Most of us will end up taking a prescription medication at one point or another during our lives. For many, many reasons, none of which we will get into here, medication prices can be through the roof. It’s enough to make it difficult for some people to afford medications they need to treat a constant condition. Regardless of whether you need to take a medication long term or just for a couple of weeks for a short illness, there are a few ways you can avoid paying the absolute top dollar for your medication.
- Ask for samples. Doctors often get samples from medical companies to specifically give out to patients. If your doctor prescribes a new medication, ask if they happen to have a week or two’s worth of samples you can try.
- Shop around pharmacies. It may be convenient to get your prescriptions at your clinic’s pharmacy immediately after your appointment is over, but it may not be the cheapest option. Even if your insurance covers, say, 80% of prescription medications, one pharmacy may sell that medicine for $100 and another down the street will sell it for $90. The savings might seem small in the short term, but especially if this is a medication you need to take for months or years, the savings will absolutely add up over time.
- Use generics. My doctors generally have the habit of adding “generic substitution OK” to any prescriptions they write for me (assuming one is available), and my pharmacy has no problems doing this. However, this is not the case at every clinic. If your doctor says he or she is putting you on a new medication, immediately ask if there is a generic available that is okay to use. The active ingredients in generics are exactly the same as name-brand meds, just at a lower cost.
- Get more at a time. You know how 10lbs of onions at Costco are like $3, but at the grocery store they’re $0.69 a pound, making them more expensive? Medicine often works the same way. I was surprised to find that, after paying $10 a month for a 30 day supply of a medication for a few months, my doctor increased the prescription to a 90 day supply—which was only $15 total, for all 3 months. If you need to be on a medication for a long time, see if a multiple-month supply will cost less.
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Vegetables are good. Even if you’re the type who shudders at the thought of salad or hide a grimace when you’re served green beans at a dinner party, there’s got to be at least one or two vegetables you absolutely love!
Vegetables can seem pricey, even frozen ones. One of the most common complaints from people who are watching their budgets are that veggies cost a lot per pound. In my local grocery stores, a SALE price for a single bell pepper is $1! Often they’re $1.50, even for a green pepper, which are usually cheaper than red or yellow peppers! If you do catch a decent sale on some vegetables, you will want to use every last bit of them. If spinach is on sale, don’t buy it JUST because it’s $0.50 per head, but will sit in the back of your refrigerator until it goes bad because you don’t know how to cook it. Instead:
Buy vegetables you like. Maybe the produce you buy isn’t as varied as you’d like to it be, but if you are used to and are comfortable cooking onions, for example, you’re more likely to use them in recipes you will eat before they go bad.
Make soup. Soup is amazing in that you can basically make up a recipe and it will generally taste good, and since you cook it for a while, veggies that are not-so-great can get thrown in there. Celery starting to go soft and your kids hate it when it’s not crisp? Chop it up and throw it in a soup! The soft texture is right at home in a soup!
Use every last bit. After making dinner, you might have a pile of carrot tops and onion ends sitting on your counter. Don’t throw them out—they’re still useful! Do you have a garden outside? Compost them! Do you make soup a lot? Freeze your veggie ends and pieces until you have enough to boil for a broth, and make homemade broth! There are plenty of things to do with vegetables that don’t necessarily involve eating them. How else do you use up everything you buy?
Frugality isn’t just all about saving money. I mean, at its core, I guess it is, but there is more to frugality than just keeping a sharp eye on your checkbook balance. Not being organized can actually end up with you spending more than you need to.
For instance, say you have some stacks of books lying around that you’ve been meaning to find a place for. You head to the store and buy a couple of bookcases that are on sale. Maybe you even had a coupon on top of that! Great savings, huh? But then you get home and find out that one of the bookcases is a couple of inches too long for your wall and lies over the doorjamb. And even though the bookcases looked big in the store, it turns out all of your books won’t fit on them! You shove the extras on top of the bookcases and intend to buy some bookends, but you’re disappointed in how things have gone.
By organizing first you can avoid this situation. You can set aside some time—just ten minutes!—before you head to the store. Look at your books and pick out the ones you never, ever read, and realistically never will. Put them in a box to donate or give away. Believe me, I love books and my husband is a librarian, so I know how hard this can be, but it is also hard to be frugal when you have too much stuff. After you’ve pared down your collection, whip out a measuring tape and measure your space. Bring it along to the store, and measure those shelves that are on sale. If they won’t fit—don’t buy them! It’s not really saving money if the shelves don’t fit and you hate how cluttered they will look trying to squeeze them on the wall anyway. By taking just a few minutes to organize and measure your space—and of course, this goes for far more than just books—you can maximize y our frugality by not buying things you don’t actually have the space for.