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.
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!
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?