Saving Some Green on Blueberries

save money on blueberriesFirst of all, blueberries rule.

Yes, I happen to like blueberries a lot.  They just might be my favorite food, and they’re known to be quite nutritious.  Pretty good deal, right?

Well, they also happen to be relatively expensive too.  Going to the grocery store and buying a small 4 ounce container for $3.50 isn’t exactly a budget-friendly purchase.  Admittedly, I get them from time to time because they’re delicious and a part of the healthy frugal breakfast I often have.

So recently a group of us went out for the day and did something quite out of the ordinary for those of us in the crazy metropolis known as Chicago.  We took a couple of cars and went blueberry picking!  As in, way out to the country to some “u-pick” blueberry farms.

I told a friend of mine (who wasn’t a part of this group) that we did this, and he raised an eyebrow.  “Blueberry picking?” he asked.

Translation: “Are you serious?”

Despite his obvious thought that this was a lame way to have fun, I proceeded to tell him about why it was worth the time to do so, even in light of my view that time is more valuable than money in many cases.  And oh by the way, it was worth the money too!

The one thing that I’ll say up front is that it did cost some gas money to make the drive.  That being said, there were quite a few people going and multiple vehicles, so the costs could be spread out.  Plus we did some other things to make it a full day experience, such as hitting a winery, visiting a farmstand that sold amazing raw honey, and driving on the shoreline.  Yes, you can do those things in the Midwest!

So really, it was actually a full day out – of which only a part was allocated to blueberry picking.

As for the berries, I have to say that there is nothing quite like picking them up right from the source.  It’s a great experience that urban dwellers should take part in, as food from the farm just tastes a bit fresher than what is purchased at the store in many cases.  You can just taste the flavors and feel the nutrition as you eat them off the plant.

Plus, it’s fun to spend time outside on a beautiful summer day

All told, I personally picked up just over 5 pounds of blueberries.  The total cost was $7.50.  Yes, the blueberries were only $1.50 per pound!

You could pay 8 times that much at the grocery store for produce that’s not nearly as fresh.  Or, you can go straight to the source and have fun doing it.  The latter, if you have a chance to do it even once per year, is a fun and cost-effective option.

I know that 5 pounds of blueberries is a pretty big amount.  But they can be readily frozen and used for smoothies and recipes for quite some time.

It was quite a fun day, and a real takeaway is that we can often find some winning combinations of experiences if we just keep our eyes and mind open to different ideas.  Instead of snickering like the person I mentioned, the rest of us embraced the experience and bought a lot of incredibly fresh and healthy food for a low price, and had fun doing it!

My Questions for You

What are some money-saving purchases that you’ve especially enjoyed?

Have you ever picked fresh fruit or vegetables?

If so, did you get really good deals?

 

The Big Orange Money Machine: Pumpkin Products are Everywhere!

pumpkins_everywhereIf I trip and fall sometime in the autumn season, it will probably due to a pumpkin on the ground that I didn’t see.  That is, because I was probably staring at an ad for a pumpkin-themed product at the time.  Pumpkins and related products seem to be everywhere these days, which appears to be a continuation of a trend that’s been ongoing for some time.

Everybody seems to love pumpkins.  Or, at least they get caught up in the season and want to take part in pumpkin mania.  The days of pumpkins being purely a source of seasonal pie and something to carve for Halloween would appear to be long gone.  Instead of just being a part of a visit to the pumpkin patch, they now find their way into our lives in many different ways.

Here are some things I’ve seen recently or heard about that are pumpkin themed or flavored:

  • Coffee
  • Lattes
  • Pie
  • Chocolate
  • Muffins
  • Candy
  • Beer
  • Whiskey
  • Vodka
  • Cheesecake
  • Doughnuts
  • Bagels
  • Cream cheese
  • Ravioli
  • Soup
  • Stew

The last one was actually a part of a meal I had at an Ethiopian restaurant.  It was incredible.  By the way, if you’ve never tried Ethiopian cuisine, give it a try sometime.

