Now back to your regularly scheduled appointments

As much as I dislike going to see my dentist and doctors, I go for all of my preventative care appointments (every six months or once a year or whenever is recommended) to keep my medical costs low. I know from experience that regular checkups are less expensive than emergency care, which sincerely plays the largest part in all of it. These regular appointments are also there for early detection, so small problems don’t become large ones (also saving me money).

The easiest way to stay on top of these appointments is to schedule your next visit before you leave your dentist or doctor’s office. The same is true for hair appointments, car maintenance, and your pet’s veterinarian visits. Along similar lines, appointments for annual servicing of your heater, chimney, and other house work can be scheduled for the next year before the technician leaves your home (assuming you liked the work that was done). If your family enjoys going skiing every winter and you have a favorite place to stay, make your reservation for next year when you settle up your account for this year’s trip. Even though you have no idea what you’ll be doing 12 months in the future, it’s better to get an appointment on both of your schedules early. You may have to move the appointment, but you at least have one to move if you need to.

Regularly scheduling appointments will free up your time (you don’t have to call multiple times to try to get squeezed into someone’s schedule or call multiple providers hunting for someone who can help), alleviate stress (you don’t have to worry about your heater not turning on the first cold day of fall), and likely save you money over the long-term.

21 Comments for “Now back to your regularly scheduled appointments”

  1. posted by Emily on

    I have to see several specialists throughout the year, and unfortunately, many of them will not schedule more than a few months in advance. I find out as far out they will schedule in advance (three to six months) and then set a reminder in my Google calendar to set-up the appointment at that time. I also find that without setting my own reminder, I’ll forget and end up not going when I should. By the time you DO get a reminder from your doctor, their schedule is not as open.

  2. posted by Elizabeth on

    Try finding an emergency appointment with a dentist at this time of year too! Everyone’s on holiday so the limited availability of emergency appointments halves again. I had to do it a couple of years ago – never again and now I make the appointment as I leave.

    My hairdresser offers a 20% discount to those appointments which were booked at the end of the previous one. Well worth my while since the cut and colour goes into 3 figures.

  3. posted by Mary Anne on

    This works only if your schedule stays the same. Mine does not. I find it very annoying when they won’t take my check until I schedule the next appointment, and then having to call and change it wastes both my time and theirs.

  4. posted by RebKnitz on

    I try to schedule all of my annual appointments in the month of my birthday with the bi-annual appointments in the month of my “half-birthday.” Sure it stinks having appointments around your birthday, but that way I have a reminder “oh, it’s my birthday, when’s that dentist appointment again?” instead of “huh, when was my last appointment??”

  5. posted by Mimi on

    my dentist offers a reminder service. they call me to make an appointment. very comfortable!

  6. posted by Marjoryt on

    As a professor, I have a “gap” between the end of the fall semester and beginning of the spring semester. This has proven to be a PERFECT time to schedule anything, simply because my schedule isn’t booked with my own stuff. I’ve actually called on January 3rd or 4th (first Monday after the holiday) and gotten appointments for the same or next day. I try to schedule several appointments for doctor visits and testing for the same day, just to avoid repeat trips. Often the doctors’ offices will help me do just that.

  7. posted by pkilmain on

    If i didn’t make a hair appt when i’m there i’d never be able to get in when i need to. My hairdresser works only a few days a week, and both she and i like to travel. Finding a free time for both of us is sometimes quite a puzzle.

    I also like to make regular doctor/dentist appts before i leave the office. Frankly i hate making phone calls and will put it off as long as i can. Sure some of these appts end up being at an inconvient times, but more often they work out fine.

  8. posted by camellia tree on

    I try to schedule these types of appointments early so that I can get the first appointment of the day. Saves a lot of time waiting, and often I can get to work at my regular time if I schedule appointments at 7 or 8 am.

  9. posted by DawnF on

    I maintain a simple Excel spreadsheet with our family’s doctor information (name/address/phone/website) including 3 columns – the past year, the current year and the next year. At one quick glance, my husband and I can see all of our appointment dates and times for our family for each of our doctors/dentists.

    It is SUPER convenient to look at the spreadsheet and see when we saw a particular physician last year and then plan for the current year’s appointments. Likewise, we can see our current year’s appointments that we have attended and call to schedule the next year appointments (if the office allows distant appointments).

