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When did you last hold a $50 bill in your hand? The new ones look strange … faintly colored, graphically random.

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You should pick one up some time to reacquaint yourself with something called U.S. currency. Look closely. It still reads: This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.

Here’s my question: Does pumping my own gasoline at Costco constitute a debt, either public or private?

Between the moment my gas tank is full and the moment I actually pay for the gas, I owe Costco some money. I have incurred a momentary debt, and it seems to me I should be able to pay it with my U.S. currency.

Just try. In fact, at Costco filling stations my only choice is to pay with plastic—even though there are plenty of human attendants readily available.

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These days the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs is enough to give you a heart attack. If medication drug costs have got you down, cheer up! Then check out these seven ways you can save money on prescription medications—plus where to get some medicines (antibiotics!) for free.

Money in medical field

GoodRX

What a fantastic resource. GoodRX is a website with no sign-up or credit card required. Just type in the drug name or download the mobile app for IOS and Android—to compare prices at different pharmacies in the area AND get coupons to cut the cost even further. Sounds like a hoax I know, but it’s not. This is one of the best reliable resources on the Internet. Drug prices vary wildly between pharmacies and GoodRx finds you the lowest prices plus discounts on top of the published price.

Here’s an example  in the Los Angeles area as I update this information) for 90 capsules of 300mg Gabapentin (generic Neurontin): Ralphs: $11.97; Costco $13.36; Target $17.10; Rite Aid $22.59; Walgreens $23.59. Within just a few miles the price for that particular medication is all over the place. GoodRx.com makes sure you find the lowest price available.

Here’s another example:  30 tablets 40mg Lipitor (generic). The lowest GoodRx price for the most common version of atorvastatin is around $3.60, 97% off the average retail price of $127.16.

NeedyMeds

Another site you might want to check if you can’t afford your medications: NeedyMeds.org. The site lists programs that help people reduce their healthcare costs, including patient assistance programs and co-pay cards offered by drug companies. Coupons and rebates, too. NeedyMeds also offers a free drug discount card.


RELATED: All You Need to Know to Get Your Prescription Eyeglasses Online


The doc talk

Usually, doctors don’t keep up with the retail price of medications they prescribe—they’re thinking in terms of successful treatment, not dollar signs. A pharmacy tech told me recently that routinely she recommends patients call their doctor for a cheaper option once she shows them what the medication prescribed will cost. Don’t be afraid to make that call. More than likely there is a less expensive option that will be just as effective.  Read more

It’s been a few years now since my husband and I began talking about relocating to another state. At first, it was only a dream but soon idle chatter turned to serious talk. That developed into a list of “must-haves”—things a new location would have to offer for us to even consider making the leap.

At the top of the list? Weather. Having lived in Southern California for most of our lives, we knew it would be impossible to beat the weather we’d come to love and pretty much taken for granted. Finding the next-best weather was at the top of our must-haves.

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Second on the list: Costco. You think I’m kidding? They don’t call me the Queen of Costco for nothing.

I believe that anyone—a household of one or a big family—can stretch the money by shopping at a discount warehouse club like Costco. But only if you are willing to stick to a very strict list of rules, some of which may be unique to your particular situation.

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