How I Paid $550 for $3,700 Worth of Braces

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Guest post from Marie

At nearly 14, my son’s last baby tooth had finally fallen — I was filled with elation but also dread. We always knew he would need braces (we’re talking major orthodontic help) as he was born with a snaggle of slow-growing teeth and was missing an adult canine tooth.

It’s a genetic trait several family members share, and they have all ended up with partial dentures as adults.

Fortunately for my son, dental implants are now the norm, but they start at about $3,000 per tooth. How was I, a divorced mom, going to pay to straighten out what was there, and plan for what will come?

Saving Up

I started putting away $10 a week since my boy was 10, giving me more than $1500 so far. Working for a coupon company, I cut every corner I could and put any excess into braces and college funds. My work insurance also paid a portion of orthodontics.

By January of this year I’d saved up $2,000; but braces tend to run $3,500 and up in my area, and he’d need more than the norm. He’s a good-looking kid but refused to smile and it broke my heart. It would only get worse as he entered his teen years. I had to do something.

Seizing a Deal

The answer came unexpectedly a few weeks ago when I attended a fund-raiser for a new magnet middle school. I went as a favor to a friend who was selling her jewelry in a booth. I was surprised by the number of handicrafts and silent auction items.

I promised myself I’d steer clear of beauty products and artisan clothing – wants instead of needs – and then I came upon the most unusual “deal” I’d ever seen: $3,700 worth of metal braces from an orthodontist whose son attended the fledgling school.

Doing My Research

A deal like this would not be worth it if the orthodontist had a bad reputation. A quick survey of attendees who knew him and a Google search on my phone showed he was a respected professional with no complaints filed against him. I had to do this. The opening bid was $500. I held my breath and bid the next allowable amount: $550 — and I won!

A Deal Waiting for Me

Sometimes you have to spend money to save money, whether it’s grocery stockpiling or buying in bulk or a pre-sale price. This fell into the latter category for me. Even if the $3,700 didn’t cover all the work he needed, it would lighten the load.

When the initial appointment time came around, I was nervous. What if my son needed so much work my $3,700 and insurance would be just a drop in the bucket? I did not want to use credit with a high interest rate to pay it off.

A Pleasant Surprise

It turned out the orthodontist, a kind man, works with families with small budgets and even works on a sliding scale with families receiving public assistance. I didn’t fall into that category but he agreed to honor the auction deal. My son gets a full set of braces next month and all adjustments until the work it done.

Planning Ahead

Yes, he will need a retainer with a false tooth until he is old enough to get the implant, and that step of the journey will run at least $5,000. Insurance will pay part of that, if I have the same coverage in five years. To be safe, I will continue to save and should be able to afford it, and my son will be able to afford to smile again.

Marie Hickman is a TV journalist turned savings writer. She and her son live a fun, frugal life in Palm Harbor, Florida. Follow her on Twitter at @MrsHickman777.

photo source

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5 Principles We Follow That Simplify Our Home

5 Principles We Follow That Simplify Our Home

My husband and I have been married for over 12 years and in those years, I’ve learned and grown a lot.

The first seven years of our marriage were especially hard. We survived the last semester of undergrad, infertility, law school, then three babies in five years, multiple job changes, job loss, starting multiple businesses, moving multiple times, financial struggles, marriage struggles, postpartum depression… and more.

I struggled to figure out how to do this wife thing, this mom thing, this home business thing, and this homemaking thing. There were many rocky seasons and rough patches.

There were many days when I never made it out of my PJs (well, truth be told, I still have a few days like that here and there!), I always felt incredibly behind, I rarely ever got enough sleep, and the house was often near disaster.

In the past five years, I’ve made huge strides in my organizational skills, my personal self-discipline, and in setting up more structure and routine for our days. There are 5 principles we follow that have helped us to find our groove, simplify our lives, and have better order in our days:

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#1: Touch It Once

As I talked about yesterday, instead of moving papers and piles and clutter and stuff around from place to place, I’m a firm believer in touching things once.

