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Well, I finally paid off my dental bill last week, as part of my attempt to enter retirement debt free, other than the remaining mortgage and the balance on my car loan.
Last fall during a visit to my bank, I made the mistake of helping myself to a Dum-Dum Lollipop from the dish on the customer service representatives desk. As it turns out, I was the Dum-Dum! Never one to let candy melt in my mouth, I bit down on the lollipop and promptly broke a tooth. Actually, it was a filling made to look like a tooth. I had broken the original tooth about 15 years ago, and being unable to afford to have a crown installed at the time, I elected to go the least costly route and have this filling put in which looked just like my tooth. The dentist told me it might last a few weeks, a few months, or a few years; fifteen years later I found my self having to have the crown placed I in my jaw, so I have no complaints there.
When a dentist today says, "Open wide," he or she is not referring to your mouth. The item you need to open wide is your wallet! The price quoted to me for two cleanings and a crown was $1800.00. They now have you sit with a finance manager who helps you find a way to pay for this service.
Offered a line of credit specifically for these procedures, I could stretch the payment out and have no interest charged to the account for two years, as long as I made regular, timely payments. Sounded simple enough. Luckily, I have a habit of reading the fine print. The interest rate was 18 and 1/2 percent, and if I were to be even a day late on any payment, the full interest would be tacked on my account..the full two years' interest, regardless of how many months remained.
Naturally, I was determined to make the payments on time. The first payment was due on the 5th of the month; careful examination of my subsequent statement disclosed the fact that my payment due date had been changed to the second of the following month. There was no mention of the date change other than the due date listed for next payment. Also, I was instructed to make the minimum payment of $50.00.
I decided to pay more than the minimum.. If I had opted to pay the declining minimum they requested on each statement, it would have taken me much longer than 2 years to repay the debt, and, of course, the interest would have been tacked on at that point, even if I had managed to beat the changing due date for each payment. Not wanting to risk being late or worse, I decided to use the balance in my Health Savings account to clear up the debt.
For the price of a small car, I could have a percfect smile. Sorry, world, you'll have to accept me with my imperfections; there'are no more funds in my Health Savings account, and I'm unwilling to help finance a Harvard education for my dentist's progeny!