Yes, I think this will be the Orthodontia Savings Account.

by Kristen on June 13, 2012 · 36 comments

in Uncategorized

Mr. FG and I were fortunate with our first two kids…Joshua’s dentist has declared that he will not need braces, and Lisey is very nearly in the clear as well.

Sonia, however? She’s going to need some dental work. She’s a small person, and her teeth are going to need some help fitting into her small mouth.

Sonia at the dentist a few years ago, when she was even smaller!

Happily, her orthodontic work doesn’t need to start right now, so that will give us some time to start saving. Of course, I’ll check into whether our insurance offers orthodontic coverage, but even if it does, I know we’ll have to pay a fairly hefty amount out of pocket.

I can’t complain, though…it’s not like all four of our kids have to have years of orthodontics. If we make it through with only Sonia needing braces, I will feel pretty darn pleased. ;)

Anyway, I’ve known for a good year that she will need this kind of work, and I hadn’t gotten around to opening an account for this purpose.

But, as you know, I recently opened an Able Banking account, and I’ve decided that it will be the official Orthodontic Savings Account. You have to make a minimum $250 deposit to open an Able Banking account, so I’ve got a little head start on this savings project.

I set up a monthly automatic transfer into my Able Banking account because I think that automatic transfers are the easiest, most foolproof way to save.

I also highly recommend keeping your targeted savings accounts in an online bank. Accessing the money is a little more difficult than it is with a local brick and mortar bank, and that’s a plus for a savings account. You can’t just drive over on a whim and withdraw the cash, which means you’re much more likely to let the money sit there and pile up.

If you don’t have online savings accounts, I think you’re missing out! There’s no easier way to set aside money for specific purposes. Our online savings accounts have really turned our finances around.

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Able Banking is really new, and I was able to open an account as a beta tester. But Able Banking is offering my readers the opportunity to open an account without a waiting period.

Go here to open an Able Banking account, enter the code ABLEFG, and you’ll be on your way!

Able Banking spends less money on marketing than most banks do, and they pass those savings on to you in the form of annual bonuses which you can give to the charity of your choice. You’ll get $25 to donate when you open an account, and every year, you’ll receive 0.25% of your average balance to give to charity as well.

Plus, the interest rates at Able Banking are competitive with other online banks (in fact, their rate is higher than ING’s at the moment).

Go open one up! If you need to save for orthodontic bills or a vacation or Christmas or whatever, an online savings account is a great tool. And since Able Banking pays a competitive interest rate AND helps you give to charity, I think they’re a good choice for your online banking.

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Readers, how have you handled orthodontic bills? Did you get prior warning so that you could save ahead of time?

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Today’s 365 post: Some of the best money we’ve ever spent.

Joshua’s 365 post: Whoops! (the subject of this picture made me laugh out loud!)

Able Banking gave me early access to a checking account for review purposes, but I was not otherwise compensated for this post, and all opinions are my own. I just think their business model is lovely and since ING was recently bought by a larger company, I know some of you are interested in exploring other options.

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jolene Shannon June 13, 2012 at 8:48 am

Kristen,
I am glad that you are saving now!! I have six children and I am working on braces set #3 ): My younger three are certainly not out of the woods yet….just not old enough to know for sure (they still have some teeth coming in). I am hoping not to go 6 for 6!! I so enjoy your blog…and with my large family…I need all of the help I can get!!
Best,
Jolene

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2 Lili@creativesavv June 13, 2012 at 8:50 am

All three of my kids needed orthodontia. And you’re right, even with insurance it’s not at all cheap. We had insurance, but we also looked into going through the University dental school. The cost with insurance and a private dentist near our house was about the same for using the dental school. I think dental schools are a good option for those without insurance, for all kinds of dental work. If I remember correctly, they had a sliding payment schedule, based on your income.

