Stacy has long been bothered by her smile, feeling self-conscious about it and trying to hide her teeth. I personally have never been concerned by this and yet “fixing her smile” has been on Stacy’s wish list for a very long while. A couple of years ago she went to the orthodontist and got a price quote on braces. Sticker shock caused her to put it off then. Fast forward to a few months ago and we finally agreed that if she was ever going to get braces, she just needed to go for it. We had some savings and so we fully expected to pay cash for the entire thing, but after discussing and considering it, we decided to not pay cash up front. Why? Here are the four big reasons we didn’t pay cash for braces.
The Savings is Good, but not Great
Yes, I can do the math. We are paying $348 more (total) for her braces than we would be if we paid cash up front. $348 is nothing to sneeze at – it is a lot of money. At the same time, $348 over the course of the entire treatment isn’t a number that made us automatically decide paying cash was our best option.
A Lot Can Happen
This is a two-edged sword. What if we end up hating this orthodontist and have to go somewhere else? What if it is discovered the orthodontist office is actually a front for the mafia? What if they hate us and want to up-charge us on everything? What if part way through we decide we don’t want to continue or something changes that says we need to stop? What if, what if, what if. The point is this: over the course of the time Stacy will be going through treatments, there is a lot that can happen. Trickling monies toward that effort rather than paying for the unknowns made us feel better.
It Just Didn’t Feel Right
You know sometimes you aren’t sure exactly why, but you know something isn’t right? That’s the way Stacy and I both felt about dropping $5,400+ in cash for her entire treatment. While there is no such thing as a “cheap” trip to the orthodontist, we have come to grips with the cost and could have paid cash for it because we’ve been saving for a while. But something about that approach just doesn’t feel like the right thing for us…and I can’t really tell you why.
We don’t have dental insurance, but my work offers flexible spending options for medical expenses. This year, since we didn’t sign up early on, we can’t take advantage of that tax savings. Next year, however, we fully plan to maximize the benefit of tax savings for her medical costs through an FSA. This may actually save us a lot more than the 6% cash discount offered at the very beginning.
I know this post is rather short and doesn’t give you mathematic or scientific reasons we decided not to pay cash for braces. At the same time, I hope it gives you some food for thought as to why we made the choice we did. It may be the right one and it may not be…only time will tell. But it was the decision we agreed was best for us.