Is your family on a tight budget? Are you trying to save money to pay off student loans, cover a house mortgage or go on a family vacation?
If you listen to budget experts, you may have already heard that you need to: create a budget, pay off your debt, make wise spending decisions and save for the future, but how do you take into account needed expenses like dental and health insurance?
How Does a Budget Work?
Creating a budget is simple and there isn’t a secret formula budget experts offer. Simply…
- Write down your total income
- List all your expenses
- Subtract those expenses from your income so it equals zero
- Track what you spend throughout the month so you don’t go over what you should be spending on each item
It sounds easy, right? However, many Americans don’t budget every month, which is part of the problem. Creating a budget is the first step. After that, you’ll have to follow it, which can be challenging.
How to Afford Dental Care on My Budget
Even on a budget, it can be difficult to fit in everything you need, like health and dental insurance.
So what’s the alternative? We’d recommend a discount dental plan.
A discount dental plan is helpful for individuals on a strict budget because membership cost is often less than what you would pay on your own (without your company’s help). You really only pay for the work that you need.
Why Discount Dental Plans Work for Your Budget
Discount dental plans have a low annual fee and there are no caps on how many treatments you can have discounted.
Unless you don’t intend to visit the dentist at all this year, which could accrue higher expenses for dental work later, your money shouldn’t go to waste. Here’s Sallie’s story:
Sallie Doesn’t Have Dental Insurance
Sallie lives in Texas and does not have dental insurance. Her employer provides health insurance but not dental insurance. One year, Sallie had 2 teeth cleanings (which included dental x-rays and an oral exam) and a tooth filling. Sallie paid $624 for the dental work.
Sallie Purchases Dental Insurance
Sallie wanted to continue her biannual teeth cleanings and purchase a dental insurance plan that would cover unexpected dental treatments, like tooth fillings or root canals. So for the following year, Sallie found a dental insurance plan that she thought would meet her dental care needs.
She purchased the insurance plan for $30 per month (plus a $35 processing fee), so she paid $395 for her dental insurance plan for the year.
For the first year, her dental insurance offered to pay 60% of the cost for her periodic oral exams, teeth cleanings and bitewing x-rays and 50% of the cost for her amalgam fillings (white, resin-based were not covered with her insurance). These percentages kicked in after she paid her $50 deductible for the year. Sallie will have to wait 2 more years before all of her benefits begin, like free cleanings and any savings on major procedures (hopefully an emergency doesn’t happen before then).
Combining the cost of her dental insurance plan ($395) and the above cost of needed dental work ($268.50), Sallie paid $663.50 for the year ($40 more than what she paid without dental insurance). If she had really wanted the resin (white) filling, she would have had to pay for it all herself.
Sallie Discovers Discount Dental Plans
The following year, Sallie discovered discount dental plans. She paid $99 for the year (plus the $20 one-time processing fee), which amounted to $119 the first year and would cost $99 each consecutive year. She needed 2 cleanings for the year (including x-rays and the oral exam) and one resin-based tooth filling.
She paid $173 for her treatments and $119 for her plan, which brings her total cost for the first year to $292. She saved $451 using a discount dental plan compared to her previous options. She paid only what she needed and none of her money went to waste.
With a discount plan, budget for your annual fee (or multi-year purchase) and set aside money in your account for dental treatments and visits that occur throughout the year. For the most up-to-date treatment prices in your area, please visit the 1Dental fee schedule and enter your zip code.
If you have an HSA or FSA, you can save money in this account and use it to pay for dental expenses (on top of the discounted prices!).
As you build out your budget, consider adding a discount dental plan to the list so you can get the dental care you need while still being able to take that family vacation, pay off your debt and enjoy your life without the stress of outrageous drains on your budget.