As you all know from my post recently, I have jumped on the Invisalign bandwagon and am now an official brace-face! (…sort of.) Aside from the typical questions about comfort, how long I will have them on, whether I like them, etc (which is all answered HERE), my number one question is…
“How much do they cost…and how do you budget for them?”
So today's post is dedicated to showing you how to budget for braces! It's all about the financial side of getting braces or Invisalign, and how to be able to work it into your budget if it's something you want to do.
But first, a few disclaimers:
1. Every financial situation is different. If you are in debt (except for a reasonable mortgage) or don't have a solid savings built up (6 months to live on is a good start) then I really recommend being patient, practicing delayed-gratification, and waiting until that's taken care of. Yes, it might mean one year. Or two. Or five. But sacrifice is giving up GOOD things for GREAT things. It will happen if you work hard, so don't worry! Just be patient and delay it a little until you get the rest of your finances in order. Hey, that's how we got out of our incredibly scary financial situation as fast as we did…and look at me now. Invisalign and all.
2. Prices may vary depending on where you live, what treatment you need done, and who your Orthodontist is. I will be giving very specific numbers based on my OWN treatment, from my OWN Orthodontist (Dr. Parker in Salt Lake City, UT – who will give you $300 off for mentioning you heard about him from this blog, by the way!). So if the numbers are different than your own situation, that's ok! Just use the same principles and information found in this post to find how to make it work out for you.
3. Lastly, be sure to read my “Why I got Invisalign as an adult” post FIRST so you know what the heck I'm talking about.
Ok, let's do this, shall we??
How much do braces or Invisalign cost?
Again, this varies but I'll tell you about my own scenario here in SLC…and again, every situation is different even within SLC so your experience will probably be different than this! But here's at least a starting gauge for you:
- About $5,400 would be a pretty hefty case at my Ortho.
- Invisalign is more expensive than braces – at my Ortho it's about 70% braces, 30% Invisalign. But Invisalign is quickly gaining steam because of how accurate it is; the results are more exact and scientific. But your Ortho will know what's best for you.
- Down-payment of $2,400 is required to cover the expensive up-front lab fees and equipment.
- Invisalign makes all the trays up front so the orthodontist has to pay in full within 30 days, which is why they require more money up-front.
- $4,500 – $4,800 depending on complexity (but again, every situation is very different)
- At my Ortho there is a minimum of $1000 down, but this is more negotiable because they don't have the hefty upfront costs that Invisalign has.
How do I pay for them?
In terms of budgeting/affording orthodontic treatment…
- Save up! Whether you pay in full for a discount (see below) or put a large chunk down and pay it off monthly, save up as much as you can to pay off as much as you can up-front. Use your tax returns, set a little money aside each month, cut excess spending, or make money on the side to help you save up for the Orthodontic treatment. If you keep reading below, paying for them all at once can really save you a ton of money.
- Can't afford it? Find HOW to afford it by cutting and tweaking until you find the money. If you don't have an extra $250 lying around each month but you REALLY want braces/Invisalign for you or your kids, you're going to have to make some sacrifices to make it fit. A quick $250? A car payment. Sell your car or go for a cheaper car. Cut cable (there's a quick $60-$90 on average). CUT YOUR GROCERY BILL (talk about a quick cut right there). Don't eat out as much. Have your kids mow lawns on the weekends to make some extra cash. Hold a yard sale. If you reeeeally want it but you're budget is too tight, you're going to have to cut back to make it fit; it has to come from somewhere. No, do NOT put it on a credit card. Life doesn't work that way (or shouldn't, anyway). If you can't afford it, don't do it. Again, don't say “we CAN'T afford it”, say “HOW can we afford it?” and get creative! If it's that important to you, you'll find a way.
- Finance it and cut out something else to make it fit in your budget. If you can't pay for the treatment in one fail swoop, put as much down as you can, do monthly payments, and be sure to pay them off before the interest kicks in.Pretty much every Ortho should offer in-house financing. Invisalign is case-by-case because of the hard-costs that the Ortho is required to pay to Invisalign up-front. At my ortho it's $2,400 down for Invisalign, no interest for 12 months, payment of $250/month. Less for Braces. My Ortho has something called Care Credit. It's a dental financing plan based on your credit. It's run through GE and has lots of options. For example, you can pay it off over 36 months interest-free. Just know that you can ALWAYS negotiate interest and terms, especially if you have great credit!
- Dental insurance. If you know you're going to have lots of expensive dental work done, this might be a great option for you! The plans vary greatly depending on whether you're employed or not, and the insurance company you go with. There is often times a large deductible, let's say between $1000 – $3000. So just be sure to do the math. When you add the monthly premium (payment) on top, let's say it's $140/mo, you'll need to add up the deductible + all the months of premium payments to make sure you'd actually be saving money. Dentists and Orthodontists are less likely to give discounts and work with you if you have insurance, so REALLY do your math and talk it through with your insurance company and Ortho before deciding to go that route. I will say this too…private plans and self-employed people get hammered because they don't have the employer volume to pay the plan, so often times you're better off not getting individual insurance (which is mine and my husband's case). But again, DO YOUR RESEARCH!
How can I get a discount?
- If you save up and pay for the treatment in full, most Orthodontists should offer you a discount. At my ortho it's a 5% full-pay discount. On a $5,000 case that's $250, HUGE savings!
- Refer people. Ask your ortho if they have a referral program to help supplement costs. I believe at my ortho they pay you $50 for every person you refer that gets treatment, and that can really add up if you send a few friends over! **REMEMBER: Mention you heard about Parker Ortho on this blog and get $300 off a comprehensive treatment!**
I know I sound like a broken record, but I don't want anyone to be freaked out or über excited about the prices I'm quoting. It's just to show you that yes, braces/Invisalign is an investment. BUT…if you plan ahead, save up, and get creative, you can make it happen if it's something that is important to you.
Brace Faces Unite!!