Cable Woes & Dental Costs

Yesterday my morning started out with having to call Cox Cable. 

Never an enviable chore. But I have had ongoing problems lately with them charging me a different amount every month for months now. 

I have my account on auto pay, so my payment automatically comes out of my bank account. If I didn’t get an email showing what I’m about to pay, I wouldn’t know what they’re charging me. 

I find it easier to have my bills on auto pay because then I don’t have to worry about forgetting to pay them. I’m not as young as I once was, and my memory isn’t as sharp either.

My cable bill the last few months has gone from $140+ to $160+ to $200+ to $190+ to $220+. 

I will talk to a customer representative and I end the conversation each time with: “Now you’re saying that my bill will not change one iota for 12 months, is that correct?” 

To which they will wholeheartedly agree.

And then the following month, it changes. They say that it is because this part of my bundle or that part of my bundle expired.

Well then don’t promise me that my bill will not change for 12 months.

My cable bill includes: internet, TV, phone, long distance (to call my sister), Cox tech support (so I have a computer tech available 24/7 to keep my computer clean and safe.)

I actually tried to take off the TV part of my bundle, and do you know what I was told? That it would change my bundle and my bill would actually go up instead of down! Geez Louise.

After haggling and haggling with them, I’m so stressed that I finally just say I’m done. Because I know I have to face calling the dentist.

I was supposed to get additional dental work done a year ago last January. At that time I had just had three crowns put in. Do you know what those things cost now? I’m sure that you do.
Well, I’ve had chipped teeth for months, plus my gums hurt so much it’s hard to eat. 

I’ve tried very hard to keep the pupsters healthy. It’s been surgery of some variety with either Abi or Charlie for over a year now.

But I don’t want to lose any teeth either. So I just had to bite the bullet and call them. Who wants to go to the dentist?

So they tell me to come in. 

They x-ray my teeth, clean my teeth, and do a cancer check. Things were fine on the cancer check (thank goodness and for that I’m quite thankful), but the state of my gums are problematic. 

I knew something was going on because of the blood when I floss.

Plus the two broken back teeth that are right next to one another have to have crowns NOW. Can’t put that off any longer.

So Thursday morning they have three hours slotted for two crowns. Plus they’re taking a protrusion from the inside of my mouth. You know, those places that you sometimes bite when you’re chewing and it keeps getting bigger?

Well, it’s been over a year that I’ve been chewing on it. So it has to go. 

And then there’s the chipped teeth from, apparently, grinding my teeth at night. Totally unaware of that happening.

I have to have one of those things made that you wear at night so you don’t grind your teeth. 

My total comes to around $4000. 
I do qualify for 12 months without paying interest if I can manage to pay it off in that time.

When I was married my credit rating was in the toilet. It’s taken me all this time to completely change that scenario.
I never thought I was grinding my teeth at night. But I suppose I try not to dwell on worries during the day. So it must somehow come creeping in at night.

You can’t be alive these days and not have stress. The state of the country. The state of the world. Expenses. Health. Life in general.

You work on relaxation and peace of mind. But it isn’t a constant because nothing in life is a constant.

This too shall pass. 

It could always be far worse. We all know that.

This morning I read that a blogger I read has breast cancer and is having a double mastectomy. She’s in her forties and has had a lot on her plate for as long as I’ve known her. Which has been quite a few years.

The blogging world is vast, and you get to know a lot of folks online. And you care about them.

I came home from the dentist and went straight out to the patio and proceeded to dead-head my petunias. For some reason that always relaxes me. And it did.



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  1. I was a fanatic about my teeth, flossed, brushed three times a day, went to the dentist every 6 months and even paid for my own braces as an adult. I then started grinding my teeth, 4 night guards later my dentist told me the next one would be made of stainless steel and my teeth would break before it did. Then one day I was eating an apple and my front teeth felt a little funny, I was in New Orleans on my way to Colorado and so I didn't give it much thought knowing I would be there in 2 days. I went to a dentist as soon as I arrived and he told me that the infection I had was so bad that my teeth would have to be removed on the top and I would have to have a plate made. I could have had implants but then we wouldn't have had the money to pay for the mortgage so I went with the top denture. I'm not saying dentures are fun but I no longer grind my teeth! I do have my own teeth on the bottom except for a couple at the back but that's not a problem. I would never have auto pay for cable just for the reasons you have mentioned, highway robbery I say!! Every year in April I phone Spectrum and tell them I want everything removed unless they can give me a better deal and so far they have always come through with better pricing for all of the services we have. Good luck at the dentist.

