Wedding Planning on a Budget! Sunday, Feb 24 2019 

Springtime is right around the corner, and Wedding/Party Planners are going into overdrive ramping up for one of the biggest wedding seasons in years!   That being said, 2019 average wedding costs hover around $35,000, and people are looking for strategies to create the perfect celebration, without overspending.   If you’re planning a wedding or big Event in 2019, read on for tips on how to create a gorgeous get-together, without breaking the bank.

1. Your #1 Money Saving Move – avoid the monster guest list.  In this day and age, when people often wait to get married, their larger circles of friends add up to a huge Guest List.  You may be tempted to invite everyone you’ve met from Kindergarten on, but that’s not a great idea.  You’re not only adding additional costs, but creating an atmosphere that’s less like an intimate wedding crowd, and more like a circus.  Wedding planners hover around the 150-200 mark for guest cut off for the perfect group size. 

2. Rather than gifts from guests, ask for their talents!   Amongst friends and family, chances are excellent that they (or someone they know) is an excellent amateur photographer, musician, printer, perhaps even a DJ or baker!  In our family tree, the amateur baker is yours truly, and it’s been an honor to add my sugary, multi-tiered gifts to these Celebrations over the years.

3. Give serious consideration to marrying on a day other than Saturday or Sunday.  This is a tip straight from top-notch Wedding Planners.  Planning your wedding or Event on a weekday, rather than a weekend, can save you anywhere upwards of 30% on your venue, entertainment, and even the catering staff!

4. The Wedding Clothes – Purchasing a wedding gown is a memory we cherish forever.  The prices?  Not so much.  According to The Knot, brides in 2018 shelled out an average $1500 per dress.  Not only have I seen dozens of lovely wedding dresses at Goodwill ($125 for a $5,000 Vera Wang, anyone?), but the bridesmaids dresses there often run about 90% off as well.  I’ve also heard from no less than five brides who found the wedding dresses of their dreams on Craigslist for 70-90% off.  When it comes to the guys, I’m the first to admit that I’m a sucker for a guy in a tux.  That being said, if your groomsmen have dark suits in their closet, they’ll look fabulous on camera, and no doubt be more comfortable than if they were walking around in an ill-fitting, pricey rental tux.

5.  Think Big, but in a different way – I mentioned earlier that today’s weddings average over $30,000.  Whether you’re the bride, groom, or parents, if you’re the ones shelling out that kind of cash for a one-day Event, give some thought to keeping wedding expenses down to say $10,000 (it can be done!), then use the additional $20,000 as a down payment on a house.  Trust me, the creative wheel will start to turn big time.   Frugal On!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Columnist & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living.  “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs on Montgomery County’s WNPV 1440 / 98.5 , and Nationwide via the BizTalk Radio Network. She was raised in Delaware 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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Girl Scouts – Frugalistas in Training! Sunday, Feb 24 2019 

About 107 years ago, Juliette Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout Troop, on March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Georgia.    I’m here to make the case that the 2.3 million members currently in Girl Scouts not only enjoy a fabulous educational experience, but they’re heading into adulthood far better equipped for life’s ups and downs, physical, emotional and financial.  Don’t believe me?  Enjoy these thin, minty facts:  

(1) It’s thru the Girl Scouts that many girls enjoy their first field trips, sports experiences, community service projects, cultural exchanges, and more.  In my opinion, this is somewhat better at building character, respect, team-building, sound-decision making and leadership than say, spending every afternoon playing video games.  I’m pretty sure there’s a study or two floating out there that will back me up.

(2) Girl Scouts have a proven track record of creating outstanding women leaders.  Eighty percent of women executives and female business owners were former Scouts, as well as two-thirds of American Congresswomen.  Oh, and also the first female Space Shuttle Commander, Secretary of State, Supreme Court Justice, Evening Network News Anchor, President of Harvard and Secretary of Homeland Security.   Coincidence?  I think not.

(3) Research shows that Girl Scouts are significantly less likely to become teenage mothers, to drop out of school, or to use drugs.  I’m not even going to try to put a price tag on this one.  My head will explode. 

(4) In today’s economy, volunteering and community service are more urgently needed than ever.  Each year, Girl scouts provide nearly 80 million hours in community service.  Better still – research shows that former Girl Scouts vote more and volunteer more than women who were not Girl Scouts.

(5) I saved the best for last – it’s statistically shown that girls lag behind boys in financial literacy, and “American Households Headed by Single Women” is one of the fastest growing poverty groups.   Girl Scouting offers one of the most successful financial literacy programs for girls in the world.  I’m going to make you read that last sentence one more time: “Girl Scouting offers one of the most successful financial literacy programs for girls in the world”. 

Long story short, if you’re a former Girl Scout like me, a business owner complete with highly-opinionated, somewhat-formidable financial skills and a circa 1978 sash and beanie in the attic, or if you’re the hard-working parent of an impressionable young lady whom you’re trying to select quality after-school programs for, do yourself (and them) a favor and think long and hard about Girl Scouts .  The friends they’ll make and the lessons they’ll learn will serve them beautifully for a lifetime.   To all the young ladies in Troop 4961 who attended Girl Scouts with my daughter, Katie, start practicing that wave as you board Air Force One in a few decades.   Viva thin mints!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Columnist & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living.  “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs on Montgomery County’s WNPV 1440 / 98.5 , and Nationwide via the BizTalk Radio Network. She was raised in Delaware 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