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3 MelissaZ June 13, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Another thing to consider with University dental school is that even though the school may not accept/take insurance, you can usually still fill out a form yourself & submit it to your insurance company. So depending on your insurance, you may be able to get both the benefit of lower cost university dental care & money from insurance.

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4 Lili@creativesavv June 13, 2012 at 9:00 am

One other thing, we had a few years’ notice, as well, with all our children. At my husband’s employer, we had our choice of a couple of different dental insurance plans. We switched to the plan with the lowest orthodontia copay, in the year before our oldest needed to begin treatment. Making our insurance choice, based on orthodontia out-of-pocket costs, saved us about $500 per child.

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5 Kris June 13, 2012 at 9:07 am

My 3rd child got her braces last Oct. (My first 2 kids escaped & it’s too soon to tell with my youngest!) My dental plan does offer orthodentia coverage for about $14.00 a month. It covers $1500.00 of her total care. The orthodontist office broke out what the balance would be by the month for the first year. Based on that, I put that amount on my Medical FSA (Flexible Spending Account) that is automatically taken out of my check, tax free and put on a debit card. So while I am of course paying for it, I never miss the money because I don’t see the money but I know it’s there every month when I make my payment (which is about $135 a month). She will break the balance out for me again next year and I’ll have that taken out accordingly. Her braces should be off by Oct of next year.

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6 Shana June 13, 2012 at 9:08 am

All 3 of our kids needed orthodontia – in fact Kara is in braces now and Rachel is getting ready to start her 2nd round (!!!) of braces. Paying for it? Their dad has *excellent* dental insurance, but he still has to pay a good portion – he covers this primarily by using his flexible spending account.

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7 Stacy June 13, 2012 at 9:32 am

We didn’t have any time to prepare for our oldest getting braces, it was just sprung on us out of nowhere (we should have known, looking back). We got a 7% discount for paying the bill upfront, instead of paying monthly, so we took that option since we had the money in savings. Our insurance paid half, so we paid half in cash. Our youngest will need braces in about a year, and we’ll probably do the same thing if they offer a cash discount. I don’t open special savings accounts for different things, we have our main savings account at ING where all of our savings money goes, plus CD’s at our local bank. The kids have savings accounts at the bank and at ING, plus they have college savings accounts through our state.

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8 Felicia June 13, 2012 at 9:35 am

All 3 of ours needed braces. We didn’t save much for the first 2 but after paying for them I kept putting that money away and payed for the third in a lump sum for a 5% discount.

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9 kelley June 13, 2012 at 9:36 am

My son had braces and my insurance paid a little over half of it. I set up a monthly payment schedule and no interest was charged. (Interest wouldve been charged if the balance wasnt paid off by the time his treatment was over)

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10 Sarah June 13, 2012 at 10:10 am

I see braces in our future for at least 1 if not both of our kids. The dentist hasn’t said anything yet and a lot of baby teeth are still hanging around, so there is some hope. But, I see overcrowded teeth in our 6 yo already. Sigh. No saving put aside yet.

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11 Sarah June 13, 2012 at 10:11 am

I forgot to add that we plan to use our Flexible Spending Accounts when the time comes.

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12 Emily June 13, 2012 at 10:24 am

We’re looking at braces for two out of our three. Keeping our fingers crossed for the third. Fortunately, our insurance covers a good chunk and what ever it doesn’t pay we can cover with my husbands health savings account. His employer puts over a dollar an hour straight into that account and it’s an unbelievable relief to not worry about medical bills or copays. If that wasn’t an option I’d probably be throwing money in a “dentist” jar! I don’t have trouble leaving money alone that’s saved that way but in the regular saving account it’s fair game for the occassional surprise bill.

