When it comes to medicine, some things are optional–especially if you’re uninsured. But there are three things which you should always prioritize when money’s tight, you can’t afford not to if you need them. Because two of them can lead to more and greater expenses and the other—well, it’s not really worth saving money if you won’t be around to use it.
Those three things are:
- Birth Control
- Oral Hygiene
1. Antidepressants – Money’s No Use When You’re Dead
I took antidepressants for three years as part of my recovery from suicidal depression. I found that when you don’t have insurance, or good insurance, they can get very expensive.
When you’re depressed and money’s tight, it’s very hard to bring yourself to refill prescriptions. Heck, it’s hard enough if you’re a student know your parents would happily pay for them if you didn’t want to spend the money. But saving money is only important when you’re saving for your future.
We spend money on food, after all, and shelter. These things keep us alive. For some people, antidepressants are as important as food. They stabilized my brain long enough for me to get well enough that I don’t need them any more. I couldn’t have done it without a lot of other things, but I couldn’t have survived without them any more than food.
Money-saving options include talking to your doctor about generics. Most antidepressants have similar generics which only cost $4-10/month, even without insurance. This is contrasted to $90/month for name-brand. But since each antidepressant has a different chemical component, some work better for some people than for others. You may need to try several to find which one works for your brain’s chemistry. And if only the name-brand works, then it’s still better to be alive for tomorrow.
2. Birth Control – Children Are More Expensive Than Pills or Condoms
…or spermacides or IUDs or anything. If you’re sexually active in a way that could lead to pregnancy, money’s tight and you’re not planning on having kids, then unless you’re really, truly using natural family planning (checking that thermometer every morning, checking cervical fluid, etc, not just hoping you get it right), you can’t afford not to use protection.
It doesn’t have to be expensive. You can get generic birth control pills for $5/month. Condoms are even cheaper in bulk. New IUDs are much more reliable than the old ones and a one-time expense to last you 5 years or so.
Children cost much more than a lifetime of birth control. Adoptions require 9 months of your life, explanations, proper pre-natal care, and deliveries. And, to be bleak about it, abortions cost more than a year of birth control. If it’s too hard for you to afford birth control, it’ll be exponentially harder to afford raising your children.
3. Oral Hygiene
This is one I learned first-hand growing up. During his 20s, my father neglected his oral hygiene. And he’s been paying the price for it ever since. His expensive and painful dental surgeries taught me the value of simple steps.
Flossing and brushing are the two basics and are pretty cheap. If money is too tight, an old toothbrush will still do the trick, floss can be reused if necessary, and baking soda can be used for toothpaste (though I think it tastes disgusting).
I’ve found that I’m such an enthusiastic brusher that I wear away enamel if left to my own devices, so I use an eletric toothbrush. A bit more expensive, but it does the job very well. I also rinse a couple times a week with Act, something I started when I had worn away the enamel on one tooth.
In fact, that was a dental lesson in itself, s couple months of Act every day saved me an emergency trip to the dentist’s office (one which probably would have resulted in the same instructions anyway). Fortunately, my husband had done the same thing a few years ago and gotten that advice from the dentist, so he recognized my problem.
You Can’t Afford Not To
Cover the basics. Doing that will saved you a lot later on.
Do you have anything to add? Are there medical basics you’ve found save thousands later on?