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Dental Deal

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Remember last summer when I had some dental stuff pop up?

I never gave details before, but I went in for a routine cleaning and was told I’d need a new front tooth because my root was dead. The dentist recommended getting 6 porcelain veneers to remedy the situation. (Note: this was the first time I’d ever gone to that dentist, and I had selected them because they had a new patient special).

Well, I thought that was total crap. Instead, I decided to seek a second opinion. But, before going in, I chipped a back tooth. I’m so glad I went for the second opinion because the new dentist was awesome! He did an exam and x-rays for free and suggested that for the front tooth we take the “wait and see” approach because, although the root was dead, there was no sign of decay. He also said that IF further action needed to be taken, that the best thing to do would be a root canal and a single cap (a far cry from the 6 porcelain veneers the last dentist recommended!)

Anywho, I did need to get a filling on my chipped tooth to protect it from potential cavities but that was it, and cost a grand total of $171 (we don’t have dental insurance and pay out-of-pocket).

It’s now been 7 months and is time for another teeth cleaning.

This time around, I started by checking out a bunch of the dental discount plans in my area. Only….I wasn’t really thrilled with any of them.

The one that sounded best “on paper” I found out had TERRIBLE patient-reviews. Like, an average of 1 star out of 5. Plus it was clear across town.

Then I looked up one that’s nearby with better reviews, but the prices really didn’t seem that great and they don’t have a pediatric dentist for the girls (they really need to start going to the dentist soon!)

The dental discount plan is 100% worth the money if I can get hubs to go, but this month has been insane with his schedule. And its really not that great of a deal if it’s just me and I’m going just for a cleaning. After talking about it with hubs, we decided that I’ll pay out-of-pocket for a cleaning this month, and we’ll look back at dental discount programs next month. Hubs promises to make it a priority to get to the dentist next month. (He’s one of those people who needs some time to wrap his mind around the idea of going to the dentist – he’s never been a big fan.) Stay tuned next month for my “Year of Becoming Adults:  April Update” >>>hopefully I can report on hubs having completed some much needed dental work!

Anyway, given my pleasant experience last time with dentist #2, I decided just to go back there. I figured most teeth cleanings are in the $100-$150ish range so I anticipated an expense of that size (and right now we have plenty of dental savings to cover it). But when I called and scheduled the appointment, I decided to ask the receptionist about it just so I would know up-front what to expect.

And guess what….

Apparently they have a deal going on right now for an x-ray, exam, and cleaning for $50 for new patients. Now, I’m not new, and they’ve already given me an x-ray and exam (for free last time!!!), but they said they’d honor the discount and give me the cleaning for only $50!! Can you believe it?! Oh, how I wish this dentist participated in a dental discount program because they are awesome – from the dentist to the staff – they are all so friendly and accommodating!

At least I’ll be getting my cleaning this time around for a reasonable price. Who knows what’ll happen next time around (dental discount plan? Out-of-pocket?)

But it just goes to show – never hurts to ask about prices!

Have you ever saved money by simply asking for a better price? If you pay out-of-pocket, about how much did you spend on dental care last year?


Weekly Debt Update #7- About Me and Other Stuff

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Hey everyone,

Ok, so on Thursday I posted about my latest accomplishment- I paid off debt Sallie Mae 03! But what I didn’t post was… everything else. A couple of you asked if I could post more about me- a valid point which I’m more than happy to share, knowing that people want to hear more than just “blogging away debt”.

So here’s what lead me to…well… here:

I’m currently 28, having just turned 28 last month.  I was born and raised in the beautiful (not really, but still awesome) Buffalo, NY with my 2 parents, a younger sister (2 years) and brother (5 years). We lived a very comfortable (for us kids) middle-class life in the suburbs (translation: we looked like we had more money than we did). I grew up with Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres and chicken wings- 3 of my favorite things to this day. Sometime around the age of 10, I decided I wanted to be an engineer, not just any engineer, an Imagineer- a Disney cast member who designs everything in the theme parks. This was my dream and to some extent, still is. After a long road through high school, in which I was quite the trouble maker, I got accepted to a few schools for Mechanical Engineering, two of being University of Miami (FL) and University at Buffalo. Going to U of M was also one of my dreams and I made an early decision to go the summer before my senior year. Sometime during that year, I got the bill for the 1st years tuition- $40,000 FOR. ONE. YEAR. Like I said earlier- I was a screw off and didn’t do any favors for myself in terms of scholarships and grants. After a long talk with my parents we decided that going to University at Buffalo (UB) for $4,000 a semester and living at home made way more sense than going to an out of state, private school.