  2. Dental care is so important! And it is never too late to be doing something to have better oral health, even if you have dentures! I have this attitude because I benefitted from my parents' bad experience. Both of them came from poor families and they did not get dental care as children. They both had dentures by the time they were 30. They began taking my siblings and me to the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings when we were very young, and I have continued to do so over the years. At age 61, I have healthy teeth and gums and am proof that dental problems do not have to be a part of growing old. My husband is better proof — he didn't go to the dentist for a few years in his late 30s (before we met!) and he developed gum disease. For the past 15 years or so he has gone for cleanings FOUR time a year to keep the gum disease at bay. It ends up he develops plaque on his teeth, which turns to tartar, at a faster rate than a lot of people. (You can see the tartar form practically overnight!) Plaque is filmy gunk from food and saliva mixing together, which coats the teeth and is called tartar when it hardens. The gum disease comes from the tartar building up and getting between the teeth and gums and causing inflammation, pain, and maybe even bleeding. The gums can pull away from the teeth due to the tartar buildup, and this lets more gunk get down in around the teeth roots, and can even lead to bone loss and ultimately loose teeth. Ultimately, my husband still lost several bottom teeth and had to get implants, but he would have lost those teeth much earlier, and lost more teeth, if he had not gotten back to the dentist when he did and kept up with regular cleanings.

    Sore and bleeding gums aren't just from lack of dental hygiene, it can also be a symptom of certain diseases, such as diabetes. Gum disease has been linked to some other issues such as coronary issues. So it really is important to not let gum problems linger, but to have a dentist determine what is going on.

    Yes, dental care is expensive. (It costs a lot of money to repair stuff in the mouth that was allowed to deteriorate over a long time, just as it does on a car or a house.) We are on a tight budget, and don't have cable, don't take vacations, drive old cars, and so on, but we don't cut out dental care. Oh, about dental care even with dentures — at one point, my mom still had a few teeth and her dentures were of the partial type. Except for when she took them out for a few minutes to clean them, my mom kept the dentures in around the clock, even when she slept. I told her repeatedly that she should take them out when she slept, or she would develop gum disease and bone loss. She'd lose the remaining teeth, plus her dentures wouldn't fit right due to the shrinking gums and bone loss. She wouldn't change her ways, and sure enough she had those problems develop, and lost the remaining teeth and had to get new dentures made. She still won't leave the dentures out at night, and she will continue to have gum issues. So, even with dentures, it's possible to still have better oral health — and fewer expenses — by seeing a dentist regularly and taking care of your gums.

    By the way, I did get my wisdom teeth removed at a dental college clinic many years ago, and it was a positive experience and did cost less. I would recommend checking out that option. We go to a regular dentist because he has been seeing us for years and thus knows my husband's issues really well. If you can't get to a dental college clinic, then find a dentist you like and trust and go regularly and it will be one of the best things you can do for your health.

  3. I don't know how good it would be for you, but you can buy a kit from the drug store and make one yourself. It's not perfect, but it can work for some. Don't know the name…

    The Cox billing sounds messed up. If you have a cell phone, usually you can call your family without long distance charges on most plans. That's weird that the land line phone removal doesn't change the bill, because there are so many taxes on that utility. I have not had one for years, so maybe now there is no benefit to dropping it. xoxo Su

  4. Ugh. The dentist…I am glad that the gardening relaxed you. I find it does the same for me. Now if we could just get money to grow on trees…

  5. Sometimes life is just too much. Especially when you are not operating with much money. I have a bundle deal with AT&T, but mine just went up unexpectedly. I probably had a deal that just expired. I dread calling them, but I'll have to. My daughter wants me to cancel the TV part of the bundle altogether and just use some method through the internet. I don't understand how it works, plus I don't have a "smart" TV and would have to buy one. So I don't know if I'll do that or not. I don't watch a lot of TV but there are certain shows I would enjoy now and then. We'll see.

