The cost of living has gone up by a lot in the last few decades. Whether it be the cost of food, the cost of transportation, the cost of having children, it all adds up and we are suddenly financially burdened.
Having diabetes can not only add to your cost of living but it can also ultimately drain your finances. Trouble with the green paper can lead to many stresses and anxious moments.
But where there is will, there is a way. We have compiled responses from 40 financial bloggers who have given us their tips and tricks on how people with diabetes can save money on a daily basis. A small financial decision each time can lead up to bigger financial gains in the future.
1. Pauline Paquin
One way you can save money if you have diabetes is taking good care of yourself to avoid future complications. Smoking for example can have a disastrous effect on your health, and on top of that it costs a lot of money. If you smoke two $8 packs per week, you are spending $832 a year on tobacco alone!
Another very important point to stay healthy is to have a balanced diet and exercise frequently. You can do so on a budget, just replace convenience food such as ready meals and salty snacks by stews, soups, and other dishes full of vegetables that you make from scratch. A slow cooker can help cut your prep time.
You can exercise for free by going on a walk around your neighborhood, getting into running, hiking, or buy a cheap bike and start cycling. By taking good care of yourself you are less likely to get extra complications
2. Melissa Jennings
Managing diabetes can be expensive when it comes to healthy eating. One of the biggest tips I can share is to start menu planning. A menu plan is a great solution to health improvement. Not only does it help save you time and money, it can provide consistency in your eating habits which will benefit your overall health. If you have something ready for breakfast, lunch and dinner you are less likely to grab the unhealthy takeout that will be worse for your health. Stock up on managers specials when you find them at the grocery store and create a menu plan based around those ingredients. A great place to look is in the meat and produce department. Consider preparing these 20 freezer meals to get started. This is a great plan because all of the recipes are healthy and low in fat and sugar.
I advise reading the following:
3. Serina Huang
Globally type 2 diabetes is most certainly on the rise. It is not just a problem in wealthy first world countries like the US and Australia – China for example has the world’s largest diabetes epidemic with 11.6% of the population (114 million) having diabetes. Diabetes is also especially concerning in Pacific Island Countries. According to the World Health Organisation, 47% of people in American Samoa have diabetes compared with 13% in mainland USA.
My aunt and uncle developed type 2 diabetes due to lifestyle issues, in particular being chronically overweight and not exercising. It is sad to see the loss of mobility and health they are experiencing in their older age.
Even after diagnosis they were very flexible with what they ate; basically they continued to eat whatever they wanted and did not change their lifestyle and that has led to serious medical issues for them now. They are good, kindhearted people and for various reasons did not prioritise their own health and well-being.
While I am not a dietitian, I believe that diet can and does play and important role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The case of China is interesting, as sugar is not nearly as prevalent in their diet as it is here in Australia. The Chinese diet is, however, high in fat and salt and many people have gone from having a low-fat diet due to poverty to a high-fat diet in a relatively short space of time. A diabetes friendly diet need not be expensive, especially if it incorporates seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, grains and legumes. And eating less, definitely a frugal habit will help many people to live healthier lifestyles.
4. Jane Taylor, Maflingo
My top money-saving tip.
Stop unnecessary spending!
Saving a couple of pounds (or cents) here and there each week might not seem like much, but it soon adds up. In fact, making a few small changes to your routine spending could save you hundreds of pounds over the course of the year.
For example, if you buy a latte on your way to work three times a week, that’s over 150 cups of shop-bought coffee a year! Just think what you could save if you took a flask of coffee to work instead.
It only takes ten minutes to check through your bank and credit card statements each month and spot any unnecessary spending. It can also help you identify money you’re owed or subscriptions you no longer need.
Are you buying books, magazines and CDs when you could join a library and borrow them for free? Do you always buy premium brand products in the grocery store? If so, why not ‘downshift’ to the stores own brand or one of the budget brands instead? Or, if you usually buy sandwiches at lunchtime, why not save money by making a packed lunch?
Cutting back on unnecessary spending is a simple and relatively painless way to save money. Why not have a look at your routine spending and see what you could save?
5. Jim Wang
Everyone eats every day and what you put into your body is double important for those who must keep an eye on their blood sugar. One of the best ways for folks with diabetes, and those without, to save money is to skip processed foods and prepare more of their own. You don’t need to look for specially marked foods designed for diabetics, which is going to be more expensive. Learning how to cook is a life skill that can pay dividends for anyone.
6. Spring Sun
Money Saving Tips for Diabetics:
1. Lifestyle – By cutting out sweetened beverages, juices, and non-nutritious (or empty-calorie) foods, you not only save money (as these foods tend to be “expensive” relative to more nutritious foods)*sub1, but you will have better control over your diabetes. Not smoking, exercising, and losing weight are other lifestyle modifications that can be both money-saving and better for your health.
2. Medications – Often when doctors prescribe medications, cost isn’t their foremost concern. Sometimes, it is good to bring them your pharmacy’s formulary list so that they can use it as a guide. For example, the Diabetes medication Metformin is often prescribed as 850mg three times a day. Ask your doctor if 1000mg twice a day is ok, as this dosage appears on the Walmart $4 prescription list, making it just $4 per month (($0.13 a day, or $0.07 per pill)*sub2. With medications, there is often a tradeoff between convenience and cost. For example, taking an extended release version of a pill can easily double or triple the cost. And if you are taking a combination pill (two different medications, such as Metformin and Pioglitazone), it is often more expensive than taking two separate pills, especially if one or both of the medications are listed on the Walmart $4 prescription list. Combination pills are generally more expensive, less available, and you can’t independently adjust the dosages. There are also times when it makes sense to buy a higher dose pill and split it into two doses. For example, if your doctor prescribes 500mg of Metformin twice a day, you can ask your doctor to write 1000mg on the script and then you can cut the pill in half, thereby making a one month
prescription last two months.