Anyway, back to pumpkins.  This is a list of things that just came to mind pretty quickly.  I’m sure there innumerable ways that pumpkin is marketed as a flavor or theme, and this list is just the tip of the iceberg.

What this boils down to is that pumpkins seem to be big business!  They’re working their way into more of our lives during the fall, as marketers look for ways to squeeze extra money out of consumers.   They really do seem like orange money-makers.

What do I think of this?

Well, actually I like it! Sure, there might come a point where it gets to be too much, and perhaps ridiculous.  However, it’s fun to celebrate the seasons and get into it.  At least that’s the case around here, where we do get four distinct seasons.  Maybe it’s different in other locales with more moderate, consistent weather through the year.

The other reason I’m cool with this craze is that pumpkin is actually a really healthy food! That is, as long as it isn’t slathered in butter, sugar, or some other less desirable accompaniment.   Pumpkin is a low fat, fairly low calorie food that is rich in minerals and vitamins, particularly vitamin A.   It certainly isn’t something that would find itself on too many do not eat lists, but might find its way onto a list of cheap healthy food.

So, if all this marketing of pumpkin products raises awareness of the benefits of actual pumpkins (instead of pumpkin-flavored treats), then everyone wins!

Of course, I do have to admit that I like pumpkin lattes.  Hardly a health food, but everyone wants a treat every now and then, right?   Maybe I should try to learn more Starbucks loopholes to get these drinks cheaper :)

My Questions for You

Have you noticed that pumpkin-themed products have become more prevalent in recent years?

Which are your favorite of these pumpkin treats?

Do you (or would you) go out of your way to incorporate pumpkin as a part of a healthy diet?

 

Sometimes We Need a Kick in the Pants In Order to Take Action!

Have you ever known someone who knows he (or she) needs to make a change in some habit or aspect of life, but just doesn’t get around to it?  You know, something that clearly could be improved upon, but procrastination or flat out denial takes hold and freezes the person into inaction?

Well, you now know at least one person who’s done that: me!

Okay, I’m sure you know others who have put things off.  Heck, I’d be surprised if you’ve never done this.  Whether it’s money, health, or relationships – which are all key parts of life – there has to be something to be improved upon that isn’t getting done.  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, as we’re human after all.  Nobody is perfect!

I’ll share with you two example of how this has happened to me.  Both from last year where I took action, and one I’m just now processing.

Last Year – The Soda Habit

First off, confession time here.  I had previously posted a few times about my attempts to give up caffeine.  Specifically my interest was really in doing away with drinking soda, which just didn’t seem like the healthiest choice for me. 

So, I had a few periods of time where I gave it up completely, only to get back into it later.  After having some successes a few years ago that I wrote about, I then got back into the habit of drinking diet soda.  To the point where I was having one every day.  Every single day. Yet again.

This began to take toll on my teeth, to my surprise.  I had a root canal and ultimately ended up getting a wisdom tooth removed due to decay.  It could have stayed otherwise, but the decay was there.  It was like these problems just came out of nowhere in a few years, but it goes to show the impact that a bad habit could potentially have.

I had gotten so accustomed to drinking a soda a day, that I even had one the day before getting my tooth pulled.  The irony of that! 

After dealing with having a wisdom tooth pulled, I decided: that’s it! No more of this stuff.  I mean, I had to be put under IV sedation to get the wisdom tooth pulled, and while the whole experience wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, it was still dental surgery. A tooth was permanently gone, which got me wondering what could happen next if I kept up the habit.

Since that time, over 8 months ago as of this writing, I haven’t had a single soda.  That experience of getting a tooth pulled was enough of a kick in the pants for me to wake up and actually make a change.  I don’t think it will be necessary for me to be militant about this in the future to the point of never having one again, but at least I know it can be done because I succeeded.

