I am thinking about them while at the same time not embarrassing them and causing their friends to ask “Hey, what’s up with your Mom??!?!?!?”
I had no idea what the heck a “meme” was until my girls started talking about them. Then I started seeing Ryan Gosling “Hey Girl” memes popping up on Louise’s page and I knew I had to get in on this! The one at the top of this post is one I recently added to her Facebook page. I thought it was hysterical ~ HA! (Let me just say that if Ryan Gosling did add me as a Facebook friend, I would not have time to post to my daughter’s pages!).
Here is a meme to explain what a meme is:
These things are SO fun! They are also a cool way just to let someone know you are thinking of them without cyber-stalking them or looking too serious. All I do to find them is click over to Google and do an image search for what ever I am looking for plus the word “meme”.
So, if you wanted one for a friends birthday and they love poodles, you would do an image search for “poodle meme” and then you might post THIS to their page:
AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH! See! Isn’t that funny! So, let’s say they love sandwiches. Go to Google and do an image search for “sandwich meme”. If you have ever worked at an office, then you can relate to the meme below:
See! Memes are easy, fun and free! There are also memes for birthdays, holidays, special occasions, jokes, celebrities, inspiration, etc. Now that you know what they are and how to use them appropriately and you won’t have to be clueless like this poor lady:
The other day I had a bunch of errands to run and also needed to get cash out to give the kiddos their allowances (you can see my original post on deciding to give children an allowance or not HERE). I thought to myself, “Well, I will just get cash back when I use my debit card at Dollar Tree this morning.” Then I remembered that Dollar Tree charges a fee to get cash back (I think it is $1).
Now I know that doesn’t seem like a big deal. I would hypothetically save time and gas by just getting the cash back and willingly paying the $1 fee. Then it occurred to me that I would be driving right by my credit union on the way to take Ben to school. So I figured that, for the sake of argument, I would stop at the credit union to take the cash out and see just how long it takes me.
Here is what I determined:
- It took me 4 minutes
- It wasn’t out of my way
- I didn’t waste any gas
I saved $1 in 4 minutes. There are 60 minutes in an hour and 60 minutes divided by 4 minutes is 15. By stopping at the credit union and getting the cash out, I was being paid an “effective rate” of $15 an hour. If I stop at the credit union once a week while on the way to Ben’s school, instead of just getting cash back at the Dollar Tree, I will save over $50 a year. Yep, I’ll take that
Usually I host family get-togethers at my house. It is easier on Ben (the Autism just doesn’t make it easy to travel to other houses). I always make a TON of food and anyone who wants to take home leftovers is more than welcome to take some home. This brings up the issue of what to put it in.
A few years ago I noticed that whenever I was getting ready for family dinners, since I was making so much food, I would have several plastic bowls with lids that would normally go into the garbage (sour cream bowls, cottage cheese bowls, cool whip bowls, etc). While I don’t like to keep these for storage here at my house (I tend to use more heavy duty storage containers), I realized that it would be great to have them on hand for whenever someone wants to take home leftovers from my house! No need to worry about returning the bowl, they can either keep it for themselves or throw it away! Plus, at least they get used at least one more time before going into the trash
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One of my favorite ways to save money has to do with waiting. I hate waiting. On the other hand, I love saving money! While raising my children (3 girls ages 23, 20 and 13 and one son aged 8) I realized that clothing four children could get pretty expensive! This is one area where patience definitely pays off!
Years ago I read a book called The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn.
This book is worth it’s weight in gold!
In the book she describes how she had a “used-clothing filing system”. I am NOT kidding! While I admire her intense organization, I did not need something that detailed (and I definitely did not have the space for that!) so I devised a smaller system.
Basically what I did was have one tote for the girls and one for my son (just large plastic boxes with lids). In those two plastic totes went the following items:
- clothing that my older girls had outgrown that were in good condition and being saved for the younger girls
- clothing items that were hand me downs for my son that were too big for him (items from other family members and friends of the family)
- clothing items that I found and bought really, really cheap and didn’t fit anyone yet from yard sales, clearance racks, wherever!
- clothing items from other, older female family members that didn’t yet fit any of the girls
- basically anything that was in good condition and could eventually fit one of my kids went into these totes (shoes, socks, underwear, belts, shirts, bathing suits, boxers, purses, bras, ANYTHING that they could wear and might be used again)
I have been using this system for YEARS and my kids actually love it! Every year before school starts, we go through the totes to see what fits and can be pulled out and used. We also go through the totes during each season to pull items out that can be used during that time of year (like bathing suits for summer!). When a child outgrows an item and needs a replacement we go look through the totes before buying something. Recently Shelby outgrew a pair of jeans and so we went to the stash and instantly found a pair of jeans that fit her perfectly! Money, time and gas saved!
I live in Florida. Land of the high power bill. I am always looking to learn new ways on how to decrease electric bill. Over the summer, the power bill for our rental goes up to well over $200 (the highest bill this last summer was $293 – for ONE month!).
As you can see in the above picture of my water heater costs about $42 per month to run ($508 per year divided by 12 months). For the most part, during the day, I am the only person home and don’t NEED hot water for anything. I know from previous experience that turning off the water heater during the day can definitely save money on the power bill, so I decided to start doing that again.
Basically, I turn the water heater on at about 4 p.m. every day. It takes about a half hour for the tank to be full of hot water. Then, when everyone comes home from work and school, they take their showers. After dinner, I wash all the dishes and the water heater goes back off at about 7 or 8 p.m. I do this by turning the water heater breaker off in the main power box inside our utility room.
As long as you wait about half an hour after the last shower is taken before you turn the water heater off, there should still be a full tank of hot water. That usually lasts us until the next evening when I turn the water heater back on again.
This may seem a little inconvenient at times, but it is definitely a money saver! The first month I tried this, I got our lowest power bill yet in over three years! The bill was only $105! That is out lowest winter month power bill EVER!
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