3. Medication swaps within the same class – Buying generic drugs can save you a lot of money as compared to buying brand-name drug. But sometimes even generic drugs can vary widely in cost. Ask your doctor if there are alternatives to the medications you are prescribed. There is often wide variability in the drug cost across the same class of drugs. For example, one medication in the Sulfonylurea class can cost $0.13 per pill while another can cost $0.50 per pill with both pills having the same effect.
4. Glucometer – While most people opt for the free or heavily-discounted glucometer kit, this can turn into the more expensive option in the long run because the bigger cost is the test strip. Choose a glucometer that uses test strips that are easily purchased and competitively priced. Like printers and cell phones, the upfront capital cost is dwarfed by the long-term cost of supplies/service.
5. The doctor visit – Because another big expense for diabetics is the doctor’s visit, it is important to make the visit as productive as possible. This means you need to put effort into understanding your disease, ask questions, be prepared (for example, bring a copy of your pharmacy’s formulary list, or records of your glucose levels or other quantified-self data), and have an objective for the visit.
For more check these two links:
7. Hannah Katsman
Adjusting to diabetes is a big lifestyle change. While there are many people marketing special products for diabetes, it’s best to resist and stick to the basics.
A great way for diabetics to save money is to cook from scratch, allowing you complete control of the ingredients.
Home cooking can be a challenge if you are used to buying prepared food, so start with baby steps. Here are some ideas, with many more to be found on my site, Cooking Manager.
- Plan your menu based on what you have in the house. Search online for recipes by ingredients. Menu planning methods
- Learn to use leftovers, including planned leftovers, by cooking extra. See: Thirteen Smart Ways to Use Leftovers, Putting Quick Meals Together
- Prepare dried beans, freezing the extra in a ziploc bag for easier storage and defrosting. Bags can be washed and reused. Guide to Cooking Dried Beans from Scratch
- A rich, healthy soup full of vegetables helps with weight maintenance.
- Using fresh herbs for cooking and salads adds nutrients and flavor, and can help cut back on salt and sugar. Share leftover herbs with a neighbor, or frozen loosely on a cookie sheet, then store in a plastic bag for cooked dishes.
- Shop with a list, taking advantage of produce in season. Ten Quick Tips for Reducing Your Produce Bill, Ten Questions to Ask
- Avoid waste by learning about food safety and storage. Is This Food Safe to Eat?
- Stop peeling your vegetables.
I wish readers of thediabetescouncil.com good health and good eating!
8. Andrew Schrage
One of the best ways to save money if you have diabetes is to further understand which type you have. Depending upon the type, you might not need to test as much which will save cash. And at times, you might not need to purchase diabetic friendly foods, which will also cut costs. If you cook more at home, you’ll have control over the ingredients, meaning you can cook foods you know are safe for you, but this strategy also saves money since it’s generally cheaper than buying pre-processed foods. When you visit your doctor, be sure to ask for free samples. They might be available for things like needle tips, lancets, and other supplies.
For your prescriptions, investigate getting them filled at places like Walmart or even Target, which will usually save money compared to going with a traditional drug store. Also, eBay is a great resource for things like medical alert bracelets among other things, just be sure to check out the reseller rating first so you know you’re buying from a trusted seller. And also, there are plenty of programs out there for help with prescription costs. Check out the Partnership for Prescription Assistance and the Together Rx Access websites for more information. A local health center might also be an avenue for savings. They can offer savings on prescription meds and medical services as well.
9. Jonni McCoy
Don’t shop at just one store, try to buy in bulk, and make sure to avoid convenience foods. For more tips from Jonni visit her Ask Miserlymoms page.
10. John Schmoll Jr
Many think saving money on a daily basis can be a challenge. It really doesn’t have to be. I’ve found the best way to save money on a daily basis is to simply look at the things I spend money on and determine if I’m getting value from those things. With that in mind, you can go through your expenses and find things to cut. If that doesn’t work, you can do simple things like take your lunch to work, find a cheaper cell phone plan, buy generic when you can or cut memberships you don’t use. The possibilities are endless and you can potentially save at least several hundreds dollars a month. It just comes down to seeing what’s providing you value in your life and cutting what isn’t.
11. Jennifer Schreiner
Saving Money on Diabetes
Diabetes can be a very costly to manage. Let’s face it, it is not cheap! Understanding your diagnosis, your body and health care insurance can greatly affect your spending. Test strips, insulin, and other diabetes supplies can add up to a lot of money.
Managing your diet is key. Not only does your intake of food regulate your body’s need to produce insulin, but it makes living with Diabetes less complicated. Yes, it does create some extra work. Those living with type 1 diabetes will need to learn:
- carb counting
- balance insulin when having food and during exercise
This step alone will help decrease the amount of testing that maybe required. Less testing, means less equipment needed; saving you some extra money.
Stay far away from gimmicking products. Manufactures spend millions of dollars each year directing specific products to niche customers. Some of those products are not necessarily needed to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
For example: Some pre-packages food can be marketed to Diabetics. In reality, you can make that same meal with healthy fresh ingredients right at home. No need to purchase highly expensive boxed items. Don’t forget to clip your coupon to save on groceries as well.
Another good example is purchasing a gym membership. If you are looking for simply walking on an indoor treadmill. You can put on your walking shoes and open the door. Walking outdoors will save you some cash.
Always, always ask for samples. First, start with your doctor’s office. They can be a great help. Then set out contacting manufacturers. Ask if they will send you some free samples.
12. David Domzalski
Diabetes is the most expensive disease in the United States. CNBC came out with that statistic last year. To curb some of these expenses, I would consider implementing the following tips:
Maintain a healthy diet and plan your meals.