If you pick it up, use it and put it away. If you get it out, put it away. If it’s trash, throw it out. If it’s a dirty plate, don’t just set it in the sink, rinse it out and put it in the dishwasher.

By dealing with dishes and trash and junk mail and papers immediately, you save yourself so much time in the long run. {If you missed my post on this principle yesterday, read it here.}

Now if I could just implement a Touch It Once system for my laundry, we’d be all set! The good news? I’ve stayed almost completely caught up on laundry for a WEEK. That’s massively huge for me — especially because we went on vacation and came back during that week!

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#2: Everyone Pitch In

If you are a member of our family, you are required to be an asset to our family. We want to raise our kids to be responsible adults, so that means we are working on training them to pitch in and carry their own weight as part of our family.

One way we do this is by having Non-Paid Chores and Daily Lists. Our kids know that this is what is expected of them and that there are consequences when they don’t do what is expected of them.

By all pitching in and working together, it makes our home run much more smoothly and it means that no one person is having to tackle the majority of the work involved in keeping our home clean and orderly. “Many hands make light work!”

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#3: Pick Up Twice A Day

This simple principle has made a world of difference in our home. I’m not exactly sure when it started, but I don’t plan to ever discontinue it!

Basically, in a nut shell, we aim to have our whole house picked up and company ready twice a day — this means all the main rooms all picked up, the kitchen cleaned up, the laundry started, the bathrooms clean, etc.

We usually have a household clean-up time right after breakfast when everyone does their morning chores, I work on the kitchen and laundry and oversee/inspect the kids’ work. Then, after dinner, we all work together to clean up again — this time with Jesse either overseeing the kids’ chores or helping with cleaning up the kitchen.

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#4: Stick With a Budget

From the beginning of our marriage, we’ve lived on a strict, written budget. This has simplified our lives, made decision-making so much easier, helped us in our communication as a couple, given us greater financial traction than we could have ever dreamed, and allowed us to be able to fulfill our heart passions to be givers.

If you’ve never had a written budget before, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Some people think that it would make life miserable. On the contrary, we’ve found that it simplifies life so much — we don’t have to worry that spending money in one area is going to hurt our ability to spend in another area because we’ve already pre-determined and designated money for all of our budget categories. In addition, it cuts down significantly on impulse purchases!

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#5: Shop Less

The less you own, the less there is to clean, dust, and pick up. We don’t do much shopping — except mostly for groceries and some online shopping for necessities like clothes and household items.

Before heading out to shop, I encourage you to really ask yourself why you’re shopping. Do you have the money to buy the item? Can you make do with what you already have? Is there a better use for that money?

It’s long been said, “If you’re not content where you are, there’s a good chance you’re not going to be content where you think you want to be.” So instead of focusing on what we don’t have, for years we’ve made it our practice to focus on what we do have and to bloom right where we’re planted.

It’s amazing how this goes such a long way in curbing the “I wants” and the need to run out and buy something just to to buy something. Plus, the more we stay out of the stores, the less we are tempted to think we need to buy things we didn’t know we needed or didn’t know even existed!

5 Principles We Follow That Simplify Our Home

What principles help YOU simplify YOUR home? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Need Some Help Simplifying Your Life?

I’ve talked some about The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle this week and I hope you’ve had a chance to check it out. It’s an AMAZING collection of resources — many that I’ve already read and benefited so much from and many more that I cannot WAIT to read myself!

There are so many great resources in this bundle, including:

You get all of these + many, many more ebooks, printables, ecourses, and free bonuses for just $29.97 total! That’s a steal!

Grab your copy of The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle here. It’s only available until Monday so you’ll want to get it while you can!

