Thrifty Times

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Learning to be content where life and God have placed her Cathy has learned to be thrifty and enjoy life...Read more >>
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Your First Three Days To A Thrifty Lifestyle PDF Print E-mail
Financial Freedom

Many have found themselves with a sudden need to be thrifty. Whether a loss of a job or loss of extra income, or perhaps the addition of a new family member or some other increased expense or other circumstance has brought you to a point of needing to change your lifestyle and finances. If you are looking to begin a thrifty lifestyle let me give you a few basic pointers.

There is a primary realization you need to come to: only two things can change. First, you can change your income. Second, you can change your expenses. Hopefully your income is greater than your expenses. That is as basic as it gets. Bring in more than you spend.

There are not any magic bullets to shoot at the budget monster. No one (despite promises to the contrary) can give you a simple 10 page report that will instantly have all your budgetary concerns solved. When everything is boiled down the the bare basics it really is a matter of this simple formula. Income minus expenses equals your savings. If your savings is zero or greater you are OK. If your savings is a negative number you are not OK.

So, you will need to examine many parts of your life in order to begin the process of living a thrifty life.Don't expect this to happen automatically. You should plan on a few days to get a good hold on what needs to happen and then a lifetime of learning to be thrifty! But for now here is a simple 2 day plan to starting your thrift life.

Day 1

We suggest you begin with writing out the expense side of your budget. We have many helps for this. You can download a sample budget here:Sample Budget Worksheets Examine your past few months and determine what your expenses have been for the last few months.

For your first evening do not attempt to find all kinds of savings. Just get a clear understanding of what you are spending. Determining your expenses is a good beginning. You may find some of the expense categories difficult to fill in. Do the best you can and try to be reasonable. Putting down $120 a year or $10 a month for car expenses is not reasonable. Be honest - brutally honest is best!

Next, separate expenses into three categories. Needs, Obligations, Wants.

Needs:  Food, housing and transportation as well as any legally bound payment fit into this category. You can explore ways to cut the costs of your needs, but typically those take time. You can move to a less expensive house or sell your car, but these actions take time so don't look to cut these quickly.

Obligations: These are bills and any contracts you are obliged to fulfill. You must pay minimum balances, credit cards, cable, phone, and other obligations you have. Some of these can be cut eventually, but it will take time.

Wants: These are expenses that you have not yet occurred, but are part of your past budget expenses and routines. You go out every Friday night or go to the movies or buy clothing monthly. These are the easiest and fastest to cut, but often very painful and difficult to trim. Most individuals fail to realize the emotional energy it will take to trim the wants in their budget. Many lack the self discipline or emotional energy it takes to actually cut these expenses.

When you are finished with figuring out your expenses and dividing them into three categories you are done for day one.

Day 2

Now, you will need to determine your expected income. For some, this will be very clearly determined. For others this will be a bit difficult to predict. Do the best you can. Once you have determined your income, you must now make the simple calculation of taking your yearly expected income and subtract your yearly expected expenses. Now you have a figure. If your figure is zero or a positive number you are either in good shape or are doing a  poor job on your budget. If your number is negative you now have a goal for how much money you have to trim.

Some are working on this process because you have to be thrifty. Others are working on this project because you desire to save for a specific goal. Others want to be thrifty because you have a deep belief that you should spend your money wisely. For any of these reasons, you will now have a determined figure that will need to be reconciled.

Day 3

Determine possibilities. You may want to examine ways to increase your income or you may want to examine ways to decrease your expenses or a combination of both. Here is where Thrifty Times is helpful. Look through the many articles and discover ways you can save and you may even find some ways to increase your income (selling online, writing good classified ads, etc.) You will also find great articles on how to emotionally face the battle and temptations that will come your way! Once you have your "number" and know the task before you begin to do the research and put into action income and expense adjustments until you get to your target number.