My freshman year of college I really turned things around- I had relatively high GPA for the program (3.8), worked nearly full time and helped coach my high school wrestling team. This coaching gig gave me the itch to go back and wrestle myself- in college. In high school, I was good but definitely not great. UB was/is a NCAA Division 1 school, meaning you have to be pretty awesome to excel there. So, I transferred. To a private Catholic University in Erie, PA. Why? Because it was the only Division II school that had both a wrestling program AND mechanical engineering. Well, private Catholic University means BIG $$$ (and even more $$$ since I had to take summer classes to catch up due to “nontransferable credits”) and somehow in the course of me deciding the transfer, I lost sight of why I didn’t go to my “dream school” in the first place. Was it a great experience? Most definitely. I met my lifelong friends, gained a tremendous amount of skills wrestling in college and graduated with a degree, a pretty sought after degree, or so I thought…

At the time I graduated in 2009, the economy was already deep in recession (something I think we all remember). It’s hard to find someone who WASN’T affected by all of it. Anyways…getting a job was tough, really tough. I remember sending out 15-20 resumes a day and not getting any calls, let alone interviews. I wasn’t the only one. Of 13 of us in the program, only a couple (2-3) had jobs lined up after graduation, and it was for firms they had internships with. The fear of not being able to pay bills and having to move back in with my parents kept me motivated. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to get an internship in my last semester with the Federal government to work in construction and equally thankfully they had a position open that I could have when I graduated. Problem was, an intern had to work 600 hours before they could be hired full time, so I worked 70 hours a week, while going to school full time (I had to give up wrestling to achieve this). The day after graduation I had a full time job (but not great in the pay department) and was in full time student loan debt.

As you’ve all seen from my initial posts, I graduated with $110,000 in student loan debt (now matter how many times I write, it’s still crazy). For 2 years after gradation, I lived in a basement apartment (which had windows, albeit, not good ones) and paid interest only on my largest batch of student loans- the private ones with Sallie Mae. As terrible as it was for a while ( I was only making $50K at the most while I was with the government) this set me up to be disciplined to pay off my debt. Even paying interest ONLY on half I loans my payments still added up to $700 a month. It truly scared me with what could happen if I lost my job and couldn’t pay (reading student loan horror stories on the internet didn’t help any). So I worked form the ground up, putting whatever I could to pay off my debt, even taking a 2nd job for a year busing tables. This also lead to me taking up a whole bunch of hobbies that really don’t cost that much- playing guitar, here’s my current guitar:

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,surfing (yes, you can surf Lake Erie- look up YouTube videos), and here’s proof (that’s me, over the summer):

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longboarding (the skateboard kind) working out, running and reading. From my intro post, here, and here,  you can read my journey form the last five years. I currently “own” a house, which I share with my GF and our 2 dogs: Harlow (the white one, a whippet mix) and Bubba (an Australian Sheppard mix), both rescue dogs:

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Ok, so that’s pretty much the run-down of my bio. I think a good reason why I don’t post too much info about myself, is because paying off debt is boring, like REALLY boring. I can count on my one hand the amount of times we’ve “gone out” since last summer. I’ve paid off over $48,000 since September of ’09 and in order to do that I’ve cut a lot of money absorbing things out of my life, which gives me little to discuss other that what I’ve posted in the past. What I do love posting about is what’s come up in the past week and what I’m expecting in the week to come that lead to me being able to put a good chuck onto my loans.

