Slap Shot - Save Your Teeth

DR. MICHAEL THOMPSON DDS KIERLAND DENTAL CENTERWelcome to our guest blogger - Dr. Michael Thompson from Kierland Dental Center!

Dr. Mike is the past president of the Arizona Dental Association, the Arizona Academy of General Dentisty and the Central Arizona Dental Society. He also donates his time and expertise to help those less fortunate through Christina's Smile; Give Kids a Smile Day and the CASS Homeless Shelter. But to us, as a MoneySmart Family, he's our trusted family dentist. He'll be sharing some of his insights and tips for saving you money while keeping your smile healthy.



SIDNEY CROSBY Mouth puckThe Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby has a broken jaw and is out indefinitely after being hit in the mouth with a puck during a win against the Islanders on Saturday March 30. Crosby, the N.H.L.’s leading scorer, was struck in the face during the first period of the Penguins’ 2-0 victory.

Slow-motion replays showed multiple teeth flying out of his mouth after the puck struck him during his first shift. The team said Crosby had “major dental work” and would have more done later in the week.

Another example why mouth guards and all protective equipment are so important. A frozen puck traveling over 100 mph will still do a lot of damage to a face but with a proper mouth guard the damage would be far less. 

Fixing a broken tooth can range in cost from $250 to $1500, depending on the severity of the break. If the tooth is non-restorable it could cost up to $5000 to replace it. By contrast, an athletic mouth guard costs approximately $250 at any sports dentist or general dentist office and there are different types of mouth guards which offer different levels of protection.
By next month most of us will have long forgotten this story, however, the player will spend the next 50 years and tens of thousands of dollars repairing, maintaining and re-doing his treatment—and it will still not be as good as new.

Having an athletic guard made at your dentist office is a simple, inexpensive way to help prevent, or reduce injury to teeth while playing sports.

When I was the team dentist for the Phoenix Roadrunners (hockey) and the Phoenix Mustangs (hockey), I was surprised to learn that mouth guards were optional in professional hockey. I played hockey growing up in Detroit and I know that facemasks and mouth guards are inconvenient, but they sure are appreciated when something happens. And FYI, they do freeze the hard rubber pucks prior to the game so they slide with less friction.

Michael R. Thompson, DDS

"We can complain because the rose bush has thorns or rejoice because the thorn bush has roses" - Abraham Lincoln.

Buying Used Stuff Is Smart

  • There are more than 200 million items listed on eBay at any given time and each day more than 3 million of those items are sold. Many of those items are used or manufacturer refurbished products.
  • There are 40 million classified ads placed on CraigsList’s 700 sites each month. Millions of those ads are to sell used items.
  • Any given week there are more than 165,000 garage sales in the U.S. with more than 690,000 of us making purchases.   More than 4 million dollars are spent each week purchasing used items at garage sales.
  • There are more than 25,000 resale, consignment, and Not-For-Profit resale shops in the United States, generating an estimated $13 billion in revenue annually.

Seven Reasons Why We Like Buying Used

1) It costs less—Plain and simple. Retailers have to make a profit, someone selling an unwanted item doesn’t. A re-seller also realizes that they won’t get retail value for their item, and usually this person has no need for the item anymore—it’s just taking up physical and mental space. Consequently, they’ll gladly accept less for it.

2) It works fine. Think about it – does a used book read just as well as a new one? You bet. Does a used bicycle ride as well as a new one . . . most likely. Sure, it may need a few adjustments or new parts, but it will ride just as well. How about a used car? If you’re careful and have a good mechanic check it out for you, you’ll likely save a boodle and enjoy the ride just as much as if it were brand new.

3) Depreciation. We’ve all heard that a new car loses value as soon as you drive it off the lot. That’s depreciation. But what if you buy a used car—is there instant depreciation? Not as much, if there is any at all. Your used car will hold its value better (more about this in a minute).

What are you worth? To calculate your net worth, add up all of your bank accounts, investments, IRAs and 401ks, then figure the estate sale value of your other possessions. You calculate the used value of your stuff. If I come to an estate sale to buy a Kitchen Aid Mixer, it won’t be selling for $250 (retail value): it’ll be selling for 50 to 90 percent of retail. If I buy that mixer and then want to sell it a couple of weeks later I’ll probably be able to get back what I paid for it or maybe a little more. Buying used (and being smart about it) can eliminate or at least minimize depreciation.

