Readers send in Fabulously Frugal Gift Ideas! Friday, Nov 23 2018 

We are now firmly in Christmas mode, folks, and this shopping season is looking like a doozy.  A surge in consumer confidence is giving both hard working retailers and shoppers a reason to smile, but don’t use it as a reason to overspend!  Read on for fellow shoppers’ fabulous gift ideas that help recipients save time and make life easier, but are also beautifully priced!

Chris L. of Media loves his 20-year old Buick.   It runs great and is totally reliable, except for one thing: the heater never cranks out enough heat!  Last Christmas, he received a heated car blanket ($25 on Amazon), and in his own words, “was a total game changer”.  In his hour-long commute each day, it’s like driving a new car!  This year, he’s giving that same gift to family and friends, even those with newer cars.  Let’s face it, who wouldn’t love a warm seat waiting for you when you start the car.

Bethany A. of Downingtown creates Christmas keepsakes for family members!  In her wonderfully large extended family, chances are excellent that they’ll celebrate a wedding, new baby, home purchase, retirement or other special milestone each year.  That Christmas, Bethany creates a beautiful keepsake ornament with Styrofoam balls and faux jewels in the birthstone of the new family member, including the name and date of the Event.  Not only are they inexpensive, they are completely unique, beloved by family and kept for years.

Xavier B. of King of Prussia is a movie buff, as are friends and family.  Last year, at a loss for ideas, and a lack of shopping time, he gave out “100 Movies Scratch Off Posters” ($30 on Amazon), and it was a huge hit!  Recipients near and far keep him up to date on movies they’ve recently scratched off, and a handful of friends made a light competition out of it to see how many movies they could take in before the end of the year.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Christine F. of Philadelphia loves saving money, and shares my affection for all things Bob Ross.  In fact, she was hard-pressed to think of anyone on her gift list that didn’t love Bob Ross!  Let’s face it, people of all demographics totally mellow out when listening to that iconic painter work his magic.  When she found Bob Ross mugs on Amazon for less than $25, she sent them to family and friends near and far with the click of a button, and they loved them!  Pour in your favorite hot caffeinated beverage, and watch those beautiful “happy little trees” appear right before your eyes.  Another easy, inexpensive gift that the recipient will love and use all year.  Exactly what a holiday gift is supposed to do.

This Christmas and Hanukkah season, enjoy the lights, hug the ones you love closer to you, and find gifts that everyone is going to love, without breaking the bank.  Frugal On!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Columnist & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living.  “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs Saturdays at 11A on WNPV 1440 / 98.5 , and Nationwide via the BizTalk Radio Network. She was raised in Delaware County, works in Montgomery County, and resides in Chester County with her husband and kids.  She is honored to be connected with the crew at the Detox Treatment Help Line (800-287-7891) and Elite Rehab (800-932-4082) to help get the word out about their proven strategies to steer the ones you love away from drug abuse. You can find her online at www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

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A Fabulously Frugal Thanksgiving! Friday, Nov 23 2018 

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!  With so many people working at a breakneck pace these days, and free time at an all-time low, readers state again and again that their biggest goals for the holiday are (1) to relax with family and friends, (2) not work themselves into a frenzy getting a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner on the table, and (3) to not overspend on the holiday!   Read on for tips on how to accomplish all of the above – it’s easier than you think!

Tip #1 – Delegate!  I shout this from the rooftops every year, because it’s true.  Even the smallest Thanksgiving celebrations easily have a dozen moving parts.  Partner that with the fact that everyone sitting around your table will want to contribute, and you’ve got the perfect scene for delicious delegating.  Put your best friend on flowers or wine detail, your brother or sister is in charge of two desserts, your Aunt or Uncle gets to bring their famous sweet potatoes, et voila!  All you need to do is set the table and get a gorgeous turkey on the table.  Which brings me to my next money/time/sanity saving idea…

Tip #2 – The Turkey: making it yourself vs. buying it already baked!  Guys, this is a bold new area for me.  I’ve never done this personally, but I’m hearing rave reviews from people who purchased a ready-to-serve, fully cooked turkey for their Thanksgiving table.  When you think about it, what’s not to love?   Supermarkets are pricing them lower than ever before, and I’ve never heard of anyone having a problem with them.  Personally, I’m lucky – Victor always takes care of roasting the turkey, and it comes out to perfection every single year.  However, I’m hearing from others that attempting to put a Norman Rockwell-worthy turkey on the table is one of their biggest stressors of the season – why not leave the turkey cooking tasks to others and simply pick it up ready to go?  Works for me!