This Year – Losing Weight

I had an instance recently where I looked at a picture from about a decade ago, when my daughter was really young.  I can’t believe how fast kids grow up, and how different they look from being mere infants to pre-teens.

What I also noticed about the picture is how I looked different then.  Have to say, I looked good back then! Now? Well, not so much in my opinion.  I just look heavier, and somewhat different now than I did in that picture.  Just to be sure, I looked a few other photos and yes, I look kind of different now versus then.

I brought this up with a few people with whom I’m close, and actually got some candid feedback.  The straight up, unsolicited comments were that I really needed to lose 15 pounds to get back to where I was.  These were two separate conversations with two folks that I’m sure hadn’t spoken at all about me, since they rarely see each other.  Independent observations and feedback. But actually, I think they were letting me off easy.

Nonetheless, what a kick in pants!  Or teeth, maybe even gut (but now I have a few extra pounds so maybe not, haha). Anyway, not only did I notice this difference in me, but clearly others did too.  It’s still kind of jarring to hear, even I know it.  Truth be told, I think I should lose more like 25 pounds to get back to where I was a decade ago. Back then, I was physically fit. But just a couple of pounds per year can add up over the course of a decade.

I mean, I’ve lost like 10 pounds before when I had to, but that was years ago.  When young and in good shape anyway, it can take just a month and you’re back in business! When older, it’s a different ballgame it seems.

The next step is to actually do something about it.  By writing about this, I’m making myself accountable.

Final Thoughts

One can see how people sometimes just need a big time reality check to take action.  Usually I talk about money here, and clearly this can apply in that arena.  I’m sure people have their own tipping points that cause them to finally do something about their money.  Maybe it’s a bounced check, lost job, or even something like losing a home. 

Whatever it is, whether money, relationships, or health/fitness as in my case – sometimes we just need that swift kick to get us past inertia and toward action.  It worked for me with the soda.  Plus, I’ve successfully handled other situations in the past. This seems different though…I’m hoping I can apply the same principles to do this!

My Questions for You

Have you ever gotten a big wake up call in some area of life?  If so, what was it and how did you handle it?

Any suggestions for how to approach my quest?  Please do share.

A Healthy Brain Equals Healthier Finances

There are many ways to protect ourselves financially.  One is insurance – be it home, business, or disability.  Another is by being careful with certain risks.  Yet another is carefully manage our career.  The list can go on.

One of the additional ways to protect ourselves is by staying healthy.  Seems obvious, as one needs to be healthy in order to work.  If we can’t work, the cash flow stops.  Also, medical bills can add up quickly.

The thing is, when most of us think of being healthy, I believe we are generally referring to things such as keeping in shape and making sure we have the physical energy to work.  Which, of course, makes sense.  But I think that there is another area which perhaps doesn’t get as much attention as it could: keeping our brain sharp.

Yes, I think that we need to at least consider brain health as a long-term investment.  Of course for our lives in general, first and foremost.  But a side benefit is the impact it can have on our ability to earn money.  Just as our capacity to make money can impaired by physical limitations, it could also be impaired by limitations of our brain.  A healthy brain = healthier finances.

The reality is that plenty of people suffer cognitive decline and brain issues as they get older.  Knowing someone who is dealing with this in old age, it’s very clear to me that it’s a frightening reality that people’s brains can give way sooner than their bodies.  If we can’t function mentally, there are severe problems for us.  Alzheimer’s and other related issues can be scary conditions that simply destroy lives.

Along those lines - for financial but mostly quality of life reasons – here are 5 things we can do to help maintain our mental functioning:

Exercise

There have been studies that have shown that staying active can help reduce some risks of developing alzheimer’s.   Being a couch potato and relatively inactive has other problems, obviously.  But apparently it can have potential impacts on your brain as well.

I don’t know about you, but if I go through periods of inactivity, I can get sluggish.  After regular exercise, and particularly after a good workout, I just feel more alert.

Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods

It’s known that antioxidant-rich foods can have a variety of health benefits.  One of them might be helping your brain, too.  Having a good diet with plenty of these foods might help slow the decline of cognitive ability over time.

Personally, I like to add blueberries to my breakfast every morning.  A bowl of oatmeal with ground flaxseed and some fresh berries has become a staple of mine.  Now, I unfortunately have made enough mistakes during the lunch and dinner portions of my diet :)  However, at least I’ve gotten breakfast down pretty good.

Doing a quick search for antioxidant-rich foods is a good start to becoming more informed.

Limit Bad Fats

Those bad fats, which can include trans-fats and saturated fats, can potentially cause problems for our brains.  Things I’ve read seem to indicate that excess consumption of such fats can increase the risks of cognitive issues, and might even cause actual changes at the cellular level.  That doesn’t sound fun!

Again, we know not to eat these things too often.  The next time you consider whether or not to eat that greasy burger with greasy fries, don’t just think of your waistline.  It might be less than ideal for your brain too!

Check nutrition labels, and do your own research.

Be Social

Not everybody is a social butterfly, and some people tend to be introverted.  Others simply don’t care what people think, and tend to have a narrow focus in terms of their inner circle.

Well, from what I’ve read, there is work out there that indicates that having a good social life and a network of friends and family can help delay the onset of cognitive issues.   I have no idea if this is partially innate in some people, in terms of their personalities – or if some are more predisposed than others.  But it does indicate that being socially active might be a good thing.

Watch Blood Pressure

Hypertension, particularly when we are talking about uncontrolled high blood pressure, can lead to real problems for people.  Studies seem to indicate this could be linked to an increase in alzheimer’s risk.  Additionally, this can be linked to vascular dementia, where tiny blood vessels in the brain are negatively impacted.  Oxygen being shut off, with cells dying, can’t be a good thing for memory.

It seems like it would be a good idea to really watch our diet to make sure that we’re consuming food that isn’t negatively impacting our blood pressure.  Additionally, we should probably monitor it regularly.

What it All Means

Well, I think it’s clear that there are plenty of things we could do to help maintain our cognitive function and either prevent or delay future impairment.  I’m obviously not a medical profession, so don’t take any of this as medical advice.  Do your own research, but I’m just passing along some things I’ve read.  This from a person who knows someone afflicted in old age with congitive impairment.

It’s obvious that we can’t do much good for our finances if our brain isn’t working optimally.  It hurts the ability to make money, and it impacts our ability to make sound decisions.  Additionally, having big problems could lead to catastrophic financial costs for oursleves or our family.

Bottom line is that I think it’s good to actively make decisions that consider the health of our brain.

My Questions for You

Do you ever consider the importance of health in terms of finances?

Do you consider brain health as something to focus on as we get older? If so, how do you approach this?

Have you known anyone older who has had such issues?

 

The High Cost of Getting the Flu

There has been a lot of talk in recent days about a huge outbreak of the flu.  With this reportedly one of the worst outbreaks in recent years, from what has been noted by some news organizations, it’s understandable that this is getting a lot of attention.

I don’t know about you, but I can remember a few past episodes of the flu even though they were years ago.  One time, in particular, was marked by 104+ degree fever and missing 3 days of work.  When I returned, it was only out of pressure.  The whole experience really served as one great example of why it sometimes takes getting sick to really value your health.  I haven’t forgotten that time.  I would have given anything at that time to end that temporary misery!

This gets me thinking again about health and money, which I periodically discuss here as you might know.  Specifically, in this case, the cost of getting the flu for many of us.

Of course, the most important thing is the actual misery that we go through when dealing with a really bad case of the flu, as well as the impact that has on our responsibilities to others.  However, secondarily, there is also the impact on our finances.

