Keep Savings High when Temps are Low! Friday, Jan 5 2018 

Hey gang – looks like January is determined to remind us time and again that we’re in deep winter mode.  I’m not trying to whine here – much – but where are the freakishly warm January days that we’ve had in years past?  Is having just one January day at 80 degrees too much to ask?  Where’s all this global warming I keep hearing about, could we get a smidge of that?  And my biggest gripe: what’s with the little “negative” signs next to the temp when we’re talking about wind chills?
Okay, whining is done.  For now.  Instead, read on for some fabulously effective frugal strategies to keep your winter heating bill low and your bank account and body temperature high – trust me, Springtime is right around the corner!

(1)  Time for serious body armor!  Some of you know that I grew up in Wisconsin, right off the windy, freezing cold Great Lakes.  Anyone who grew up in Green Bay knows you’re issued your first pair of long underwear about the time you speak your first words – usually a Lombardi quote.  By contrast, I was out shopping recently with a Philly native friend of mine, who literally didn’t know what long underwear was.   Gang, try them.  You’ll not only fall madly in love with the toasty warmth of them, you’ll love the money you save setting the house thermostat just those few degrees warmer.

(2) Rock those Space Heaters!  Before we had kids, my husband and I wouldn’t hesitate to fire up the kerosene heaters during the coldest days of winter.  Now that we’ve got young-ish kids in the house, kerosene heaters  get me nervous.  Edenpure heaters to the rescue!  I love these things.  Safe, effective, they blast hot air into the room at no risk to kids or pets, and – when purchased on Craigslist – they’re incredibly economical.   For extra points, shut the doors in the room as well, or just put easy spring-rod curtains up in doorways, and you’ll find the rooms heat up beautifully.

(3) Electric Blankets & Flannel Sheets!  I am a huge fan of flannel sheets.  If you’ve never tried them, I highly recommend it – they hold body heat beautifully and make for a marvelously toasty night’s sleep, even on the coldest winter nights.  When it comes to electric blankets, I have to admit I’ve never really gotten into them.  However, people who read this Column & listen to my Show have emailed me more than once to rave about them, so they definitely warrant an honorable mention.  At about $25 each, they cost around $1/night to run.  Turn down the heat at night and you’ll still have noticeable savings on your heating bill at the end of the month.

(4) Clean your air vents!   We’ve had an entire Autumn and Winter with the heat running pretty much non-stop.  It’s a perfect way to clog up your air vents.  If you haven’t cleaned your vents or switched out your air filters in the last few months, be sure to do it soon.  Clogged air vents can put a huge (read: expensive) extra burden on your heating system.

Gang, above all else, remember that Springtime is just a few months away – until then, hang in there, layer up, and keep those pets indoors.  You can make it – Frugal On!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host & Columnist.
The “Kristen Hagopian Show” airs on 82 Stations Coast to Coast via the BizTalk Radio Network.
She co-hosts WCHE 1520’s Morning Show in Philadelphia, as well as “Dad and Daughter Talk Real Estate” with Keller Williams Realtor John Herreid Wednesdays at 5:00P (
You can find her online at


Proven $$ Saving Tips for 2018! Friday, Jan 5 2018 

Hey everybody – I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas & holiday!  Many thanks to the many readers who responded to our “Financial tips for 2018” Column, we received dozens of emails and texts with tips from local readers on how they plan on saving, investing and spending smarter for 2018 – outstanding!
Many of them were so spot-on I had to reprint them here – Our household has utilized many of these tips in the past as well, and I can highly recommend them.  They’re easy, take very little time to implement, and reap tremendous rewards.

1.  Making Savings Automatic – We had a handful or readers (including Theresa P. of Media and Stewart R. of Exton) who were informed that they were receiving a bonus for 2017, and/or a possible raise in Spring of 2018 – Congratulations!  Do yourselves a huge favor, put those rewards to work for you, and put that bonus and/or raise in an automatic savings account.   Trust me, you won’t miss it, and – if you leave it untouched for the remainder of 2018 – you will love the numbers at the end of the year.

2.  Taking the credit card debt down to zero – When was the last time you could say you had a $0 balance on your credit cards?  Natalie Z. of West Chester had over $8000 of credit card debt on the books in January 2017, and made it a priority to pay it off this year.  As of December, 2017 – her credit card balance is zero for the first time in 12 years.  Very impressive!   So many hard working Americans simply assume that credit card debt is a permanent part of life – not true! Imagine opening up your credit card statements and reading a big fat zero.  How divine would that be?  With that in mind, if you do have large amounts of credit card debt, and you too are expecting a decent raise and/or bonus in 2018, plug every penny of it into reducing your consumer debt.  The long-term financial benefits are massive, and the peace of mind can’t be beat.