Two recent examples:

A) Becky’s truck. Our daughter Becky saved for several years and finally purchased the truck of her dreams in 2009. She paid $11,500 cash for a gently used Toyota Tacoma with 70,000 miles on it. In December of 2012 Becky had just purchased a 2007 Tacoma (4x4). She listed her 2003 Tacoma on CraigsList and sold it in 3 days for . . . watch this . . . $12,000 – it had 90,000 miles on it. She drove her truck for 3 years and sold it for $500 more than she paid! That’s reverse depreciation—the truck APPRECIATED!

B) Steve’s Back. Last year Steve was working through some lower back pain and was told that an inversion table would help bring some relief. He found a gently used Teeter Inversion Table on CraigsList for $60 (delivered). For three months he did chiropractor prescribed exercises and used the inversion table. When he was feeling better we decided the inversion table needed to go (it took up too much space in our family room). We researched comparable models on CraigsList and listed ours for $100. It sold in two days! 

It really can “pay” to buy used and then resell it!

4) Less Clutter. Buying used clears unnecessary items from someone else’s house or business and puts cash in their hands.

5) No Tax. When buying from an individual there is no sales tax. In Arizona it saves us almost 10%.

6) Environmental issues. Buying used is better for the environment. No additional fossil fuels are used in manufacturing or delivering another item around the country. And the unwanted item is used by us rather than ending up in a landfill.

7) Bugs. Buying older technology or other items allows time for the manufacturers to work out or identify “bugs”.  Knowing the shortcomings or things that need to be fixed with an item saves you time and headaches, not to mention hours on hold with tech support. Let someone else get the recall notices or do the upgrades – you get to plug and play!


Being a careful researcher and a smart shopper can garner you excellent working, gently used, products at a fraction of the retail price.

Bottom line – we love buying used items: Cars, Computers, Cell Phones, Clothes and loads of other things that don’t begin with the letter C, because they cost us less and cause us to have more cash in the bank. C what we mean?

What have you bought used and later sold for a profit? Post your comments below so we all can cheer with you.

Never Buy your child a car - No Happy 16th birthday gift here

10 Things Parents Should Never, Ever, Pay For!

Parents are going broke raising their kids.

Adapted from The MoneySmart Family System

The “experts” at the USDA in their 2010 report “Expenditures on Children and Families” say that we should expect to spend about $261,000 to raise each child from birth through age seventeen ($14,500 per year). Do you think this is accurate? We don’t! In 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median annual household income fell to $49,777. Meaning that it could take more than five years and three months of your entire gross household income to get Junior through the formative years and ready for college.

Just calculate with us for a minute. If you’re an average family with 1.8 children (according to USDA figures, this alone should cost you $26,100 per year), living in an average city, spending an average amount on food ($200 per month per person x 12 months = $9,120 per year) with an average yearly household income ($50,000 per year—about $40,000 after taxes), you’d be left with $4,700 a year ($392 per month) to spend on cars, clothes, housing, debt, recreation, gifts, utilities, health care, cell phones, cable TV, medical bills, dental bills, and chewing gum. Something simply doesn’t add up!

If you’re going to survive financially and have any money left to retire on, you’re going to have to draw a line in the sand with what you’re willing to spend on your kids.

Many parents think that they have to provide their kids with the best things in life. But we’ve discovered that giving our kids the best things, often means that they will expect us to continue to do that . . . indefinitely. But teaching them to pay their own way, starting with smaller expenses from the youngest ages, will produce an abundance of benefits as they exercise their own mental and financial assets to resolve their wants and desires.

At the very least, parents ought to allow their children the privilege of sharing some of the cost of the things they want. But the truth is, the more our kids invest in their own financial decisions, the more they’ll value and care for what they buy. When parents pay for their kids wants and desires, they’re actually stealing valuable financial growth opportunities from them.

While parents may bristle at some of our suggestions, here are 10 things they should never pay for!

