All I want for Christmas…is to be finished shopping for it by Labor Day! Monday, Aug 30 2010 

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Okay, I’m well aware that the Christmas / Hanukah holidays are over 100 days away. Make no mistake, I’m the type that gets seriously irked when I hit the dollar store in September only to have Halloween décor, candy and costumes smack me in the head, much less the Thanksgiving and Christmas décor that I’m now seeing in those same stores. Give me a break.

However, the up side to this “let’s try to sell them some Candy Corn/Turkey/Christmas Trees/Menorahs in September” mentality is the opportunity to discuss a concept so radical, so insane, and so unheard of, it’ll have you stopping in your overworked tracks. A concept that will save you such huge amounts of money, time and sanity this holiday season you’ll never go back to doing the holidays the same way again.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am finished with my Christmas shopping, all before the Labor Day weekend. Yes, I’m a freak. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a 42 years old red blooded American female who loves to test her shopping mettle with the best of them. Until a couple of years ago, I was amongst the holiday herds who took last-minute Christmas shopping to an Olympic sport level year after year, despite being benched multiple times for Excessive Use of Force. Then, I had kids, and my “kill or be killed” holiday shopping mentality morphed into a gentler kind of non-contact sport. Nicer for all involved, but clearly, I’d lost my competitive shopping edge, and another strategy had to evolve for me to pull off any kind of decent holiday. Luckily, my piranha-to-puppy shopping style metamorphosis coincided with a 50% reduction in our household income (when I quit the corporate workforce to start a family), and by sheer necessity, spending for the holidays needed to be at an all time low in order for the household budget to handle it.

It was about this time I started shopping at the huge, gorgeous, meticulously organized thrift stores near me on a regular basis, usually for household goods and clothes for the kids. An informal glance at some of the other departments quickly educated me on the fabulous bargains to be had at these frugal goldmines. Designer shoes, top-of-the-line handbags, designer clothes, scarves and accessories for 90% off. Books, movies, DVDs, CDs, jewelry (new and vintage) for 90% off. Toys still in the boxes for 90% off. Designer holiday clothes for everyone in the family (Dior for the kids? Hello!), often with the tags attached, for 90% off. The list goes on forever. Trust me, no one was more surprised than I was at the offerings. The only thing surpassed my shock at the prices was my shock at the fabulous customer service and the fact that it looked like you could eat off the floor.

Every time I visited one of these fabulous thrift stores (a.k.a. “Tiffany’s for Tightwads), I’d pick up not only what I needed for the house, but often a gift or two for an upcoming birthday, Mother’s Day, kid’s birthday, hostess gift, you name it. When I saw a gift perfect for an occasion months away, it was stashed on a shelf in my closet for safekeeping. When I happened upon perfect Halloween outfits in August, they were stashed as well. It was when I was pulling out said Halloween costumes back out of the closet that year when I glanced at the “gift shelf” and realized I had quite the stash. I started matching gifts to people and realized within minutes that my holiday shopping was already complete! WHA?! Is that possible? Sure enough, the dozen or so people with whom I purchase gifts were covered with designer gifts in spades. Specifics? How about $500 worth of educational toys, videos, games, dolls, trains, and more for my two kids, which I purchased for $25. Eight Designer shirts and sweaters, three hardcover books on the NYT bestseller list, four DVD’s and a CD for my husband. Golf shirts from the Masters for my Dad, crystal for my Mom, cashmere sweaters and designer handbags for my sisters. Gifts with equal “wow factor” for two brothers in law, a niece and nephew. Total tab on multiple designer gifts for 12 people ages 1 to 70? $195. Considering the national average on holiday spending is now over $1400 per household, nuff said.

