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  • Braces: Saving money, What to eat, and More

    Braces: Saving money, What to eat, and More - chieffamilyofficer.com

    Did you know that kids get braces much earlier now than they did when we were kids? (By which I mean when I was a kid. My recent reader survey says that most of you are in the same neighborhood as me, age-wise, but not all of you. As an aside, by the way, although the giveaway has ended, you can still take the short survey here and help me make CFO better for you!)

    Back to the topic of braces: Some of my boys’ peers got theirs in second grade. I’m bringing up the subject right now because my fourth-grader just got his. This is “Phase One” – we’re straightening some teeth for about eighteen months, and planning for another round of braces (“Phase Two”) that will happen post-puberty. My poor kid also needs some teeth extracted to make space for the teeth that are coming in.

    I didn’t shop around for orthodontists in the sense of visiting a few and seeing who we liked best and was the most reasonably priced. I did talk with some friends about prices and reputations. But it turned out that we loved the first office we went to, and everyone who personally knows or knows someone who knows our orthodontist only has good things to say. Compared to costs quoted to several friends, our orthodontist is also very affordable and I’d actually be happy to pay a small premium for how well his office is run.

    Unfortunately, I really didn’t think things through financially when I agreed to have the braces put on this month. The cost is a lump sum charge, rather than a per-visit fee. I think we could have waited until January, so that I could ensure our Flexible Spending Account would cover the entire amount. In fact, my two biggest money-saving tips for orthodonture would be to ensure that your orthodontist’s fees are reasonable for your region, and to pay for the process with tax-free money through your Flexible Savings or other tax-advantaged account (like a Health Savings Account).

    With our Flexible Spending Account, we only get reimbursed for expenses that occurred in that calendar year, up to the amount that we contributed. For example, I can’t seek be reimbursed from our 2014 account for a doctor’s visit that I made in 2013. And if we go over our contribution amount, then we have to pay that overage out of pocket (with money that we paid taxes on). In the case of our orthodontics, I realized too late that we don’t have enough money remaining in our 2014 Flexible Spending Account to cover the full lump sum being charged by the orthodontist. So I’m hoping that some of the charges can be applied to adjustments in 2015, which would allow me to pay for some of the costs from our 2014 Flexible Spending Account, and the remainder from next year’s.

    The other big issue I’ve been dealing with, aside from paying for the braces, is feeding the boy who now has them. He finally seems to be getting used to them, as he complained less about the pain this morning. Here are some of the soft foods we’ve tried or at least thought of:

    Chocolate Mousse
    Grated fresh apple
    Banana bread
    Macaroni and cheese
    Baked pasta (overcooked so the pasta tends toward mushy – a sacrifice tolerated by the rest of the family)

    I personally would have had delicacies like egg salad and mashed potatoes but my son doesn’t like them.

    What would you (or your child) eat if your teeth were sore?

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by maen_cg.

    Using what I have: Wedding China

    When I met my husband, he had some colorful plastic Heller plates (like the ones pictured here) that he’d inherited from his parents, and we’ve been using them for over ten years now. They’re sturdy, almost unbreakable, and the lip on the side keeps food contained – obviously, they’re perfect for kids.

    However, ever since BPA in plastic became a known health issue, I’ve been wary of plastic. And this set is old.

    So I looked around for alternatives for quite some time – I considered glass, melamine, Corelle, wood, and other materials. But they were all too expensive, raised new health concerns, or too fragile.

    For a while, I was paralyzed by indecision. What was the right thing to do?

    Finally, I decided on the easiest alternative: using what I already have, i.e., the lovely set of plain white bone china that we registered for when we got married. We were lucky enough to receive 12 complete place settings. Four are still in their boxes, so I actually have replacements if they are necessary. The kids are old enough now that I figured we’d just see what happens. If we end up with a series of broken plates, I’ll have to buy something.

    But in the meantime, I’m pleased. I’ve always loved my wedding china, and it makes me happy to use it every day. Plus, we saved quite a bit of money by not buying anything new. ^_^

    Evening Roundup: Ralphs match ups updated (Gardetto’s & Cascadian Farm)

    I’ve updated the new Ralphs match ups with a couple of coupons that I found this evening for Gardetto’s and Cascadian Farm. I’ll keep updating the list as new coupons and deals come up.

    Benjamin Moore is looking for new participants in the Benjamin Moore Consumer Advisory Board – you’ll be asked to commit to taking one survey per month, and I can’t tell if they’re offering any benefit other than helping them by answering their surveys. Selected states only. Links via Escalate Media Network

    Through September 1, you can get $10 off at daily discount site MyHabit.com with code MYHABITX (once per account).

    PampersGet 5 points at Pampers Gifts to Grow with code BABYISDUEANYDAY. Learn more about Pampers Gifts to Grow.

    Facebook likers of Head & Shoulders can get a free sample of Head & Shoulders Shampoo for Women.

    Get a printable coupon for $1/2 Frosted Mini-Wheats Bite Size Original Cereals. (Via Printable Coupons and Deals.)

