The Frugal Edge (43)

Wednesday, 21 March 2012 16:55

A candy-less Easter basket

Written by Michelle Fern

There's little doubt that kids love holidays. From Halloween treats to the goodies on both sides of the Christmas season, kids and adults alike consume a lot of sugar from the various sweets that accompany such times of the year.

While Halloween reins supreme in candy consumption, Easter is the second most important candy-eating occasion of the year for Americans, who consumed 7 billion pounds of candy in 2011, according to the National Confectioner's Association. In fact, we spent nearly $1.9 billion on Easter candy last year, while Halloween sales were nearly $2 billion. Christmas weighed in with an estimated $1.4 billion, while Valentine's Day was just over $1 billion.

Here are some other neat Easter tidbits:

Wednesday, 14 March 2012 16:45

Spending the extra money

Written by Michelle Fern

I read an interesting article this past week written by Dave Ramsey. A well-known author and founder of The Lampo Group and Financial Peace University, he's toured the U.S. and has been an advocate of debt-free living for years.

His piece, entitled 'Save or Splurge: 7 Items That are Worth the Extra Money,' essentially claimed that while he urges being frugal, there are certain things in life worth the extra money. Although I didn't agree with the list completely, I quickly made a mental list of those things I find worth spending extra money on after reading his article. It also got me to thinking that even when you are 'willing' to pay extra for certain things, you can still save money by watching for sales/deals and by using coupons.

Thursday, 08 March 2012 13:37

How to save money on prescriptions

Written by Michelle Fern

I have worked in the medical field for some time and the most frequent complaint I've heard over the years is the cost of medications. And depending on whether you pay an insurance co-pay for generic medications, fill your prescriptions at Walmart or Rite Aid, or even buy a one-month supply, you could be overpaying.

Physicians try their best to help patients end unnecessary medications, and medical staff often tries to educate patients about alternative methods to get their prescriptions when costs are beyond the patients' means. On the supply side, some pharmaceutical companies will help patients who are financially unable to keep up with prescription costs, especially for unique medications that treat unique conditions.

Here are some tips on saving money on your prescriptions:

Wednesday, 29 February 2012 17:05

Extreme couponing near Bangor

Written by Michelle Fern
If you haven't seen Extreme Couponing on TLC, it's worth checking it out at least once. These couponers are just that, EXTREME. They are able to get tons of products super cheap if not free with coupons, and often wipe out shelves by buying 50-plus items at a time, doing multiple transactions in one shopping trip, and other tactics.

Although this may seem amazing to some, it's not to those who want or even need to buy the sale items only to find them all gone. Shaw's in Bangor recently experienced this when sale items were gone by the end of the first day of the sale and found it hard to recoup products fast enough to accommodate customers. However, they have done well the past few weeks responding to both product demand and customer concerns regarding coupon limit issues. Store personnel take their coupon policy seriously and have posted couponing rules throughout the store, so as to discourage extreme couponers from wiping out shelves.

Thursday, 23 February 2012 09:40

Looking beyond the lint screen

Written by Michelle Fern
If you're one who never thinks beyond cleaning out the dryer's lint trap after each load, you're not alone. Lint tends to lurk in the most unseen of places, and such buildups throughout your dryer reduce its energy efficiency and prevent it from working its best. Keeping such material from collecting will not only keep your dryer in top shape, but more importantly reduces the chance of putting your family's safety at risk.

In fact, dirty lint trays and clogged dryer vents cost consumers millions each year. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, there are over 15,000 dryer fires each year causing on average 15 deaths and $99 million in property damage. The 'failure to clean' is the leading factor contributing to clothes dryer fires in residential buildings. Add to these losses the energy costs of running the dryer over and over for the same load, and a dirty dryer vent can add $10-$25 to your energy bill each month.

Wednesday, 02 November 2011 10:49

Walmart takes first shot in retailer battlefield

Written by Michelle Fern

It's not surprising that Walmart fired the first salvo to begin this year's holiday shopping war. Right out of the shopping gate, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer recently announced its "Walmart Christmas Price Guarantee," which has stirred up quite a few water cooler conversations.

Of the comments I've heard, a common one is that Walmart already has a price-matching policy. This is true - if you see items advertised elsewhere and take the ad to Walmart, the company will match the price. However, its Christmas program is a little different in that if you purchase an item there beginning Nov. 1 and see it advertised for less elsewhere until Dec. 25, they will give you the difference if you bring in the ad along with your receipt. But don't expect any cash from it - they'll only give the difference back in the form of a gift card.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011 12:08

Halloween bargain hunting

Written by Michelle Fern

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but between all the costumes, candy and decorations, it has historically been one of the most expensive for our family. I've spent more than my fair share over the years, and this season I've vowed it's going to be different.

Toward that goal, I have already stocked up on candy that I've paid no more than $1 a bag through using coupons combined with sales prices. This is great because we typically have about 200 kids visit our neighborhood each year, and they really haul it in.

Wednesday, 07 September 2011 05:39

What's in your kid's lunchbox?

Written by Michelle Fern
What's in your kid's lunchbox?

For those Gen Xers out there, you might remember the lunch treat of Fluffernutter. Made with peanut butter and marshmallow fluff, the sandwiches were my all-time favorite when I was a kid. It's not the healthiest of lunches - really, marshmallow on a sandwich. And peanut butter itself has lost its luster in school cafeterias due to allergy concerns. However, some parents question how healthy the food served in those same cafeterias is. With selections ranging from pizza, chicken nuggets and patties made of processed chicken and fillers, and hot dogs, it's certainly a child's dream and could be a parent's cause for concern.

Some published reports say school cafeteria food can be full of saturated fat and contain little fiber, so nutritious lunch box ideas are in demand. Regardless of the concern about nutrition, it's also a question of cost - schools are forced to increase the cost of school lunches due to rising fuel and food costs, which can become a big expense for the family budget. Ranging from $2-$3 or more if the school offers an a la cart menu, it may be easier to hand over a few bucks in the morning and sleep an extra 15 minutes rather than make their lunches. But when looking at the yearly cost of two kids, you can easily spend $800.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011 05:39

Have you started your Christmas shopping?

Written by Michelle Fern

For many, the question of whether you've started your Christmas shopping has an obvious answer. If you're like me, the thought of Christmas hasn't even entered your mind yet. However, I'm going to start early this year, as the winding down of summer tends to be the best time of the year to get started.

Sales on summer clothing and shoes are popping up, and many stores are having fabulous back to school sales where you can get crayons, markers, pens, fancy binders, backpacks and more for next to nothing. Even if you don't have kids, these items can double as office necessities and it's a great time to stock up or give as gifts - maybe you can get a family member or friend a new backpack for hiking, or an assortment of pens and mechanical pencils for dad's office.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011 05:38

When in doubt, toss that blue eye shadow

Written by Michelle Fern

We check the expiration dates of just about everything we put in our bodies - food, medications, beverages and more. But we hardly even give a thought to what we put on our bodies, especially makeup.

I bring this up because I realized the other day while putting on mascara that the waterproof brand I was using isn't even in production anymore. You'd think I'd just throw that away, but there was still some left - I rarely throw away makeup or other health and beauty products.

Yes, I know it's bad. My mindset has always been, "If I hardly use it, then it's good." Well, that unfortunately is not the case.

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