Obviously, eating healthy is something we should all do. But, this is especially true for diabetes patients. Eat your vegetables, reduce your sodium intake, and go easy on the carbs. You do all this – and save money – by planning your meals ahead of time. Don’t go to the grocery store without a plan. It costs you. Plus, you can take advantage of coupons and deals if you know what you need.
Be active. Run, lift, swim, walk, or play sports.
If you have Type 2 diabetes, research says you can actually reverse some of the effects by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. So, get outside. The easiest (and cheapest) thing to do is lace up the sneakers and go for a jog or walk. Plus, as you get healthier physically, you will get healthier financially as you will need less medication.
Ask your pharmacist about any cost-saving programs.
You may be able to save money on your medication through drug assistance programs or other resources in your area. Your pharmacist knows about these things, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Another thing to ask your pharmacist is whether you’re receiving the brand form of the medication or the generic form. The generic form is less expensive. However, check to make sure you are all right taking the generic. If you are, that’s great because you just saved yourself some money.
Be an active participant in your own health and diabetes-related issues.
Don’t sit back and wait for others to do your job for you. Your doctor has many patients just like you. Your pharmacist has many customers just like you. Your insurance company has many members just like you. You need to take charge. Go see a health counselor and do your own research. Be an active participant in your own health care. It might be hard, but it’s worth it. Plus, It will save you money now and in the future.
13. Hannah Rinaldi
Spending more money to eat right can save you money in the long run. Nutrition is the main puzzle piece in managing diabetes properly. Instead of relying solely on your doctor to give you nutrition advice, reach out to a registered dietician or a nutritionist who can work with you so find the best diet to meet the needs of your diabetes. Many communities offer services like this for free. Trying contacting your local YMCA or community center to see if you can talk to a health specialist for free. You may also find that staying healthy with exercise can help manage your diabetes. While these efforts won’t take you off of medication, they can help reduce the amount of money you spend in doctors visits. Look at your health insurance to see if you can get a discount on a gym membership.
14. Tawra Kellam
I mean it would be like saving money any other way. Just check prices and compare, ask for samples, check ingredients and see if you can find it cheaper. Ex. I found Epson Salts for 8lbs. for .75 on clearance but the normal price was $5 for 7 lbs. in the pharmacy for the same thing, same ingredients.
15. Theresa Smith
There are several ways a person can save money when it comes to treating their diabetes. Some are more direct and others help due to better control. For better control that trickles down to savings be sure to always include some protein any time you eat. Never drink your sugar. And use your testing results to notice the things that raise your blood sugar and avoid them or at least moderate them greatly. For me a baked potato raises my blood sugar higher than a chocolate bar. For more direct ways to save money you can ask your doctor if it is necessary for you to test three times a day. Unless you are on insulin you might get away with one time a day varying the times. If you are on medication for your diabetes be sure to check with Rx Outreach because often the prices for a ninety day supply are cheaper even if you have insurance. If money is really tight let your doctor know. Sometimes the doctor will have some samples to get your through. If you cannot afford your medication check out the American Diabetes Association page on Prescription Assistance and RxOutreach.org.
16. Jacinta Rawling
Save on groceries with apps
While the cost of diabetic supplies and drugs cannot be controlled, you can try to save on your food budget. One of the most important things you can do as a diabetic is to control your weight by eating healthier. Most people in general find it hard to save money but one that can be controlled is your food budget. You really can save on groceries by looking for fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, grains that are on sale at your local market.
You don’t have to break the bank when trying to eat well on a budget and trying to maintain your health. The idea is to buy when items are on sale and not pay full price. Connect with a blog like Really Saving Money or one closest to your community where you can see what groceries are on sale each week with matching coupons at your favorite grocery store. They more than likely host a coupon database that will help you locate great coupons on the particular items you will be shopping for.
Save even more on fruits and vegetables, meats, and grains using money-saving apps for instant cash rebates like:
- Checkout 51, where you have a choice of 1 fruit or vegetable featured each week to save on in addition to some of your favorite snacks and household items.
- Ibotta, which hosts a number of fruits and vegetables that you can save on each week, and all things groceries.
- SavingStar, that offers a healthy offer each week and helps you build a stockpile.
- MobiSave, that offers a number of fruits and vegetables, very similar to Ibotta which pay you back right away through PayPal.
Rebates listed on any of these apps may be for single purchases or for bulk. Whatever the rebate, you can always freeze what you don’t need right away. The best thing about saving with these apps is that you can receive money back instantly and recycle those funds into even more savings. Another great tip is to plan your meals in advance and plan your shopping trips according to the sales.
17. Amanda L. Grossman
Health is one of the largest expenses many of us will face, especially with maintenance ailments such as diabetes.
One of the best ways to help maintain your health with diabetes is by staying active. Another incentive for staying active (besides lower health costs)? You can download apps that incentivize good health choices with money. Like actual cash. Apps such as Pact allow you to set health goals and track them each week. You then earn cash for meeting them, paid for by members who do not meet their goals (so make sure to meet them!). Cash from these types of apps can help offset your diabetes maintenance costs, as well as help you manage the disease altogether.
18. Kelly McCarthy
Sticking to a budget is difficult enough, when you add in the expenses associated with managing diabetes, it’s even more challenging. While medical expenses can vary from month to month, by keeping your other expenses down you’ll have more in your pocket for handling the unexpected. Here are a few tips to lower those monthly expenses:
At the bank:
Automate your savings by putting a certain % of your income into an “emergency fund” or “healthcare fund” you only withdraw for actual emergencies or for your healthcare. With the money in a separate account you’re less likely to spend it on food, entertainment, etc.
Use budgeting apps to easily stay on top of how much money is flowing in and out of your bank account each month and keep tabs on exactly where it’s going. If you don’t know where you’re spending money you won’t know where you can cut back.
At the grocery store:
Analyze cost per unit as opposed to total cost for items you frequently use. The price tag, in general, has the total price of the item on the right and the per unit price to the left. While the total price is the cost at checkout, the per unit price is the price to buy the entire unit (i.e. pound, dozen, etc). To compare different sizes of the same item, it is better to use the per unit cost.