I guess here is where I’m looking for some input- what do you guys want to see? I could post weekly updates like I was doing with more insights into my financial plans, or I could most more personal items about my life, like this post…or some mixture in between. Just let me know in the comments!

Since this post is already long enough- here’s a quick look into my monthly budget thus far. Big ticket item- had to pay $397.50 at the dentist’s for a crown which came out of my slush fund.

Weekly Update #7

And here’s where my debt balances are:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid Off
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$24,462.48$3,374.76
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$19,189.15$3,007.87
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
$20,692.10
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$7,723.61$2,626.57
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$4,969.48$1,126.55
Sallie Mae 06 and 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00
AES6.8$9,000.00$0.00$9,000.00
TOTALS$110,587.66$56,344.72$54,242.94

Note to all: I will be now focusing on paying Sallie Mae 05 (the next lowest balance). Interest rate does not concern me at this point since I should have these paid off quick enough that it won’t have a large effect.

Thanks for continuing to allow me to post on this blog and thank you to all the comments on my last posts!


Another One Bites the Dust…

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First, before I go into any announcements, I want to thank those who wished me well on my post on Tuesday. After a couple more rest days, and besides the lingering congestion, I’m finally feeling back to normal.

To my announcement- I did it! As of this morning I have paid of my Sallie Mae 03. See my table below.

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid Off
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$24,462.48$3,374.76
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$19,189.15$3,007.87
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$655.99$20,036.11
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$7,723.61$2,226.57
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$5,356.99$739.04
Sallie Mae 06 & 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00
AES6.8$9,000.00$0.00$9,000.00
TOTALS$110,587.66$57,338.22$53,249.44

Although I haven’t updated the table, the balance is now $0! This will give me an extra $34 per month to throw at the next debt in line- Sallie Mae 05. AND, not only did I knock out #3 but I started to pay down #5 bringing the balance to just over $4,900.

With it being so late in the week already (my apologies…)and the fact I didn’t do ANYTHING last week except take Nyquil and watch Netflix, I figured I wouldn’t do a full blown debt update, I’ll just save it for Tuesday, unless I get enough comments to warrant one.

I do have one question for those paying off debt- do you guys do anything to reward yourselves when you reach a milestone, or do you figure the ability to put more money on the next debt is enough of a reward in itself? Let me know in the comments!


Giving to a Cause – Inadvertently

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There have been lots of posts about giving to charities and giving back.  This is not a re-hash of those.  This is more of a brag…

This past weekend we drove through the insane winter weather, up to DC for the Flip for the Fight gymnastics meet.  It was the smallest meet that Little Gymnast has participated in, perhaps due to the nasty weather.  But it was SO well run.  We had a blast and Little Gymnast medaled in three events.  One proud mama here!  This was the first year the meet has had a boys component and I certainly hope they do it again!

But really the reason I bring it up is because it was a way for us to give back to such an important cause – breast cancer research, without breaking the bank or going outside of our normally budgeted monies.  You can see on their website that last year alone they were able to give back $15,000 to this research which is so important to women’s (and men’s) health.

So this week, not only did Little Gymnast do what he does, but we proudly supported this event and will do so again in the future if the opportunity arises!

History Buff, Princess and Little Gymnast at one of the many cool photo op locations on site. (Sea Cadet was at his Annual Inspection with his Navy Sea Cadet division.)

History Buff, Princess and Little Gymnast at one of the many cool photo op locations on site. (Sea Cadet was at his Annual Inspection with his Navy Sea Cadet division.)


Finding Free Fun

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This past weekend we took a spur of the moment trip to a Sustainable Living Fair at a university about an hour from us. It was free and open to the public and had some cool things for kids to do per the website.  I had no idea what to expect but with my eye on the prize of land and home, I thought that they might have some really cool stuff. Got the kids up and headed out after seeing it on Facebook that same morning. (I love all the stuff I find on Facebook!)

Anyways, it wasn’t quite as big as I had hoped but we did see some cool stuff and I got more fodder for my plan making. But that led the kids to saying…”Mom, we should do more stuff like this on days we have free.” Now lets be honest, during the school year, “free time” is few and far between. We have Sea Cadet drill once a month, gymnastics meets once a month, FTC Robotics competitions once a month and who knows what else on that odd free weekend we might have.