As you examine specific budget categories you will likely find Thrifty Times articles (you can search here: Thrifty Times Searches) giving specific advice on how to save in those categories. Another way to go through the articles is to see the Thrifty Times articles in a blog format. You can do that here: Articles in Chronological Order.

For some starting out your Thrifty life will be in emergency mode, desperately looking for savings. For others, this will be calculated and purposeful to fulfill a desired goal. Either way, I pray you will learn the ways of being thrifty and I pray that the Thrifty Times will be of help to you on this journey.

 

 

 
Work For Teens In This Economy PDF Print E-mail
Budget Battle

I have heard parents complain that there are no jobs for teens in this troubled economy. It is true, that there are less jobs, but for teens willing to work, there are still jobs.The key is to provide a very good to excellent service for the same or less money. Because your teen will not have to pay loads of overhead (no store front, advertising or franchise fees!) they can often provide services for less. Some teens will not be up to the task, but other teens are willing to work hard

Here are some ideas to name a few:

  • Babysitting plus – offer after school care or special instruction to a child after school for less than a daycare or less than an instructor.
  • Lawn mowing - again, a good job for less will win the day
  • Snow shoveling - fast and efficient for the same or less
  • Pet sitting or walking - doggie hotels are expensive, work with your neighbor to offer them a great deal
  • Neighborhood vacation business – take care of house plants, dogs, outside flowers, mail, etc.
  • Powerpoint or dvd movie production for special moments
  • Cleaning - cleaning service costs are rising, leaving a great opportunity for a teen to clean the home of a neighbor or two for the same cost or less than a service
  • Tutoring - always a need, but make sure you really know your subject
  • Car detailing - with some centers charging $150 many teens can do an excellent job of detailing for much less
  • Catering (baking, cook ahead, helper at parties)
  • Shopping companion – accompany mom and watch the toddler while she shops

For teens who are willing to work hard and understand the importance of a good job, there are still plenty of opportunities to make some extra cash!

Tell us some of your ideas below!

 
Why Free Samples are Valuable PDF Print E-mail
Household Hints

When I tell people about the Thrifty Times website with money saving articles and a blog that helps people find free items, free samples and great deals I often hear stories of frustration and a general feeling that free samples are too much effort. So I ask the question "are free samples worth the time?" I think "yes" and here is why.

First, free is always good for the budget. If you have the time to fill out a form, then go ahead and spend that time for something free!

Second, I like to try new things, but there is nothing more frustrating than byuing a new brand of food or a new product only to find out my family and I don't like it. While free samples tend to be small the savings may be greater than just the amount it would have cost you to buy the small quantity. This is because you typically have to buy a greater quantity just to find out if you like it. Free samples give you a worry free and cost free way to test out an unproven product.

Next, free samples are always a bit of fun and add excitement to the typically boring, bill laden mail! I don't know about you, but I get discouraged with all the bills, town notices and political announcements that come it the mail. A free sample always brightens my day.

Finally, I have made some great discoveries I would never had known about if it were not for free samples. Sure I am generally not impressed with many of the free samples I get, but every once and a while something comes that I would never have purchases and I am glad I got to try it with a free, no obligation sample!

I do have one word of advice when looking for free samples. Find a reliable online source. Don't get pulled into junk mail lists or supposedly free items only to find out you have to pay more in shipping and handling than the item is worth. Check out our blog which is a reliable source of good samples, excellent coupons and great deals.

Check us out at http://blog.thriftytimes.com.

 
Eleven Ways To Save With A Crockpot PDF Print E-mail
Reasonable Recipes

Can you really save money using a crock-pot? Many stories abound about Depression era families cooking beans for breakfast lunch and dinner. So perhaps the crock-pot or slow cooker has a reputation as being a frugal way to cook. But is it really?

Just like anything else, crock-pots do not automatically save you money. However, in several instances the use of a crock-pot can help save on your grocery bill. Here are 11 ways the crock-pot can save you money:

Great Crock-pot Recipes

1. Use cheaper cuts of meat. Since the slow cooking of a crock-pot tenderizes meat you can purchase less tender, less expensive meats.