Tip #3 – In my book, carbs don’t count on Thanksgiving, and they’re most inexpensive food items out there, so bring them on!  Mashed potatoes, stuffing, biscuits, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, cranberries, even green bean casserole are Thanksgiving staples that all cost just pennies per serving, enjoy them with gusto!  They’re also wildly popular on kids’ tables, home of the most enthusiastic appetites of the holiday.

Tip #4 – It’s corny, because it’s true:  Remember the reason for the season, guys.  It’s called a day of “Thanksgiving”, not a day of “Stress to the point of a nervous breakdown”.  The whole idea for a day of thanks is spending time with loved ones, reflecting on our blessings, and offering up heartfelt thanks.  Okay and maybe some football.  Using the tips above, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy a great meal with family and friends, linger over dessert and coffee, and cheer for your favorite football team… just the way the Pilgrims intended.  Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

 

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Columnist & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living.  “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs Saturdays at 11A on WNPV 1440 / 98.5 in Lansdale, and Nationwide via the BizTalk Radio Network. She was raised in Delaware County, works in Montgomery County, and resides in Chester County with her husband and kids.  She is honored to be connected with the crew at the Detox Treatment Help Line (800-287-7891) and Elite Rehab (800-932-4082) to help get the word out about their proven strategies to steer the ones you love away from drug abuse. You can find her online at www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

Fabulously Frugal 2018 Halloween Costumes! 10 minutes (and less than $10) to make! Monday, Oct 15 2018 

It’s about this time every year when I hear from amazing parents and grandparents that are in the midst of planning this year’s intricate, expensive, complicated, hand-sewn costumes for the kids.  At Casa Hagopian, however, a general time management problem, compounded by several October birthdays, celebrations and work deadlines, has me leaning more towards more the less time-intensive, yet still-creative costume ideas.  When I put the word out to local readers to get their input, they didn’t disappoint!  Read on for the top eight effortless Halloween costume ideas  – all created in five minutes or less, costing less than $5 each.  It could be the perfect fit for your candy-loving crew!

1.  Self-portrait – Dress comfortably, and grab a large-yet-lightweight frame from the attic or local thrift store, get rid of the glass and the backing, then take the frame and hold it in front of your face.  Ta da – You’re now a self-portrait!  Easy, inexpensive, and totally clever.
2.  Hippie – Always a solid go-to move for anyone with adult ‘70’s clothing they simply can’t get rid of.  Add a headband and a daisy behind your ear, and you’re set!
3.  Study Nerd – I was born to wear this costume.  Grab a few books and an old pair of glasses, or find a pair at the dollar store, break it in the middle and tape them back together, et voila!
4.  Website error – I adore this idea, especially if we’re getting colder weather on Halloween night!  Get an old white sweat shirt, marker, and draw the words “Error 404: Costume Not Found”.  You’re now a website error!
5.  Tourist – Get a camera with a neck strap, sunglasses, Hawaiian shirt, and print out a brochure online for your favorite tropical locale.
6.  Ceiling fan – Serious extra points for originality on this one – Take an old sweatshirt, and paint or pin on the words “Go Ceiling, Go!”.  Add some pom poms, and you are now a ceiling fan.  Love!
7.  Fork in the road – Start with black clothing from head to toe, add white tape down the sweatshirt in the form of a road (two solid lines, with a dotted line down the middle).  Pin a plastic fork to yourself.  You’re now a fork in the road!
8.  Identity Thief – Easiest costume yet.  Regular super comfy clothing, add 10-20 hand written “Hello My Name is” nametags to yourself, each with a different name.  Easy, effortless, inexpensive.  Awesome.

