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Adult Braces: I Think I’m Going Down That Road

September 27, 2013
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If I can be honest, I have fumbled over the thought of getting braces for the last few years. From the onset, I’ve always been concerned about the price of orthodontic treatment, especially at the adult level. My teeth, while not horrible can use a few cosmetic updated. A few months ago, I went to see my dentist for my regular cleaning, and he inquired about me getting braces. I told him I have always thought about it, and he referred me to his friend, an orthodontist in the downtown Chicago area. A few weeks later, I had a consultation with the orthodontist, and he essentially explained all the work that my mouth would need. To me, I didn’t need much done, but to the orthodontist plainly said my mouth needed severe work. In short: I have severe crowding of teeth in the back of my mouth, a snag tooth that comes forward in the right side of my mouth, and on top of all of this, my orthodontist says my jaw has shifted to the right. When I look at the work that needs to get down, I know it will be extremely beneficial to do so for the health of my mouth, cosmetics be damned. I really appreciated how straight forward he seemed. He didn’t try to sell me to the Invisalign (a more costly) treatment. In fact, I asked because I always thought of Invisalign to be the easy way out of adult bracehood, and he said as plain as day: “You are in no way eligible for  Invisalign braces. Your mouth needs extreme work and you can only choose between clear or metal braces.” While most adults opt for  Invisalign, due to the clear nature of the braces, my teeth require the structure traditional braces provide. There were no bells and whistles. While my heart sank at the thought of being a mid 20 year old working adult with braces, I shrugged it off and now feel time is NOT on my side, and that I should get this done as quickly as possible.

Thankfully, I am now at the point where I can financially afford braces (on a payment plan), yet I still feel a twinge at the thought of spending anywhere between $4000 and $7000. Essentially, it boils down to this: are my teeth worth it?

The cost breakdown:
After consulting the orthodontist and my older sister (who is a Pediatric Dentist, btw), I’ve decided to go with the braces. I selected the payment option for my braces, rather than saving for a year and then paying everything up front. I think I’m extremely lucky in that the payment plan is from my dentist, which is interest free. I want this done ASAP, as it will benefit me in so many ways to have my teeth corrected as soon as possible. Plus, the 0% interest and monthly payments spread over 2ish years makes it more manageable for me and my savings goals. I don’t like the idea of going into debt, but I’m looking at it as a wise investment in my health.

I decided to go with the clear braces, which cost $6000. I am eligible to receive a $1,000 deduction from my dental coverage, so I will owe the $5,000. I have to make an up-front payment of $600 on the day of my appointment. After that, I will have monthly payments of $250. Meaning, every bi-weekly pay check I will need to save approximately $125. For a grand total cost of $5,000 over roughly 18 months. The orthodontist quoted a treatment period of 24-30 months, but I much rather pay it off as quickly as possible, all while remaining able to attain my various monthly financial goals.

The longer I wait, the older I’ll be. I have an appointment next week to get two teeth extracted and four cavities filled (seriously, how old am I?!). After that, I will wait two weeks to get my braces installed. I’m looking at mid-October.

Have any of you invested large sums of money into your health? Or, are you currently wearing adult braces? All tips are welcome. 

Thinking Aloud

September 20, 2013
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travel

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I’ve been thinking a lot about traveling, what it means to be on the road and away from everything I view as normal. Admittedly, I miss living overseas. My few months in Uganda were so pivotal; it opened up a part of me I subconsciously knew lay dormant. I loved the early mornings abroad, right before the sun broke through into the sky, before the rosters cried out to let us know of the impending dawn, before the children woke to fetch water from the pump. I long for those moments, the beep beep of local taxi buses that beep and honk as they pass you by, seemingly offering you a ride and annoying you all at the same time.

