Jan 16 2013

We saved a bundle at the dentist


Last month, Shane, Johnny and I had a trip to the dentist. Johnny had x-rays and an exam and cleaning, Shane had an exam, cleaning and cavity repair, and I had the same (except I had more cavities to repair — some old fillings gave way and my mouth was playing a cruel joke on me).

We don’t have official dental insurance, and we don’t have a Flexible Spending Account. But, we have a dental discount plan and it seriously saved us a bundle. The plan is roughly $12/month for two people, or $15/3+ but there’s a 10% discount for paying annually in full. The plan entitles you to pre-negotiated discounted rates, so long as you use an in-network provider.

The plan we have is called Careington Care 500, but there are others out there.

The bill was adjusted to the Careington prices immediately.

I got an additional 3% discount by paying with a check instead of swiping my credit card, since they are charged that fee for accepting plastic.

Overall, I’m very happy with this plan and if you don’t have dental insurance (or if your monthly coverage is expensive and the plan isn’t all that great) a discount plan could be a great option for your family.

This one also has discounts for vision and prescription, but we haven’t used those.

Do you have dental insurance or a discount plan?

Jan 02 2013

How my friend shops ahead to save money on gifts


My friend Lauren is a frugal lady, and one of her techniques she uses is to shop ahead for gifts.

She’s all set for Christmas 2013 and bought $460 worth of gifts for $100.

Her strategy? She hits post-Christmas clearance sales hard.

She says:

I used to shop all year long at the little clearance sales after various holidays. You can get a lot of nice stuff, especially for women, after Valentine’s Day. Now I do it all between the day after Christmas and NYE. I got some great deals including clothes, jewelry  and gloves and hats and such at Aeropostale outlet at Edinburgh. I also got some really cute Christmas themed candle holder things at the Yankee Candle outlet. I got a bit of randomness at Target — nice slippers, socks, nail polish, candy (and yes, I do save candy for a year, it’s fine as long as you know what to get-Reese’s for instance, don’t save well, but M&M’s are fine).

There’s often a lot of the same sort of stuff on sale year after year, so I keep track of what I’ve given from year to year. For instance, my sister LOVES wild socks and nail polish. I sometimes buy her several pairs of cute socks and several bottles of nail polish. Things like that get worn out or used up, so I can repeat, but I wouldn’t gift her the same sort of thing back to back two years in a row.

I hope that makes some sort of sense. My brain is pretty mushy right now. Basically I have an idea of 2-3 different types of things that would work for each person and apply those ideas to what I see on sale. Also, the only reasonable time to buy gift bags and tissue paper is after Christmas at 70% off!

I’ll add that it’s really feasible for any budget. I used to do things like full sized sets of shower gel or bubble bath and lotion for $1.50 each and travel mugs for $1-2 with coffee samples (sometimes even hotel coffee if they weren’t labeled with the hotel name), and $1.50ish picture frames. Now I’ve got a bit more budget to work with so I’ve been able to increase the quality of the gifts!


Great idea, Lauren! I wonder if I’m too late to get any good deals, but maybe I can get out today or tomorrow to do a little shopping. I’ve done this in the past for wrapping paper and the sort, but I haven’t done it for years since up until last year we really didn’t have the storage space.

How about you? Do you buy ahead?

Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. 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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