FCC Rules mandate that 911 calls
must be accepted at no cost

Frugal Living Tips
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August 15, 2002 Issue

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Vol. 8, August 15, 2002

Here is the latest issue. Enjoy!
Editor, Rick Doble

    Make free emergency calls
    A great month for sales
    A thoughtful reader disagrees with our advice

    We respond in detail to questions the reader raised
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Since 1997 FCC rules require that cellular phone companies respond to a 911 call, even when it is from an inactivated cell phone. This means that if you need a cell phone just for highway or other emergencies, you can call 911 using a cell phone even though you do not have a monthly service contract with a cell phone provider.

Non-profits, schools and community organizations should ask for donations of old cell phones so that these groups can use them just for emergency calls. People who donate may be able to get a tax deduction (ask the charity involved).

Check out the free cell phones
and different calling plans.

An Internet company called "emergencycellphones" that sells used cell phones without any calling plan has the following to say:

"The best thing about our emergency phone is that if you plan to use the phone just for 911 only, you get entirely free service from the cellular carrier in the area you are driving in. The cost for having the emergency phone after the initial purchase is nothing! The greatest reason people want a cell phone is for emergencies. You get these calls for free with the emergency phone. A great benefit with our phone is that you can also place non-911 calls. These calls are not free but it's nice to know that you could call someone collect or place a call with your credit card if you needed to."


Labor Day sales and sales following Labor Day are clearance days. Stores need to sell warm weather stuff and restock their shelves with Christmas and cold weather goods.

Clothing sales: major clearance after Labor Day. Look for sales on summer and spring clothing.

Look for also sales in these areas: air conditioners , camping, cook ware, dishes, fans , patio and pool, recreation, tires .

Discount Hotel Reservations
Check out the specials!
Such as:
New York from $69
Chicago from $68
San Francisco from $79
Washington DC from $69

NOTE: With some produce now available all during the year, many people have forgotten when fruits and vegetables are really in season. Buying in season means that these items are often cheaper, fresher, and that money may be going to local farmers.

Fruits and vegetables in season: apples, cantaloupe, celery, chard, corn, cucumbers, grapes, green peppers, lima beans, nectarines, pears, tomatoes.


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(Edited for space)

Hi :
I writing to you because I disagree with the advice you gave to one of your readers in the "Letters to the Editor" section of your latest SAVVY - Newsletter (Vol. 8, August 1, 2002)

I was very disappointed when a reader asked about dental insurance and you said "we do not believe that dental insurance is a good idea". Your dentist pointed out to you that "dental work is fairly predictable". I wouldn't rely on that advice at all!!

First of all....have you shopped around and price compared dentists lately? Dentists do not have any regulations as to what prices to charge for dental work. They have a guideline that they can opt to follow, but in the end they can charge anything the want to!! I found that out real quick and by changing dentists I saved myself over $600 just to have my wisdom teeth removed. A difference of $600 between two dentists is a pretty big one wouldn't you say?

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Secondly, maybe it is predictable for some people such as yourself, but for many, many others it is certainly not! No one should be lumped into a mass of "predictability" like that.

I have been going to a dentist my whole life and never once did any of my dentists predict that my teeth would break and chip off between two happened, not once but twice. No one predicted that my nephew would not have an enamel coating on his teeth by the age of 8 (a rare but natural occurrence) which would result in much pain as well as expensive dentistry. No one predicted my husband would need extensive dental procedures that would span the course of a year and a half (and that's just so far). For many other people a wisdom tooth is the culprit, and can sneak up on you and surprise you!

Everyone is different. Maybe that person who asked for your advice had some "unpredictable problems". Just by reading the word "Orthodontics " in her letter I am fairly certain that she already knows that she is looking at a hefty dental bill coming up that she is going to need help with. She probably isn't looking at a yearly check up and cleaning as being a main reason for looking for insurance.