2. Cook with larger quantities and freeze. Due to the larger size of crock-pots many can save money purchasing larger quantities as well as save time cooking 2 or 3 meals at once, then freezing.

3. Cook ahead to avoid more expensive alternatives. Eating out is expensive and less healthy. But sometimes schedules simply do not allow time for cooking. With the crock-pot you can prepare ahead of time and eat on the run. No need for expensive microwave or fast food.

4. Cook healthy for less. Because you control the ingredients and the slow cooking process does not involve as many additives and oils you eat healthier and save on the added cost of frying, etc.

5. Use less expensive chicken. My daughter Abby complains if we eat chicken too many days of the week. But when we add variety she does not complain. Crock-pot recipes and the slow cooking process add great taste variety to less expensive meals like chicken.

6. Cook beans and other legumes. Beans are not just for hot dogs (though there are some great beans and hotdog crock-pot recipes.) Less expensive beans and legumes are easy when using the crock-pot.

7. Save on your energy bill. Cooking in your crock-pot uses less energy than oven and stove and even though I have not seen official comparisons I would guess it is less than gas or charcoal grill cooking as well.

8. Substitute less expensive or in season veggies. Slow cooking process of a crock-pot combines ingredients and mellows tastes so switching out expensive vegetables with less expensive vegetables is always possible without destroying your recipe.

9. Prepare less expensive pot luck dinner dishes. When you have to prepare a large dish for a pot luck or get together there are many great and inexpensive choices to cook in the crock-pot.

10. Make homemade - from applesauce to salsa. Pick those fruits and veggies in season, then preserve them with homemade recipes that need a fraction of the attention when cooked in the crock-pot.

11. Make delicious party platters. Have a large crowd coming over? Several party recipes from buffalo wings, chili, appetizers and bean dips are just a few of the fun crock-pot recipes.

The crock-pot is a useful tool in the money saving arsenal of a thrifty cook. Check out the books below for many more great ideas.  I am sure there are many more ways to save using a crock-pot. Feel free to leave your ideas below.

 
Organize Now For Christmas Gift Savings PDF Print E-mail
Household Hints

 The leaves are beginning to change color and the chain stores have their Halloween candy out.  Though it seems very odd to start this early, you can save by thinking “Christmas gifts” now. Here are my thoughts on helping you get better Christmas gifts for less!

First, begin to make a list of who you would like to bless this Christmas. The purpose of your list will be to begin to hunt for bargains and avoid a last minute stop to purchase an over priced, but easy gift. You know who these people are so write them down on your list and don't forget non family members, such as the kid’s teachers, Sunday School teachers, friends and neighbors.  One thought is to place your gift giving into categories so you know about how much you want to spend. For example: Immediate family - $200, Extended family $50, Friends and teachers $20. Now you have a good ballpark while looking for gifts.

Second, with your list in mind, keep an eye out for bargains now. If you run into a great sale or a great price on a nice gift item, buy several. I used to buy the same gift for all my children's teachers. If you are willing to spend $20 and find an awesome item typically selling for $50 but they are on sale in September or October for $20 - then you can give an added blessing to your children's teachers at no added cost to your budget. You know what will make a really nice gift so keep your eyes open. Sometimes I would come across such a great bargain I buy more than the amount I needed on my list so I have an item or two just in case. If we are invited over and get a gift from someone I was always ready.

Third, begin to solicit from your close family and friends what they would like for Christmas. If you know well in advance you can keep an eye out for a great bargain. Because all these individual gifts would begin to confuse me I keep a list handy. Then I refresh my memory each time I am out in the stores.

Don't forget about home made gifts. If you enjoy making items you may benefit from getting an early start and by looking for good prices on items now. Don't forget about your craft store coupons. If you need five items for your craft you have more than 5 weeks to get an item a week at 40% off!

