Checks vs. Auto-Pay: FFF Week 1

It’s Frugal February Friday here on Good Girl Style and I’m discussing finances every Friday during February. I’d love your two cents (or a dime or a dollar!).
I’m so old-school sometimes, even when it comes to finances. I really prefer to use checks and like the control they allow me to have over my finances.
Besides, any opportunity I have to “pretty-ify” my life, I’m all about. My old checkbook cover, the standard-issue blue one from the bank, was in sorry shape and I was in the market for a new, pretty checkbook cover. A store in my town happened to be clearing out Vera Bradley, and they had one lonely (LOVELY!) checkbook cover left for 75% off. I couldn’t resist this amazing vintage-modern pattern (Cocoa Moss) and color scheme for $5. 

Now I may want to upgrade my checks from standard-issue bank checks to something like: 
Pretty Botanicals?

Are pretty checks more expensive? Nope. They are about the same, but with discounts offered all the time!
For new customers: 1-Box of checks: $5.50// 2-Boxes of checks: $11.00// 4-Boxes of checks: $16.50 and the 4th box is free ($1 more per box for duplicates)// Includes free shipping and handling Coupon Code: F4NB valid until 6/30/14

Using Checks
I think sitting down and paying my bills allows me more control over my finances and forces me to pay attention to where my money is going. Writing out a check helps me realize I’m investing my hard-earned dollars and gives me more awareness of my spending. You might be paying for a service you no longer need, but it’s “out of sight out of mind.” I prefer to sit down and see exactly where my money is going, to look at paper bills for discrepancies, see what services I’m actually paying for every month and have a record of it all (I love duplicate checks). And it’s just somehow so satisfying. We all know I’m a mail girl, even if it’s a stack of bills. 
vs.

Auto-Pay
Auto-pay or online bill pay is certainly convenient, potentially more environmentally-friendly, and saves on postage. If you ARE going the e-pay route, I personally wouldn’t recommend the auto-pay option unless absolutely necessary and if you check up on it regularly. I have had issues with auto-pay when companies have double-charged me or over-charged me and I haven’t caught it immediately. They love to sneak new charges in there. Paying all of your bills online is fine if you prefer it and remember to keep up with it. I have done this in the past, and for me it’s just a matter of personal preference.
Are you a check-writer or an auto-payer?
xo
Natalie
*This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase from my links I earn a small percentage for referring you, but you don’t pay anything extra for my two cents, promise!

Coffee on the Cheap-0

Coffee, tea, or a mocha latte frappucino thingy with too many words. Hot, delicious beverages get us through our day (especially Mondays like today), and I certainly wouldn’t want to deny you that pleasure for the sake of a budget. Pssh.

But! I do have some ideas to share on how I personally cut my coffee/tea/fancy drink spending.

How I save money on my coffee….

*Get a resusable to-go mug that you ACTUALLY like and USE. 
Be realistic: is it dishwasher safe? Does it fit in your car cup holder? Will  it get knocked over on your desk? Does it hold enough to get you through the morning? Is it visually striking? I have had many to-go cups and only liked a handful of them. The rest languished in the back of the cupboard, missing tops or warped or having ruined too many of my white shirts to ever be taken seriously again. Ask friends, read online reviews, and be picky. Spending $25 on a coffee mug is worth it in the long run. Or, you can just use canning jars with an awesome Cuppow top! I LOVE my Cuppow top and canning jars. Caveat: they do not keep your beverage warm for very long. I made a quick cozy for mine (see the post here)

*Buy dollar store disposable coffee cups with lids. 
Sometimes, your coffee mugs are all dirty or nowhere to be found and you just want to get out of the house without too much fuss. Or you want to send a good friend home with a warm beverage, but don’t want to run the risk of losing your favorite mug to her cabinets forever. Or if we’re being honest, sometimes you just want to walk into a meeting with a to-go cup instead of your standard reusable commuter mug. Sigh.

*Go to 7/11 for Free Coffee Fridays.
7/11 gas stations have free coffee EVERY Friday morning between 7 and 11am. I admit I am not a coffee snob, and I am also more than willing to partake in a bananas foster gas station cappuccino. They are delicious, so don’t hate. Also, their regular coffee ain’t half-bad, and for us New Englanders, I’ve heard that it’s even better thank Dunkin’ Donuts (gasp!).

*If you live in New England, go to McDonald’s for coffee. 
In New England, all of McDonald’s coffee is Newman’s Own organic coffee, and it’s only $1! I actually love this coffee.

*Go INTO the bank, instead of driving through.
 Does your bank have a Keurig machine like I’ve seen several around here? I just love to pop into the bank for free coffee and my bank errands. It makes the whole morning feel like a real treat, and I’m not out a dime for coffee.

*If you are going to Starbucks or your favorite local coffee place, get a GOOD drink. 
Go for the five-word order. But just don’t go there often! That’s the trick! I personally don’t like to go to Starbucks for a plain old cup o’ joe when there are so many other places to get good coffee on the cheap! If I walk into a Starbucks, it is for a treat. Also, my mom just told me the CEO of Starbucks made like, $65 million dollars last year or something. So I don’t feel too bad about my curmudgeonly coffee ways.

I hope you’ll find these tips useful for saving a few dollars here and there towards one of your GOALS!