Waste Not, Want Not: How I Saved $600 in Less Than an Hour

There’s a saying you’ll hear if you hang around me at home long enough: “Waste not, want not.” My husband has heard this adage over and over again, whether I’m digging out the last vestiges from a ketchup bottle or popping some bread heels in the freezer to save for making bread crumbs in the future.

It’s because I believe that with just a little extra effort, saving even a little bit at a time adds up. Recently, though, I was impressed by how we managed to save a lot at once, just by taking a few minutes to crunch some numbers.

We are fortunate that my husband gets pretty good benefits through his job. For the first year of our marriage, we had to buy our own private insurance because he was finishing up school and I was freelancing full-time. So when he got the option to sign up for things like health and dental and vision insurance and a flexible spending account, we eagerly signed up.

But when it came time to re-enroll in our benefits programs this year, we sat down at our kitchen table, with the spreadsheets and a calculator in hand, and started tallying up the costs. As the numbers on the calculator screen grew, we started to wonder if some of those supplemental insurances—namely, vision and dental—were really as good a deal as we thought, given we’re both young and pretty healthy.

For our vision insurance, we were paying about $250 a year for my husband and myself. Dental insurance was another $600, because we could only choose between purchasing a single or a family option. As it turns out, though, the single option would be paid fully by my husband’s work, so we were essentially paying $600 just for me to be covered.

Since we’d already used both insurances for a year, I dug into the folders where I file away all our medical expenses and started adding up how much the services would have cost if we hadn’t had our insurance.

The vision insurance, it turned out, was a great deal, where the total cost would have been $500 had we paid for everything ourselves. Essentially, a discount of 50 percent.

The dental insurance, though, was actually costing us more than we were using: We were paying $600 while the costs billed to our insurance for my visits were less than $300. I called up our dentist and confirmed how much costs would be if we paid out of pocket and she said since I’m already an established patient, they’d be even cheaper; likely $100 per visit.

We ended up deciding to drop the family-plan dental insurance and just keep the insurance on my husband, since that would be free. For my services, we could pay out of pocket (using our flexible spending account with money earmarked especially for those purposes) and still be paying less than the insurance would cost. Of course there’s the chance that something could happen—a rogue cavity or filling—but I haven’t had a cavity in a few years, so that seems unlikely. Even then, we figured if something does happen, we shouldn’t end up paying more than the $600 we would be paying just for premiums.

Then we can take that extra amount, a couple hundred dollars, and sock it away into a savings account that we can put to use at another time.

It took about thirty minutes of culling through the paperwork and calling the dentist’s office to confirm their rates, but in the end we’ll be saving $600 through the course of next year.

Waste not, want not, indeed!

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  1. That's great! We recently saved $1,080 a year just by switching insurance companies - same coverage even! It's always a good idea to reevaluate these sort of payments.

  2. Thanks, Amanda! That's a great savings, of your own, too. I can do a lot with an extra $1K :) I'm continually surprised at how easy it can be to shave costs off, when all it takes is a simple swap! (Although notably, we've looked into switching car insurance companies and it's never been a better deal than sticking with State Farm.)

  3. Doing you homework always pays off!

  4. Nice!

    If there's one thing I've learned from being on a budget [ALL THE TIME] it's how to crunch numbers!

  5. Thanks, ladies! Yes, I was so thrilled to see how much we could save. I'll take it anywhere I can get it :)

  6. great job...my husband just got dental at work and the withholding is more than his health insurance, grr. He has his forst appointment in a few weeks so after then, I can evaluate whether or not its going to be worth the $


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