Even more fun, from the first week of November thru the entire holiday season that year, I had my first holiday experience in which I had nothing to concern myself with but decorating the house and planning/attending a couple of holiday dinners. No shopping panic, no wild search for elusive gifts. It was…surreal. Everywhere, I saw throngs of people around me in pure adrenaline-fueled panic, embracing the holiday season like Rambo embraced a flame thrower. Not exactly an environment that makes you feel like breaking out into an Andy Williams medley. And yet, I felt serene, moving thru it as tho I was in a protective frugal bubble, like one of those CDC suits in the movie “Outbreak” where you could experience the chaos firsthand, and no matter how close you got, it couldn’t infect you. It was AMAZING.

To those of you reading this, I implore you to try this just one year – you’ll never go back! The feeling of fabulousness upon finishing up your holiday shopping by September is surpassed only by the serious bragging rights inherent with such a feat. Designer gifts for everyone on your list, purchased for 90% off or more, finished with plenty of time to enjoy the season? Somebody put a price tag on that trick. We’re barely into autumn, and the dollar stores and department stores may be on to something with their holiday décor. Get out to a local thrift store, church store or consignment store near you and hit the ground running. Start stocking up now and you’ll not only be saving huge amounts of cash this holiday season, but a good chunk of time and your sanity as well, three things in short enough supply nowadays already.

Dare I say it? Happy Holidays, everybody!

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I love New York! Thursday, Aug 19 2010 

Click here for a link to Channel 12 New York!
Click here for a link to Jimmy Choo shoes!

Hey gang! I’m looking so forward to next week’s interview with Alicia Vitarelli for her “Buck Wild” segment on August 25th!

I ran into the local Goodwill in Morgantown (I know, you’re shocked), hoping to find another prop or two for the story, and lo and behold, there they were! Jimmy Choo shoes, ADORABLE ankle high boots with 3.5″ heels, denim with silver studs, made in London, size 37 1/2. Size Wha? Damn European measurements. Tried it on, and yokay, FYI time: 37 1/2 is MUCH smaller than a USA ladies size 10. HOWEVER, they were $2, so of course they came home with me anyway. Found out at home (courtesy of Google) that 37 1/2 translates roughly into a size 7 USA. Could make a fabulous Xmas present for someone I know with much smaller feet than me…. hmmmmm…

BlogTalkRadio interview on 8/31! Thursday, Aug 19 2010 

Link to Blog Talk Radio here!

Hey guys! Hope all is well.

I recently connected with Erin Heenan Ley, author & host of “Onwards & Upwards” on BlogTalkRadio. I adore her show, and had the pleasure of being interviewed by her back in April. Well, I lucked out and got asked back – next interview is going to be on August 31st. Can’t wait!

Another Sam’s Club wants to sell Brilliant Frugal Living! Thursday, Aug 19 2010 

Link to Sam’s Club here!

Hello all!

Just received a terrific phone call from the manager of the Sam’s Club at Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia. They’re looking to put BFL on the shelves & schedule a book signing ASAP. I’m so thrilled! As soon as I have solid book signing dates lined up, I’ll let you know!

K

Goodwill Fashion Show – Secondhand Chic! September 9th Thursday, Aug 19 2010 

Click here for details on the fabulous Goodwill Fashion Runway Show!

Hey guys! I ran into Goodwill the other day (shocker, I know), and picked up a flyer for their upcoming “Goodwill Runway Show – Secondhand Chic”, scheduled for Thursday, September 9th. Doors open at 4:30P, fashion show starts at 6:30P, and the Boutique is opening at 7:15P.

Guys, this show is fabulous. It’s huge, it’s well done, they have food, wine, incredible clothes, shoes, jewelry, you-name-it. If you go, you’ll love it. If your schedule is free, think about stopping by!

Another workshop! Main Line School Night – October 9th! Thursday, Aug 19 2010 

Click here to register for my upcoming workshop!

Hey all! Over here, I’m putting a few more workshop dates in the calendar for the Fall Semester. I’m thrilled to have been asked back by Main Line School Night (2010 “Best of Philly” winner) to teach a Brilliant Frugal Living course in their beautiful Creutzburg Center in Radnor, PA. Gorgeous!

If your schedule is free on October 9th, I’d love to see you there!