This Halloween, stay safe, look both ways before crossing the road, and enjoy the sugar rush, as well as the extra cash in the bank courtesy of your Costume Cleverness. Frugal On!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Columnist & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living.  “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs Nationwide via the BizTalk Radio Network, find your local station at www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com.
She was raised in Delaware County, and now resides in Chester County with her husband and kids.  She is honored to be connected with the crew at the Detox Treatment Help Line (800-287-7891) and Elite Rehab (800-932-4082) to help get the word out about their proven strategies to steer the ones you love away from drug abuse. You can find her online at
www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

Create your own $7500 Patio for just $600! Sunday, Oct 7 2018 

Okay, you guys know how long I’ve been talking about creating a back patio area at the house.  I’ve been dreaming about a gorgeous backyard living space for years, envisioning different materials, costing out any potential labor expenses, etc.  After pouring over gorgeous websites, drooling over beautiful magazines, and putting pen to paper, I had a great idea in my head of exactly what I wanted – a good-sized space about 25 x 15 feet, table with umbrella that seated six, and a separate seating area that could hold two sofas, four chairs and a firepit.   The average ever-so-helpful home improvement calculator will tell you that a space with that description will (no lie) cost you on average about $7500.  Read on to see how we did it for $600!

First, the patio itself – Just outside our back door there’s a perfect patch of ground that we knew would do the trick.  If you’re thinking about a similar Project, seek out the flattest ground you can find that’s close to the house.  The area is ideal but it still needed some levelling – Victor and I (mostly Victor) took shovels to the elevated area and hacked away at it until it was leveled out, then hauled away wheelbarrows full of dirt to another part of the yard.  Did I mention it hit 94 degrees that day?  Yeah, enjoy the visual.

Once we had the area leveled out, we edged the borders with pressure-treated 4×4’s from our local Home Improvement Center and screwed them together for stability, then stained them to protect them even further from the elements.  Total cost: $180.

Then we lined the inside area with landscape fabric and left it alone for a few days to kill off all of the grass and weeds inside.   Cost: $20.  Next, we called a local mulch provider and compared prices for various fills.  We settled on a gorgeous pine bark to fill the inside area.  We were looking for a layer about 2-3 inches deep.  Each “yard” of mulch you buy will cover an area 300 square feet by one inch deep, so we bought three yards for a total of $180.

Last but not least, the furniture!  I salivated over various catalogs that offered my dream furniture combos for about $2500, then promptly hit Craigslist and pieced together similar lovely combos for $200.  Throw in a rental truck for $50 (I just love driving those things), and before you know it – we’ve got ourselves a dream patio, for a fraction of retail.  If I can do it, you can do it!  Of course, with my stellar timing, I find myself with a completed patio just as we say adios to summer, but we’ve got October celebrations galore amongst friends and family – with any luck, we’ll put it to fabulous use several times over before the weather gets chilly.  Frugal On!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Columnist & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living.  “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs on over 80 Stations Nationwide via the BizTalk Radio Network, find your local station at www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com.
She lives with her husband & kids in their fabulous fixer upper Victorian in Chester County, PA.  She is honored to be connected with the crew at the Detox Treatment Help Line (800-287-7891) and Elite Rehab (800-932-4082) to help get the word out about their proven strategies to steer the ones you love away from drug abuse. You can find her online at
www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

 

Saving Big on your next Car! Sunday, Oct 7 2018 

My husband and I love driving our used cars.  They’re reliable, super safe and just keep going and going with basic maintenance.  For all of our TLC however, it became clear a few months ago that one of our cars (owned for over 15 years) was ready to go to pasture.  When I put the word out on social media that we were shopping for a car, we got loads of feedback from others that they too were searching for a new set of wheels.  And why not?  The economy is skyrocketing, and many people who put car purchases on hold for the last few years now feel that the budget can handle a car purchase.

What you want to avoid at all costs, however, is paying too much.   J.D. Power states that the average price of a car is now $32,200, much more if you want some bells and whistles. With simple strategies, you can slash that number by over 90%, like we did.  Read on for the easy, proven tactics that made it happen!

First, stay sane when it comes to your expectations – do you want a car that looks like it belongs in a James Bond movie?  Uh yeah, we all do!  But do you need it – no.  Simple as that.