    Brenda, you should do some research on why your gums are bleeding. It could be a nutritional deficiency. They should definitely not be doing that. Just google "gum disease" or something similar and see what you find. You might be able to heal them without any dental help at all. I'd hate to see you go through periodontal surgery if you don't have to.

    Well, life is a challenge even at the best of times, isn't it? Two choices: go to bed and cover up your head and stay or get your body moving and figure out just the next step, then the next, and so on. I have always gotten too bored going to bed and covering up my head! So I just keep slogging along and surprisingly there are some days that seem worth the struggle! Oh, yes, as the other reader said, "Take some deep breaths" every day at several different times during the day. And this from my family practice doc: Drink LOTS of water during the day, especially if you are feeling a lack of energy.

    I'm sending you calm energy and happy thoughts, plus a heap of fortitude to do what you need to do regarding the dental and internet issues. Love and blessings, Naomi S.

    1. They said my gums are bleeding due to gum disease. I haven't even flossed my teeth since I went to the dentist because they're so sore from the cleaning. Which never used to happen. But I guess our teeth and gums get old and tired and swollen like everything else.

      As for my energy, I had lots of energy till the last 3-4 months. The dogs are still waking me up all night to go out. I think it's because Abi can't breathe well in the heat of the day, so wants to go out at night. If I don't run steam she is coughing all night. I'm just not getting the uninterrupted sleep I used to get.

  6. Don't even get me started on teeth… I need some replaced and I'm not looking forward to it at all. UGH. I'm sorry about the cable bill. I don't do automatic anymore, because of that same problem. I wish we had other choices.


    1. Well Cox Cable has been taken off auto pay now. I never have had any trouble with my other bills being on auto pay. I have my car and rent insurance taken out that way, plus my rent, but I know exactly what it's going to be. I have my electricity divided over 12 months and I know within a dollar what that's going to be. I try hard to pay off credit cards or just pay them off in a few months if things are too tight.

  7. The whole cable thing boggles my mind. And spending time on the phone with these people makes me just want to go along with the routine of crazy billing.

    We don't have dental insurance. I've always taken good care of my teeth so I've had no big surprises until January when I found out I had a fracture way up high on one of my front teeth (one just to the side of my very front tooth…confusing!). It had to be surgically removed…very scary. Then I had an artificial tooth on a sort of plate that fits on the roof of my mouth. Now I have bone growth so I'll have a screw put in. Then in three months my brand new porcelain artificial tooth!!! Ta Da! $3000. I make monthly payments to Wells Fargo with no interest as long as I pay it off on time. I'm okay with this as I believe making our own credit, especially those of us who are married, is so important. All in all, dental work is so incredibly expensive.

    Google teeth grinding to see if there are any alternative remedies.

    Jane x

    1. I just can't afford the payments. I went through my bills and tried to get my cable bill down, and managed to get $5 off. I'd tell Cox Cable to shove it you know where, but I have to have internet to work. And I have to use the service the complex here allows

  8. Hi I have the same dental woes as you and from the sound of it most of your commenters. I have spent a fortune on my teeth and really have never regretted but there just comes a time when you say enough is enough. I wonder now at my age 64 if I am not trying to maintain something that is no longer possible. Dentistry is a big business now and you are in that chair and you agree to most anything. My rule now is give me the "treatment plan" and the cost and I will think about it. I have yet to have a tooth pulled but believe me I am closer and closer. It is not like you have them pulled all at once. Sometimes I get so irritated at the dentists…they kind of act like $3000 to $5000 is nothing. I really would think about things if I had to go into debt for it. And there are other options even in your dentist office…they just start out with the more expensive ones. Don't stress out about it…you are in control.

    1. It really is so scary. I have decided (and I really already knew this) that I just can't even afford those monthly payments. I have to think about taxes, and I never know what that's going to be as a "small business."

  9. Hey Brenda. I made my own bite guard through They send you a impression mold just like you would do at the dentist, and then you send it back and they make your mold in a lab. $100 dollars vs $500…….and it fits great. I actually like wearing it. Good luck.

  10. Hi Brenda. I so enjoy your blog. Mostly a lurker and not a commenter, but please check out They send you the kit to do the mold at home and then they make it in the lab. It cost me about $100 dollars, but that was better than $500 at the dentist. My guard is great and very professional. Good luck.