  1. Designer Apparel
  2. Video gaming systems
  3. Mall spending money
  4. Designer sunglasses
  5. Good Grades
  6. Class rings
  7. Auto Insurance
  8. Car of their own
  9. Cell phones and cell service
  10. Cosmetic surgery (with rare exceptions)

Oh, and a couple more things parents simply should never pay for . . .

  1. Tanning Salons
  2. Hair Coloring

You’ll never regret allowing your kids to stand on their own two feet financially—it pays great dividends to them and . . . protects your dividends for retirement. It’s never too early, too late, or too hard to start teaching and learning financial responsibility.

Image courtesy of Dan/


laid off, unemployed, out of work

Laid Off - Need to Stretch the Budget

Question: I am writing to you out of desperation.  Back in November I lost my job as a dental assistant. I have looked but unfortunately there haven’t been any openings for my career. Even the unemployment office could not find any. I have stripped my family expenses but we still struggle. My husband makes enough for us to survive but we still seem to live paycheck to paycheck. I have both of your books and have signed up on your website to get some ideas of what to do. I am enjoying being home with my family. My husband and son are enjoying it as well so we are seriously thinking about just having me home.

I want to get us onto a budget but every time I think we have it down something happens and we blow it. What should I do? I’ve started clipping coupons but I do not have the time or the knowledge on how to do this extreme couponing thing (nor the space). I love being able to take care of my family but I just don’t know what to do to make it work. If you could give me any advice that may help us I would be so appreciative.

Answer: We know you can do this. And you’re right, it may be better for you to put your efforts into stretching those dollars so you can stay home.

Start a simple budget by putting cash in envelopes for food, clothes and recreation spending. It sounds like you’ve pared down your spending, now you need to build up your savings. Have a garage sale, sell stuff on eBay or CraigsLIst. Liquidating un-needed stuff can help you build your savings—which will help you start your budget and overcome those unexpected emergencies. Re-read the budgeting chapter in our first book (America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right On The Money)-especially the story about the Emergency Room (Paul and Sarah starting with a negative balance in their checkbook.) If you're a website subscriber you can read the story here.

You may also benefit from sitting down with someone who knows how to budget—Try Crown Ministries, Consumer Credit Counseling/Money Management International or someone from your church.

Saving money with groceries is one of the fastest ways to get ahead financially. Coupons are NOT the first and best way though. Using your weekly food ads to plan your menu is the cheapest way to eat. Having our books is great, you just need to read and re-read them until you absorb everything. Start with between one and three shopping or cooking strategies, work on those and master them. You will triumph, we can tell.

Image courtesy of pat138241/

family loans

Family Loans

Question: My grown children keep asking to borrow money from me. I want to help them, so I lend it to them, but they don’t pay it back. I constantly see them wasting money by eating out, drinking, buying the latest cell phones along with other technology, and redecorating their homes. Their financial situations don’t seem to be improving in spite of all my loans. I am in my late 70s and need my money for living expenses and medical bills as I get older. What would you do?

Answer: STOP giving your children money. You aren’t lending to them, they’re taking it as a gift. It almost never helps to bail-out a financially irresponsible adult. Your heart sounds kind, but your methods definitely need to be adjusted. Instead of giving them money when they have a crisis, there are plenty of small ways you can actually help them.

  • Buy them some groceries or a grocery gift card.
  • Give them a gas card
  • Pay a utility bill for them (directly to the utility—don’t give them cash)
  • Take them to Consumer Credit Counseling / Money Management International
  • Help them negotiate with creditors.
  • Help them move out of the house that they can’t afford by packing boxes and rallying the family to help with the physical move.

But most importantly, don’t pay for anything large like rent, a mortgage payment or buying them a car. You’ll need to stand by and watch them struggle, but it is in the struggle where they’ll gain some real fiscal strength. Bailing them out produces a strong dependence on you, not on their own problem solving abilities.

If there is a true medical emergency with your child, son- or daughter-in-law, or grandchild, you might help out with medical bills, but usually giving money rarely solves financial problems.

This may sound hard-hearted, but adult children need to stand on their own two feet financially, and facing the consequences of their decisions is a good way for that to happen.

Do you have any other suggestions to help this man?


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