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13 Laura June 13, 2012 at 10:47 am

Two of our three girls have needed orthodontic work – two rounds each. Insurance through my husband’s work covered a large piece of the cost. Although there is a lifetime cap, with our oldest daughter the company re-negotiated their coverage with the carrier between rounds and she ended up “starting over” and getting the cap twice which helped more than a lot. Not so with our middle daughter, and round two (which is still ongoing) has been quite expensive. Our orthodontist gave us large discount for this last round (I guess for all the business we’ve given him ;-) ), and has offered no-interest payments on all of the balances, which we’ve always paid off early – I’m making the last payment this week! Thankfully our third daughter will not need braces – she has beautiful straight teeth and a perfect bite.

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14 Katie June 13, 2012 at 10:54 am

poor sonia! i don’t have a dental account, though i really should. my jaws are way too small for my teeth. i feel for her!

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15 Karen June 13, 2012 at 11:09 am

Oh, how I dread this!!! I have a feeling that all of my kids will need some work done. I have awful teeth that were made worse by orthodontia and I was hoping my kids would get their dad’s straight and strong teeth. My kids have dental although of course it’s not anything to write home about.

I unexpectedly lost my bridge a few summers ago and I’m still paying it off. I’m so upset to have incurred that debt but when you’re sitting in the office of the dentist with your front teeth in a zip lock baggie in your purse… well, you’ll sign things. :(

BUT oh well! It is what it is and we’re aggressively paying it down.

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16 Amanda June 13, 2012 at 11:11 am

My husband and I never needed any orthodontia, and the kids look pretty good so far, but they’re still too young to tell much.

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17 Heather :) :) :) June 13, 2012 at 11:46 am

I think that’s really smart that you are starting a savings account to pay for your child’s future orthodontia. That’s really good…because you’ll be really glad you already have that money set aside when it actually comes time to have the work done.

Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

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18 Sher June 13, 2012 at 11:55 am

all three of mine need(ed) braces…one done, one doing, and one to go!!
we put down a sizable downpayment enough to where the monthly payments for 2 years is managable (100 a month or so)
and luckily spaced the kids out far enough that there is only one at a time needing them! :)

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19 Renee CA June 13, 2012 at 12:15 pm

So glad you are having the work done. Braces are miserable but in this day and age it breaks my heart to see young people with misaligned teeth when it is fixable. It’s more than an appearance issue. I had a bad bite but myparents couldn’t afford braces and a couple of dentists tried to correct it with removable appliances. In my 30′s, I went through a couple of years of braces. Afterward, I had clear snap-on retainers which I wore religiously every night to bed. They held my bite in position. After 13 years, it broke and by the time I went back to the orthodontist, my teeth had shifted an it took 9 months back in braces (in my 50′s) before a new retainer could be made. Now I need several crowns replaced which will require new retainers. But I am so glad to have them as I age to hold my jaw and teeth in the correct place.

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20 Renee CA June 13, 2012 at 12:21 pm

My bite was so out of whack that I dislocated my jaw a couple of time as an adult. I would like to encourage parents to do whatever it takes to have orthodontia work done if your children need it. It’s way more important than a pretty smile.

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21 Lili@creativesavv June 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Renee, you are so right. I had orthodontia for 7 years, because of a misaligned bite, as well. I had my grandmother’s bite. She didn’t have the advantage of orthodontia, and she lost all of her molars by the time she was 50, because the bone didn’t get enough stimulation while chewing. For some kids it really is more about future issues, than just a pretty smile. One of my 3 also had the same bite issue. He went through 2 rounds of orthodontia. The other two children are just now finishing up, and will hopefully get braces off this fall.

One other thing about paying for orthodontia. Most dental offices just assume you will want a payment plan. If you have enough saved in advance, make sure you ask if they will discount the price if you pay up front. This isn’t always offered, but is available at many offices.

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22 Renee CA June 13, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Make sure your kids understand how important it is to wear those retainers! It is just not a big deal to brush your teeth at bedtime and pop them in for the night. Mine are clear and you can’t even tell they are on. I know they sometimes think a couple of years is enough but I’m not willing to take that chance.