  11. Brenda – sometimes they can put a permanent bridge in instead of crowns. That's what I had done with teeth at the back. It's been there for a long time and is perfectly fine. I just have to use a threader to floss under the bridge. I grind my teeth too. Have worn a nightguard since I was 20ish. (now 70). We have Comcast Xfinity here. I usually sign a 2 year agreement for a three utility package. Cable (Hi-def), Internet – High speed, and security system – with taxes and fees comes to $190 and I get On Demand with all the shows and movies. I can wait a few weeks then play them 3 or 4 episodes at a time and get caught up. It's great! Whenever my package deal ends – they up my price. I then call them, tell them I'm going to have to get rid of the package and they come back with another 2 year deal at the same price or less. LOL! You really have to barter with these companies. Hope you gums feel better soon. I have problems with that also. Getting old ain't for sissies.

    1. You used to be able to barter with this company. But that is a thing of the past. I've talked to a lot of folks about it, and they tell me they can't get anywhere on that either. I've told them time and again that I'm moving service and they just say good luck. I'll check into the bridge. Never had one.

  12. Comcast is just as bad, it's a losing battle. I often think with fondness of the days long ago when we only had 3 or 4 channels, and had to get up to change the channel.

    I hope you can find someplace less expensive for the dental work. It hurts enough without the big bill for it.

    1. I'm going to check out various places. Yeah, two teeth are broken. But I just don't eat over there. I worried all night about that price and just about made myself sick over it. Then called this afternoon and cancelled my appointment for in the morning.

  13. The dental college may be an answer for you, as previously suggested. Don't be afraid. They do not make a move without the supervising dentist ok-ing it and he checks their work at each step. Also the students are allowed so much grant money to give out each term. So be sure to ask.
    If you need periodontal work, these will be dentists who are practicing already but now have
    chosen to work in a specialty. All I can say is a dentist who was the head of our county dental society totally destroyed several of my teeth. My new dentist looked into my mouth and asked me if I'd gone across the border to Mexico for the work.

  14. Brenda . . .your last comment threw me. If you could save hundreds of dollars
    by going to a dental school, isn't it worth the trouble of finding a new address? As for the phone bill, yikes, they really take advantage of people. I do not make a living online like you do, so my comments may be completely unhelpful and if so, I apologize.. I like being a frugalista, so here is what we do with the phone/internet business. We have Century Link for a landline and high speed internet (they bundle the internet with the landline). The bill was increasing a little bit every month; I called them and explained that it was becoming unaffordable for me at $100.00/month. They knocked $25.00 off in "special deals". It angers me that they can do this when we complain instead of just giving everyone the best deal. For a cell phone, I use a prepaid trac fone and I have complete control over costs simply by using or not using my prepaid time. We have always chosen to live without cable/dish and have discovered the delights of streaming entertainment through the internet. We don't even subscribe to net flix because we find so many awesome documentaries on Youtube. If I wanted to watch TV for hours, I would just find some good quilting or gardening videos online and be completely happy.

    I wish you the very best of luck with these many challenges. You are smart and will work your way through them.

    1. You're right. I just cancelled my appointment. I will check into the dental school thing and see what's around here. I did get my teeth cleaned the other day anyway.

  15. Good luck to you. One thing I am grateful not to worry about here in France is health care. Single payer is wonderful.
    You might want to ask the Better Business Bureau about your cable woes. They might be able to help you straighten it out.

  16. Oh the dentist, I just had gum surgery in February. I'd do as somebody suggested and see if there isn't a dental schl at one of the colleges. I grind my teeth too and hate wearing that retainer.

  17. I'm so sorry for all the stress in your life right now. I just went through the same thing with doctor's office/pharmacy trying to get my same ol' prescriptions refilled. It's hard to get a person to talk to on the phone and it seems so complicated with so many rules that nothing ever gets done. Ah…I miss the old days! Sending soothing thoughts your way.

  18. I have heard too many war stories to be on ANY auto pay for anything. Get off them ASAP and mark billing dates to be paid on your calendar, easy-peasy. In January, I sit down and mark the whole year's bill payment due dates. Then when I get a paper bill, I will know how much and can mark the charge and the date I send in my payment on my calendar, too, and therefore keep a yearly record right there.Put your calendar right where you can see it and give it a quick glance everyday.

