Sense & Centsibility Blog

Cold and Flu Season is Almost Here

School is back in session and colder weather will be here soon. So it's the perfect time for this flashback post of Ashley's about cold and flu prevention (that won't cost you money) and what to do once you're down with the sickness.

There is no question that the cold and flu season is a real pain. No one likes suffering and having their plans side tracked because they have a cold… but we all know it is coming. In addition to the inconvenience those germs can cost us some serious dough! When you add it all up Americans spend big bucks on prevention, diagnosis, and treatments. It appears that these seasonal germy tourists create a booming industry. I found some stats that may surprise you. According to USA Today, Yahoo Health, and WebMD, Americans are spending billions on the war against the most common cold and flu viruses.


When you see your family member start sneezing or you feel that tickle in your throat, there is nothing you won’t do or spend to try and prevent a full blown cold. Let’s start with hand know that stuff that is on every counter, literally everywhere from the bank to the blowing alley. And you grab for it every chance you get. Americans spend $175 million a year trying to kill 99.9% of all germs with these gels. Some are very effective but not all of them, so do your homework before you spend your money. If it is you that is feeling those first signs of a cold or know you will be entering a germ infested area like an airplane or elementary school, you may think about taking some immune boosting, cold fighting, super supplement. If this is you… you are not alone, we collectively spend $300 million a year on these items just for the chance to win the battle.

You got it…now what?

Well, your prevention didn’t work so you can feel the symptoms slowly multiplying and it’s time for some relief.  You go to your local pharmacy and buy something to help with the laundry list of symptoms that you have. You may need one kind for day time and another to help you sleep, and maybe a little extra something for the cough. It all adds up to an annual total of about $4.2 billion. It may seem outrageous but with Americans getting 1 billion colds a year, it really doesn’t seem so crazy after all. Unfortunately, these medicines mask your symptoms and don’t cure that cold itself which is going to last 10-14 days. So you might have to make at least one more trip to the pharmacy before this cold is done!

Am I getting worse?

When your cold drags on for days on end and there is no relief in sight, what is the next step? We head to the Doctors office. Cold and flu viruses count for about 75 to 100 million physician visits every year which equals about $7.7 billion. I know this first hand: there is nothing worse than going to the Doctor and having them tell you it is a virus and you have to just wait it out. All you want is to feel better and it isn’t happening! Even though antibiotics won’t help a virus we still beg for it just in case it will make us better! This adds up to another $400 million a year in prescription medications to treat our symptoms.

If you are sick, you have to stay home

Doctor holding stethoscopeWhen we are sick we need to stay home to recover and to keep others we work with from getting ill as well. In addition, kids need to stay home
from school so about 189 million school days are missed every year. As a parent, I would like to take a moment to thank you for keeping your kids home when they are sick and I promise to do the same. Parents miss 126 million work days to care for sick children and when you put a number on that, its $20 billion a year!

So what is the good news?

There are a lot of things that you can do to prevent or reduce the length of a seasonal illness that won’t cost you a penny:

  1. Get enough sleep. It's best to get 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep.
  2. Take a walk. A simple walk can boost your immune system for 24 hours.
  3. Eat healthy. Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals that keep you healthy
  4. Wash your hands. Good old fashioned warm, soapy water is the best way to keep the germs away.
  5. Stay hydrated. Water helps you flush toxins from your body.
  6. Laugh. It is a great way to relieve everyday stress which can bring down your immune system.

As indicated in #6, stress can be play a big role in getting sick and finances frequently cause that stress. For more helpful tips, check out another post from Ashley: "Six Ways to Reduce Financial Stress."

LSS Financial Counseling is here to empower you to take control of your finances. Just like we have doctor appointments to maintain our health, everyone needs a financial check up. So give us a call today at 888.577.2227 to get started. If you don't want to wait, go to our website to begin an online budgeting counseling session.

Author Ashley Hagelin is a Certified Financial Counselor and she specializes in Reverse Mortgage Counseling.