So here I am, once again trying not to shed tears for urge that springs up inside of me. I get sad thinking about the urge I have to get on a plane, to land somewhere where I am not familiar with, to smell food, real food, to hear a language which at first sounds so different, but within a few days starts to feel familiar, and to wander down a street, turning around and around until it becomes familiar. At these moments, I simply close my eyes and type. I type trying my very hardest to remember each sound, each smell, each embrace, each moment, each frustration, each time I felt like I truly belonged there – wherever there happened to be – and not here. These last few weeks have been a bit hard, and if im honest I know it stems because it’s the one year anniversary of my time in East Africa. Somewhere this time last year, I was saying my final goodbyes to Uganda and Tanzania. Goodbyes had become all too familiar, and at that point I was tired of leaving. Tired of feeling like I would lose out on friendships, lose out on the meaning I had derived from interacting with people who became so very close to me. I don’t want to sound like a sap, but sometimes I really do get truly sad when I think of the life I am not living abroad. At the same time, I feel extremely fortunate to be working, and to be able to save money so that one day, when I’m ready, I can take off again, no strings attached.

The thoughts for this post came yesterday as I pondered feeling stagnant. I felt stuck, like I haven’t “done” anything with myself. As soon as the thought came, I told myself to let that go. I had just returned from Uganda, worked for the President of the United States, started my own business, and now am working to pay off loans and safe money. If this isn’t on the right track and “doing” something with oneself, I don’t know what is. I guess I just wanted to encourage myself and encourage whoever is reading. You are where you are supposed to be. Have a plan, work hard and execute it. Don’t fall into the trap of comparison because it can eat you alive. I’m so incredibly thankful to have a job and to be disciplined enough to save money, because if I can be totally honest, I depleted much of my savings while living abroad. Now that I get a check, my account is growing and I couldn’t be any more thankful.

So yes I’m home at a 9-5, but it’s not over for me. Who knows what lies before me. There is so much of the world to see, so much traveling to do. South America, more of Africa (my home), East Asia or Europe? The world is extremely too large to be limited and I will continue to figure out ways to see more of it, because I’m not ready to settle down just yet.

September 2013 Goals

September 3, 2013

If I can be honest, I’ve been looking forward to the end of summer for a few weeks now. There is something about Fall that makes me feel warm and settled. I also know that I spend less money going out as the weather chills. I’d much rather be indoors than hopping from here to there. While I’m not ready to completely give up long summer days, I do however welcome the change of pace. As such, I’m committed to returning to my monthly financial budgeting and goal setting.  For this month I am going to work on paying down debt while saving. There are times when one or the other is the first to be sacrificed in the name of fun and a good time. I have a few outstanding payments that need to be made this month, and once they are completed I can begin to save towards my Winter vacation! Yup, I’m already thinking ahead of setting some time out to travel abroad. Over the last few years I’ve re-learned of the importance of travel, and just how much better it makes me feel to leave the country. I want to minimize discretionary spending (restaurant eating, I’m looking at you!) in order to see some more of the world. It’s more than a fair trade off in my eyes.

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Notes:

  • Cell Phone- seriously, I pay wayyy to much for a cell phone. Must do something about it.
  • Transportation- Minimal allocation for transportation because I typically bike to work!
  • Dining/Entertainment– No allocation because in the last month I realized I spent $500 on both categories! Just thinking that I could have spent that on a plane ticket makes me want to cry.

September Goals:

  • $400 into Emergency Fund
  • Contribute to my church’s new project
  • Secure one wholesale contract for my venture, Uriomma Delicately Smooth
  • Work out 4-5x/week.
  • Finalize Holiday travel plans- I’m looking to travel to the Caribbean. I need to confirm dates and book flight tickets ASAP.
  • Make weekly food plan. I eat based on what I’m feeling at the moment, but having an outline will help me stay on target when deciding what I want to eat. Using a meal plan when shopping means I can only choose from what I have available rather than going to the store for ingredients for a certain craving.
  • Read one book for fun

Ongoing 2013 Annual Goals:

  • No buying lunch, snacks or coffee during the work week
  • No buying clothing, shoes or accessories for the remainder of the year. This includes thrift stores as well!
  • Try to make a difference in the life of one person. A significant difference

Seven Things

August 31, 2013

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Happy almost of the summer!