Best of all, these are all ebooks — so they won’t bring any extra paper clutter into your home! :)

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(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.)
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Weekend Giveaway: $50 Lilla Rose Gift Certificate (5 Winners)

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Have you heard of Lilla Rose? Lilla Rose is the maker of the popular and unique Flexi Clip. The Flexi allows you to achieve some beautiful hairstyles in a very short amount of time.

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This weekend only, Jessica, a consultant with Lilla Rose, is offering a giveaway for 5 $50 Lilla Rose gift certificates to use on anything on her site.

Jessica is a homeschooling mama to 4 little ones and she emailed and said: “Lilla Rose has been an amazing blessing to me and my family – not just financially but giving ME something to focus on and regroup when I needed some downtime.”

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There are 7 different sizes of the Flexi — one to fit every type of hair! These clips are flexible, durable, and stylish and they come with a one-year warranty!  Head over to this website for some videos on styling your hair with Flexi Clips.

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Lilla Rose also offers cute, adjustable headbands, hair sticks, heavy-duty bobby pins, you-pins, flexi-ohs, and badge clips.

Create an account (only if you don’t already have a consultant) to be notified of sales and news on the limited edition Flexi of the month (FOTM). Also, follow Jessica’s Facebook page for specials and giveaways!

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April’s Flexi of the Month is the Tulip Field — see above. It’s only available while supplies last. Plus, this weekend only, Lilla Rose is running a sale and you can get 10% to 20% off select items! Check it out here.

Interested in becoming a Lilla Rose consultant? You can start your Lilla Rose business for $50 and it requires no monthly requirements or quotas, no fees or hidden costs! If you have questions on becoming a consulting, you can contact Jessica here.

Would you like to win a $50 gift certificate to Lilla Rose? Click on the graphic below and type in your name and email address. Five winners will be chosen and posted next week. Please note: The gift certificate does not cover tax or shipping/handling. This giveaway ends Sunday, April 26, at 11:59 pm, CST.

Enter the Giveaway

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Many of my readers are getting completely FREE kid’s clothes from Schoola!

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In case you missed my post earlier this week about this great offer from Schoola, I just wanted to bring it to your attention again because many of my readers are getting completely FREE kid’s clothes with the $15 credit + free shipping.

Trisha said:

That was awesome! I got a Nautica sweater and some shorts for my son for free. Loving this!

Theresa said:

Thank you! I just got my son a pair of sweats, a Spiderman shirt (his current hero), and a winter coat for next year! All for free!

Read all about the deal here and go grab some free clothes for your kids, grandkids, or other children you know!

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.)
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Weekend Giveaway: $25 Lamplight Scripture Prints Gift Certificate (10 Winners)

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Lamplight Scripture Prints is an Etsy store dedicated to making fresh and beautiful designs of timeless truth. They offer Scripture prints for every room in your home.

This store is run by two moms who desire to make God’s Word tangible and present in homes and hearts.

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They sent me some of their prints and I love them. I also love that 10% of all purchases go toward local and global ministry. Proceeds have helped to support ministries fighting to free those being trafficked, to fund adoptions, and more.

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All of their designs are professionally printed on fine Moorim 100# gloss cover. (Shipped prints do NOT contain the lamplight watermark shown in these pictures.)

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For more information, check out the Lamplight Scripture Prints Etsy Shop or the Lamplights website. You can also follow them on Facebook to keep up with new products they release and specials they offer.

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MoneySavingMom.com readers can receive $10 off a $25 purchase by using the coupon code momsday2015 through May 15, 2015.

Would you like to win a $25 gift certificate to the Lamplight Scripture Prints Etsy Shop? Just click on the graphic below and type in your name and email address. 10 winners will be chosen and posted next week. This giveaway ends Saturday, April 25, at 11:59 pm, CST.
Enter the Giveaway

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Brigette’s $48 Grocery Shopping Trip and Weekly Menu Plan for 6

We had a wonderful vacation with extended family in Maine this past week, and I really enjoyed the break from my normal menu planning and grocery shopping! Since there weren’t any great deals on meat or fruit this week, I decided to rely on what we already have in our freezer.  I like to completely rotate through my freezer stash every 4-6 months anyway, so this seemed like a good opportunity to work on that!

