Budget 2011: Check Your Bank Statement for Fees

This is the third in a series on things to do BEFORE 2011 to get your budget in order.  To check out my other posts click here and here

Sometime in the next week or so you will probably get a bank statement in the mail.  If you are one of those people who does stuff paperless you will probably log in to check your balance.

When you look at your statement, check it for fees.  If you are paying a monthly fee for your checking account, STOP IT!  Why on earth should you pay to have access to your money?  It’s YOUR money!

Punch Debt in The Face recently did a post about this.  He had banked at Washington Mutual for years fee free.  Then they get bought by Chase and BOOM- a $10 fee pops up.  $120 a year to get to his own money! 

So if you are paying a monthly service fee for your checking account, it is probably (and I am just being polite when I say probably) time to either switch checking accounts or switch banks. 

If they gave you one fee what’s to stop them from giving you another?  So save some cash and make sure your checking accounts are fee free!

It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


Give Freely 12/15 – 12/21

Welcome to Give Freely!

Our goal is to present you each week with freebies or near freebies from your local grocery stores. Because these items are so inexpensive we are hoping that you will spend the extra few cents to pick up a spare item to donate to your community center, church, local food bank or shelter. Even if the items aren’t food, they can often be used in some way!

If you are a blogger who does deals for a supermarket not on this list and would be interested in participating, please send me an e-mail!

This gives you the opportunity to Give Freely!

Here are the great deals this week:

Farm Fresh (click here to see the whole list of deals from The Coupon Challenge- note these deals run through 12/24)

Idahoan Product $1
$0.40/1 Idahoan Product printable
Final: $0.20 each

Swanson Broth Can 14 oz $0.59
$0.75/5 Swanson Broth Can, exp. 1-31-11 (SS 11/07/10)
Final: 5/$1.45

Betty Crocker Potatoes $1.25
$0.50/2 Betty Crocker Boxed Potatoes, exp. 1-29-11 (GM 12/05/10)
$0.50/2 Betty Crocker Boxed Potatoes, exp. 1-15-11 (SS 11/21/10)
Final: 2/$1.50

Food Lion (click here to see the whole list of deals from A Frugal Chick)

Del Monte Canned Vegetables (14.5 – 15.25 oz select varities) $.60 each

Prego Pasta Sauce (23.5 – 24 oz select varities) 3/$5
$1/1 Prego Italian Sauce, exp. 12-31-10 (SS 10/03/10)
$0.75/2 Prego Italian Sauce, exp. 12-31-10 (SS 10/03/10)
$0.75/3 Prego Italian Sauce, exp. 12-31-10 (SS 10/03/10)
Final Price: As low as $.67 each

Gerber 2nd Foods (7 0z) 10/$10

Harris Teeter (click here to see the whole list of deals from Mom on Dealz)

Sister Schubert’s Rolls $1.99
-$0.75 coupon from SS 11/14 or
-$0.50 coupon from SS 11/14
Final=$0.49-$0.99 each depending on coupon used

Betty Crocker Super Moist Cake Mix 10/$10
Frosting $1
-$0.75 coupon for both from GM 11/14
Final=$0.50 each

Betty Crocker Potatoes $1
-$0.50/2 coupon from GM 12/5 or
-$1.00/2 coupon from GM 12/5
Final=$0.50 each

Martin’s (click here to see the whole list of deals from Young and Frugal in VA)

Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge Brownie Mix 10/$10

Del Monte Canned Fruit 10/$10

Betty Crocker Mashed Potoates 4/$5
-$0.50/2 from 12/5 GM or 11/21 SS or 11/14 GM *Doubles to $1/2
Final Price: $0.75 each after coupon

Winn Dixie (click here to see the whole list of deals from Saving Toward a Better Life)

Heinz Gravy $1

Rotel Tomatos $1

Gerber 2 pack First or Second Baby Food $1

It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


Budget 2011: Clean Out Your Closets

In 2011 I will be doing a short series on how to budget in the New Year.  But there are a few small steps you can take before 2011 to help start things off with a bang!  Last week I did my first post on creating a price book

My next suggestion is to take the time and do some “winter cleaning”.  And the week between Christmas and New Years is a great time to do it.

Now you may ask- what does cleaning out my closets have to do with budgeting for 2011?  Much more than you might think.  Let’s look at some of the reasons to get this project completed BEFORE 2011:

1- Begin the year with “new clothes”!  And nope, I don’t mean the ones under the tree.  Did you know most women only wear 20 – 30% of what is in their closet?  Buried inside your closet are clothes that you have totally forgotten about.  By cleaning everything out “new” pieces will emerge at no cost to you!  A new skirt or shirt, a cute pair of shoes, or a nice comfy sweater will be at your disposal.  New outfits will be created before your eyes!  By starting 2011 with so many new wardrobe pieces, you will minimize the need to go shopping.