Shop the perimeter (& avoid middle aisles). The outer edges typically have dairy, meats, fish & vegetables while the middle aisles contain processed foods (chips, crackers, bread, cookies) & household supplies. Avoid processed foods to do your body & wallet a favor.
Change your mindset:
Choose quality over quantity & mix in some minimalism. Purchasing fewer higher quality items (clothes, furniture, etc.) as opposed to multiple low quality/low price items will help your wallet in the long run. Generally higher quality items have a longer life span and won’t need to be replaced as frequently as a cheap low quality version of the same item.
Evaluate your “needs” vs. “wants” and adjust your spending accordingly. Do you often tell yourself you NEED that new tech gadget, designer handbag, decor item, etc? Chances are you can do without it. Can you borrow a dress for an event from a friend? Or look in your closet and use something you already have? If it’s a “want” and money is tight, avoid impulsive spending by waiting a few days before purchasing to give yourself the opportunity to evaluate the how much you really need it.
For your health:
Don’t skimp on preventative healthcare. There’s a reason insurance covers a certain number of dentist cleanings and physicals at the doctor each year – when you frequently take care of yourself you’re less likely to have a larger problem in the future. The same thing happens with our stuff – if you avoid getting your car’s oil changed sooner or later you’re going to have a much bigger issue that will cost a lot more than the regular maintenance.
Purchase generic brands & prescriptions when available. Store-branded/generic products are cheaper than branded products and often contain the same ingredients.
19. Kelan & Brittany, The Savvy Couple
When it comes to health care in America, unfortunately, it’s going to be quite expensive. We have a few extended family members that deal with this terrible metabolic diseases every day. We reached out to one of them to discover how they deal with the costs that come with diabetes.
They had two main tips and tricks they mentioned:
- First, they buy their supplies online. In today’s day and age buying online has many advantages. It’s a great place to do your own research and really compare apples to apples on price, quality, and customer service. Always be careful when buying medical supplies online. PharmacyChecker.com is a great website to ensure you are purchasing from a reliable company.
- Second, look for weekly deals and coupons from your local pharmacy and drugstores. Most of the time you can save a ton of money by buying the generic brand. Compare prices and quality to ensure you are getting the very best deal”.
20. Robert Hybki
Focus on the three main areas you can save: Doctor Visits, Diabetes Supplies/Medications and Diet/Fitness
Make sure your primary care doctor takes your health insurance. You want to eliminate any out-of-pocket expenses each visit, so it helps when your health insurance provider covers a large portion of the bill. If you are in need of financial assistance, consider visiting your local county clinic as they will offer health services at a reduced or no cost to you. You should also contact the Department of Human Services to see if you qualify for Medicaid. If you are over 65, check your eligibility for Medicare as diabetes supplies and prescriptions are often covered.
The diabetes supplies (e.g. test strips) and prescription medications you need can really add up. If your insurance won’t cover these expenses, make sure you maximize your savings by buying generic medicines and store brand diabetes supplies. While at the pharmacy see if there are any coupons available for diabetes supplies. You might be able to score a free glucometer with your purchase of test strips. Offers will vary so keep an eye out for them. Never attempt to save money by cutting back on your medication as this will potentially lead to future costly treatments.
Your diet and fitness routine is an important part of your treatment. For some, adjusting your lifestyle choices can be enough to combat and even reverse your diabetes. Avoid paying thirty-dollars or more a month for a gym membership and get outside. Walking is a simple and great activity! You can also check with your local community center as they might offer free yoga or Zumba classes, pool or tennis court access and other activities that will keep you active. As far as your diet, make sure you are buying the things you need when they are on sale. Always check your local stores weekly ad and see what is on sale. Plan your grocery trip so you are only buying the things you need for that week or saving by buying non-perishable items in bulk.
21. Sean Merron and Kevin Griffin
For people with diabetes, living a frugal lifestyle can help cope with rising healthcare costs and inadvertently create a healthy lifestyle. Some ways to save money include:
- Using tax-advantaged health care accounts to pay for medical expenses. Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) and Health Savings Accounts (HSA) should be used to pay for medical expenses with pre-tax dollars.
- Prescription drug costs can be reduced through auto-refill plans, bulk orders and manufacturer coupons.
- Shop in the perimeter of the store, where the healthier grocery options are usually found. Learning to prepare meals and do more cooking will save your grocery budget big time as an alternative to buying the more expensive prepared foods with ingredients you cannot control.
- Consider body-weight calisthenics exercise plans in place of gym memberships and expensive equipment. You know your own body better than anyone and learning creative ways to use your own body weight for exercise can still provide high intensity workouts.
- Cut the cord. Aside from the attention disorders and health affects from sitting for long periods of time. cable bills can skyrocket from confusing promotions and paying for content you rarely use. Consider paying for internet only to stream online content and pickup a $15 HD antenna to still receive high definition major stations over the air for free.
22. Ronnie Epstein
Preplan weekly meals and buy ingredients in bulk when possible. This cuts down on the overall cost per meal and ensures your kitchen is stacked with healthy options. Precooked and presliced items from the supermarket may be faster to grab-and-go, but they are more expensive than the raw, unportioned versions. By preplanning, you can also take advantage of coupons and plan meals according to available sales.
23. Jasmine Birtles
- Make sure you’re getting the benefits you’re entitled to. Many benefits have been cut but others have been increased. Use the calculators on websites like Turn2Us.org.uk or Entitledto.co.uk to see what you could get. Also check out our MoneyMagpie article on disability benefits here.
- Do a budget online or on the back of an envelope – there are lots of online calculators like the one on the Money Advice Service website, but you can just do one on the back of an envelope if you like. Just create two columns – one with your monthly incomings and the other with the money you have to pay each month – then take away the money you have to spend from the money that comes in and that will show you how much you have left to spend each month.