Thirdly, even if some people are lucky enough to be "predictable" in their dental needs, that doesn't mean that they can just "save up" for it. There is no way in heck that we would be able to "save up" for dental work the way it stands right now. We are too busy putting every penny into the bills we owe, that we have no financial cushion built up to support such emergencies. We are lucky to have two pennies to rub together at the end of any given paycheck! We are only one family of the thousands and thousands out there in the exact same position. And we are better off than so many people I know. (The average family owes well over $40,000 ...nation wide) Without the dental insurance my husband receives from his work we would have been sunk.....and in a whole lot of pain! So many people don't get dental coverage with their jobs and need (not want but really need) to have a dental insurance policy with someone.

In case you need to hand out a name for a good dental insurance dentist tells me to tell my friends that "Clarica" is the best coverage they have seen so far. (And there is nothing in it for them by telling people dentist is just interested in the well being of the client).

Sorry to go on a little rant here, I just felt it was important to point out my difference in opinion.

Yours Truly, Dana W.

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Thank you Dana for your honest and thoughtful "rant." We welcome differing views in this newsletter.

You were very smart to comparison shop for dental services and we highly recommend that for all medical services. But comparison shopping is a different question than that of insurance.

We believe that people use insurance to manage their money rather than managing it themselves. If you feel you should save money, then please save it -- don't use an expensive policy as a way to force yourself into saving. You can have money automatically deducted from your paycheck and deposited into an account, for example.

We still think that you will come out better putting money that you would have put into a dental insurance program into a savings account and then paying for dental expenses as they come up. Do this with a number of insurance policies and you have saved a significant amount of money. For example we believe that most people should have car insurance , home owners, and health insurance with the highest deductible and inexpensive term life insurance (not whole life). We feel you will come out better in the long run not paying for other kinds of insurance such as extended warranties (which are really insurance), dental insurance, credit card insurance, death insurance that pays for funeral expenses, life insurance on young people and most policies that are advertised to large groups such as those you see on TV.

Remember someone always wins in Las Vegas and quite a few people may even win on a given day. This does not mean than gambling is a good way to spend your money.

Insurance is a gamble. It can also be a sensible way to manage risk. We feel that it should be used to cover major catastrophic expenses such as a house fire or a cancer operation. Even if I never recover all the money spent on my homeowners insurance, it would still have been worthwhile because it protected a major asset from becoming worthless.

In general it is not worthwhile to have an insurance policy that covers less than catastrophic needs.

For most people, dental work is "fairly" predictable (please note the word "fairly") while for a few others there may be unusual problems. My dentist has seen hundreds if not thousands of patients over the years and based his judgment on that experience while you are basing your assessment of what is unpredictable on a few cases. And, of course, in your case what happened was not predictable.

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Specifically you point out that your family needed a number of dental procedures that were unusual, yet you also say that you have been going to a dentist regularly over the years. Have you calculated all the money you have spent on dental insurance, not just when these recent problems arose?

As I am sure you are aware, most medical insurance will not cover preexisting conditions. So if the person who wrote the initial letter asking about insurance has a serious condition, she probably will not be able to get a policy.

You were indeed lucky to have a dental insurance plan from your husband's employer. And if your employer does offer a low cost policy as part of its employee benefits , I agree that it could be a very good deal. However, many companies do not offer this option and buying a separate policy can be quite expensive.

Insurance companies make money. Believe me. Most people will not get back what they put into the policy while a few will get a large pay out.

So my advice is this: For most people (people who must get their own policy not offered by their employer) dental insurance is not going to pay for itself in the long run.

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    is used by the national media, such as:
  • MSNBC (National Cable TV)
    Interview -- July 2002
    Cut Clothing Costs
  • ABC-TV's TheView - Supermarket Secrets
  • Woman's Day (3 articles)
  • Woman's World (6 articles)
  • Mademoiselle
  • Bottom Line/Personal (12 articles)
  • SweepsFeed - a TV syndicated news service for national distribution (2 interviews)
  • Editor, Rick Doble interviewed by WTVJ (NBC) Miami, FL, May 2002
  • Editor, Rick Doble is under contract with Penguin Books to write a book tentatively entitled Breaking the Price Barrier

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