2- Finish the year by grabbing the tax write off– Now I am not a tax advisor, but for most people dropping off unwanted items at a local thrift store is a tax write off.  So grab your old belongings that are still in great condition and drop them off where they can be re-sold.  Be sure to get a receipt and throw it in with your 2010 tax information.

3- Make Some Money- Some of your things are probably worth some cash.  Utilize Craigslist and ebay.  Or, if your clothing is good enough, consider a local consignment store where someone does the selling for you in return for a percentage of the profit.  In addition, you can store things in your garage and make plans to have a yard sale in the spring!

4. Paperback Swap- I can’t say enough good things about this site.   If you are an avid reader and want to swap out your old books for some new ones, this is the way to go.  Click here to read my post all about it! 

So take a few hours, get some help and clean out your closets.  Not only will your house feel more organized and less cluttered but it can put some money in your pocket!

It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


Give Freely 12/8 – 12/14

Welcome to Give Freely!

Our goal is to present you each week with freebies or near freebies from your local grocery stores.  Because these items are so inexpensive we are hoping that you will spend the extra few cents to pick up a spare item to donate to your community center, church, local food bank or shelter.  Even if the items aren’t food, they can often be used in some way!

If you are a blogger who does deals for a supermarket not on this list and would be interested in participating, please send me an e-mail

This gives you the opportunity to Give Freely!

Here are the great deals this week:

Dollar General

 Gain Dish Soap $1
– 50¢ coupon from the 11/28 P&G
= 50¢

Farm Fresh (click here to see all the great deals from The Coupon Challenge)

Hormel Chili $1.25
Use $0.55/2 from the 11/07 SS insert
Final: 2/$1.40

Carnation Evaporated Milk $1
Use $0.50/2 from the 11/14 RP insert and HERE
Final: 2/$1

Chex Mix $1.75
Use $0.50/2 from the 11/14 & 12/05
Use $0.50/1 chocolate from the 11/14 GM insert
Final: as low as $0.75 each 

Pillsbury Plain Brownie Mix $0.99
-$0.50 for promo
Use $0.40/1 from the 11/07/RP insert
FREE after coupon & promo

Food Lion (click here to see all the great deals from A Frugal Chick)

Food Lion Canned Vegetables $.50

Campbell’s Tomato or Chicken Noodle Soup $.50

Lipton/Knorr Pasta or Rice Sides $1

Harris Teeter (click here to see the best deals from Mom on Dealz!)

Skippy Peanut Butter  $1.39
Use $0.50/1 Skippy Peanut Butter Product from the RP 11/14 insert
Final=$0.39 each

Krusteaz Muffin Mix B1G1
Use $0.50/1 from the 10/17 and 12/05 SS insert
Final: $0.49 each

International Delight Creamer – $1.25
$0.55/1 International Delight from the SS 11/7 insert
Final=$0.10 each

Kroger (Kroger deals vary by region, so be sure to double check your local ad- click here to see all the deals from My Litter)

Bumble Bee Tuna – $0.50
$0.55/1 Bumble Bee Premium Tuna Pouch, exp. 12-31-10 (SS 09/12/10)
Total: Free if the Premium is included

Wolf Brand Chili – $0.75

Martin’s (click here to see all the deals from Young and Frugal in VA)

Skippy Peanut Butter 3/$5
-$0.50/1 from 11/14 RP *Doubles to $1
Final Price: $0.67 after coupon!

Hunt’s Spaghetti Sauce 5/$5
Kraft Sandwich Shoppe Mayo $1.99
-$0.55/1 from 11/14 SS *Doubles to $1
Final Price: $0.99!

Krusteaz Cookie Mix – $0.99
$1/1 Krusteaz Cookie Mix 10/10/2010 SS Insert (exp 12/31/2010)
Total: FREE after coupon

It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


Budgeting for 2011: Creating a Price Book

In 2011 I will be doing a short series of articles on creating a grocery budget as well as some other topics (if you have any questions you would like me to address e-mail me!)  I don’t want to start the full series yet because I know the holidays are crazy, but there is a simple step you can take now to help you at the first of the year. 

One of the best tools to save while grocery shopping is keeping a price book or list (I personally did it in excel when I first got the hang of things but lots of people just carry around a small notebook).

In the most basic terms, a price book is a list of how much your normal grocery items cost at local stores.  By taking this book with you when you shop, you will automatically know if you are getting a good deal!