Missing Work Due to the Flu

As I mentioned above, many years ago I had to miss 3 days with the flu.  I was right out of college, and was known to be a huge sports fan.  I happened to miss days right at the beginning of March Madness, which got me some teasing over the phone when I called in.  Keep in mind, there was no working from home or smartphones then (yeah, I guess I’m dating myself a bit here).  Anyway, the teasing was probably good natured, but I knew by the tone of the conversation that there was a hint of pressure to come back.  I’ve shared a story about this place in the past, involving an unpaid bonus, so if you’ve read that you may get the idea of why I might have been a bit concerned.

Companies don’t like dealing with people missing work, that’s the bottom line.  I have been salaried, but for some people, it could actually mean hourly wages or freelance work lost.  That’s no fun! 

Also, if you’re burning your time off, it’s valuable time that’s lost.  Those days off can be precious!

Losing Time for Personal Projects

Have a list of things that you need to get done in your life? These could be tasks around the house, or other projects.  By getting the flu and being home on the sofa, you’re delaying getting your own things done.  Hopefully none of the things being put off cost money, but you never know – they might!

Doctor Visits

For most people, a visit to the doctor isn’t free.  Even if it’s just a matter of some kind of copay, you’re still paying.  If someone doesn’t have insurance, those costs could be much higher.  With health care costs a big burden for many people these days, who wants to spend more money on it?  Whether it’s $25, $50, $100, or more – such expenses can add up

Medicine

Perhaps you might just be dealing with OTC products.  Or, maybe things get bad enough that you end up needing a prescription for something.  Either way, you just might be spending some money on things that may give you some comfort in dealing with the illness or maybe even speeding up your recovery.  Perhaps this will be $10, maybe $20 – or it could cost even more.

What to do?  Well, I’m no doctor (and no, I don’t play one on TV), but I got a flu shot and have been fine so far.  Not sure that guarantees anything, but presumably that gives someone a better chance to avoid problems, right?  That and washing hands/using hand sanitizer has been my approach.  Not too time consuming, but it’s a small price to pay to ourselves what might be a better chance to avoid getting sick.  Not to mention avoid the financial aspects of it!

My Questions for You

While of course health is most important, do you ever think of the financial costs of being sick?

Have you ever had to take a few days off work for a bad case of the flu?

What steps do you take to put yourself in better position to avoid getting such an illness?

Drink Tap Water to Save Money

When we go out to eat, a surprisingly significant percentage of the bill can come from just getting something to drink.  You might end upDrink Tap Water spending $2 for that fountain drink with your meal.  Or, if you simply grab coffee some morning, it might have nothing to do with your breakfast – and still set you back $2.  Or, much more if you get something other than simple coffee.

I recently went 2 straight weeks without getting anything to drink other than water.  This meant that I had no coffee, soda, or other drinks during that time.  It’s not the first time I’ve gone without such drinks, as I’ve written about giving up caffeine before.  Needless to day, I went back to drinking caffeine after that post a couple of years ago.

Anyway, this round of sticking to water found its motivation after recent dental work, where I saved money on a wisdom tooth removal.  I thought it would be best to stick to water for a few days, and once I got on a roll, I just kept at it for a few weeks.  The results were interesting, both in terms of health and money.

Health Benefits of Drinking More Water

The health benefits I observed were noticeable, and a mixture of expected and unexpected:

  1. More consistent sleep.  Meaning, I didn’t toss and turn, or have trouble falling asleep.  I just slept, quite uneventfully actually.
  2. Less sleep.  This one was surprising. I would have thought that cutting out caffeine and simply having water might have meant more sleep would occur, but not exactly.  Perhaps if one sleeps better, less sleep is needed than if you’re not sleeping as well? Who knows, but it was simply a half hour or so less sleep all told anyway.
  3. Steadier energy levels.  Not having caffeine or sugar seemed to having a steadying effect
  4. Calm stomach.  Not that I had any noticeable trouble before, but water seems pretty easy on the body compared to consuming many other things.