3.  Take your household food spending down by hundreds of dollars – the average household spends far more than it needs to on food.  Everybody’s working hard, there isn’t a lot of time to devote to cooking – trust me, I get it.   But cutting out just one (Hassled? Loud? Overpriced?) restaurant meal a week can easily save a hard-working family of four up to $200/month, a.k.a. $2400/year.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, download some easy crock-pot recipes and get to it!  Michael & Sandra P. of Downingtown starting cutting out one restaurant meal a week back in July.  Six months later, they report solid savings of over $1800.  Outstanding work!  Give it a try, gang – your family, your budget, and your savings will thank you.   Frugal On!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host & Columnist.
The “Kristen Hagopian Show” airs on 82 Stations Coast to Coast via the BizTalk Radio Network.
She co-hosts WCHE 1520’s Morning Show in Philadelphia, as well as “Dad and Daughter Talk Real Estate” with Keller Williams Realtor John Herreid Wednesdays at 5:00P (
You can find her online at

Let 2017 Shape your 2018 Finances! Friday, Jan 5 2018 

December 2017 – Hey gang!  Amazingly, we’re in the last weeks of 2017 – and what a year it’s been!  It’s this time of year I love to reflect on the last year of news headlines.  In my case, not surprisingly, it’s the financial headlines that always catch my eye.  Imagine if we knew back in January all of the financial headlines to come – what would we do in response?  Where would we put our money?  Well, we don’t have a ‘way back’ machine (don’t I wish), but we can use year’s financial info to create a slam dunk strategy for 2018.  Read on for some of the best financial news of 2017, and how you can translate it into greater wealth and financial security for the year to come.

1. The Stock Market.  Don’t let it intimidate you, it’s just a market.  This market however, with a couple of easy, effortless moves, can mean the difference between a very comfortable retirement, and not so much.  For households like mine, invested thru a modest 401K or other retirement plan, I’m hearing from several households that saw yearly returns of say, “X” amount of dollars from 2008-2016.  From January 2017 thru November 2017, they made six times that amount, all in the same investments.
Lesson learned – If you’re not already in, get into the stock market with a plan that suits your level of risk (low, medium high, ultra-high), max it out every chance you get, and stick with it.  The tax savings are fantastic, and these huge gains in the stock market are filled with middle-class Americans just like you and me, taking full control of their financial future.  Be the master of your financial fate.  It’s fabulous.

2.  Real Estate.  Lordy, where to begin.  A healthy real estate market is judged by having (roughly) a six month inventory of homes on the market.  Anything more than six months would indicate that we have a glut of homes on the market, and not enough buyers, driving prices down.  A few years back, our area had over 12 months of real estate inventory available on the books.   Not good.  As of December 2017, there is now roughly a four month inventory in our area – and in some townships as little as 2 months inventory.  Much better.  The result?  As consumer confidence skyrockets and people feel more secure in their existing (or new) jobs, they’re taking the leap into buying their first home, or moving up to a new house, etc.  If you’re thinking about buying, selling, renting or rehabbing, now’s the time to think seriously about jumping in with both feet.  The market is great, and prices are on the rise.

Whatever your personal goals are for 2018, chances are excellent they’ll be more attainable with a healthy financial portfolio.   Put the tried and true financial lessons of 2017 to work for you, to turn 2018 into your best financial year ever – Frugal On, everybody!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host & Columnist.
The “Kristen Hagopian Show” airs on 82 Stations Coast to Coast via the BizTalk Radio Network.
She co-hosts WCHE 1520’s Morning Show in Philadelphia, as well as “Dad and Daughter Talk Real Estate” with Keller Williams Realtor John Herreid Wednesdays at 5:00P (
You can find her online at

Superbowl party on a super-low budget! Monday, Jan 26 2015 

Hey gang – are you ready for some (frugal) football?
I have to tell you, as much as I usually ignore the sport in general, even I’m getting excited for this upcoming game.  It’s been a few weeks since the holidays, we’re all sitting around in freezing snow waiting for springtime to throw us a bone – this is the perfect time for some indoor sporty celebrations!  If you’re thinking of getting the gang together for a Superbowl party, fear not – it won’t break the bank!  With this frugal festivities checklist, your Superbowl party costs will deflate faster than a Patriot football (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
Your party needs three things to truly succeed – food, beverages, and space to get loud and safely move around (including, but not limited to, wild hand gestures, jumping on/off furniture, hurling small objects, and swearing loudly at the television – depending on your guest list).  Take a look at the room where the game will be watched – haul in as many soft chairs and large sitting pillows as you can.  Not only will it provide extra seating, you’ll be amazed how well it absorbs sound.

