There are no two ways about it – kids are expensive. You might think, “they don’t eat very much and they share my house, so how expensive could they be?” Well, according to the BabyCenter “Cost of Raising a Child” calculator, a teenager living in the Northeast could cost their family over $23,000 this year alone. This figure includes categories like childcare and education, transportation and healthcare. In an effort to help navigate the muddy financial waters of your teen’s health and offer valuable advice along the way, here are four MUST-DO tips when planning your teen’s health care.
Tip #1 – Start Saving
Sock money away – the earlier the better. A practical approach would be to have two or more accounts to which you contribute on a regular basis. One should be a general account, which can be used for anything medical-related, like orthodontics and out of network expenses, and other things like a car, extracurricular activities, etc. Another can be dedicated to education.
There are so many options when it comes to saving, but my favorites are high-yield online savings accounts, like CIT Bank and Marcus by Goldman Sachs. I also like micro-investing or “round-up” accounts, like Acorns, Digit or Stash. For education, 529 funds are good because in some states, there are available tax benefits as well. No matter what you choose, set up automatic withdrawals, which will ensure that you don’t skip payments to your funds.
Tip #2 – Don’t Cut Corners When it Comes to Your Teen’s Teeth
When it comes to important purchases like straightening your teen’s teeth, you want treatments with a track record of success. After all, you want to get it right the first time!
I recommend Invisalign® clear aligners. With over 20 years of innovation and 5 million-plus smiles, this technically advanced treatment can address a variety of issues, like gaps, over bites and crowding. And the treatment times can be up to 2x faster, with clear aligners being changed weekly vs. every two weeks (following your doctor’s instructions).
My daughter, Sadie, was offered complimentary Invisalign treatment because of my collaboration with the brand, but first we needed to see if she was a good candidate. She HATES going to the dentist, so she was nervous at first. Thankfully, the Invisalign-trained doctor helped ease her anxiety. The high-tech equipment was impressive and dare I say, the exam was kind of fun!
After the exam, the orthodontist determined that the clear aligners would help resolve Sadie’s issues, which were, to put it simply, crowding on the top and bottom, a moderate over bite and a cross bite in the lower front.
Her customized clear aligners were ready in a couple of weeks. Sadie loves anything new or novel, so she did really well with them at first. Once the excitement wore off in the second and third weeks, she struggled a bit as she got used to removing the clear aligners before eating (she would forget to put them back and I’d find the case lying around!) but once she got used to it, she was fine.
Sadie performs with a music program in town and in the school chorus – never mind that she’s always filming videos with her friends – so she appreciates that the clear aligners are virtually invisible. Plus, no potential for mouth injuries from brackets and wires in P.E. class! And while she’s not particularly vain (yet), she appreciates that she can undergo treatment and still see herself when she looks in the mirror. We also find that the treatment process works well with our busy lifestyle. In Sadie’s case, she receives multiple sets at a time so orthodontist visits are infrequent. Note that every teen’s case is different and decided by their orthodontist.
Tip #3 – Find the Best Healthcare Providers for Your Teen
Your pediatrician and pediatric dentist can probably see your child until he or she is 18, but during the teen years, make sure that these providers are still speaking your language. If they make a recommendation for a pricey procedure or orthodontic treatment, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion. To find a provider, use the Doctor Locator that the Invisalign brand offers or one that can be found on most insurance websites.
Tip #4 – Diet & Exercise
As your teen matures, you may find yourself stepping back to give them room to live more independently, but keep an eye on their diet and exercise. According to the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), 31.2 percent of kids ages 10-17 are overweight or obese. If your teen has a penchant for junk food or is not physically active, keep the house stocked with healthy food, especially snacks, which are particularly important because teens often need something to ‘grab and go’. I buy in bulk to save money and to ensure that I’m always stocked up. I like Boxed.com, which I can order from in minutes from the app. If your teen isn’t into team sports or dance, find an activity where you can be active with them, like riding bikes or hike together on the weekends.
**Note: My daughter received complementary Invisalign treatment, but all opinions expressed are my own.