Now, I can’t speak to the specifics of tap water in your community or any other.  Just going by how I feel with the local water here :)

Money-Saving Benefits of Drinking More Water

The money-saving benefits I noticed were fun to see:

  1. Water is free.  Okay, maybe not free to the environment, or the water bill.  But there is so little incremental cost to getting a glass of water, that it might as well be free.
  2. Cutting out all other drinks probably saved me $40 over the 2 weeks.  Seems like a lot, but I think I was spending that amount on coffee each workday, plus a random fountain drink outside and juice at home. If I annualize that, we’re talking about savings of over $1000!  For those who have more fun beverages, I’m sure the savings would be much more.  Perhaps several thousand dollars?

After the two weeks, I actually stopped at a Jamba Juice and paid $5.02 (yes, $5.02!) for a 16 ounce cup of freshly squeezed orange juice.  It was really, really good! But after a long stretch of just having water, it almost seems unimaginable for me to spend this much regularly.  Not that I did, but even with other drinks, it’s like guzzling down hard-earned money!

One thing to clarify here – none of this involved bottled water, except for 2 bottles I got for free.  Strictly tap water!

My Questions for You

Do you spend much money on other drinks each day – coffee, soda, juice, etc?

Do you ever think about how much money can be saved by drinking water?

What would motivate you more in terms of drinking more water – the health benefits, or money benefits?

Spending More Money to Avoid Dental Pain – And Thankful for Doing It!

Going to the dentist isn’t exactly high on the list of fun things to do, for most people.  You know when people compare unpleasant life events to being “like getting a root canal”, it’s not meant to be a compliment to the dental procedure!

Having had one of those done before, I know how it isn’t all that fun.  Now, the root canal in particular didn’t live up to the hype in terms of being difficult, excruciating, etc.  Maybe I have a decent threshold for pain in that way? Who knows, but regardless, it wasn’t fun.

Very recently, I had something done which I thought was a little bit more involved: getting a wisdom tooth pulled.   Now, it’s been a while, but I posted on this topic many months ago, when discussing the topic of trying to save on dental care.

In that post, I outlined the options that were provided to me for getting the tooth pulled, from lowest pain relief/cost, to highest pain relief/cost:

  • Local Injection
  • Gas
  • IV Sedation

I had been deliberating whether or not to spend extra to go under, and simply not deal with the pain.  However, given that I have handled the root canal experience pretty well, I wondered if I should just save a little money and bypass the more expensive option of IV sedation.

As it turns out, the out-of-pocket costs became lower for me from the last post.  Now, I had to pay around $80 for gas, or $117 for IV sedation.  To me, that extra $37 expense wasn’t a big deal, and not nearly as much as prior cost difference I noted in the earlier post.  It was now a small enough incremental difference in cost that I just thought I would go ahead and agree to it.

That’s exactly what I did, and I have to say, it was one of the best examples I’ve had of getting value for spending a bit more.

When I got in the chair, after some conversation and prep work, they put in the IV and then I very quickly faded away.  The next thing I knew, I was waking up and they said it was over.  It really seemed like it was just seconds apart.  I didn’t feel any pain during the tooth extraction at all!

I really think some of that might be due to not being aware in any way of what was going on, and not feeling the psychological stress of seeing what they’re doing, and even hearing the tooth being extracted.  Whatever the case, it was totally worth the $37 extra.  Frankly, I think it might have been worth a few hundred dollars extra too!

So, 2 takeaways:

  • Don’t suffer just to save money. Life is too short, and sometime we can be smarter by being less “brave”
  • It’s entirely possible to get a wisdom tooth extracted and have it be a totally fine, non-stressful experience, simply by getting IV sedation.

My Questions for You

Have you ever had to trade off any physical pain/suffering in order to save on health care or dental costs?

If so, what happened and how did it go?

Have you ever had a surprisingly decent/painless experience going to a dentist or oral surgeon?

The Fallacy of Sacrificing Health for Money

Would you trade health for money?

It’s a crazy question, you might think.  The thought of intentionally become less healthy, just to get money, seems dumb.  Well, that’s because it is!