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Aldi

1 20-oz pkg Yellow Squash – $2.19

1 20-oz pkg Zucchini – $1.99

3 containers assorted Baby Lettuce – $5.07, plus receive $0.25 back from Checkout 51 and $0.25 back from Snap by Groupon – $4.57 after rebates

1 head Cauliflower – $1.99

1 bag Kale – $1.99

1 bag Baby Brussel Sprouts – $1.29, plus receive $0.25 back from Snap by Groupon – $1.04 after rebate

1 pkg Flat Leaf Spinach – $1.79

2 16-oz bags Baby Carrots – $1.38

2 16-oz containers Egg Whites – $3.98

1 bag Mini Sweet Peppers – $2.29

1 container Grape Tomatoes – $0.99

2 Avocados – $1.98

2 Cucumbers – $0.78

Total after Rebates: $26.96

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Harris Teeter

2 jars Skippy Peanut Butter – $4.00, used 2 $0.55/1 printable (doubled) – $1.80/2 after coupons

2 boxes Kelloggs Mini Frosted Wheats (B1G1) – $3.39, used 2 $0.50/1 printable (doubled), plus receive $0.30 back from Ibotta – $1.09/2 after coupons and rebate

1 32-oz carton SO Delicious Coconut Milk – $1.50, used $0.55/1 printable (doubled), plus receive $1.00 back from Ibotta – $0.60 MM after coupon and rebate

1 box Blue Bunny Ice Cream Novelty – $3.49, used $0.75/1 printable (doubled) – $1.99 after coupon

5 8-oz pkgs Sargento Cheese (slices and shreds) – $10.00 (must buy 5 to get this price) - used 2 $0.55/1 printable (doubled), plus 2 $0.50/1 printable – $5.80/5 after coupons

5 8-oz pkgs Cabot Chunk Cheese – $10.00 (must buy 5 to get this price) - used 2 $1/2 printable – $8.00/5 after coupons

2 16-oz pkgs Land O’Frost Premium Lunchmeat – $7.98, used 2 $0.75/1 printable (doubled) – $4.98/2 after coupons

2 pkgs Mission Soft Taco Tortillas – $3.98, used 2 $0.55/1 printable (doubled) – $1.78/2 after coupons

1 gallon Milk – $2.99, plus receive $0.30 back from Ibotta – $2.69 after rebate

4 pkgs assorted Frozen Vegetables – $4.00

used $10/50 purchase – Publix Coupon received in mail

Total after Coupons and Rebates – $21.53

Weekly Total: $48.49

Weekly Menu Plan

Breakfasts

Smoothies (using strawberries, grapes, bananas, and blackberries from our freezer), Toast x 2

Oatmeal with Fruit (from the freezer) x 2

Cereal x 2

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls (birthday breakfast)

Veggie Omelettes (for me)

Lunches

Cheese Quesadillas, Fresh Veggies with Dip x 2

Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwiches, Yogurt, Fresh Veggies with Dip x 2

Build Your Own Tossed Salad, Boiled Eggs, Sliced Cheese

Leftovers x 2

Dinners

Mexican Lasagna, Tossed Salad

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole, Easy Whole Wheat Bread

Hamburgers on the Grill, Homemade French Fries, Grilled Vegetables, Cottage Cheese Pie (birthday meal for my husband)

Sub Sandwiches, Fresh Veggie Plate, Homemade Strawberry Applesauce

Cheesy Hashbrown Potatoes with Ham, Steamed Vegetables, Easy Whole Wheat Bread

Leftovers x 2

Snacks

Fresh Veggies, Sliced Cheese, Our Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies, Popcorn, Protein Smoothies (for me)

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