FrugaLouis Vuitton, baby! Thursday, Aug 19 2010 

Hey guys! I got a call from the Morgantown Goodwill, just found out that I had the highest bid on their silent auction for a Louis Vuitton bag! Woo HOO!

I put a pic of it here – normally retails for about $700, my bid was for $10. Works for me! Definitely going out as a Christmas gift to one of my sisters this year! And may the bidding for free babysitting start…. NOW! 🙂

New workshop scheduled for Chester County Night School! Thursday, Aug 19 2010 

Click here for the link to Chester County Night School!

Hello all! So much to get caught up on here at the blog! The month is FLYING by!

I’m looking so forward to my upcoming bunch of workshops in the Fall. First on the books is the one at Chester County Night School, scheduled for Thursday, September 30, 7-9:00P! I can’t wait to meet a whole new group of people, it’s always such fun to connect and hear everyone’s stories. Great stuff. If your schedule permits, I would love to see you there!

Operation Frugalight CONCLUSION: The July electric bill is in! Monday, Aug 9 2010 

www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

Okay gang, moment of truth. The July electric bill is in. Here’s where we find out if Operation Frugalight was a success.

Our Goal: to reduce our electric bill/usage by 30%, which would erase the effects of the recent 30% INCREASE in rates by our electric company.

In order to aim for this lofty goal, I put several energy reducing strategies in play:

(1) Switched our electric over to Dominion.com, which guarantees a 15% decrease in rates. The switchover to Dominion was on July 8th, so hopefully that’ll be a huge help.
(2) Last july, I was still drying clothes in the clothes dryer. This July, I’m doing everything on the clothesline. It’s been doing us a lot of good since we started doing it last September; with any luck it’ll contribute nicely to lowering this month’s bill.
(3) Last july, I was still using my dishwasher. This july, the dishwasher is ME. I use the actual dishwasher as a drying rack only, and run it once every two weeks just to keep it in good shape.
(4) I replaced eighteen 60-watt bulbs with the new squigeldy GE Energy Star bulbs (they’re 13 watt bulbs that light like 60 watts). Boiling down the math as described on the back of the package, I’m supposed to save approximately .92 per month per bulb. These bulbs alone should save us around $17. Let’s hope!
(5) Turned off the computers whenever not in use. I used to keep them up & running even when I was out of the house (I know, I know…), but this month, if I was out, the computer was out too.

Last year’s bill was $217.57. My goal is to have this July’s bill at 217.56 or LESS. If I had done nothing differently from last year, the bill would be 30% higher, or $282.84.

Today, upon opening the mailbox, I immediately spotted the robin’s egg blue of the utility company envelope, and tore it open with breathless anticipation! The bill for this month…$235.17. WHAT?! An INCREASE! It’s 8% HIGHER than last year’s bill! ARRRGH!

Okay, thru my new red-rimmed vision, I notice that the average temp last July was 72 degrees, where this July’s average temp was 79 degrees. No doubt that played into it. But STILL! An INCREASE! Craaaaap! Okay, an 8% increase is better than a 30% increase but COME ON! Sheah. Ah, well.

Thanks to everybody who sent in their FANTASTIC ideas on saving electricity. No doubt your feedback & great ideas helped put money back into a lot of hard-working people’s pockets!

On to a new challenge! We’re deep into August at this point, so start throwing me ideas for a frugal challenge in September!

Later, guys! K

Book Signing Day at Sam’s Club! Sunday, Aug 8 2010 

www.SamsClub.com

Hey everybody! Hope you’re having a fantastic weekend.

Over here, I’m putting the finishing touches on getting ready for the Book Signing at Sam’s Club. So exciting! I can not wait for the opportunity to meet some new people, it’s always great to hear their stories & compare frugal notes.

Also, never a bad thing to be surrounded by Sam’s Club Free Samples as all of this frugal creativity is taking place. WOO HOO!

If you’re in the Exton, PA area (about 45 mins west of Philadelphia) this afternoon, be sure to stop by! No membership required at Sam’s Club today. Gotta love it!

Have a fantastic day, everybody!

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