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23 Lili@creativesavv June 13, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Definitely! My son stopped wearing his at night when in university. Mistake! His teeth have shifted and now he’s looking at doing Invisalign, on his dime, as he’s no longer covered on our insurance. And I will insist that my daughters wear theirs for many years. Thanks for the very timely reminder!

24 Barb @ A Life in Balance June 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm

When we realized our oldest would need braces, I started saving in an ING account a few years before the braces actually happened. Then I set up an automatic payment with the ING account after the initial down payment and never had to worry about paying the bill.

Our next oldest will need braces, and I need to set up an account to save for him. I may try Able this time around. I wouldn’t be surprised if my other 3 needed braces, too. :(

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25 Nanci June 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm

All three of mine either have braces or will need braces in the next couple of years. We have no dental insurance. Shop around by getting several (at least 3 opinions) and make sure you are comparing apples to apples. This saved us over $1500 for our first daughter. Second, don’t be afraid to ask about why they want to do things a certain way. One of our kids is missing an adult tooth and has anther malformed adult tooth. Originally there was a plan to have an implant for the missing tooth and cosmetically alter the malformed tooth. Very expensive! Instead, the malformed tooth will be extracted and the teeth shifted by braces. No one but a dentist/orthodontist will be able to tell that she doesn’t have all her adult teeth. Much cheaper option! Third, ask for a cash discount and, if you have more than one family member in braces, ask for a multi-patient discount. If you have a preference of orthodontist, bring in all your quotes and see what he can do/match. We use our FSA and have had to prioritize orthodontia for one child with a horrible mouth over another with lesser issues. The one with lesser issues will wait a bit longer.

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26 Linda Sand June 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Please, ask your dentist to consider whether or not Sonia will ever have enough room in her mouth for the typical number of teeth. Sometimes it is best to pull one or two to make room for the others. Otherwise, the teeth may continue to shift out of line every time Sonia removes her retainer. Removing two of my daughter’s teeth also removed the need for braces which was a win-win all the way around but it took some serious persuading on my part to make it happen that way. Daughter is now 42 and happy with her results.

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27 Sher June 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm

definitely find out about extractions before braces for a small mouth…that was my own personal experience. I have just 22 adult teeth. I had a 7 removed before braces (not all permanent) and then after braces I had my wisdom teeth extracted.

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28 Janknitz June 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Whether or not your kids need braces, they will almost certainly need wisdom teeth removed in their later teen years. WITH insurance that cost us about $1,500 per kid out of pocket! So you might want to start a savings plan for that, too.

I was unprepared for the first one because the pediatric dentist never mentioned them until he decided they needed to come out. That child did not need orthodontia.

My younger one is only 11 and as part of phase two (!) of her orthodontia the orthodontist wants two of her teeth moved surgically–and while they are at it he wants all 4 of her very small wisdom teeth buds out too. Yikes! I thought we were going to have a few more years to save up for that one as it adds another $1,500 to her already hefty orthodontia bill when we didn’t expect to be paying both at the same time. Thank goodness for emergency funds!

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29 Janknitz June 13, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Oh, one more thing to add in contradiction to Linda and Sher. Good orthodontists almost NEVER extract regular teeth to “make room” any more!!! That was state of the art 30 – 40 years ago, but now, with palate expanders, it’s rarely necessary –and tooth extraction can cause life long problems –usually MORE narrowing of the palate and jaw as the person ages.

I had 4 teeth removed for the same facial issues my daughter has and ended up with a narrowed mouth that is still very crowded. I have significant dental issues as a result–very hard to floss my teeth, tartar buildup in places not easily reached by a brush, etc. Meanwhile my daughter was treated with palate expansion (Damon System, very comfortable and easy) and she has a nice broad structure with plenty of room for all her teeth.

Get a second and third opinion before you allow anyone to extract adult teeth to “make room” in Sonia’s mouth, it is no longer state of the art treatment. (And yes, some orthodontists are still recommending that–I’m very happy I got other opinions).

