How much do you have in your budget for eyewear? Glasses can run up to $500 or more with expensive frames, as well as special lenses and coatings. However, there is no reason you have to spend that much money on eye care. Read on for some tips that can save you money on your next eyewear purchase.
- Avoid Designer Frames – Did you know that the same company that makes most designer frames also manufactures the more economical consumer frames? The Italian group, Luxottica makes the Chanel, Versace, and Prada frames, but also manufactures frames for Pearl Vision, LensCrafters, and Target (as well as owning Sunglass Hut). In many cases, you can find sturdy frames that are almost identical to the designer ones for a fraction of the price.
- Consider Online Vendors – Online vendors such as Warby Parker, Zenni Optical, and America's Best Contacts & Eyeglasses offer great prices and reasonable return and fitting policies. Warby Parker offers the Home Try-On program with free shipping on five frames, allowing you to choose your favorite and return the rest for free.
- Try Out Big-Box Stores – If you have concerns about using online vendors for something as individualized as glasses, or you can't afford to wait for them to be shipped, several big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco have in-store discount optometry services where you can verify that you are comfortable with the eyewear. In some cases, they will fit lenses into frames you have already purchased elsewhere for a relatively small surcharge.
- Use FSA Money – If you have a Flexible Savings Account (FSA), take advantage of it. An FSA allows you to pay for your eye exams and glasses with pre-tax dollars. Plan your total FSA expenses to start out the year and include your eye care needs in the budget. Generally, FSA dollars cannot be rolled over, so shop around for your preferred glasses and frames during the year to avoid a last-minute purchase at the end of the year. You may not have very good options by that time.
- Look for Discounts – You know that someday you are going to lose a pair of glasses or break them. Why not try to save money by buying a second set at the same time? At the very least, ask for a discount. Optometrists may be more open to a negotiation, while chains may have other package offers that you can use. However, don't be tempted by a package deal that incorporates items you would not have bought without the deal.
- Shop Early – You should periodically shop for glasses before you need a new pair. Sign up with local suppliers for e-mail promotions and other deals, and take advantage of sales when they arise. After breaking your last pair of glasses, you are more interested in speed of replacement than with finding the best deal.
- Don't Forget the Case – A good case is worth the investment if it keeps you from breaking a pair of glasses or scratching up the lenses. If any case that comes with your purchase is not adequate, try to negotiate for a better model.
See how easy it is to save money on seeing better? All wordplay aside, with some planning and initiative, you should be able to find just the pair of glasses you need without putting a dent in your budget. Be sure to view all of your options carefully and look for savings opportunities throughout the year. (Sorry, we couldn't resist.)