However, many people regularly do this. Tons of people, actually.  Count me among that group, by the way. The reason I say that is that early in my career, I worked late quite a few nights.  There were dozens of times when I worked from 8 in the morning through midnight, focusing on various deadlines that I might have had at the time.  It all sure seemed so important at the time.

Now, there are some times when have to do whatever it takes to get the job done.  But we should limit those instances to the truly necessary times, and they should be few and far between.  Am I suggesting that we get lazy and not work hard? No, of course not.  But, it simply isn’t sustainable or sensible to push ourselves to the point of compromising health just to make money.

I got thinking about this whole topic when I heard a quote recently that went something to the effect of (paraphrased) “he sacrifices health for money. Then he sacrifices money for health“.  Apparently noted as Dalai Lama-sourced wisdom.   Well, I do think it’s wise, and it can get you to think.

If you push yourself to be on the go all the time, what might you be compromising?

  • Diet – the more harried you are, the more you might be less likely to cook at home and eat a nutritious meal.
  • Sleep – we’ve talked about this here, where sleep and money are related – you don’t want to trade the former for the latter.
  • Stress – imagine getting to the point of debt-free living, and think about how that might remove a lot of stress from your life (acute job pressure, bills, etc).

Ultimately, we need to think about the role of money in our lives, and how it is interrelated with the other aspects of it.  The irony of the whole thing is captured in that saying I noted above, where we trade off our health to make money but we’ll end up spending more later to take care of the health we previously neglecting!

My Questions for You

When have you sacrificed health for more money?

Is this something you consciously think about?

What suggestions do you have for how to successfully handle this?

 

Dental Costs and the Importance of Insurance

Dental expenses can be quite high.  You never know when you’ll need it, which is why it is vital to have dental insurance.

Some time ago, I shared a post discussing my desire to save money on dental care.  In it, I outlined the costs of a wisdom tooth removal that I was going to have done.  I’m still waiting on that, but that’s another story for another day.   Anyway, in giving details on the estimated costs to my readers, I got some varied responses on what people would do.

Well, there is one aspect of dental costs that I find hard to debate: the importance of dental insurance.

Now, I’ve spent some decent money in recent years on dental care, after a lifetime of teeth that held up really well.  I suppose at some point, we get problems. That’s the thing that I suppose some folks might not think too much about, is that these problems can up out of the blue without warning.

I was reminded of this in a conversation I had with somebody younger than I, with much less work experience.  He shared a story about how he got into an accident a few years ago, and the aftermath of it.  One of the problems he encountered was the loss of a couple of front teeth. Yikes!

That’s no fun as it is, as it required major dental work and replacement “fake” teeth to be put in. Beyond that, there’s also the cost factor. You see, this guy had no dental insurance at the time.  He made that comment to me, while adding that he was still paying it off after a few years!

He basically stated that the dental bill was significant, and fit into his finances just like another monthly payment that was to be made.  In other words, sort of like housing or a car. Not that we want any debt, but I suppose those types of debt seem to be more “mainstream”.  But dental debt? Over several years?

It got me thinking how close people could be to losing money in different situations.  As we’ve discussed here before when discussing math and money, it can be hard work to recover from money losses based on simple math.  In the case of this dental care example, I had 3 quick takeaways:

  1. Keep dental insurance, and don’t just brush it off (lame pun intended) as unimportant because your teeth have always been good.
  2. Review your insurance coverage in general, as we need to take stock periodically to see where we may be underinsured
  3. Remember to protect against losses.  This can take many forms, including health care, investing, etc.  Bottom line is to not just think about upside and potential, but think about the floor. In other words, consider risks and downsides of situations and not just the upside.  I’m all for positive thinking, but realism and caution has its place too!

My Questions for You

Have you or anybody you know gone without any type of health insurance for an extended period of time?

Have you ever been hit by big expenses that could have been prevented?

What do you think about the idea of taking dental care and insurance seriously?