So here are the steps you can follow to begin this process:

1.  For one month, record the name, price and size of everything you buy at the store. Do this as long as it takes to get the normal price for your regular purchases.

2.  Once you have the prices for your items, just compare them when you shop!  Let’s say you pay $.79 at Walmart for Campbell’s Soup, but Harris Teeter has them on sale this week for $.50.  You pull out your book, compare the prices and if it’s a good deal, maybe buy one or two extra.   (Remember many grocery stores now have on-line shopping so you can see their prices without having to go in a store!) 

3.  Remember to update your grocery pricebook anytime you find items for less than the price you recorded in the pricebook. Then this becomes your new baseline price!  The longer you use coupons and search for deals, the lower these baseline prices become!

So for right now. while you are running around grabbing groceries for the holidays, take a few minutes to jot the prices from your receipts down on a piece of paper, in a notebook or on the computer.  Then in January we can start using your new tool to save big!

And if you aren’t feeling very creative, you can use these pricebook worksheets from Money Saving Mom!

It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


Suggestions for Articles?

In my constant pursuit of becoming the best blogger I can be, I would like to flex my muscles and start writing some articles- both for this blog and others, as well as some publications.

My biggest obstacle is that I never know what to write about.  Something I find completely fascinating about saving money, budgeting, shopping or blogging may bore everyone else to death.  And if no one wants to read it, it’s not a very useful post.

So I am asking- what do you want to know about?  It can be anything having to do with couponing, rebates, budgeting, spending, saving, grocery shopping, drug store deals, my limited cooking capabilities, gift giving or anything else along that line.  Don’t be scared to send me something I will have to research- that’s what the web is for!

So if you have something you want to know drop me an e-mail, leave a comment on this post or stick something on the facebook page.

It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


Give Freely 12/1 – 12/7

Welcome to the second Give Freely post! 

Our goal is to present you each week with freebies or near freebies from your local grocery stores.  Because these items are so inexpensive we are hoping that you will spend the extra few cents to pick up a spare item to donate to your community center, church, local food bank or shelter.  Even if the items aren’t food, they can often be used in some way!

This gives you the opportunity to Give Freely!

Dollar General (click here to see the whole list of deals from The Thrifty Military Wife)

Wolf Brand Chili No Beans 15 oz. $1.25
– 75¢/2 coupon (10/3 SS)

= 87¢ each

Farm Fresh (click here to see the whole list of deals from The Coupon Challenge)

Crystal Farm Cheese $1.50
Use $1/2 from the 11/21 SS insert
Final: 2/$1

Hot Pockets Side Shots $2
Use $1/1 Facebook printable
FREE

Birds Eye Veggies and Steamfresh $1
Use $1/3 from the 11/14 SS insert (excludes steamfresh)
Use $0.50/1 Facebook printable
Final: as low as FREE

Barilla Plus Pasta $2
Use $1/1 printable
FREE

Zone Perfect Bar $0.99
Use $1/1 from the 10/31 SS insert
FREE

Food Lion (click here to see the whole list of deals from A Frugal Chick)

Green Giant Canned Vegetables, 11-15.25 oz., at $1.39 ($.69 each!)

Progresso Classic Soup, 18.5-19 oz., $1
$1/4 Progresso Soup, exp. 1-15-11 (SS 11/21/10)
$1/4 Progresso Soup, exp. 02-13-11 (GM 10/03/2010)
$1/4 Progresso Soup, exp. 1-8-11 (GM 11/14/10)
$1/4 Progresso Soup, exp. 12-18-10 (SS 10/24/10)
Final Price: $.75 each

Harris Teeter (click here to see the whole list of deals from Mom on Dealz)
Green Giant Veggies $0.77
-$0.50/2 coupon from SS 10/24
Final=$0.54 each

Newman’s Own Pasta Sauce BOGO so price for 1 is $1.57
-$0.50 coupon from RP 10/24
Final=$0.57

Walmart (click here to see the complete list of deals from The Thrifty Military Wife)

Nabisco Wheat Thins or Triscuit Crackers $1.98
– $1/1 coupon from the 11/14 SS
– $1/1 Wheat Thins printable
= 98¢

Morton Sea Salt $1
– $1 coupon from the 11/14 RP
= free

It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


Unusual Things To Do Before Black Friday To Save $$$

We all know the normal things to do before Black Friday (scope out the ads on www.afrugalchick.com, make a list, set your alarm, use the bathroom before you leave the house etc.) but here are some tips you may not think about:

1.  Grab your reuseable shopping bags–  If you are heading to Target you get $.05 per bag you use.   If not, you will have sturdy bags and not get stuck with big awkward paper ones.