Let’s move on to the food – believe it or not, the Calorie Control Council (which I didn’t even know existed until 5 minutes ago) estimates that Superbowl partiers will consume on average 1200 calories during the game!  If you’re having 5 or more people over, those food costs add up huge!  As with all parties, I have one word for you: DELEGATE.  Make sure everybody coming to your party brings a solid contribution of snacks, soda, and/or the beverage of their choice.  The day before your shindig, hit the local Warehouse stores for amazing deals on snacks and sodas and stock up – don’t worry if it turns out you bought a bit too much.  It’ll come in handy for post-game celebratory snacks days after the game, or worst case scenario, a post-game nosh to drown your sorrows when your beloved team loses.

As for food and snack choices,  I have one solid bit of advice that I beg you to take seriously – skip the wings.  The price-gouging on chicken wings in the days before the Superbowl are downright criminal, I mean come on!  We’re talking about scrawny little chicken wings, mostly skin & bone, going for $2 a pound or more!  Give me a break.  Here’s the silver lining.  For the last few years, I’ve noticed time and again how the supermarkets are stocking up on way too many wings – the week after the Superbowl, I’ve seen deals on chicken wings for $0.69/pound or less!  Wait it out, the wing gods will look kindly on you.

Last but not least, the beverages – you know I’m not much of a drinker.  I save my calories for important stuff… like chocolate. Now I’m not suggesting that you go with a dry party for the Superbowl.  I’m basically being told that’s like celebrating Valentine’s day without using the color red.  However, next to over-priced wings, alcohol is without a doubt a party budget buster, one with an easy fix.  Make sure all of your drinking guests bring something with them.  Simple as that.

Here’s to a fantastic game with family, friends & awesome food – frugal on!
Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Columnist & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living.  She co-hosts WCHE 1520’s Morning Show, and “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs Tuesdays at 4P.  She resides in Chester County with her family.  You can find her online at

Five Frugal Moves to Save big $$$ in 2015 Monday, Jan 26 2015 

Hey gang – Happy 2015!  So far, my biggest goal for the year has been “Don’t freeze to death.”.  Simple, measurable, I like it.  However, high on my 2015 Goal List is also a serious determination to take our household spending to dramatically low levels, while still keeping a high quality of life.  If you’re like the millions that are ready to stockpile a lot more of your hard earned cash this year, read on for easy moves that will save you thousands.

#1 – Buy yourself a cup of coffee.  If you’re a caffeine addict like I am, get yourself to the local Dollar Store and stock up on a week’s worth of coffee travel mugs for $7.  Each day you brew your delicious caffeinated goodness at home (rather than buy it at your local convenience store), you’re saving yourself $1.50/day.  That’s $500/year back in your pocket by year’s end, and you’re still getting your morning caffeine hit.  Everyone’s a winner.
#2 – Invest in a local Warehouse Club card.  Case in point: your local BJ’s in Downingtown, where a Membership card costs less than $50!  Buying all the basic staples of my cupboards & refrigerator at BJ’s (bread, produce, butter, milk, meats) I often save at least $40/week on groceries compared to shopping elsewhere.  Boom, that $50 membership card just paid you back $2000 in one year’s time.   Nice return on investment!
#3 – Learn to love your local library.  I’ve spoken to people in serious debt who still think nothing of an expensive monthly cable package, not to mention regular purchases of magazines, books and DVD movies at full price, only to look at them once and them put them on a crowded shelf.  Sound familiar?  Behold, your local library, where all of the above are free.   If you’re normally spending $20 or more a week on entertainment like magazines, movies & books, you just saved yourself another $1000/year.  You’re welcome.
#4 – Hit your local Goodwill at least once a month.  There are fantastic locations in Exton & Thorndale that never let me down.  I’m constantly finding outstanding items in there for easily 80-90% off retail.  Home furnishings, kid’s clothing, shoes, suits, gifts, you name it – they’ve got it, for a fraction of retail.  I don’t call it “Tiffany’s for Tightwads” for nothing – It’s a perfect money-saving haven for busy families.
#5 – Dinner’s on!  There’s a staggering statistic out there that states the average American family eats out at last four times a week, with an average $50/check for a family of four.  That can add up to $200/week.  No good.  Trust me, I know being a working parent can be exhausting, but you know what can be even more exhausting?  Realizing next December that you worked hard in 2015 to support a $10,000/year restaurant habit.  Keep it simple, put some spaghetti in a pot at home and have the kids set the table while you throw together a couple of salads.  Et voila – a great dinner with the ones you love, and thousands more in the bank.  Frugal On!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show host, Columnist and Author of “Brilliant Frugal Living.” She co-hosts WCHE 1520’s Morning Show, and “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs at 4 p.m. Tuesdays. She resides in Chester County with her family. You can find her online at