Next, keep the budget firmly grounded in reality – Bankrate.com advises a car payment should equal no more than 15% of your pretax monthly pay.  So if you make $50,000 a year, your monthly car payment could go as high as $625 a month.  In my opinion, shelling out over $600 a month is nuts – that’s $7200 for the first year alone, much more for a standard 4-5 year loan.  No thanks.  Honestly, your best bet is to go much lower – ideally, paying cash for your new car.  If you currently don’t have a savings account devoted to your new car, start one.  Have that same $600 automatically deposited into your car account, and by year’s end you’ll have $7200 cash to play with.  Inside tip – car sellers adore people paying with cash.  Best of all, you get a new car without a monthly car payment.  Everyone’s a winner.

Next step, finding the best pool of used cars – there are loads of websites that list used cars.  The top four seem to be Craigslist, AutoTrader, AutoList and CarMax.  We bought ours on Craigslist, and I’ve heard from readers who used the other three sites with great success.

One of the most important tips of all – Be patient.  Don’t be surprised if you’re scouring the sites for a few weeks, even months, before you find the perfect car.  Be picky, know exactly what you’re looking for, and don’t be afraid to wait for it.

After several weeks of searching, we found a gorgeous car, test drove it, had it checked out thoroughly by a professional, negotiated fearlessly on the price (Okay, Victor did most of that), and when all was said and done, in this era of families spending $30,000+ for a new car, we drove home in a gorgeous “new” car for just $3000 cash.  If we can do it, you can do it – frugal on!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Columnist & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living.  “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs on over 80 Stations Nationwide via the BizTalk Radio Network, find your local station at www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com.
She lives with her husband & kids in their fabulous fixer upper Victorian in Chester County, PA.  She is honored to be connected with the crew at the Detox Treatment Help Line (800-287-7891) and Elite Rehab (800-932-4082) to help get the word out about their proven strategies to steer the ones you love away from drug abuse. You can find her online at
www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

Save Thousands with Fabulously Frugal Deep Carpet Cleaning! Sunday, Oct 7 2018 

For almost two decades, I can say with pride that my carpets have dealt amazing well with spectacular abuse.  Projects, kids, dirt, more projects, more kids, more dirt.  You get the picture.   Some of our carpets pre-date my teenage daughter, several fashion trends and two full Presidential administrations.  That being said, I am a devoted vacuum lover, pulling out the handy Hoover at least twice a week, and we take off our shoes when we get in the house, so I convinced myself that any dirt and mud were minimal.

So when I looked around at worn-looking carpets and thought seriously about replacing them – to the tune of thousands of dollars – I decided instead to deep steam clean them instead, to see if it made any difference.   Big question, do I hire it done, or do it myself?  Last but not least, would all of that effort make any difference to my rooms or my wallet?
First step – compare the cost and effort of hiring it done vs. renting a machine and doing it myself.

Option 1 – Hire someone to do the job and be done with it. I hear from people who swear by having it done.  Their before and after photos are stunning, and honestly, it’s fairly reasonably priced.  Depending on the square footage you want treated, chances are good you can have it done for $250 or less – get on the phone with your local companies, check out any online reviews first, and give them a try!

Option 2 –  Rent a machine and do it yourself.  The big upside is that it costs significantly less than hiring it done, only about $30, and you can use it on much more square footage than the professional deals.  Get your arms ready for a workout!  One of the only downsides is that you can only rent it for the day – hold onto it any longer than that and you’re facing a hike in fees.

Option 3 – The preference for Control Freaks like me – invest in a top-quality Deep Carpet Cleaner, and do it yourself.  Long-term, the most cost-effective choice.   I hit my favorite warehouse store and picked up a top-name Deep Carpet Cleaner for $175, which simple math tells me will pay for itself within six uses compared to renting a machine.  Binge watched YouTube tutorials, followed the very easy instructions, and got to work.  The concentrated cleaner was environmentally friendly, smelled great, and was super-easy to use.

Here’s where things get gross.

Guys, even with my amateurish skills, I pulled gunk out of my carpet that I hesitate to describe.  Is that water gray?  Is it brown? Is it black?  Is it *moving*?  Hours later, I had covered 700 square feet of carpet, and the change was phenomenal.  No lie, I have brand new-looking carpet again.  The colors are gorgeous, and we’ve easily added ten years of life to them!

