As I write this, I have to admit that things aren’t quite right in my world. My attention is wandering. My head feels like it is bouncing around like a balloon at the end of a string. The letters on my computer screen might even be dancing just a little for me. We can pick things up from our close friends and family like phrases, ticks, and habits. I’m blaming this one on my wife. My world is not right and it’s all HER fault!
Before you flip out over the potential habits my wife got me into, let me explain. I’ve come down with a head cold and I’m assuming it’s the same head cold she’s been fighting for the last few days. She even took an afternoon off to go home and sleep because she felt so miserable.
Have you ever considered the cost of getting sick? Let’s run through a few of the costs potentially associated with a minor illness.
Time Off – Sure you have PTO, but wouldn’t you rather use that for something fun? Too many unplanned sick days may cost you your job even with PTO. No PTO? No paycheck. That adds up fast.
Medication – There is a certain nighttime sniffling sneezing coughing medicine that I refer to as green magic. That beautiful bottle of magic elixir is probably going to cost you less than $10. If you like the really effective stuff that they keep behind the counters nowadays, that could cost you even more. End up with a prescription? Is that a $20 copay coming your way? That’s not a lot, but remember that we want to look at the total cost.
Doctor Visit – Having insurance is always cheaper than not having it in the long run. Since you’ll have it anyway, I’m not going to add in the cost of your health insurance premiums. But if you decide to visit the doctor, you will probably have a copay for the visit. This could run you $20-$30 per visit depending on your insurance plan.
Meals – Let’s be honest, you probably aren’t going to feel like cooking when your head is already about to explode. And your family isn’t going to want sneezing and coughing over their meal as you prepare it. This is one of those times that you could slide right through the drive-up window and get a hot meal without even leaving your car. Quick, convenient, comforting, and $8-$10 per person for fast food.
The Extras – While at the store picking up medicine, you are probably going to grab a few other things since you are already there. Tissues, sports drinks to make sure you stay hydrated, a little chocolate for the mental health (even though you won’t taste it with your head so stuffed up), all of those little creature comforts that make being sick a little closer to bearable.
Because I don’t know your paygrade, I’ll leave that out and just use the rest of the items. If you are only buying yourself supper, I’ve got a total of easily $60-$70 for a sick day. I don’t know about you, but there are certainly other ways I would rather spend a day of PTO and $70.
So where am I going with all of this?
A great way to save money is to stay healthy. As much as we may try, we simply can’t avoid all of the bugs out there. So you’ll have to build up your defenses a little. There are the supplements and things that you can buy to prevent illness (meaning reduce your chances). There are also two items that you can get pretty much for free.
Sleep – Get your sleep. Get a lot of it even before you are sick. Schedule it on your calendar if you have to. Keeping your energy level up will help you fight off the germs. Back in the day when I worked in a church, I would count on a major cold every Christmas Day. It was like clockwork. Through Advent I was running crazy with the extra services, events, and children’s service on Christmas Eve. Once it all finished and the adrenaline shut off Christmas Eve night, my exhausted body would finally have nothing left to fight the germs I had been exposed to. Christmas hymns are no fun when the vibrations of singing along make your stuffed up head feel like shaken bottle of soda about to blow up.
Water – I sang in the choir for 3 of my years in college. It was a great experience getting to sing with professionals orchestras, traveling around the country and even world, bonding with a great group of friends. But there was also a responsibility to be there and ready to sing at a moment’s notice – literally. (Ask me sometime and I’ll tell you about the impromptu concert at the ticketing counters of O’Hare airport.) Our director’s number one tip that he preached over and over for staying healthy was to drink water. Our bodies are approximately 65% water. It’s required for brain/neurological function, proper blood pressure, even for that discharge of the unusable portion of last night’s supper. Water keeps your body operating and fighting. Short of some over-expensive bottle of designer water from a purified glacier on Mars, water is a very cheap way to stay healthy.
Who knew sleep and water could save you money?!? Apparently I need to work on more sleep and water myself.
Now, I get it. Water and sleep aren’t going to fight off every illness. There are some things that are going to strike us no matter what we do. But they are a good place to start, and the expenses of every little sick day will add up.
Take care of yourself. If you do end up with more debt than you can manage due to illness, the counselors at the Center for Financial Resources can help. We see many people come in with very large medical bills, even if they did have health insurance. We will walk you through your options and, more importantly, assure you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel of debt. Just call us at 605-330-2700 or schedule an appointment online.
written by Breck Miller
images courtesy freedigitalphotos.net