Inexpensive last minute gifts they’ll love! Monday, Jan 26 2015 

Okay guys – it’s December 23rd – it’s crunch time.   The entire month has flown by at Mach 2, and you’re looking at a somewhat scary list of people you have yet to shop for.   You’re not alone!  Read on for effortless, fabulous gift ideas that your family and friends will love, that you can put together inexpensively in minutes.

Gift Cards – one of my top picks.  Adults love them, kids love them, they’re highly appreciated and they’re used quickly.   For adults, best bets are gas stations that have not only fuel but excellent coffee – clearly Wawa & Sheetz get top marks.  Come January, just imagine the look on your broke buddy’s face when they had to run out the door without their caffeine fix and see they’re hitting “E” on the gas tank as well.  They’ll pull your gift card out of their pocket and sing your praises all the way to the coffee stirrers.

Magazine subscriptions – in today’s economy, people are cutting back on the fun little luxuries, including magazine subscriptions.  Think about your gift recipient’s favorite hobbies (Sports? Cooking? Hunting? Fashion? Decorating?) then get online to buy them a year’s subscription to a fantastic magazine – or two – that they can look forward to month after month.  Boom, gift giving is complete.

Homemade baked goods – these are still such a hit, and honestly not that hard to create – no mixers required!  Why?  Because in my book, if you take a tube of ready-made cookie dough off the supermarket shelf, and cut it open at home, slice them down into odd-shapes and let the kids add tons of sprinkles and/or icing, that counts as homemade.   It’s appreciated, it’s customized, it’s delicious to boot.  If you’ve got an afternoon to spare, carve an hour out to get these in the oven, let them cool, put them into some inexpensive tins and watch the lucky recipients dive in!

Lottery tickets – Honestly, I’ve never been into the lottery.  Odds are just slightly against my winning (don’t I wish), and I’d rather put my cash into a good cup of coffee.  That being said, there are so-ho-ho many people out there practicing their “Oh my GOD, I WON!” faces, and you and I know they’d love a ticket – or two – to put in their pocket.   Make their day, and make it clear that – if they win – you get a 10% commission.  Everyone’s a winner.

Dollar Store Gift Baskets – These gems have saved me too many times to count!   Easily made within 5 minutes for $5 or less at the Dollar Store.  They have it all gang – gift baskets, colorful shredded paper for fluff, coffee mugs, candy, cookies, chocolate, snacks – even small crafts and toys for kids’ baskets.  Et voila!  The possibility for hundreds of gift combos (all for $5 or less) await you!

This Christmas, I’m hearing from people right and left who find themselves even more cash-strapped (and time-strapped) than last year.  Trust me, whatever you give your buddies, they’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness more than anything.  And if you’re subsidizing their caffeine intake as well, hey, what’s not to love?  Frugal On!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show host, Columnist and Author of “Brilliant Frugal Living.” She co-hosts WCHE 1520’s Morning Show, and “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs at 4 p.m. Tuesdays. She resides in Chester County with her family. You can find her online at

Readers send in Fabulously Frugal Holiday Shopping Finds! Monday, Jan 26 2015 

Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukah, everybody!   With the holiday shopping season now in full swing, I sent out a Social Media Challenge to our fabulous DLN readers to share some of their favorite money-saving, gift buying hot-spots.  As usual, they came thru with flying colors!  Read on for some of your fellow DLN’ers top tips for inexpensive, elegant gift giving.