If you’re thinking of replacing carpets that look worn out, give some thought to saving huge amounts of cash by investing in a deep carpet cleaning instead.  Whether you hire it done, or do it yourself, you’re going to be astonished at the difference.  Frugal On!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Columnist & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living.  “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs on over 80 Stations Nationwide via the BizTalk Radio Network, find your local station at www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com.
She lives with her husband & kids in their fabulous fixer upper Victorian in Chester County, PA.  She is honored to be connected with the crew at the Detox Treatment Help Line (800-287-7891) and Elite Rehab (800-932-4082) to help get the word out about their proven strategies to steer the ones you love away from drug abuse. You can find her online at
www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

Fabulously Frugal Faux Marble! Sunday, Oct 7 2018 

Back in 2001, just as Victor and I were wrapping up some big Projects on our Victorian and getting ready to move in, I decided that the Master Bedroom needed a fake fireplace.  After all, it backed up to one of our chimneys, it would look perfect!  A quick scouring of local antique stores turned up a wonderfully banged up fireplace in the perfect size for $95, so we grabbed it!  With no time for a sophisticated re-do, we went with the Universal #1 go-to frugal move and painted it a soft white.  For the first year, I loved it.  After that, every time I looked at it, I did a quiet, “meh”, and moved on, vowing to give it a more sophisticated makeover when time allowed.  Ideally, I wanted my $95 wooden fireplace to look like a gorgeous $15K Italian marble beauty.  Too much to ask?

Fast forward 17 years – in that time, I scoured over books and YouTube tutorials on painting something to look like marble, and felt almost confident enough to give it a try.  In a case of miraculous timing, a friend shared with me their kitchen makeover story, in which they transformed dull, outdated countertops with marbleized contact paper, and even their outdated dishwasher with a stainless steel looking contact paper.  It was frugal, it was gorgeous, and it was exactly the look I was going for.  I had to give it a try.

I rushed online for some tutorials – it certainly looked a lot easier than painting it myself.  I ordered some gorgeous brown and gold marbleized contact paper for less than $100, gave myself a self-proclaimed online degree in using the stuff while I waited for it to arrive, and dove in.  What a transformation!   Incredibly realistic, and such a huge improvement over the painted white – just wow!

Since then, I’m hearing from people who are using today’s high quality contact paper to transform everything from bedroom furniture to book binders, kitchen counters, end tables, picture frames, planters and countless other projects.  Want to give something a copper look?  How about transforming those perfectly performing-yet-outdated appliances into a lovely stainless steel? Marbleize some cardboard boxes for gorgeous storage in a guest room!  And last but not least, it works beautifully updating your Kindle/phone/iPad/electronics covers.

More ideas?  How about hitting your local Goodwill to transform some outdated lamps to look like they have a granite base? There’s a contact paper for that too!  I’ve even seen people who take various contact paper styles and turn them into personalized envelopes – beyond impressive.  One of the favorite marbleizing projects I’ve seen is a trash picked bedroom set that was utterly transformed into pure elegance with a coat of black paint, new brass pulls, and gorgeous marbleized tops, courtesy of incredibly inexpensive contact paper – I’m hooked!

If you have any furniture or rooms in your house that would benefit from that light touch of marbleized elegance, give today’s newest styles of contact paper a try!  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to research customizing my husband’s racing bike in faux granite to surprise him for his birthday.  He’ll like that, right?  Frugal On!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Columnist & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living.  “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs on over 80 Stations Nationwide via the BizTalk Radio Network, find your local station at www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com.
She lives with her husband & kids in their fabulous fixer upper Victorian in Chester County, PA.  She is honored to be connected with the crew at the Detox Treatment Help Line (800-287-7891) and Elite Rehab (800-932-4082) to help get the word out about their proven strategies to steer the ones you love away from drug abuse. You can find her online at
www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