  19. I'm having repair work on my teeth. The repairs from long ago are wearing down. One appointment that I am scheduled is for $3,600. Another for $1,200. I think it's just crazy. But I know it's important.
    I try to keep my cable to $100. It comes to $126 and it includes all he things you get. Are you stuck to one carrier?
    Yes life is stressful. I'm facing medical issues . Right now I have two hospitals calling to schedule. I feel like I am in a custody battle. Would you believe this is now at the two month mark. And that doesn't seem to be the reason I was in the hospital for three days in Feb. and everyone says I worry too much and everything will be alright.
    Hugs to you.

  20. I have a hate/hate relationship with the dentist…I avoid going until I have to, which of course is not a good thing. I'm terrified, always have been. I need a crown also, but have been putting it off for a couple of years now. Yikes, good luck!

  21. Two years ago I spent a good time at the dentist for crowns. All because of grinding my teeth at night. I finally went to WalMart last September and bought a good mouth guard to wear at night. So far so good and I sleep much better.

  22. ACK, Brenda! I know, I need 2 crowns as well! But the Cox bill. Just something that helps me. There are certain copies that I allow for an auto pay and some I do not, because it's much too hard to get the refund due, due to overpayments. Cable bills are high on my list of never being on auto pay. To me it's giving them free range to do as they wish. I hope you get it settled. But can I advise you to reconsider giving them free-range? LOL.

  23. Hi Brenda,
    I read your blog every morning and enjoy it immensely. A note on cable bill. I cut my cord several years ago and couldn't be happier. I only have internet with them now. I have Roku for TV (free after initial investment) and Basic talk for my landline. It's through the internet and only costs $15/mo. Subscribe to Netflix $7.99. Internet costs $70. Total is about $100/mo. I know you need special service for your blogging but you might check it out. Good luck with your dental work! Hope it isn't too painful

    1. I checked into all of your suggestions. But I couldn't get my bill down that much due to my need for computer tech support (due to being a blogger) and so I got it down a little bit. And will be researching other ideas.

  24. I understand how you feel Brenda. I have a problem with clenching my teeth when I sleep. I still need one more crown and now that my cold/cough is gone I need to schedule it. $$$$ and time and pain. Oh well, like you I want to keep my teeth. Hang in there and enjoy the garden, it is a very peaceful place. Hugs!

  25. I know what you mean about auto pay Brenda. I used to pay some of my bills that way but found that the companies couldn't be trusted so I don't do that anymore.
    Same thing with my teeth except one of them wasn't caught in time and I had to have it removed, it was second from the front so I had to have a implant which in spite of the cost ($4500 for implant and another $900 for the crown)it is great, just like my own except I had to pay for it!! I could have had a root canal instead and then a crown but I opted for the implant so I know I won't have any more trouble with it. Talking of stress we went to take a look at our 'new' townhouse yesterday and it was just as I imagined when we first looked but my husband said he didn't realize how small it was. The kitchen is much smaller than the one we have now and because we both cook he said 'I think there may be some aggravation in that kitchen!! I take no notice because I know in the end everything will turn out just fine.

  26. Brenda so sorry about all you have going on. Life can really throw us stress. Can you check into a local college for dentistry to see if you can go there. They are always a lot more reasonable than a full fledge dentist. They are students learning but they are always supervised by dentists.
    I had a friend that did not have insurance do this and it saved her thousands of dollars. My dentist wanted big bucks for a guard at night for my husband and he got one at Walmart and it works great. Just some thoughts that might help. Hope your week goes better.

  27. Life is stressful, isn't it? It affects all of us – no one is immune. I am sorry you are having these financial/cable/dental woes. Been there, done that. I agree that being in the garden can be a stress reliever. Remember to do some deep breathing when you're doing your yoga.

  28. I hear you, Brenda. I have a love/hate relationship with our cable/internet/phone server, too. You can't win!
    I have to go have a couple of crowns put on, too. Not only do I dread the $$$$ end of it but the time factor just does me in!
    You are right about the fact that things could always be worse. I am glad I am healthy enough to complain about things….lol xo Diana

  29. Brenda, when you get your apparatus for grinding, never ever leave it where the dogs might find it. They might chew it up. Ask me how I know!!!! {I answered the phone and placed it on my nightstand.i came back shortly to find its remains in the center of my bed}

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