Maggie T. of West Chester swears by the big warehouse stores, especially BJ’s – “I love the one-stop shopping, the gifts are wonderful, and not overpriced.  I honestly get more than half my Christmas shopping done there in one trip.  I find myself buying a lot of books as gifts too, and BJ’s has all of the good ones.  One of my favorite things there are the baked treats, especially the cookies.  My 7 grandkids spend a lot of time at my house during the holidays, and it’s easy to have fresh cookies and goodies in the house when I make a trip there. They also have good heat-and-eat side dishes that I’m going to be using for Christmas dinner.”  Thanks, Maggie!  And Girlfriend, I’m with you.  Hands down, some of the best prices around on food, gifts, toys & batteries.

Leslie K. of Exton makes Goodwill her first big stop when she goes holiday shopping – “I have four sisters, and we all love fun purses and lots of jewelry.   Budgets are crazy tight this year, but I always find awesome designer names for purses, shoes, sweaters, jewelry, you name it.   It’s without a doubt one of the best places you can shop in Chester County.”  Amen sister!  I’ve got two younger sisters, and we will forever adore our bling!  Also just found two lovely Christmas outfits for my rapidly-growing kids at the Goodwill in Exton.  Katie’s dress was originally priced at $180 (I know because the tag was still on it), and I got it for $10! Robbie’s Christmas suit only cost $6, it’s so adorable – and he’ll probably outgrow it by the end of January.

Carmen S. of Downingtown loves to shop local for gifts, and finds that restaurant gift cards are one of the best gifts she’s ever given.  “They’re a hit every single year – most of my family & friends have cut back on eating out to save money, so when you give them a gift card to Buca Di Beppo or some other great local restaurant, you know they’ll like it and they’ll use it – especially when she adds a handmade “gift card” for free babysitting while her friends enjoy a well-earned evening out.   Talk about a huge hit of a gift!

These are just a few of the fabulous emails & texts I got from DLN fans – I want to hear from you as well!  If you have a favorite Chester County shop where you’re finding amazing holiday deals and bargains, find me online at  Frugal on, everyone – Merry Christmas!

A Fabulously Frugal Thanksgiving! Thursday, Nov 13 2014 

If November is going to fly by has as fast as October, it’s going to be Thanksgiving before we know it. While many consider Thanksgiving to be firmly in the Top Ten of major holiday stressors, take it from me, it doesn’t have to be! Read on for some fabulously frugal proven strategies to keep your Thanksgiving joy high and your bills (and stress) at all-time lows!
Rule #1 – Keep the main dish simple. I lean towards turkey, but I’m old fashioned that way. That, and it makes the house smell fantastic. Believe it or not, I’m hearing from women who are already stressing at the idea of creating their usual main dish trifecta of ham, turkey and some kind of lasagna or fish – what are they nuts? One and done is my rule, and it saves me tons of stress, not to mention money, oven space, and room for leftovers in the refrigerator.
Rule #2 – There’s nothing wrong with delegating. Even the simplest of lovely Thanksgivings have at least a dozen moving parts – side dishes, snacks, desserts, flowers, etc. Nowhere is it written that you have to do it all by yourself, so quit trying! Everyone invited to your Thanksgiving table is going to want to contribute, so grant them their wish. Put your flower-loving friend in charge of a centerpiece, your chocoholic buddy the job of a dessert or two, your wine connoisseur the job of a good bottle or two of wine and your organic gluten-free guru Aunt a side dish or three. Play your cards right, and all you’ll have to do is produce the main dish. You didn’t hear it here, but when you’re in charge of doing just a turkey, there’s nothing wrong with calling a nearby meat market that offers baked turkeys for pickup on Thanksgiving day. I’ve never tried it, but I’ve heard from people who have, and the word on the street is that they’re divine.
Rule #3 – Remember the reason for the season. 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 was to spend a day with family and loved ones, reflecting on our blessings, and offering up some heartfelt thanks. Oh, okay and maybe some football. Using the tips above, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy a great meal with your family and friends, linger over dessert and coffee, and cheer for your favorite football team… just the way the Pilgrims intended. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Fabulously Frugal Football! Thursday, Nov 13 2014 