If you are new to thinking ahead here are some suggestions of things to look out for:

Smelly soaps, books, beautiful note cards, pretty dish towels, Christmas ornaments, gourmet cookies (these are hard to keep around long) and other things my family calls “giftees” - be creative.  This also applies to birthday party gifts.  Through a small amount of planning you will be able to prevent expensive last minute gift buying.

Some things that we’ve made in the past are punched tin or simple crossed-stitched Christmas ornaments,  stenciled log carriers and corn husk wreaths.  One year I cross-stitched lid covers for mason jars and filled them with Christmas candy.  Another year we made Spinach Stuffing dinner rolls and froze them (over 30 batches) – this was a much appreciated gift. One family dipped Oreo's in melted candy making chocolate and colored sprinkles and bagged up 5 or so for a very tasty and very inexpensive gift.

A little planning now will help keep your Christmas “bottom line” in line by both spreading out expenses and by helping you maximize the potential of each dollar you spend. Another benefit will be the reduced stress you feel come December. Take some time and plan now for a great and inexpensive Christmas.

Tell us your ideas!

 
Contentment versus Discontentment PDF Print E-mail
Practicing the Principles

Thrifty Times endeavors to save you money so that you will be free from debt and worry and so you will be able to give generously to those in need.  If that gives you the impression that "you can have it all" for less, I'd like to set the record straight.  The fact  of the matter is, you can't have it all.  Even if you could, it wouldn't be enough.  You would still not be content.

I Timothy 6: 6-10 says, "But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

"Harmful desires", "ruin", "destruction", "all kinds of evil", and "many griefs" are not my idea of contentment!  So we're not happy when we don't have things and we're not happy when we get what we want.  What are the keys to contentment?  Some answers follow.

1)  Problem (Discontentment):  Loss of job, retirement, single parenthood or other situations with a loss of income.

Solution (Contentment):  I Timothy 6:17b - "nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides everything for your enjoyment."  When your trust is in God, everything  is available for your enjoyment.  Things you wouldn't ordinarily think of giving amusement, will provide joy.  When my husband was in the hospital my kids entertained themselves with investigative trips all around the hospital - the gift shop, cafeteria, and even the chapel.  They explored every nook and cranny of that building and turned a difficult time into an adventure - they were content despite the stress.  People are a wonderful enjoyment.  Spend time with loved ones and friends.  Take a page from toddlers and small children who delight in boxes, pots and pans and everyday items that we ignore.  Think outside the box for your contentment!

2)  Problem (Discontentment):  Desire for things you can't afford (a new home, car, clothes, electronics, gadgets, etc.).

Solution (Contentment):  Philippians 2:3 - "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves."  This includes selfish shopping.  Be happy for those who can afford what you wish you could have instead of pouting and complaining like a spoiled two-year old!    Remember to "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."  Psalm 37:4.  Also, "How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him."  Matthew 7:11  Trust God to bless you with good gifts instead of buying what you shouldn't.

3)  Problem (Discontentment):  Hard decisions and tough choices which are proving difficult (stay-at-home moms, caregivers for elderly parents, adult children moving back home, etc.)

Solution (Contentment):  I Timothy 6:18, 19 -  "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasures for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."  Sometimes when we feel God asking us to make a sacrificial life decision we expect Him to make the road easy.  That is usually not the case - it will be a sacrifice.  Although we are not amassing material blessings, we are laying up treasures in heaven.  And "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  Matthew 6:21.  Invest your treasure in others and your heart will follow, giving joy.

Contentment is taking our eyes off the temporary pleasures of this life and seeking an eternal perspective - taking "hold of the life that is truly life".  You can't take it (riches) with you, but you can send it on ahead!

 
Can Canning Still Save Money? PDF Print E-mail
Reasonable Recipes

When I lived in Illinois my father-in-law would go to a local market just at closing and buy up the leftover sweet corn. For pennies a pound we would shuck, boil, cut and freeze bag after bag after bag of delicious corn. Enough to keep all 9 of us (my family of 6, two in-laws and a grandmother) eating corn for the year.