But after having such a good time together AND getting their feedback, I have decided to plan for some of these fun, free, cool things this summer. Putting them on the calendar as I ferry them out so we have some fun things to do if we are free! I’ve found a local website that lists all the activities for our area…all within an hour of us.  I can’t wait to find festivals we can attend, sites we can see, artists off free viewings/shows.

Last summer we traveled ALOT and the kids went to ALOT of camps.  This summer we are doing none of that.  No, I take that back, the kids will go for one week each to a local camp which my dad helps pay for as their Christmas present.  So having these fun things in sight will help take the monotony out of it, not to mention our apartment complex has a pool which we will make good use of, yeah!

Our local website is HamptonRoads.com and they have an event calendar.  Have you checked out what you can do for fun and free this summer?


Dental Care – Teaching Style

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I think almost every blogger here on BAD has had some sort of dental emergency and got caught without insurance or some help to cover it.  So I thought I’d weigh in on what we do.  Full disclosure, the twins do have full dental coverage and I have utilized that quite a bit, especially when they first moved in since they had never been to a dentist and had to learn more about personal hygiene.  But we are caught up now, and are mostly in maintenance mode.

For several years, I carried a stand alone dental policy for me and the littles.  It was $75 per month, covered 100% of basic maintenance except fluoride and gave us about a 20% discount on other services.  We have been blessed with good dental health and as I weighed the cost of the insurance against what I was spending, well, it just didn’t make sense.  So the next year, I signed up for my dentists own in office plan which for about $600 for the 3 of us, all the basic maintenance including sealants and fluoride were covered.

Then last year, I know, bad mommy, I decided to forego dental anything.  We didn’t go to the dentist at all.  Again, bad mommy moment but forking over that money is the midst of debt pay off, well, I just couldn’t stomach it for what we needed.

Now we are here, and I think a year without at least a check up is long enough SO we’ve decided to visit the local community college dental hygiene school.  For all of us to go, get thorough exams by the students (under faculty observation,) get fluoride treatments, sealants as needed, xrays, etc….it’s going to cost me a whopping $65!  I am so excited about this.  And they are just 15 minutes from my house.

I set it up several months in advance so we can all go at once.  It will be several hours for the appointment as it is a teaching facility, but compare to the $1000+ , then $600+ and now to $65 for what we’ve been getting the last four years, I am super excited.  Obviously, if issues are found, I will have to revisit our previous dentist, but since we just recently had ortho appts and they found no cavities, I’m feeling pretty confident that it’s just the $65 this time around.

Anyways, just wanted to share my dental win!  Appointment is still several weeks away, but I just received their brochure and confirmation card in the mail this week so thought it was a good time to share.

For those who chimed in on my braces post, we’ve decided to hold off on braces.  All the kids know the end game of this debt pay off journey and know that adding the braces payment to that could really set us back a bit.  I did let each of the twins choose independently on how important it was for them, with weigh in from me, and I think we’ve reached a good compromise on all sides.  We’ll revisit my daughter’s in the next year, hopefully with some help from her dad, and let her decide with some parental input.


A Small Victory – Utilties Paid

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As of today, this morning, all utilities for the old house are paid in full – the water, the sewer, the trash collection, the electricity, the gas, the landscaping, etc ALL PAID.  This means all ties to that house and financially to my dad have been severed.  You have no idea how exciting this is to me.  It has been a terribly hard few months, but now officially it is over!

Now I can stop looking at the past and start looking forward.

I still have a lot of retrospective thinking to do about this whole situation, but I think I still need a bit more distance and a few more financial successes before I can review it with unbiased clarity.  And the only reason I say I need to think about this is because I have four children, and I know I will want to help them out as best as I can as they grow and become independent.  But I know with absolute certainty, I don’t ever want to be in this situation that I’ve been in with my dad with my kids…so how can I approach that when the time comes.  Thankfully that is almost a decade away!