- Don’t borrow money unless you absolutely have to. If you can possibly manage it, don’t put yourself into debt. Pay off credit cards each month so that you don’t get hit with nasty interest.
- Join your local credit union. They’re like not-for-profit banks. They treat their customers well and they plough back the profits they make into the business. They also do small loans at reasonable rates.
- Get help with filling in claim forms. These can be a nightmare so get specialists to help if you need it. For example, Citizens Advice have people who are used to filling them in.
- Keep all your financial paperwork in one place. It doesn’t matter how you do it, so long as it works for you. It could be in a filing cabinet, a big lever arch file or it could all be scanned and kept on your computer.Get together your bank statements, credit card statements, utilities bills, council tax bills and so on and put them in date order in this filing system.
- Set up standing orders and direct debits.Pay as many bills as possible in this way so that you have less to think about it. The more that it’s automated the better. It’s also often the cheaper way to pay.
- Switch your monthly bills etc once a year. Go online and see if you can find cheaper gas, electricity, phone providers and so on. Use a few comparison sites like Comparethemarket, GoCompare, Energyhelpline, Uswitch and Moneyfactsto switch to cheaper companies.
- Get as much as you can for free. There really is a lot available for free if you know where to look. For a start, see what your local Council is offering in terms of free local events, visits from their volunteer section and more. Many local councils also offer discount schemes for leisure activities and exercise, such as the gym or swimming. Then sign up to freebies newsletters such as the one we have at MoneyMagpie here.
- Join diabetes forums. On these you can get information and support from others in a similar position. They can often help you find things for free, find out where to get financial support and how to fill in benefits claim forms.
24. Justin Weinger
People with diabetes, and really anyone with any illness, can save money by using all tax-advantaged accounts available to them. A flexible spending account, or FSA, is a great tool to use pretax income on any approved medical expenses. If you are in the 20% tax bracket then this equates to 20% savings on those expenses! A health savings account, or HSA, is a similar tax-advantaged account only it works more like a 401k account for health related savings. Unlike the FSA, an HSA doesn’t have a “use it or lose it” rule attached to it. You can save and invest the money you contribute to your HSA for years to come and then use it as needed on your medical expenses.
25. Mary Ann Marriott
Dealing with an illness is stressful enough. Having to worry about your finances shouldn’t be one of those worries.
Planning in advance is, arguably, the best defence. But often that is not the case. In the absence of a Saftey net, relying on credit to bridge the gap becomes a fallback position. A dangerous position, as incurring debt adds to the stress and often impacts your health and wellness.
So how does one save while managing the cost of medication, trips to the doctors, a change in diet, etc.
I’m not a big fan of just having “savings”. I prefer the method of saving for particular things. Some of the savings might be for unknown expenses that may arise but most should be for expenses you know you will have , such as car repairs, medical expenses, gifts etc.
There are two methods to saving.
1. Pay yourself first.
This is the jump-right-in approach. You choose an amount to set aside (start small so you don’t shock your month-to-month cash flow) and take that amount out every pay period. You can transfer it to a separate account or withdraw it and set it aside somewhere in your home.
For some, this is the easiest approach as, once they don’t have, they just adjust their spending to accommodate the savings. You can continue to increase the amount to discover your “comfortable amount” and don’t worry, if you can’t get by without it, the money is there for you, and you will know you’ve set aside out of your comfort zone.
For others, if their expenses exceed their income, this method won’t work and will add stress to the situation.
Which leads me to the second method.
2. The second method is to cut expenses and redirect that money into savings.
To do this you first need to know where you are currently spending your money. Which means tracking your spending. You can either pull together receipts or bank statements to look at past months or simply start on a go-forward basis. Once you identify where the money goes, you can ask yourself “How can I cut back?” for each expense and start adjusting. To be successful you need to track all spending – cash, debit and credit.
Some banks have their own tracking reporting software you can use or you can use any number of products on the market from tracking using a spreadsheet, to Microsoft Money, Quickbooks, Simply Accounting or download one of the free apps available. Personally I use Mint (mint.com and the mint app) as I can update it on my PC or my phone and share it with family members. It’s the only one I’ve found that I can link to my accounts so the transactions download automatically. It does most of the work for you. Freeing up your time for more important things in your life.
There’s so much more I could say on this subject that doesn’t fit into the parameters of this column. Please feel free to follow my blog at www.DrDebt.ca for more advice on helping you have Happier, Healthier Finances.
26. Derek Hopper
Although I don’t have diabetes myself, I’ve been dealing with health related issues for some time now. My number one tip is get yourself a health savings account.
Health savings accounts are easy to setup and you can deduct your contributions on your taxes. When you have a qualified health expense (most are), you can use this money to pay for them. Essentially, the money you use to pay for health expenses will be tax free.
If you’re like me though, I save the money and invest it. If you look for the right health savings account, you’ll be able to invest the money in index and mutual funds.
The only downside is most, if not all, health savings accounts come with a monthly fee. For example, mine is $4.50 per month.
Even with the fees, I still think health savings accounts are net win. If you’re disciplined about contributing monthly to the account, you’ll build up a nice savings and lower your taxable income. Over time, you’ll build up a nice pool of money to use for emergency medical expenses if needed. This could be the difference in a financial catastrophe or just a small bump in the road.
Think of a health savings account as a specialized emergency fund. Most financial experts harp on the importance of emergency funds, so why not have one for your doctor bills?
27. Maat van Uitert
Growing your own produce is a simple but effective way to save some money.
Produce, especially organic produce, can be very expensive on the grocery aisle. Growing your own vegetables, especially the ones you already love, can be as simple as starting with a 10 foot by 5 foot garden, making sure it’s watered daily, and in a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sun. You don’t need a huge amount of land to grow a few tomato plants, some herbs to season your meals, and delicious salad greens.