Fabulously Frugal Power Loss Prep! Sunday, Oct 7 2018 

Fabulously Frugal Power Loss Prep!
Hey gang!  You’ll never guess where I got the idea for this week’s  Column.  Power outages like we experienced last week remind me time and again of how rotten a pioneer woman I’d be.  Really bad.  However, with some basic tools and strategies, you can power thru the next outage (pun intended), even without a costly generator!
1 – Full the bathtub.  Not for drinking water – bleah – but for an easy and effortless way to flush the toilet even without power.  One bucket poured into the toilet is an effective flush.
2 – Turn your car into a generator!  Sean C. of West Chester emailed me to tell me about his power inverter, which turns DC current from your car into AC current for electric gadgets!  How is it I never heard of these before?  It’s the next best thing to a generator when it comes to surviving a prolonged blackout.  Small units can easily recharge a computer of phone, larger ones can power a refrigerator or power tools.
3 – Stock up on batteries.  This one is a no brainer, but you’d be amazed how many people have tons of flashlights at the ready, only to find that the batteries are shot.
4 – Get the grill ready to work!  Stock up on propane for that grill, because nothing says “civilization” in a blackout like eating some fabulously hot food.
5 – Make sure your CO detectors are working – Blackouts often lead to carbon monoxide emergencies.  Why?  In order to get heat during outages, people crank up gas stoves, fireplaces, and all types of heaters – and anything that burns produces carbon monoxide.  So make sure you have a battery-operated CO detector ready to go.
6 – Protect the big appliances! When the power comes back on, it can often create power surges.  Those power surges can be a disaster for today’s gorgeous-yet-fragile sensitive electronics in TV, computers and appliances.  So be sure to unplug anything that might contain electronic components.
7 – Get cash!  In a prolonged blackout, when credit cards are useless, cash is king.
8 – Scrape the snow and ice off your car!  This one is personal.  Last week, Victor was heading home on the Turnpike when a truck going the opposite direction at 70 mph lost a huge piece of ice, which flew into Victor’s windshield as he was traveling 60 mph in the other direction.  Yeah, it was a crazy scare.  The windshield was destroyed, and our nerves were shot.  Things are back to normal, but the windshield will cost about $500 to replace.  So if not for yourself, keep the roof of your car snow and ice free for the sake of your fellow money-saving citizens out there.  Stay safe, and frugal on!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Columnist & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living.  “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs on over 80 Stations Nationwide via the BizTalk Radio Network, find your local station at www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com.
She lives with her husband & kids in their fabulous fixer upper Victorian in Chester County, PA.  She is honored to be connected with the crew at the Detox Treatment Help Line (800-287-7891) and Elite Rehab (800-932-4082) to help get the word out about their proven strategies to steer the ones you love away from drug abuse. You can find her online at
www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

Power Savers that Pack a Punch! Sunday, Oct 7 2018 

Hey everyone – How about that gorgeous weather last week?  I don’t know about you, but I loved the opportunity to throw open the windows and let in a blast of fresh air.  Heaven.  Thinking ahead, now’s the time to start in with effective frugal tactics to keep upcoming warm weather utility costs to a minimum.   Here are some proven tactics I’ve used to pack a fabulously frugal punch.

(1) Reduce electric dryer dependence.  You guys know I’ve been drying my clothes, the kids’ clothes, sheets, etc. on our clothesline for years now, and it’s taken down costs fabulously.  To create bigger savings this year, I’m going to do all of our towels on the clothesline as well. Yes, I’m the first to admit there is a marked difference in air-dried vs. dryer-dried towels.  Basically, it takes the concept of exfoliation to torturous levels.  That being said, towels are a monster energy hog in the dryer – who needs it?  I’ve heard from local readers that putting air-dried shingle-like towels into the dryer for 5-10 minutes has them coming out fabulously fluffy. Sounds promising. Stay tuned.

(2) New-fangled light bulbs.  I replaced eighteen 60-watt bulbs with the new squigeldy GE Energy Star bulbs (13 watt bulbs that light like 60 watts). Boiling down the math, I’m supposed to save approximately .92 per month per bulb, so these bulbs alone should save me $17/month, or $204/year.  I’ve had these in the house for a while, and believe it or not, they do seem to be bringing down costs.  That, and their reputation would suggest they’ll last somewhere into the 23rd century.  Okay, not that long, but the savings are there, and significant, so it’s a good move if you want to bring down costs.

