March Mini Victories
I am always looking for ways to optimize our family’s savings. The easy targets are the big three budget categories, housing, transportation, and food. Almost every family has these three expenses in their life, meaning it is a good place to start looking for savings. But sometimes financial savings can be found in more obscure locations. This month I had three seemingly unrelated events that led me to save some substantial money. By detailing my three frugal mini victories this month, I hope to be able to give you a couple ideas to trim some spending from your budget.
I am very fortunate to have dental insurance from my employer. I love my teeth and hope to keep them my whole life. So I use my two preventative teeth cleanings twice per year. I have had a small cavity that the dentist has been watching and finally decided to fix.
As a side note, don’t let the dentist talk you out of numbing your teeth first prior to drilling. That was a very painful lesson.
Anyways, on my way out of the office, I paid the co-pay and was on my way. A couple of weeks later I received a bill in the mail for $160. Upon opening the bill and was immediately confused by the multiple line item charges all written in what looked like computer coding.
From what I could gather it looked like the bill went to insurance and the insurance covered some of the expenses and the rest was kicked back to me to pay. I called the dentist’s office the next day with the intent of just paying the bill. On a whim, I asked one simple question of the secretary, “can you explain to me my bill and the charges?”
The secretary obliged, but a couple of seconds later the secretary said, “I think there is something wrong with your bill, can I call you back in a few minutes?” After ten minutes, the secretary called back and informed me my new balance was $10. I had psyched myself up to pay the $160 but was overjoyed to learn the new amount due was only $10. $150 savings for asking one simple question! The moral of this story is have your dental or medical bills explained to you, even if they look right.
Cable Tv Savings
Cutting the cable is nothing new for frugal minded families. It is low hanging fruit. It is usually one of the first places to look to trim some money from a budget. The programming seems filled with more advertisements than legitimate programming.
Our family has had a very steady decline in the use of our television over the past couple of years to the point where we hardly ever turn on the television. So, why haven’t I cut the cable cord months or years ago? I guess it was out of a fear that I might want to watch a tv show if I had the time. But the truth is, I seldom have time and when I do have some spare time, I would rather read a book. Also, my children have always enjoyed watching cartoons and tween shows. Every time I mention I wanted to cancel cable, you would have thought I was canceling Christmas. But over the last couple of months, even my two children have not been watching the television. They have migrated to video games and Netflix for their screen time.
A couple of weeks ago I finally called the cable company to cancel the cable. The operator knew almost immediately what I was up to and it was game on! He offered to knock 50% off my bill and offer free movie channels for 3 months. In the end, I took the bait and took the 50% offer for three months. I figured this 3 month period would bridge the gap to the summer months when we spend all of our time outdoors.
So come June 1st, I fully intend to call back the cable company and cut the cord completely. I also have canceled the Netflix subscription for 3 months while we have the three months of movie channels. In effect, we took our cable bill from $60 per month down to $15 with the cancellation of Netflix included. Total savings $45 dollars per month.
So in this situation, I will call it a draw. The cable company still has me as a customer, but I reduced my effective cable bill down to $15.
My son is allergic to peanuts, so the school requires us to provide an EpiPen. My son cannot be on school grounds without one in the school office.
I detailed this whole story in another blog post that you can read here.
The school nurse called the first week of March to let us know that our EpiPen would expire at the end of the month. The device is only good for one year and expires 12 months after manufacture. Every year I dread paying the $600 dollars for a new EpiPen.
Here is a little tip. When you fill your EpiPen prescription at the pharmacy check the expiration before you leave the pharmacy. Occasionally you may receive an EpiPen that is already several months old and expires before the 12-month life that you would expect from a newly prescribed medicine.
The school nurse informed me that she would now accept a generic form of the Adrenaclick Pen that could be purchased at CVS pharmacy for $69 after a $50 dollar off coupon. Click here for the $50 off coupon. Due to my high deductible health care plan, I pay all prescriptions out-of-pocket up to $3000. Yikes.
By getting the $69 generic form of epinephrine auto-injector I was able to save $570 dollars. That is some real money!
March frugal savings.
- Dentist bill – $150
- Cable bill – $90 over three months
- EpiPen savings – $570
These marginal savings add up to real money that you can put to work in your life to move you closer to financial freedom. So don’t forget to look on the fringe for these small savings victories. Are you interested in putting those savings to work as investments? Click here for my article on how to trade stocks for free with Robinhood.
Did you have some March savings? Please leave a comment below and let me know how you find ways to spend less, save more and invest the rest.