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Posts tagged with: Christmas gift list

All the Holiday Things!


Happy, merry, all the things!

I hope U.S. readers had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend and enjoyed spending time with family and friends.

Everyone finish up all your Thanksgiving turkey? I used this sour cream enchilada recipe with leftover turkey (substituting in place of the chicken) and it was delish! I also made turkey noodle soup (sharing some with a sick neighbor who missed out on the holiday), and we are now officially finished with our turkey!

Holiday foods

Usually I go pretty “big” for Thanksgiving, but we were more low key this year. We had turkey, homemade cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and brownies for dessert (no pie!). Plus rolls. We did have rolls. But normally I’d also make sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and several other side dishes and/or desserts that I didn’t do this year. It was perfectly lovely, but still reasonable from a food preparation perspective. Not overwhelming with leftovers and nothing went to waste. In fact, my grocery spending this month is a little lower compared to the past couple months!  A true shock to me given that I’d planned my budget thinking that food spending would be higher this month. But we managed to squeeze out so many leftovers from the single Thanksgiving meal that it saved us on food costs that week (and still finishing it up here today and tomorrow).

Save some, splurge some…

So we saved on food, but we splurged on something else – family photos! I received a recommendation from a friend and we had photos done the day before Thanksgiving. The weather was perfect and we got gorgeous desert shots of our family all together. The photographer does it as a side-hustle (her full-time gig is as a nurse), so she was way more reasonable than some of the prices I’ve seen quoted elsewhere. We spent $140 for an hour and a whole gallery of digital photos. Here are a couple of my favorites:

(Photo credit to S. Houghton Photography for local Tucson friends)

Memories to last a lifetime!

Long-time readers have watched my kids grow since they were 4 years old (they’re 10-and-a-half now!). I can’t believe how much they’ve grown. It’s true what they say – the days are long, but the years are short. While pictures may not be in everyone’s budget, it’s a planned annual expense for us because I want to document this time in our lives. When the girls were younger, we would take our own annual photos (we didn’t even own a tripod – we’d just prop a camera). Or there were times we’d have my stepdad take our photo with his fancy camera. Other times we did cheap pics in the Sears photo studio. The point is, there are ways around going to a professional. But if you can find a reasonably priced photographer who fits your budget – I think its a worthwhile splurge.

Do you do annual family photos?

Do you use leftover turkey in other creative ways? Recipes you want to share?


7 Tips for Managing the Costs of Dental Care


Saving money is easy when you use these tips for managing your dental care. Although you might think that taking care of your oral health is expensive, these tips will help you save on medical costs and prevent you from spending more money than you need to on dental care.

1. Ask For Payment Plans

If you’re one of the four million Americans that use braces, chances are you’ll need routine and specialized care for the duration of the treatment. If you’re worried about affording this medical cost, talk to your orthodontist or dentist about ways to make it more affordable. Most dentists will offer payment plan options so that you can pay off the bill over a certain period of time rather than all at once.

2. Shop Around for Insurance

If you don’t have dental insurance, there are other options available to help keep costs down. One way is to shop around and find an insurance plan that covers what you need while also saving money in the long run by offering discounts on services like cleanings and X-rays. Additionally, many employers offer dental benefits as part of their employee health plans. Be sure to check with your employer to see if you have access to a plan that can help with the costs of dental care.

3. Make Preventative Care a Priority

Preventive dental care is the best way to keep your expenses down in the long run, as regular check-ups and cleanings help catch small issues before they become larger and more costly problems. Additionally, brushing and flossing daily will help protect your teeth against cavities and decay, which can lead to expensive treatments like fillings or root canals if left untreated.

4. Maximize the Use of Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)

Flexible Spending Accounts are an excellent way to save money on medical expenses. These accounts allow you to set aside pre-tax dollars to be used for medical costs, including dental care. Any amount that you set aside in your FSA can be used towards dental bills and other medical expenses throughout the year.

5. Make Use of Dental Discount Plans

If you don’t have insurance or an FSA to cover your dental costs, there are still ways to save money. Many dentists offer discounted rates on services when you become a member of their practice’s discount plan. These plans typically cost between $80-$200 per year, but they allow you to receive discounts on preventive care, such as cleanings and check-ups. Additionally, many discount plans also offer discounts on more expensive procedures like root canals and crowns.

6. Opt For Other Dental Treatment Options

There are always less expensive treatment options for people that need dental care. For instance, Invisalign is a great alternative for people that need braces, and it has a 96% satisfaction rate. Consider using an alternative method, such as cleaning up your teeth with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, before opting for a more expensive route. Additionally, many dentists offer payment plans or discounts on services if you pay in cash at the time of the visit.

7. Use an Urgent Care Instead of the ER

If you’re facing a dental emergency, you might benefit from visiting urgent care instead of the ER. Around 75% of urgent care patients said they had a good experience and high quality of care visiting urgent care, and the cost is typically much lower than if you went to the ER. Be sure to ask your local urgent care about any dental services they offer to help reduce the costs of unexpected dental care.

By following these tips and doing some research, you should be able to find ways to save money on your dental care expenses. Taking the time to plan ahead will ensure that you’re getting the best quality care at an affordable price.

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