One more idea–if you have a university with a school of orthodontia within reasonable distance, it’s sometimes an economical place to get orthodontia treatment because the students need live patients to practice on under close supervision. Plus, you will definitely get “state of the art” care in that setting.

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30 Meredith June 15, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I had both a palate expander AND extraction (and braces, two retainers, and bonded wires, but who’s counting?). And the extractions took place less than 15 years ago. Sometimes, with multiple issues, the overall treatment plan isn’t as simple as one or the other. All told, I had over 10 years of continuous orthodontic treatment. My husband also had braces, so we’re saving for our 2 kids (2 years and 5 months old) now.

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31 DawnF June 13, 2012 at 6:33 pm

We knew about a year in advance that our son would need orthodontic work ~ both to bring his top jaw forward and expand his top jaw and regular teeth braces. Fun times!

The enrollment cycle prior to the “installation” of the orthodontic hardware, we substantially increased our Flexible Spending Account at my husband’s employer to cover the expenses ($1000 was covered by dental insurance ~ that is the max covered by life per person and the other $1800 balance we paid for using the FSA). Then the enrollment cycle after the orthodontic care was complete we decreased our FSA contributions back to the amount we normally contribute. I love, love, love our Flexible Spending Account ~ it is wonderful benefit plus we are so fortunate that my husband’s employer matches up to the first $600 worth of employee contributions. Sweet!

I would definitely check your husband’s medical and dental policy/benefits summary for any possible assistance with your daughter’s orthodontic expenses before making your final savings plans.

BTW, I major love your blog!

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32 Brandon June 13, 2012 at 6:57 pm

My son is on his second set of braces. I was able to negotiate a lower fee with his orthodontist by offering to pay cash up front. Saved 11% on our total bill. Our dental insurance covers 2000 with the rest out of pocket. I also “shopped” around for the orthodontist. Went to three different ones and there was a huge difference in costs.
In the end, decided we didn’t need the office that had all the employees in matching shirts, nor the video games and cookies that they offered their patients. :)

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33 DoneDittyDone June 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm

I used a FSA to help offset costs for braces. It helped tremendously. Also, be sure to ask about Phase 1 and Phase 2 prices. Depending on when a child starts braces there can be different needs. For example, after my daughter had her Phase 1 braces off, she was to wear a retainer for a year and then begin phase 2. By that time, my son was ready for Phase 1 and we couldn’t swing two in braces. Thankfully, her phase 2 was not imperative. But, because she started braces a bit early, the goal was to allow her teeth to grow in and thus give time for second phase.

Sosososo smart to begin saving now! :)

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34 Tracy June 13, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Four kids, 3 sets of braces. Fortunately, the Ortho gave us a discount because of early payoff and multiple family members. My youngest whom now has braces, wants to become and orthodontist.

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35 Annie Tichenor June 14, 2012 at 8:14 pm

I hereby nominate you for the “One Lovely Blog Award”! You are #13 on our list of nominees, in no particular order. Enjoy!! (http://biocadence.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/one-lovely-blog-award/)… I hope you’ll follow the tradition of the “One Lovely Blog Award”… I’d LOVE to see what you do with it!!!!

Annie Tichenor- Biocadence, LLC

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36 maria in chicago June 15, 2012 at 9:02 am

Auto deposits really are a good, foolproof way to save. I like to think I’m good with my money, but it wasn’t until I arranged for my workplace to auto-deposit a portion of my salary each pay period into one of my savings accounts (rather than my checking, where the majority of my pay goes) that I saw how quickly I was saving without even realizing it! I might increase the amount they place into that account because I don’t even miss it…. I just make do with what I have in my checking.

I opened an ING account around the start of the year, based mainly on the good things you had to say about it, and I’m glad I did. I won’t be happy if the new leadership means they’ll introduce fees down the road, but so far, so good. I’m loving the mobile check-deposit feature.

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