I realize the big story this week is the stock market, but since my money is pretty much invested for the 30-year horizon, it won’t affect much except my net worth update next week. I’m curious, but not emotionally involved.
What is emotionally and fiscally affecting is my recent realization of just how much I spend in order to see.
I’ve worn glasses since I was maybe six or seven. I first got contact lenses at about 12 or 13. From the start, I’ve seen much better with contacts than with glasses. Peripheral vision! No tension headaches! But contacts carry their own challenges. For many years, I had the kind that lasted a full year. They mostly worked ok, although there was one memorable week in high school — not that memorable, I guess, because I can’t remember what the problem was. Either I tore/lost a lens, or I got an eye infection. Either way, I couldn’t wear the contacts, and it turned out that we hadn’t updated my glasses in years. Did I mention that I’m legally blind without corrected vision? I ended up taking a final exam with my face about three inches from the paper so I could read it. Sigh. After that I made sure to keep my glasses at least within spitting distance of my correct prescription, which got easier as I got older and my eyes settled down.
At some point, I moved to two-week disposable contacts, and that was what I did up until this year. However, as I got older, I had increasing problems with them. I had a half-dozen eye infections that required two weeks of wearing my glasses, antibiotic drops, etc. But even when that wasn’t happening, my eyes were always red and often a bit sore/dry. I was using the best contact solution available, I never napped in them, etc — I was doing everything the way I was supposed to — but still.
So, I finally made the decision to switch to daily disposables. That’s been great from the point of view of my eyes. They’re comfortable, all the issues with redness and scratchiness have disappeared, etc. But when I reordered lenses recently, I finally stopped to think about the costs not just in terms of overall price, but in terms of daily price. A box of 90 lenses in my prescription is $82 when ordering online. That means that I spend nearly $2 a day to wear contacts!!!!! I could be buying a nice cup of coffee instead, sigh.
This is all mitigated somewhat by my having eye insurance through work. That pays for the full cost of the yearly exam, but also $150 towards the cost of lenses. I shouldn’t have to get new glasses for several years, at least, after getting a new pair last Christmas, and I don’t wear contacts every single day. So next year, after I get an exam in December, I’m then looking at buying 7 boxes of lenses at $82 each, equaling $574, minus $150 is 424. That’s $1.34/day. I can knock that down a bit by buying online through ebates (referral link, and I really need to do a post just about ebates because they are *awesome*.) But still, it seems like a lot!
One nice thing is that next year I’ll finally have access to an FSA. I could have had one this year, but I wasn’t sure how much I should be putting in it. Since I typically get my exam at the very end of the year, my plan is to hold off on actually buying the contacts until early 2016, so I can buy them using pre-tax money I’ll put in the FSA. That’ll help too. And of course, it’s nice that I don’t have to buy contact solution anymore; that stuff was expensive because I was buying nice stuff to try to fend off the eye infections. Eh! Gotta see, right?