    At the end of each year, I delete the oldest column and add next year.

    I really do love this Family Medical Information spreadsheet and I refer to it often – and immediately update our spreadsheet and family calendar with the newest pertinent appointment information.

    We signed up for our air conditioner service company’s spring and winter check-up plan and they contact us when it’s time for the air conditioner and heater check-ups. I definitely love that!

    Might I suggest to the readers also to check the fire/smoke alarm batteries at least twice per year such as January 1 and June 1, etc. Pick the dates and put it in the calendar!

  10. posted by chacha1 on

    I do the same as RebKnitz. Birthday month is for annual preventive healthcare. Of course I’m lucky my b-day is in November, which seems to be a good time to schedule these things. June might not work as well.

    We use the time changes to replace smoke alarm batteries. And will be also having our apt manager check the furnace filter at those times as well. Turned out the last time the units were “serviced,” ours was somehow overlooked. Grrr.

  11. posted by Lisa on

    I also schedule my yearly appointments around my birthday. But I go one step further and trying to schedule them all on the SAME DAY! (or multiple appts on two different days)

    Then I go shopping to reward myself. A once a year shopping splurge is ok on Unclutterer, right? Of course, this does suck if you have a deductible that you have to meet because all those bills have to get paid in one chunk, rather than spreading them out.

  12. posted by Keter on

    @Mary Anne – “I find it very annoying when they won’t take my check until I schedule the next appointment…” I would not tolerate that behavior for one second. I would leave the check on the counter, tell them that such aggressive and rude marketing is unprofessional and unacceptable, and walk out. I would then look for another provider, one that measures success by how seldom I need to come see them because I’m actually healthy. That one is treating you like a teller machine.

  13. posted by claire on

    Like Lisa, when I was working I scheduled my appointments for the one day (doctor, dentist, optometrist). That way I felt justified in taking a sick day from work. I usually did it in November, and squeezed in a little Christmas shopping between appointments (I hate crowded shops in December, when some shoppers become a little too aggressive).

  14. posted by blu-k on

    Love the birthday month idea – I’m going to use that!

  15. posted by Practical Parsimony on

    I make about four months of haircuts at a time. I always get my hair cut/trimmed on the first Wednesday of the month. Around 11 am is the earliest I want to arrive. She wants all appointments around 2 pm and later saved for people working who come at the end of the day. I had a dentist refuse to see me when I failed to make appointments (twice in a year) his office made for me. I was in school and needed to make appointments between semesters, but they would not open appointment books farther than one month ahead of the present month, despite my pleas to give me an appointment during semester breaks. I always get appointments from my present dentist before I leave his office. But, I don’t have to pay first. I would just refuse to ever go back if that happened to me. Yes, I would leave the check and walk away.

  16. posted by Practical Parsimony on

    I meant I don’t have to make an appointment before paying. Oh, I meant that I missed two dentist appointments in seven years, not in one year. The reason I make haircut appointments months in advance is because of holiday parties, summer vacations, and other plans the beautician and I both have. I always get my hair cut before any holiday event.

  17. posted by Mark S on

    Make the annual appointments the same month as your birthday. Or even on your birthday. That way you can remember both.

  18. posted by snosie on

    Thanks for reminding me – I have to book the dentist. They send a postcard six monthly, and when I want to declutter the darn thing I ring and book in. Sometimes it takes me a while! They seem to think as it’s included in my health care (ie it’s free) I’ll jump at the chance, but it’s still the dentist!!

  19. posted by Maciej on

    I set up mobile phone notifications for all the periodic appointments: doctors’ checkups, dentist, car maintenance and review, car and home insurance, tyre exchange, birthdays of my family members, tax statement, paying monthly bills and so on. One day earlier in the evening – to prepare all the necessary id’s, documents and resources and on the day of visit – in order not to forget to go there. It does work for me. Guys – on my birthday, the visit at the dentist’s is the last thing I would like to do 🙂

  20. posted by Kate on

    Hmmm making appointments ON my birthday wouldn’t work so well for me, as my birthday is February 29th! I think my doctor wants to see me more often than that. =)

  21. posted by Felicity on

    Great post. The timing was interesting; I had a dental check-up this week and was anxious about it. Your statement, “I know from experience that regular checkups are less expensive than emergency care…” put me at ease. Thank you. (And the appt. went well.)

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