As a bonus, you can be sure you’re eating healthy food, with no additives or hidden ingredients. You can download a Companion Planting Guide that will help you get started at http://thefrugalchicken.com/guide. It’s important to keep it fun and easy!
28. Michelle Jones
Many pharmacies will match lower prices on prescriptions but only if you ask! And, each time you refill your prescription check to make sure the price matching is still applied. Sometimes they forget and hike the price right back up.
Get the lowest price on healthy foods and dietary needs by using the Savings Catcher app at Walmart. Simply enter your receipt after each shopping trip and you’ll receive a store credit for the difference of any matched items. Savings applies to most items in the store as well, including regular groceries and household items.
29. Emma Bradley
Diabetes is expensive and you unfortunately never know when you may be taken ill. Therefore when travelling ensure you have adequate insurance. If you are travelling in the EU ensure you have a valid EHIC card, this entitles you to free care if you are taken ill. Secondly when taking out travel insurance don’t buy it at the travel agents. Instead search online and do comparisons, an annual policy is usually a better option if you travel more than twice a year. Don’t forget to use Topcashback too!
30. Faye Prosser
How to save on diabetes-friendly groceries:
If you have diabetes, or do the grocery shopping for someone with diabetes, you know that certain foods are more preferable than others. But sometimes, those healthier options are also more expensive than highly processed unhealthy foods.
Use the following strategies to help you cut costs on the healthier choices so you can stay within your budget and still enjoy delicious meals.
- Create a meal plan. Making a weekly dinner meal plan based on what is on sale and what you already have bought in previous weeks (on sale, of course) will allow you to save more money and have less stress with it comes time for dinner.
- Make your list. Make a grocery list before you head into the store so you are not temped to buy extras (unless it is a really good deal!).
- Stock up on loss leaders for healthier non-perishable foods. These are sales that are usually 60% or more off the regular price. Those foods that are healthy and have extended expiration dates are great to stock up on when they are at a low price. Examples include brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, frozen vegetables, low sodium or unsalted canned vegetables, plain frozen fruit, unsweetened applesauce, sugar free preserves, nuts, seeds, tuna, coffee, tea and olive oil.
- Buy BOGO: Look for BOGO (buy one get one free) sale on store brand products for 50% savings that don’t even require a coupon.
- Load grocery store digital coupons: Look on the grocery store websites for your favorite stores to see if they have digital coupons to add to your grocery store reward card. You can usually stack those digital coupons with sales for even better savings and some stores offer discounts on produce, dairy and meats and seafood.
- Request coupons. Contact manufacturer’s for the products you use on their websites or Facebook pages to request coupons. You would be surprised at how many offer coupons on request or already have them available to print on their websites. Start by looking through your pantry and contacting those companies.
- Print coupons: Head to websites like Coupons.com, Smartsource.com and Redplum.com to print manufacturer’s coupons for various food and non-food products. They usually add new coupons throughout the week and some are for healthier products, like sugar free yogurt, dairy products, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole grain cereals, sugar free peanut butter and more.
- Shop more than one store. Your willingness to target the best sales at a couple different grocery stores will save you some serious cash. Even just going to one more store each week for their loss leaders can save you $10 or more every week. That’s a savings of over $500 per year!
31. Steve & Annette
Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half by shopping smarter.
People with diabetes (and everyone for that matter) should eat a balanced diet of veggies, dairy, fruits, grains, and proteins. A variety of these items can be found on sale in your weekly grocer’s ad circular. Basing your weekly dinner meal plan on what your local store’s “Loss-Leaders” are each week can save you thousands of dollars each year.
Why? Because the stores advertise “loss-leaders” (items that are steeply discounted to entice you to shop at their store) each week. These items are marked down between 30 and 60 percent off of retail price. By including these items in your weekly menu you’ll be eating for less. By applying this one tip, many families have slashed their grocery bill by 50 percent. To an average family of four, this savings could amount to $4800 per year.
32. Douglas Antrim
Make diabetes less expensive
When you talk about saving money, you’re (usually) talking about quitting something—at least, doing it less frequently—like eating out. Every time you eat out, it costs money. You can save money by cutting back on the number of times you eat out in a month (a week? a day!!!). If we didn’t eat out at all, most of us have a chance to save quite a bit of money.
Cutting back on optional expenses is a proven way to save, but other times, you need to spend to save money. An example would be, fixing that (newly acquired) paint chip on your car door. Yes, it’s inconvenient, and yes, it will cost to repair it, but painting that spot on the door will keep it from rusting out and needing to be replaced. It’s cheaper to touch up the paint now, than to replace the door later. (That’s a fit with frugal principles.) And, you might as well make a decent job of it: Shoddy bodywork devalues a car.
When it comes to the cost of maintaining their health, people with type 2 diabetes face a similar—and eminently, more important—consideration than whether or not to touch up a car. Type 2 diabetes is a disease that compromises or damages a number of the body’s organs and tissues. It causes the blood glucose (sugar) level to be high, which in turn exacerbates the damages to the body. Treatment, generally, requires the supervision of a physician, medicine, and lifestyle management. It can be inconvenient, and will, definitely, involve a financial commitment. But … It can significantly slow the progress of the disease and enhance quality of life (which, also, fits with frugal principles).
Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease that can affect several organs and tissues simultaneously. A doctor can monitor the whole body for signs of the disease’s advance and prescribe medicine or suggest lifestyle changes to slow it down, minimizing the chance of hospitalization (and, possibly an operation). Depending on insurance coverage, the cost of frequent doctor appointments can mount up. Regardless the expense, it’s minimal compared to a hospital stay.