Unfortunately, both freezing and canning seems to have gotten more expensive due to increased prices of supplies and fewer and fewer opportunities for bargain produce. So can a thrifty family still save money canning?

The answer is YES! If you can get supplies AND produce inexpensively, then you can still save.

If you are looking to reduce artificial ingredients, ensure that everything going into your food is wholesome and want to feed your family highly nutritious foods, you know how expensive the natural and organic foods can cost. But even if you are not into the natural and organic you can still save money freezing and canning your own food. Here are some basic steps to help insure you save money.

Getting Supplies Inexpensively:

1. In the off season look for used jars or new jars on closeout. You may be surprised that many local hardware stores stock supplies for the fall, but then clear them out once the season is over.

2. Don't compromise on rings and lids. If you need to, shop around for a good price online.

3. If freezing, look for the heavy duty bags to go on sale throughout the year. Don't expect them to be discounted in the fall.

4. Look at Sams and COSTCO for good deals on heavy duty freezer bags.

Getting Produce Inexpensviely:

1. Grow you own. Nothing saves money like growing your own produce.

2. Get to know your local produce sellers. If you have local stands in your town, frequent them and get to know those who sell through them. Ask about left overs and request that you be called when they have a surplus they are willing to sell at a bargain price. You may not control timing, but the awesome discount will be a worthwhile tradeoff.

3. Wait patiently for peek season. Many local farmers will sell produce for far less when they have loads of produce they need to sell. You will likely have to buy in quantity so be prepared to work hard or go in with another family.

4. Don't be choosey. You may have traditionally only canned jersey tomatoes, however if your local store has a great discount for beefsteak tomatoes, go for it!

Canning and freezing no longer automatically saves you money. But with a bit of planning and work, it can still provide great taste and be a bargain!

If you would like some help and resources check out these sites:

The National Center for Home Preservation

University of Minnesota Family Food Preservation Publications

 

 
Healthy Frozen Treats Kids Will Eat PDF Print E-mail
Reasonable Recipes

Popsicles and sweet frozen treats are always delicious on a hot summer day. To help moms get their kids to eat more healthy, companies are flooding the grocery frozen food isles with alternatives that have fruit or yogurt. However, a quick look at the ingredients will reveal that within many of these treats, cane or processed sugars may be as prevalent as in regular Popsicles. And for the privilege of having bits of fruit mixed into your frozen treat you may have to pay 2-4 times the price!

There are alternatives. I will admit that they are not as cheap as mixing up Kool-aid at double strength and freezing the mixture, but the following recipes are genuinely more healthy and you are in control of the ingredients! We include 5 general types of frozen treats. Each one will need to be adapted to your child's tastes. Please let us know of any specific recipes your child enjoys! You can comment below.

Frozen Treats Kids Will Eat

1 .Frozen Yogurt -  Use yogurt as a base. Mix in some fruit. For a zip mix in a citrus juice. To tame it down mix in apple juice or stevia natural sweetener. Freeze and serve. For more information on stevia visit here: Info On Stevia

2. Frozen Fruit Juice - Use a combination of fruit juices (apple, grape, orange, pineapple, cranberry etc.) to taste. Then in a blender mix in fruit (berries, bananas, mango, peaches). Freeze and serve.

3. Pudding Pops - Use pudding as a base. You can use low fat pudding or make your own pudding. Mix in sliced or cubed fruit. Freeze and serve.

4. Watermelon Treats - Use watermelon as the base. In a blender add 1 cup cut watermelon and 1 cup fruit with a small amount of apple juice (determined by your taste). Blend well. Freeze and serve.

5. Banana Treats - Use banana as the base (though depending on your combination you will not have a strong banana taste.) In a blender mix a banana with fruit juice or milk or almond milk or water. Add in fruit. Blend. Freeze and serve.

