Sep 10 2008

I spy with my little eye…a lower vision bill!

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Through my husband’s work, we have a small bit of vision insurance. This is a good thing, as both Shane and I need glasses or contacts to see um…anything. Our plan doesn’t cover the whole shebang, so we’ll want to make sure our money is being used wisely.

Save money in advance

First, during “open enrollment,” we make sure there is money in our flexible spending account to pay for our vision needs for the coming year. This is money deducted from your paycheck (tax-free!) and in a way works as an automatic savings account for health needs. I love it! (Paid Twice has a post about FSAs today, so check it out!).

If your employer doesn’t offer a FSA, you can create a version of your own.
Say you spent $300 on your vision last year and expect to spend the same this year. If you put $25 per month for a year in a high-interest savings account such as ING Direct, you’ll have the money saved up, earn some interest on it, and when it comes time to buying, it won’t have the same jarring impact on your budget as $300 at once would. It’s post-tax money, of course, but it’s better than having nothing saved at all.

Be sure you’re getting a good deal on the exam

Next, we book a vision exam at a covered provider, making sure that the exam is either 100 percent covered or is cheaper with insurance that I can get somewhere else. Simple enough. If you don’t have vision insurance, shop around for the best price on your exam! Look online and call around.

When it comes time to select glasses and contacts, we’ll look at our options within the store but we’ll be sure to shop around a bit more before making a purchase.

Get your prescription to fit the bill


In many cases, you can get contacts cheaper at a discount retailer, a grocery store (strange but true!), or online
. Once you have your prescription, you can shop around and apply discount codes online if applicable. They’re the same things–so get them for the lowest price you can. I only buy one box (six contacts) per eye at a time in case my vision needs change before I can move on to the second box. I don’t want them to go to waste, and I don’t want to deal with the hassle of returning an unopened box.

A popular online resource is 1800contacts.com but there are plenty more out there. If you have an account with MyPoints.com (let me send you an invite if you don’t), you can click through the portal and earn 500 to 750 points with your purchase.

But before you click “purchase,” you’ll want to make sure you’ve found all applicable coupon codes. I found these codes through my Ebates (referral link) account:

  • save342 to save $5 off a $95 purchase
  • save341 to save $10 off a $100 purchase

These might not be the best codes out there, so you’ll want to search on Google before finalizing your purchase.

Ebates lists cash-back opportunities for saving money with other contacts retailers. You can get 7 percent cash back with Coastal Contacts, 4 percent back with Contacts America, 5 percent back with Just Lenses, and 7 percent back from Lens Mart. The retailers I just mentioned also have great coupon codes available. Check those codes out on Ebates and do a Google search.

I go in spurts where I wear contacts pretty much all the time, but right now I’m in a rather long stretch where I wear my glasses about 97 percent of the time. Once my son is born, I’ll probably try to switch back to using contacts every day. My mom reminded me that babies love to grab things — earrings, necklaces, glasses — so it might be a good idea to remove him of that temptation :)

With glasses, you’ll be able to find a pair fitting every price range. I normally am pretty easy to please when it comes to fashion, but with glasses I’m extremely picky. I think it’s a challenge to find glasses that fit your face, look good, and are comfortable. Oh, and they’ve gotta fit your budget, too. It’s hard work!

Trying on glasses when you can’t actually see how you look (either your vision is too poor or you’re shopping online) can be a bit frustrating. This year, I’ll probably put in some contacts when I’m trying on those frames with the regular plastic lenses so I can actually see myself. I’ll probably buy my glasses in a retail store, but I will look for frames online just in case I find something I like.

Final thoughts

When you’re done with your glasses forever, you can donate them to a charity that will make further use of them.

Recently at Money Saving Mom, we learned how to find glasses for $8 per pair. I can’t vouch for the quality or the style of these, but if you need a back-up pair, these might fit the bill. Maybe they’ll exceed your expectations!

Amy at Mom Advice posted about saving on glasses today (and it reminded me that hey, I wanna write about that topic, too!). She has a video clip as well.

My friend Michelle recently sent me a link to an article on Slate that shares more ways for saving money on glasses.

(Photo: I took this pic of Shane’s glasses)

How do you save on vision care?



11 Responses to “I spy with my little eye…a lower vision bill!”

  1. Your mom is right, babies love to grab glasses. Just don’t do like I did. I didn’t wear my glasses around my oldest till he was probably 18 months. I always wore my contacts. Then one day I had to wear my glasses. He freaked out! Wouldn’t come near me or anything. He didn’t recognize me with the glasses on LOL. I made sure with my 2nd son, to wear my glasses around him sporadically from the start. He was never scared of me in them like my oldest. Funny story, now, but it was heartbreaking at the time.

    Heather G’s last blog post..The Dangerous Days of Daniel X

  2. Giving away old glasses is a wonderful thing to do but it’s always a good idea to keep the most recent “old” pair in case you break or lose the new ones. The same goes for keeping a pair of glasses when you switch to contacts.

    People who’ve been wearing contacts for a while know this, but sometimes it’s easy to go all gung ho with your first pair of contacts and fling the hated “specs”.

  3. Thank you so much for posting this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My glasses broke back in April, and while Shawn temporarily (and cleverly) fixed them for me with some gorilla glue, they bid me their final goodbye about a month later. RIP.
    I’ve been wearing contacts since then, and while this is my preference, it’s still nice to slip on your glasses instead of stumbling around in the mornings when you need to use the restroom. But they’re just so flipping expensive, I’ve been stressing about how I was gonna get a pair. This could not have come at a better time :)

  4. Yeah, it’s always good to have some sort of backup pair–especially if you wear contacts.

    I wore contacts so much a few years ago that I started to develop extra blood vessels in my eyes. They just weren’t getting enough oxygen! Yikes!

    So contacts wearers should definitely have glasses on hand to wear for part of the day.

  5. This would make for a great article on BD

    Darla – UltraBeautyBoutique’s last blog post..Product Review: Everyday Minerals Finishing Powder

  6. I’ve been using the same pair of glasses for the last two years. I’m not due for another eye exam ’til next year and I’m hoping my vision stays the same so I can use my glasses for another year. That saves me a lot of $ right there. I do have contacts but they’re reserved for special occasions only and maybe when the baby starts grabbing my glasses.

  7. I actually do all the same things. I wear my contacts a lot more than I do my glasses so I usually just get my prescription changed on them if my eyes changed a lot or every other year if they didn’t. Currently I’m putting money into my HSA through my job so that I can not only save for medical expenses but for the Lasik I’m going to get in the next few years. I really love the HSA’s and will probably continue to put money into it even after I’ve left my current job since my employer lets you take it with you when you leave. Thanks for the other great tips I will definitely be checking out the Ebates to help with my contacts.

  8. I need new glasses although I like my frames. Havent updated the prescription in about 6 years and although it hasnt changed much I bet it would make a difference. I used to be a huge contact wearer but for the past couple of months, it has been all glasses. So much quicker and easier to put on. I heard America’s Best (a place here, not sure if national) has really cheap glasses and you can go in and try them on. I might try that.

    Dani’s last blog post..I Ant Liking This

  9. Glasses are so darn expensive- I wish there were more physical stores that offered cheaper options. I have trouble finding ones that fit in the store (I usually end up in the kid section) so I would have a lot of trouble ordering them online.

    This is such a great topic!!

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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