Most of us tend to associate the need for insulin with diabetes. The truth is that often a person with type 2 diabetes produces what should be a sufficient amount of insulin, but high blood glucose (sugar) levels make cells resistant to it—nonabsorbent. Metformin (or something similar to it) works to enhance the sensitivity of body tissues to insulin. Often, it’s the first medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. Metformin also helps the liver decrease production of glucose. A prescription for insulin may be required, if this dual effect is not adequate to allow the body’s own insulin to work effectively. Metformin and insulin may not be the only medications involved in treatment.
If there are co-existing maladies, they will have appropriate medical regimens.
As dosage for medicine is assigned according to need, prescribed medication dosages should not be arbitrarily increased or decreased. (Again, this will help maintain or increase quality of life, and keep a diabetic patient from suffering a decline and the accompanying medical expenses.) Consult your doctor if you feel dosages are incorrect.
Of course there is cost involved with prescriptions, and of course, insurance coverage affects a patient’s out of pocket costs. At this writing, in the United States we are required by law to have insurance coverage.
Given a disease like type 2 diabetes and others (perhaps) more catastrophic, a person is wise to have as much coverage as can reasonably be afforded.
In preference to prescribing medicine, many doctors (if it’s at all feasible) ask their type 2 diabetic patients to take lifestyle measures promoting health in order to manage the disease. If a patient is willing to practice the necessary habits, quality (and, perhaps, length) of life can be elevated. This is true even when medicine is deemed necessary.
It’s important to stay healthy. You may have to spend some money doing so (e.g. buying wholesome food, rather than junk food, or joining a gym). Ultimately, you’ll save by avoiding unnecessary illness that leads to increased medical bills. (That is a frugal concept.)
Managing type 2 diabetes is essentially a balance between nutrition and activity. This balance, ultimately, influences metabolism, enzyme and hormone production (insulin is a hormone), and every other facet of a functioning body.
The various aspects of your life affected by a plan promoting a healthy lifestyle will be numerous. Below I’ve listed several practices that are fundamental, and will help you keep medical costs to a minimum.
- Eat correctly
- Control weight
- Take care of your hands and feet
Someone with type 2 diabetes needs to make healthy choices about type and quantity across all food groups. At the same time, care needs to be taken against ingesting too many carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are found in grains, fruits, and vegetables. Carbohydrates turn into sugar and enter the blood stream easily. But, all carbohydrates are not alike. There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates need next to no digestive process to enter the blood stream as glucose. Sugary foods like candy, soda, honey, and fruit juices, etc. are the source for these simple carbs. (Many whole fruits are mitigated by their fiber content.) Complex carbohydrates require more work to digest. These are found in foods that are starchy, such as potatoes, beans, etc., or fibrous (which take longest to digest) like broccoli. Easily digested carbohydrates spike blood sugar levels and facilitate diabetic damage to organs and cellular tissue. Diabetics need to heavily limit the amount of simple carbohydrates they consume, but even the complex (eventually) metabolize to sugar.
Exercise helps control glucose (sugar) in the blood. Glucose is the source of energy for any activity. Our bodies burn it up when we work—do anything—and the harder we work, the faster we burn it. It can also have a positive effect on HDL/LDL cholesterol balance. Of course, people with diabetes have to exercise their bodies in accordance to a plan, or they can burn too much blood sugar too fast. A sudden drop in glucose can be dangerous.
Note: You should always consultant a doctor before starting any exercise regimen.
If you are eating correctly and exercising, controlling your weight—attaining and maintaining a healthy weight—is (probably) not as arduous as it sounds. Many diabetics are not extremely overweight, and even if they are, losing somewhere between 5% – 10% of your total weight can make a huge difference in how you feel, and more important, in how your body systems function.
Losing weight can
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Protect the heart (This is very important for diabetics, because of heart-associated problems with the disease.)
- Make it easier your body to moderate its blood glucose (sugar) level on its own
Controlling weight can be a challenge. Do what it takes to stay motivated.
Take care of your hands and feet
Over time high blood sugar levels can cause poor circulation and nerve damage. Unnoticed and untreated sores lead to infection and medical problems, sometimes resulting in major medical bills. Examine your hands and feet frequently. Don’t put off seeing your physician when a wound doesn’t heal in a reasonable amount of time; neglect can have serious (and expensive) consequences.
Unchecked type 2 diabetes is an increasingly debilitating disease and requires the dedication of significant financial resources towards restoration of health—frequent procedures and hospitalization. Controlling the disease—maintaining health—requires a lifestyle.
Healthcare in all its facets is a major aspect of that lifestyle. People who live with type 2 diabetes need to keep up with doctor appointments, medications, and personal care. (This includes an eating regimen, exercise, regular self-inspection, and probably, other routines.) All of this care comes at a cost, but adhering to a health promoting lifestyle is less costly that trying to repair damage done through neglect.
33. Kara Stevens
While I’m not a physician, one of the best ways that individuals with diabetes can save money is by adopting an active lifestyle and adopting a more plant-based diet, especially with Type 2 Diabetes which is reversible. As food is medicine and so is movement, patients can find that they need less medication, lose weight, and their insulin levels normalize once they pay attention to how they manage their lifestyle.
Also, while the amount of medication will vary from patient to patient, going generic will definitely help curb the financial bite for managing diabetes.
In addition, The Foundation for Health Coverage Education helps people without insurance to locate public and private assistance programs. Their website (www.coverageforall.org) has a simple checklist to determine eligibility.
34. Rebekah Hoffer
One of the fastest ways to ruin your budget is with food. It incredibly easy to turn to take-out and eating in restaurants when you have failed to plan ahead for what you will eat each day.
By combining meal planning and freezer cooking, you will be able to cut down on unnecessary food expenses.
Meal planning is simply coming up with a plan ahead of time for what you will eat every day. To find the perfect meal planning method for you, read 10 Different Meal Planning Methods.
Freezer cooking is my favorite way to save money. I love having extra meals in my freezer that I can pull out on busy nights. For help getting started, read 4 Tips for Getting Started with Freezer Cooking.
