There is some overlap in techniques for saving on drugs and for saving on other diabetes supplies, but some differences are worth noting. Older, potentially cheaper forms of supplies, if available at all, are seldom the wise choice, since technological improvements have made newer products more accurate and often much easier to use, lowering the chances of user error and wasted supplies. Because of this, smart cost-cutting is usually limited to finding ways to save on the supplies you already use. Buying in bulk is one way to do this; the savings can be significant, but make sure not to buy more of any item than you’ll use before its expiration date.
Some supplies, such as lancets and syringes, may be safely reused. With good hygiene, it is usually acceptable to use the same lancet throughout a 24-hour period, although you should check with your doctor first. One syringe can be used multiple times throughout a day, as well, unless you have a history of infections or are ill or immune-compromised. Make sure to recap the needle after each use, and don’t use alcohol on it, since this can damage its protective coating. After injecting insulin, force out any insulin that remains in the needle; if left there it can form clogs that, when the needle is reinserted into the bottle, may accelerate spoilage of the insulin. Again, check with your doctor if you are considering reusing syringes.
Ordering supplies by mail (on the Internet or by phone) is often, but not always, the most cost-effective way to buy them. If you need assistance with a new blood glucose meter or other equipment, it may be difficult to get help from a mail-order pharmacy, whereas most local pharmacies offer free assistance. Also, since the amount of time a supply lasts can vary, many insurance companies require personal initiation of each mail-order shipment (as opposed to automatically shipping supplies on a predetermined schedule). If you think you might forget to reorder before you run out completely, it’s probably best to stick with local suppliers.
No matter how pressured you are financially, skipping necessary monitoring is not a good way to save money; the cost of monitoring is practically nothing compared to the potential cost of complications.
A healthy diet doesn’t have to cost any more than an unhealthy one — in fact, it may cost considerably less with the right approach. One of the keys to saving money while maximizing nutrition is to plan meals well in advance. This means you can buy and prepare ingredients in larger quantities, focusing on the bigger nutrition picture and saving preparation time while cutting grocery-store costs. When shopping, note that precooked, presliced, and individually wrapped items are usually more expensive than their raw, whole, and unportioned equivalents. However, if you’re short on time for food preparation, a meal composed of prepared items from the grocery store may still be less expensive and more nutritious than a restaurant meal. A healthy microwave dinner once in a while is fine, too — but in general, try to buy items that are processed as little as possible while still convenient. Not only will it save you money, but you will also have greater control over what goes into your mouth.
Although less-expensive store-brand items may be noticeably different from their famous-brand equivalents, don’t dismiss them without trying them first. Also, if a grocery item is available in bulk and can be used before it spoils, it may be a good choice — but consider whether having such a ready supply of the item might lead you to increase portion sizes. Finally, read the labels carefully on reduced-fat, reduced-sugar, or other specially formulated “dietetic” foods. Although these items may have some advantages over the regular versions, they may still be high in calories and are likely to be expensive. If you need a snack, consider having some unsalted nuts, low-fat dairy products (which don’t tend to cost more than higher-fat dairy products), fruits, and vegetables; these foods pack a nutritious punch relative to their cost.