2. Throw a bottled water and snack in your bag– don’t wait in line for mall food.  Bring it with you and you can eat in line waiting to check out with your bargains!

3.  Start at a place that will price match– as much as I can’t stand WalMart on Black Friday, their representatives have said they will price match.  So if an item is cheaper at another store and you have the ad, they will match the price.  This may save you some trips.

4.  Call the stores about rare items ahead of time- one of my most vivid Black Friday memories is Sears last year.   There was a nice long line of people waiting for a great deal on a washer and dryer.  The store only had three of them and they had given out tickets to people who had asked for them… on WEDNESDAY NIGHT!  I have no clue if this is common practice but if you want something and think there may be limited quantities call ahead and find out what time they will be giving out tickets.

5.  Leave someone at home on the computer.    If the store you are in has a line two hours long and the same item is available with free shipping on-line, why on earth would you wait in line AND pay sales tax?  Leave someone at home in their pajamas with their cup of coffee- they can find you some great deals too!

It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


Holiday Website #1- Etsy.com

I like getting people unusual gifts. Mostly because I like receiving unusual gifts. My taste in jewelry and art is a bit different from what you would see in a magazine or watching a top ten television show.

So when I want to find a unique gift, I head over to etsy.com. Wikipedia describes Etsy much better than I ever could: “Etsy is a social commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items as well as art and craft supplies. These items cover a wide range including art, photography, clothing, jewelry, edibles, bath & beauty products, quilts, knick-knacks and toys. Many individuals also sell craft supplies like beads, wire, jewelry making tools and much more.”

Now, it’s true you can’t use coupons on Etsy, but there are a few ways you can make shopping on Etsy frugal.

1. Shop Local. When you go into the buy section of Etsy, you can select the option of looking local. Type in the name of your town, or the biggest town nearby, and it will pull up all the stores in your area and show when the merchandise was last updated. If you find a local store you can contact the owner and ask for a discount if you pick up the item. They may even have a storefront where you won’t have to buy on line if you would like to look at more merchandise. Without shipping and handling, you may be able to get a better deal.

2. Search by price. One of the worst things about looking for gifts is knowing your budget and finding that perfect item just out of  price range. By using the advanced search function, you can search for the item you want and put the maximum amount you want to spend. That way, you won’t have something more expensive catch your eye.

3. Have your product created. Etsy has a really neat function called Alchemy. If you have a specific item you would like created, you can put it on their posting board with a price. So if your daughter would like a bracelet with her name on it, you can list that on the board and the price you would like to pay. If one of the artists on Etsy is willing to make it for that amount, they will place a bid to create it. The lowest bidder with a design you like gets to create it. It’s secure and you can get some beautiful customized pieces.

So if you are looking for something unique for the holidays, don’t run around town getting frustrated because nothing has quite the right feel. Check out Etsy for some great deals!

It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


77 Days Until December 25th

As of today, October 7, 2010, there are 77 days until Christmas (if you celebrate Hanukah, Kwanza or Festivus you don’t have too much longer either). It’s time to start planning, so you don’t go broke doing your shopping.

In 2009 the average American household spent $417 on Christmas shopping. When money is already tight, $417 can really make a difference. There are a few simple things you can do to try to keep a cap on your spending and not begin 2011 in the hole.

1. Make a list now. Sit down and figure out who is getting gifts. (This one here from Real Simple magazine is pretty basic if you don’t want to create your own.) If the list is lengthy discuss with your family drawing names or doing a sort of Secret Santa arrangement. If you are comfortable ask your friends if you all could skip doing gifts this year and spend some extra time together instead. Talk to your spouse and maybe this year skip gifts to each other.

2. Take that list and give it a dollar amount. Harness the power of the internet and find out how much each item on your list will be. Or, if you are a frugal shopper, set the price you are willing to pay for the item. That way when you become overwhelmed by the sales, you know what price you are looking for.

3. Make sure you have the cash. I am a BIG fan of not having credit cards. Make a goal this year to only pay cash for items (that means on-line shopping with the debit card, not credit). Since you are starting your shopping now, you should be able to spread it out over the next little bit and not have to go into debt for the holidays. If you know there is no way you can afford the gifts you want to give without going into debt, it might be time to revise the list with some less expensive items.

4. Make a home for your receipts. Receipts are a huge part of holiday giving. Sizes change, colors might be a bit off or what you thought was the perfect gift could be completely wrong. Be sure to have everything in one place where it can not be lost. Also, if you buy something now and then it goes on sale later, you might be able to take the receipt to the store and get some cash back!

Over the next few days, I will share some of the websites I love to use when I shop. Each of these can help you save valuable time and money as you prepare.

Let’s make it a great, frugal holiday!

It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.