35. Penny Golightly
Making a weekly or monthly budget is usually the most effective way to control your finances, but it’s also helpful to keep a spending diary for a while too. Keeping a record of your spending can help you to gain a realistic idea of your outgoings, plus it’s good for spotting areas where you might be overspending which then allows you to cut back. Another quick financial ‘win’ is to spend some time looking through your bank or credit card statements, which can sometimes show up regular payments for things you no longer use such as unwanted gym memberships, or magazine or software subscriptions.
Home cooking is an excellent way to save money, and from a health point of view it also means you know exactly what’s in your food which is another bonus. If you aren’t confident in the kitchen then try a simple cookbook aimed at beginners, or look for free healthy eating recipes online. If you live near a local market, save money on healthy ingredients by buying your vegetables there, or buy them loose or frozen at the supermarket (most pre-packaged fresh produce is more expensive).
36. Marissa Lauren Winfrey
Frugal Healthy Eating Tips For Diabetics:
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is a good lifestyle habit for diabetics as well as anyone who wants to have more energy or lose some weight. The main thing to remember is to cut down on carb consumption and avoid processed and fast food.
Here are some helpful healthy eating tips someone with diabetes can do in order to save money:
- Search online for free diabetic recipes, menu plans, and cookbooks
- Use apps and coupons that help you save money on grocery items
- When preparing your meal, only eat half of the portion, eat the other half later that day
- Buy from bulk bins when shopping for brown rice, nuts, etc.. it’s less expensive and cuts waste
- Create a variety of delicious meals with eggs, they are very nutritious yet inexpensive
- Instead of drinking sodas or juice, drink water with lemons or cucumber
- Do NOT use artificial sweeteners, use a little bit of honey instead
- If possible, grow your own vegetables, herbs and fruits
- Instead of costly gym memberships, walk whenever possible instead of driving
37. Sarah Molenda
Diabetes is a disease that can be quite expensive and a subject close to my heart.
My Mother and Grandfather both have type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, when suffering from this condition, a patient can incur high health care costs. However, there are a few ways to keep your costs low and avoid additional charges and fees.
The number one way to save on managing diabetes is to create a lifestyle change. Walking and jogging are free, and changing your diet can help avoid paying for medications and/or hospitalization. If you do have to go on medication make sure your doctor is following the American Diabetes Association Guidelines. (Hint -Metformin is one of the first recommendations in the guide and is cheaper than other alternatives if it works for your condition.) Also, make sure you are informed of your insurance formulary before your doctor’s visit. Some insurance companies only cover certain medications so bring a print out to your appointment.
Furthermore, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for as many free samples as he/she can part with. Most doctors know diabetes can be expensive and are willing to work with you. Additionally, check your medication on the Internet. Many medications offer coupons on their websites. Lastly, visit the pharmacy in your hospital for over the counter medications. Often times they are cheaper than the average pharmacy. Diabetes can have numerous effects on your life; however, by using my tips above, you can ease the burden of paying high fees.
38. Rob Andersen
In 2015, Aldi announced that by the end of that year, the store would remove all MSG, artificial colors, and trans fats from its food. This was exciting news for many. As you may know, people with diabetes should avoid all trans fat. Instead, they should load up on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and eggs. Aldi offers all of these choices at a fraction of the cost of other retailers.
Each week, my wife receives the weekly grocery store circulars with the various deals of the week. My wife typically finds that Aldi’s prices are hands-down the lowest, so that is typically her first grocery run of the week. Anything that Aldi might not have, she can find at another grocery store. But in terms of saving money on a daily basis, I would highly recommend regularly shopping at Aldi. My wife has slashed our grocery bill by a third due to competitive prices that Aldi offers.
39. Niamh O’Connell
Many clients with diabetes feel they need to opt for the “sugar-free” options when it comes to favourite foods and beverages. These can prove more costly and contain artificial sweeteners which can be harmful to health. Instead I advise buying the most natural version of a product.
For example if you love a fruit-flavoured yoghurt as a snack or dessert, instead of purchasing the sugar-free “diet” yoghurt ranges, try some natural unsweetened yoghurt instead. With some chopped nuts and berries a live, organic yoghurt will provide probiotics which benefit gut health, and you are controlling the amount of sugars you consume.
Similarly, rather than sugar-free fruit juices, try filtered water and add your own squeeze of citrus fruit or mint. Your palate will adjust to the taste and your blood sugar levels will remain more stable. I always advocate foods in as close to their natural state as possible, if it’s made in a factory, chances are it won’t be beneficial to your health!
40. Andrea Kirkland
Here are some great tips:
- Buy fresh produce only when it’s season
- Stock up on frozen veggies—just be sure to buy the ones without any added sauce or butter
- Wash, chop and slice fresh produce yourself—avoid buying the prepped variety from the deli ketor produce section
- Substitute dried herbs for fresh (1 tsp dried = 1 Tbsp fresh)
- Buy extra fish, chicken, beef and pork when it’s on sale and store in freezer for later use
- Build meals around eggs or canned tuna once a week
- Eat meatless one meal per week
- Use dried beans instead of canned
- Use coupons or store flyers and plan meals around discounted items
- Buy lean, tough cuts of meat (which are generally cheaper) and cook them in your slow cooker
- Use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts—they’re generally cheaper, too
We hope that the tips and tricks we have gathered from our trusted experts will lead you on your way to making wise and sound financial decisions.
As they say, little drops of water make the mighty ocean. These tips, used alone, may not make big differences, but if used together or more than once, can make a lifetime’s difference. As usual, we invite our readers to share their thoughts and their own experience with saving money with diabetes. Share this article with anyone who might find it useful.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TheDiabetesCouncil.com.
TheDiabetesCouncil Article | Reviewed by Dr. Christine Traxler MD on May 27, 2020