For this week’s money-saving Column, I’m embarking on new territory – sports! Namely, football. I started thinking about this subject matter when I began hearing the costs of season tickets for the big football teams – what are they, nuts? We’re talking about thousands of dollars for season tickets. Do the Commissioners think suddenly people don’t have a mortgage to pay anymore? Between ticket costs and the latest NFL headlines, I got seriously frustrated until somebody told me about the amazing fun that could be had on the local college level. I didn’t believe it myself until I went with Victor to a Temple Football Game down at Lincoln Financial Field a couple of weeks ago, and now I’m officially hooked. So much fun, and so reasonably priced! Read on for some fabulously frugal reasons why Temple Football tickets (and local Colleges in general) are a great way to enjoy football without breaking the bank.
Reason #1 – College Football is fabulously affordable family fun – Temple tickets for kids on game day are only $7. You can’t even get into a movie theatre for that price anymore, and with football, you’re even getting a little fresh air while you’re at it.
Reason #2 – Temple plays their home games at Lincoln Financial Field. I never had a chance to check out this awesome venue before. Pretty impressive!
Reason #3 – The tailgating. With college football, people have taken tailgating to the level of an Olympic sport. Totally impressive. Come see firsthand how people manage to pull lawn chairs, grills, coolers, two hammocks, a bean bag toss game and four kids out of a standard minivan.
Reason #4 – It’s football played right. I might sound like an old lady, but when I’m watching the NFL on television, I cringe every single time I watch a tackle – it’s like watching somebody being mugged! With college football, I feel like I’m watching the sport the way it’s supposed to be played – reasonable tackles, nobody dislocates a body part, loses consciousness, or misplaces an eyeball. Nice.
Reason #5 – The Marching Band. I was in marching band when I was in high school, and you just never get it out of your system. Temple’s marching band is awesome!
Reason #6 – PJ Walker. Holy Mackerel. I’m not even into sports, and even I can tell that this young man is something amazing to watch on the field.
I’m looking forward to heading back to Lincoln Financial Field when they face East Carolina on Saturday, November 1st. The food is fabulous, with any luck the weather gods will be kind, and following the game on 11/1, all kids ages 14 and under – with an accompanying adult – can go onto the field and catch a touchdown pass! Not bad for a $7 ticket. Go Owls, and frugal on!

Saving for College 101 Thursday, Nov 13 2014 

I just found out September is officially considered “Saving for College” month. This seemed cool and insightful until I found out it’s also the official “Eat Chicken Month”, “Fall Hat Month” and “Pleasure Your Mate Month” (look it up if you don’t believe me!). With recent headlines screaming about the skyrocketing cost of college (and this being a family newspaper), I’m leaning towards a “Saving for College” theme for today’s Column. Trust me, once I go thru the math, the numbers will be so downright sexy it might qualify for the “Pleasure Your Mate Month” too – bonus!

When people read that a child born today could face college costs of $150,000-$250,000 down the road, they often give a shrug of resignation, as though attempting to save would be futile at best, humorous at worst. Well, never fear – not only do I seriously doubt the numbers, but I’ve also got two easy tips that will take you to your goals in leaps and bounds.

Tip #1: For big results, think small, and watch it add up huge – Between now and the SAT’s, chances are excellent your kids are going to have a few birthdays & celebrations. Make them work to your kid’s future advantage by making it clear to family and friends that (depending on your child’s age), whatever amount they want to spend on a gift, spend half on the gift, another half on a contribution to their college savings. Anyone who has attended a child’s birthday party knows that the toy/gadget overload is usually of biblical proportions – the only thing more impressive is how bored the child is with it 48-72 hours later. Case in point – I was raised in a wonderful household in which my childhood birthday parties were a fantastic, memorable affair with friends, family and lots of gifts, and for the most part, I can’t remember 1/100th of the presents I received. On the other hand, each year my Aunts, Uncles & Grandparents were encouraged to send me $5, $10 and $25 savings bonds, which went straight into the bank. When I hit Penn State a decade or two later, those small amounts accumulated to pay for three semesters worth of expenses at school. You get the point. Think small, and watch it add up like crazy.

Tip #2: Think outside the Ivy League box – I have nothing against impressive, expensive Universities. The architecture is usually magnificent, and I’m a huge fan of their history. That being said, of all of the people I know who attended Ivy League schools (or other overpriced Universities), more than half were still paying off school loans 20 years later. It’s like having a $200,000 mortgage for a piece of framed paper on the wall. On the flip side, I can personally name eight people in my close circle of friends, family and work acquaintances who attended a local campus or Community College, paid off all of their school costs immediately, and are now earning six figure salaries, with no college debt, as we push thru one of the biggest recessions in history. Enough said.

Whatever your College ambitions, never let an obnoxious depressing headline steer you from your goals – and for more money-saving advice, catch my Show Tuesdays at 4P on West Chester’s WCHE 1520 – did I mention September is also “National Shameless Self Promotion Month” as well? Frugal On!
Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Columnist & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living. She co-hosts WCHE 1520’s Morning Show on Wednesdays, and you can find her online at

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