Have fun experimenting! Generally if you child likes a fresh fruit he will like the frozen version. Keep in mind that you taste less sweet when eating frozen treats. You may need slightly less "zip" from citrus and slightly more sweet from berries or stevia.

 
Two Powerful Money Saving Attitudes PDF Print E-mail
Financial Freedom

I love saving money and I love to enjoy life as well. Sometimes I feel like these two "loves" are in conflict with each other. If a friend suggests we go see a movie I want to jump at the opportunity but I flinch at the $11.50 price. I love vacations and visiting fun attractions, but again, the price tag on some destinations is staggering. When the newest tennis racket is advertised I immediately begin to wonder if I am missing out on better, more satisfying play. At times it appears as if all of the fun experiences come with a huge price tag. Many who can afford these attractions will buy into the belief that they are really buying some wonderful and fulfilling experience. Those who cannot afford them may be sad or even bitter that they are somehow being denied. But both may have fallen into the clutches of effective but deceptive marketing.

Do we really have to pay for enjoyment or pleasant experiences?

Obviously those who have invested millions into making movies or designing attractions or new tennis rackets want to make sure that those movies, attractions and new equipment are front and center in our thoughts and minds. It is their goal to get us to spend the money and pay for these attractions. Their advertisements attempt to get us to believe that we will not be fulfilled or will somehow miss out on a wonderful experience if we don't spend that money.

But now that my wife and I have raised 4 children, looking back at all the "fun" times, my children are not mentioning the movies, attractions or new equipment! Instead {quote}they are talking about the camping trips with our church friends or the times they hung out after church waiting for us to finish talking.{/quote} This past week my daughters were talking about how we would go to Culvers Custard, buy one hamburger or a small custard and sit for an hour with a few other families. They reminisced on how our son would organize all the kids in the neighborhood to play a game. {quote align=right}What struck me about my children's "fun memories" is that they all revolved around enjoying simple times and being with people!{/quote} These fun memories involved free or inexpensive activities.  Even the camping trip and eating custard were very inexpensive.

After years of working with individuals I have isolated two powerful attitudes that will help you save thousands of dollars! They are simple, but without them people will always find a way to spend more.

Attitude #1 - Enjoy What You Already Have

Attitude #2 - Enjoy The Moment

When talking with people who have severe financial problems I am always struck by two attitudes that seem to complicate their being able to get their finances under control. First, they always want more and more because they have not learned to enjoy what they already have. And second, they have not learned to enjoy the moment, and thus never learn to enjoy what is less expensive or even free!
In past issues of Thrifty Times we have offered dozens of suggestions on fun and enjoyable, inexpensive and free activities. Many of these can replace expensive options. (see Enjoy Your Library, National Parks, Fun Outside Activities For Kids, Alternatives to Expensive Vacations and many more) Yet if you have not learned to enjoy what you already have and to enjoy the moment, there will always be a desire to figure out a way to get the enjoyment you think you are missing. Because of the advertisement industry, more often than not you will look to satisfy that longing with something that costs money.

  • Proverbs 12:27 "The lazy do not roast any game, but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt."
  • Luke 12:15 "Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'”
  • I Timothy 6:6 "But godliness with contentment is great gain."

Years ago I took up golf so I could play with my wife. Because I am a learner I bought a few magazines and looked into specific methods so I could reasonably improve my game. I even had a few chances to watch the golf channel on cable TV. I was shocked to see that the makers of golf equipment are always trying to sell you the latest greatest gadget and clubs. While I no longer golf, I do play and coach tennis. Again, the makers of tennis equipment are always trying to sell you the latest, greatest rackets. Funny thing though, you can buy last years equipment for a fraction of the cost! (Yes, when I bought my new racket I purchased a year old model for 60% off!) The whole drive is to get you to no longer be content with what you already have. If we could just learn to be content and we could save a great deal of money!