(3) No more dishwasher use. Again, I’ve had this strategy in play for years, to great success. Energy costs came down huge, this even though I have an “energy efficient” dishwasher!  At this point, I’m using my dishwasher strictly as a drying rack, and running it once every two weeks on low settings just to keep it in good shape.

(4) Turning into the Power Nazi.  At night, and when I leave the house during the day, the computer goes off.  When it’s a bright, summertime day, there’s no need to turn on lights, and by all means, turn off those big screen televisions if they’re not in use! If you’re cooking on the stove, cover pots & turn the heat down to simmer. In my house, if there’s meat to cook during the weekend, my grill-crazy husband is cooking it outdoors, keeping the kitchen delightfully cool.

Now, with all of these strategies in play – and they really are pretty easy to implement – utility costs at the house have been reduced by about 20-30%, and those savings add up fast.  If I can do it, anybody can.  If you find your pretty little blue utility envelopes giving you an itch between the shoulder blades, try any or all of these tactics for a powerful punch in savings.  Frugal On!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Columnist & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living.  “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs on over 80 Stations Nationwide via the BizTalk Radio Network, find your local station at www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com.
She lives with her husband & kids in their fabulous fixer upper Victorian in Chester County, PA.  She is honored to be connected with the crew at the Detox Treatment Help Line (800-287-7891) and Elite Rehab (800-932-4082) to help get the word out about their proven strategies to steer the ones you love away from drug abuse. You can find her online at
www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

Fabulously Frugal Welcome to Spring! Sunday, Oct 7 2018 

Fabulously Frugal Welcome to Spring!

Gang, we made it – winter is over!  I realize that this week’s temps may not scream Springtime, but with last week’s weather kicking repeatedly into the 70’s, I feel like it’s official – we survived these harsh first couple of months of the year, and it’s finally Springtime!  Let’s thank Mother Nature properly with some fabulously frugal Spring activities that make the most of these temperatures without breaking the bank.

1.  Turn the hose back on and wash the car – I’m so embarrassed at how my car looks at this point.  It honestly looks like it’s been pranked with a cropduster.   If you too want to show your car some serious love for getting you thru this winter unscathed, drag out the vacuum to get those hundreds of snack crumbs out of the back seat, then give it a few minutes of heavy handed scrubbing with an old rag and bottle of cleaner.   Serious extra credit if you involve a bottle of windex.  Hose it down, marvel wide-eyed at how you’d forgotten how vibrant the actual exterior color is, then celebrate with a drive!

2.  Get the bikes out – Even if this week’s weather isn’t cooperative, balmy temps are only a week or so away!  Get prepared for it – Drag the bicycles out of the garage and give them a good look-over to make sure the brakes and tires are in good shape.    Don’t have a bike?  This is the year you get one – log onto Craigslist or visit your local Goodwill, where you’ll easily see a half dozen at any one time.  With any new bike (or bike that’s “new” to you), take it to your local bike shop to make sure it’s ready for a busy summer.  Happy pedaling!

3.  Get some flower seeds and bulbs in the ground – To me, nothing says “Springtime!” like the sight of beautiful multi-colored tulips and bright yellow daffodils poking out of the ground.   Best part, tulip and daffodil bulbs are some of the most user-friendly flowers out there, even for a plant killer like myself.  Get yourself to a local home improvement center and pick some up – get them in the ground, and enjoy knowing they’ll pop up not only this year, but many years to come!

4.  If you have kids and/or grandkids in your life, hit the local Dollar Store for a good handful of sidewalk chalk and bubbles.  It won’t be quite windy enough to fly a kite this week, but you’ll have perfect breezes for an afternoon of chalky driveway artwork and bubble blowing.

Above all else, pat yourselves on the back for making it thru another crazy winter.  This one was a doozy.  Happy Springtime, everybody – Frugal ON!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Columnist & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living.  “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs on over 80 Stations Nationwide via the BizTalk Radio Network, find your local station at www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com.
She lives with her husband & kids in their fabulous fixer upper Victorian in Chester County, PA.  She is honored to be connected with the crew at the Detox Treatment Help Line (800-287-7891) and Elite Rehab (800-932-4082) to help get the word out about their proven strategies to steer the ones you love away from drug abuse. You can find her online at
www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

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