As someone who regularly gets to work with families to plan their finances and prepare for expenses like a child’s college education, I increasingly find myself more and more intrigued by the accumulation of the “little things” that families deal with that get in the way of achieving the greater financial goals. The “little things” are neither good nor bad, they are simply costs that come with the territory of having a child, but when you start to keep track and look deeper into them, they can really add up. It’s things like throwing your own baby showers & birthday parties, then buying gifts for your friends’ showers and parties, then pre-school, first sports, then…braces! And that’s usually the beginning of the “little things” turning into “bigger things”. Most people look right past all of these things and want to only plan for their kids’ college education expense, but in my experience all of these things are connected.
This is where my viewpoint takes a little extra twist because I also uniquely work with dental professionals with their business and personal finances. I recently got to interview a well-known orthodontist in town Dr. Brett Gluck of Alpharetta Orthodontics. We had not met before, but it turns out his wife Dr. Virginia Kirkland is the periodontist who installed my implant as a teen. Dr. Gluck has been practicing orthodontics for over 16 years. According to the Orthodontic Association, it is recommended that child have an initial exam at Age 7. “I realize that age seems young, but sometimes we address things at a young age that would be more complicated to fix in the future,” says Gluck.
Keep in mind that orthodontics is a voluntary procedure, so if you are being persuaded to have your child undergo treatment, maybe it’s the wrong time, or you are at the wrong place. Dr. Gluck also suggests that there is some benefit in finding an orthodontist who is not a part of a corporation. “The question to ask is if the orthodontist would be the only orthodontist who will conduct treatment from start to finish. In a dental corporate model, the orthodontist may change during treatment, or there may be different orthodontists conducting treatment decisions. This may complicate the outcome or delay treatment.”
Things that are usually included in the price of treatment are orthodontic records (x-rays, etc.) throughout the treatment, treatment planning, orthodontic adjustments, retainers, and some sort of follow-up after treatment is completed.
Here are my 5 Smart Money Move Tips to Save Money on Braces:
- Always negotiate! Ask about financing options. Particularly, free-financing is popular today.
- Get a second opinion on the treatment plan and price. Ask around among your friends for their experience and check with their orthodontists.
- Ask about discounts. Ask if there is a family rate if you have multiple kids who will require treatment. Can you get a discount for paying up-front, in-full, or in-cash?
- Take advantage of tax-free payroll deductions like your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA).
- Get your braces done at a dental school. Most dental schools have an Orthodontics Residency program where orthodontists are being trained while supervised by professional orthodontist instructors. The cost can be up to 1/3 of the cost of a private practice orthodontist. The questions is location of the nearest dental school to you.
Vice President and Private CFO™, oXYGen Financial, Inc.
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