 

 
Reduce The Cost Of Health Care PDF Print E-mail
Budget Battle

Despite all the rhetoric from Washington, health care costs are on the rise. Some may feel that in this day and age of big government and big insurance companies any possibilities of cutting expenses are gone. But don't give up too soon. For the savvy consumer there are still ways to cut your health care costs. Here are some suggestions.

1. Familiarize yourself with how your insurance works. If you are not sure ask questions. Familiarize yourself with the following:

Doctor Visits:  Some insurance companies will pay for sick doctor visits but not well doctor visits. Some have no deductible for well doctor visits, but if you "mention" something that is bothering you, the doctor can charge you for a "sick visit." If any of these confuse you ask your insurance and your doctor how they will report and charge for certain visits. If you don't like how you are being treated by your doctor, switch doctors.

Special Care Facilities, including Non-emergency Hospital and Pharmacy Care Nurse visits: Some insurance companies will charge you the standard doctor visit deductible, others will charge differently. Find out before you visit.

Emergency Room Hospital Visits: Clearly understand what charges will be incurred. Do you have "in" and "out" of plan hospitals? If you are out of town, how does your insurance company handle emergency visits?

2. Understand how your medication reimbursement works. Are you only covered with generics? What if a generic is not available? Can you get 3 months supply with one deductible?

3. Ask your doctor to work with you on medications. If your insurance only covers certain medications see if your doctor is prescribing one on your insurance list. Many doctors will willingly switch medications to make sure you are covered.

4. Look into Pharmaceutical discount cards, co-pay frequent usage discounts or introductory offers. If you will be on medications regularly, ask around for discounts. Your doctor may or may not know of discounts. You may want to look into Pharmaceutical company websites set up for those who are unisured or struggling. Here are a few websites:
Johnson & Johnson: http://www.access2wellness.com/a2w/hcp-togetherrx.html
Novartis: http://www.patientassistancenow.com/
GlaxoSmithKline: http://www.caresbygsk.com/
Otsuka: http://www.otsuka-us.com/Resources/Pages/PatientAssistance.aspx

5. Ask how fees work. If your child is getting his physical for winter sports can he also get a flu shot without paying the separate doctor visit deductible? Is it less expensive to get the flu shot at the local pharmacy?

6. Ask for discounts. I knew a woman who had 5 children. She said she would go broke paying for all the doctor visit deductibles. If one kid got sick she asked if the doctor would take one deductible or allow her to call in if a second or third child came down with the same sickness. She eventually found a doctor who approved.

7. If something seems unfair, ask both your doctor and your insurance company how to "right the wrong." Do you take an unusual dosage of medication that causes you to pay two monthly deductibles? Appeal the decision or see if the medication can be broken in half or SOMETHING to fix the double deductible. Don't sit back and allow the system to over charge you!

8. Don't assume you will always need to take medications. Ask your doctor how long he or she expects you to be on the medication. Is there a point at which you may be taken off? I was given allergy medication, but only need to take it during certain seasons. Get clarification and make sure you are not taking unneeded medication. (Remember however, that taking needed medications can save you money by preventing larger problems! So always consult your doctor before beginning or ending any medication.)

9. Don't be afraid to "shop around" for uninsured or partially insured services. If your child got hurt playing a sport and needs physical therapy, but your insurance will only pay half - shop around. You may be very surprised to see differences in costs. If the $150 per visit center does not offer anything dramatically different from the $100 per visit center then go where it is cheaper. If you have to pay half you personally save $25 per visit! When my child needed chiropractic care due to curvature of the spine I learned there were significant differences in prices.

10. Don't assume doctor recommendations will be covered by your insurance. If you have to, find out if recommended treatments are covered. If they are not ask about possible alternatives.

Your health is always important and should be taken seriously. However, remember there may be more than one way to get or stay healthy. Learn how your insurance works and learn to ask questions to help you save money!

 

 
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