I know, I know I come back as the summer is winding down, but I hope it shows that I’ve had a pretty decent summer!

So, last week as it was extremely scorching hot and the only thing I wanted to do was stay inside, I decided to catch up on a few blogs. Is it just me or has your blog reading decreased with the departure of Google Reader? I’m currently using “The Old Reader” as a RSS feeder, but if I can just be honest, it isn’t the same. I barely check into it since I have to sign into a new webpage, and as a result my blog readership has decreased. While catching up on Kisha’s blog, I decided to participate in her newest tag: Seven Things. Basically, she listed 10 questions, and you pick seven of them, answer them, and tag 5 more people. I thought this would be fun and give me a reason to chat it up since I’ve been MIA in this space. Here it goes!

1. You’re given a ’round the world ticket that stops in five major cities – which cities does you visit?

I love this question. Hmm, I’m actually at work staring at a large map that is hanging over my desk and now that I’m starring at all the possibilities, I could probably choose many many many places to visit. For the sake of answering the question I’d choose (going east leaving from USA):  Malta, Italy; Bali, Indonesia;  Kampala, Uganda (because I miss it soooooo much!); Dakar, Senegal and Brasilia, Brazil.  A dab of European culture with a mix of Eastern living and the rest will fulfill my need of being rooted to the African Diaspora. Also places I’m semi-familiar with, but would wholeheartedly enjoy spending more time becoming invested in just being a local.

2. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Weird is relative. Fish head. Coming from a Nigerian family means we eat most parts of the fish, and well I actually like fish head. I typically only eat the head of King Fish, Perch or Red Snapper, because they are all extremely fleshy and there is quite a bit of meat behind the head of a fish. I do not, however eat the eyes. Just can’t do it.

3. Gain 20 IQ points or lose 20 pounds – which do you choose?

I already know I’m smart and I’m a woman. I’d go with losing 20 pounds (and keeping it off!).  Sue me.

4. You can hang out with three of your favourite bloggers (even if you’ve never met them) this weekend and do anything you want to…which three bloggers and what are you doing?

Brenna of ThisBatteredSuitcase

Cynthia of Simply CYN

Chai of Back to Curly 

I can tell these ladies are all awesome, and I’ve actually had the chance to hang out with Chai! We’d probably all go sailing, on the open sea, chat, while simply enjoying the beauty of the world. I’m thinking somewhere along the Indian ocean.

5. You can have the services of one of the following free for an entire year – a cook, a cleaner, a driver, or a trainer. Which do you choose and why?

A cleaner! Hands down. I actually like to clean, however I spend a decent amount of time cleaning and keeping my apartment tidy- It’s ridiculous actually. It is the nature of the beast. If I can have someone clean for me (and to my standard) it would make my life that much easier. I’m talking the usual sweeping, mopping, cleaning of counters, etc but also cleaning of baseboards, windows, vents. These are the things I try to do once a month that make a usual cleaning segment that much longer and tedious.  I’d have more time to cook and wouldn’t mind spending time working out, because I’ll know I have a clean house to come home to. I don’t have a need for a driver because I live in a public transportation friendly city.  Oh and biking and walking all the way!

6. Describe your ideal mate – in 20 words or less.

Extremely patient, Christian, honest, committed, passion for travel, speaks another language, strong, dark, handsome with facial hair, intellectually curious, dedicated to health.

7. Something you’re afraid of?

Being in the same place (physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc) next year.

That’s it! This was really fun to do. I tag!

Chai / Oneika / Rae / Andrea / Mabel / Jen

If I didn’t tag you, feel free to answer the questions on your  blog (or below in the comments section!). If you’re answering them on your blog, feel free to come back and let me know you did so. I’d love to know your responses to the questions.