    Facebook likers of Covergirl can enter to win one of 1,000 Covergirl products each month. (Via Freebies 4 Mom.)

    Get a free sample of John Frieda Root Awakening Nourishing Moisture Shampoo & Conditioner.

    Coupon Geek is giving away a Kindle 3G (ends 8/6).

    USA Today has a report on potentially dangerous chemicals in car seats – this topic seems to come up every few years, and I don’t think the government has weighed in on it yet. The Baby Bargains authors have a reasonable stance on the article that’s worth reading.

    This post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for clicking through them! You can read CFO’s full disclosure here.

    Banner via Escalate Media Network

    Update: Children’s Jewelry and Cadmium

    As I mentioned a couple of days ago, there’s a new concern about the safety of children’s products: the presence of high levels of cadmium in children’s jewelry.

    Yesterday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommended that parents take away all metal jewelry marketed to children. Read CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum’s Guide for Parents: The Dangers of Heavy Metals in Children’s Jewelry at the CPSC blog.

    You can also read or watch Tenenbaum’s statement to regulators.

    I believe the CPSC isn’t authorized to issues recalls based on elevated cadmium levels, but you can stay on top of all recalls by signing up for recall notifications by email at the CPSC web site.

    The Latest Child Health & Safety Concern: Cadmium in Toys & Jewelry

    The first headline that caught my attention yesterday morning was about the discovery of cadmium in imported children’s jewelry. It seems that some producers of children’s products in China, seeking a cost-effective replacement for lead, have turned to cadmium – one of the items tested was 91% cadmium by weight.

    According to the Department of Health and Human Services, breathing high levels of cadmium can severely damage the lungs, and long-term exposure to lower levels of cadmium leads to a buildup of cadmium in the kidneys and possible kidney disease. Other long-term effects are lung damage and fragile bones. This news article states that cadmium is “particularly dangerous” for children because their growing bodies readily absorb substances like cadmium, which accumulates in the kidneys for decades. Cadmium exposure may also impair brain development and result in learning disabilities.

    According to the first article I read, cadmium is not regulated as much as lead, so there isn’t any restriction on cadmium contained in jewelry – in other words, the items being investigated are being sold legally. However, parents and caregivers should obviously be aware of the problem and take them away from children. The items listed in this article include:

    Three flip flop bracelet charms sold at Walmart in 2008. According to the article, Walmart would not comment on whether the charms are still on store shelves, or how many have been sold. Walmart said that they’re committed to selling “only those products that meet safety and regulatory standards,” and pointed out that “[c]urrently there is no required cadmium standard for children’s jewelry.” Apparently, the lack of regulation makes it okay to sell cadmium in products aimed at kids. No wonder people hate Walmart’s corporate staff. They could have at least said that they would look into the issue. (Of course, I wouldn’t put it past AP to fail to report that part of the statement.)

    “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” charms from bracelets sold at Dollar N More stores (Rochester, NY).

    “Best Friends” bracelet charms sold at Claire’s. Like Walmart, “Claire’s issued a statement pointing out that children’s jewelry is not required to pass a cadmium leaching test.”

    Pendants from “The Princess and The Frog” necklaces sold at Walmart. AP couldn’t get any useful statements from Disney and in fact, the article appears to have been edited since I first read it and drafted this post.

    It seems from the articles that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which issues the recalls you see me post here at CFO, is now investigating the extent to which cadmium is present in kids’ products and whether it should be more closely regulated.

    In the meantime, speaking solely as a parent and not any kind of an expert, I would suggest removing all “children’s jewelry” from your child. If the CPSC sends me an alert or notice, I’ll be sure to let you know.

    Afternoon Coffee: Some Children’s Swine Flu Vaccines Recalled (But Don’t Panic)

    Just an FYI for parents: Some swine flu vaccine shots for children have been recalled because their potency has diminished. According to the article, there’s no cause for concern if your child got one or two doses of the recalled vaccine, but if you were planning to get the vaccine now, you may want to check with your doctor’s office to make sure they have some available.

    Parenting Squad is giving away an HP TouchSmart 600. Ends 12/18.

    Gourmet Mom-on-the-Go is giving away a Kitchen Aid commercial-grade Mixer. Ends 12/18.

    A possible new trend: Over at A Full Cup, someone noticed that NY & Co. changed the terms of their store charge card to require a $1 monthly fee for issuing a paper statement. I wonder if other card issuers will begin doing the same to urge customers to switch to paperless statements.

    Fabulessly Frugal is giving away a $50 Kohl’s gift card. Ends 12/19.

    Maybe Golf Digest is worried about the Tiger effect: you can get a one-year subscription free via Rewards Gold.

    Printable Grocery Coupons and Deals has details on how to get a free bag of Halo Healthsome Treats dog biscuits.

    The Carnival of Personal Finance #235: The Cinderella Edition is up at Well-Heeled, and includes my post on medical bills and personal finance.

    Home Made Simple
    Banner via MySavings.com

    Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate and/or referral links, and may refer to items that were sent to me for review. However, all opinions are my own. You can read Chief Family Officer’s full disclaimer and disclosure policy here.