Six Frugal Moves to Save big $$$ in 2019 Sunday, Feb 24 2019 

Yes, weather-wise, January is getting in our face a bit, but it’s also a great month to take stock of your finances, and put some bold moves in play that will save you thousands by year’s end!
1 – Buy yourself a cup of coffee.  Fellow caffeine addicts, hit the Dollar Store for 7 travel mugs.  Get your caffeinated goodness at home rather than your local convenience store, and you’re saving yourself $500 by year’s end, while still getting your caffeine hit.  Everyone’s a winner.  
2 – Get a Warehouse Club card.  Case in point: your local BJ’s, where my Membership card pays for itself within a month!  Buying all the basic staples at BJ’s (bread, produce, butter, milk, meats) I often save at least $50/week on groceries compared to shopping elsewhere.  Boom, that $50 membership card just paid you back $2500 in one year’s time.   Nice return on investment!
3 – Show some love to your Library.  I often connect with people in serious debt who think nothing of an expensive monthly cable package, 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.   Let me repeat that – it’s 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 amazing 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.  It’s a perfect money-saving haven for busy families. 
5 – Take care of your car!  Few things put a chink in your monthly finances faster than unexpected car bills.  Check the oil and fluids regularly, get it inspected on schedule, and give it a good wash every couple of weeks to get rid of the salt and dirt. Extra credit if you take your dustbuster to the interior.  Your trusty steed – and your wallet – will thank you.
6 – Dinner’s on!  There’s a truly scary statistic out there that states the average family eats out at last four times a week, with an average $50-60/check for a family of four.  That can add up to $200/week or more.  No good.  Trust me, I know being a working parent can be exhausting, but you know what’s even more exhausting?  Realizing in December 2019 that you worked hard all year to support a $10,000/year restaurant habit.  Keep it simple guys, put some angel hair pasta in a pot at home and have the kids set the table while you throw together a couple of salads.  There you have it – 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 & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living.  “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs on Montgomery County’s WNPV 1440 / 98.5 , and Nationwide via the BizTalk Radio Network. She was raised in Delaware 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

Save Big Money in January! Sunday, Feb 24 2019 

Every month of the year holds unique opportunities for saving serious cash, and January is no different.  Yes, our budgets and bank accounts may still be a bit fatigued after all of the hand-to-hand holiday shopping combat, but if you’re in the market for certain goods, January may be the perfect month to track them down and ring them up for a fraction of retail prices.   Read on for where to find January’s best steals and deals!

1. Hit your local Thrift Stores early and often – People far more organized than I am spent a good part of December loading up the car with donations of clothes, books, electronics, jewelry and furniture to their local Goodwills and thrift stores in order to meet 2018 tax writeoff deadlines.  What that means for you is that all of your local Thrift Stores are stuffed top to bottom with gorgeous merchandise for January, at steeply discounted rates.  Swing by your favorite Thrift Store and see what they have to offer!

2. Gift Cards – you guys know what a huge fan I am of Gift Cards at the holidays.  They’re easy to give and wrap, fabulous to receive, and effortless to get from Point A to Point B when you’re going from house to house at the holidays.  That being said, not every Gift Card purchase is a hit with the receiver, and it rapidly finds itself on eBay at discounted prices.  This is great news for people who are not only seeking discounted gift cards, but those who are seeking to unload some.  The discounts are minimal (I’m finding $25 Gift Cards on eBay for approx. $22), so the buyer gets a discounted gift card for a store they adore, the seller gets nearly full face value on a card they weren’t going to use, and eBay gets to play hero to all of us seeking to unload gifts that missed the mark.

3. Have you ever wondered what becomes of all of the gifts that get returned to the store?  Sure, some of them get placed back on racks or shelves, but a large segment of them get instantly marked down and sold as “open box” merchandise for a fraction of retail, often ending up at discount stores like Marshall’s, Ross and TJ Maxx.  If you’re a fan of those stores to begin with, mark your calendar to visit them in January – the sales are superb.  Frugal On! 

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Columnist & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living.  “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs 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

Save Thousands with this $150 purchase Sunday, Feb 24 2019 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everybody!  Opening our hearts and homes this Holiday Season, we often find this is also when outside temps take their customary dive.  With that in mind, this week’s Column is dedicated to a $150 investment that can safely save you hundreds or more each Winter, and keep your home at luxurious temperatures – a space heater!

For the majority of households, heating costs are a significant expense.  Many believe that saving money in wintertime requires uncomfortably cold temps in their own house and hunkering down until Springtime – not true!  Today’s quality space heaters save your household significant cash, and keep living spaces at a gorgeous temperature (easily 70 or higher) throughout the winter.  But which one is best for your needs?  Let’s look into two different types, and how to utilize them best for maximum effect.

1 – Kerosene heaters.  Folks, growing up in a fabulously frugal household, in the loveliest of warm wintertime homes, these were a wintertime staple.  Super-safe back in the 1980’s when I first learned how to operate them as a teenager, even safer now, these use very little fuel and keep living spaces in our home at a fabulous 70 degrees, even when outside temps are at zero or below.  It’s fabulous.  Easy to move, easy to operate, with every new-age safety feature you can imagine, these heaters are even more appealing to me now, especially with a tight budget in a household with a teenager and a pre-teen.  We keep little-used areas of our home at 53 degrees (you read that right), and with our living areas closed off with classy curtains, we keep the kitchen, playroom, family room, powder room and Den (approx. 1100 square feet) at a comfortable 70 degrees, with one heater.  Check them out and find the one best suited for your square footage.

2 – Ceramic Heaters – For all of my praise of kerosene heaters, I realize they’re not for everyone.  Households with very young children, pets, those who have trouble maneuvering or filling a kerosene heater, might love one of the newer ceramic heaters (think Edenpure).  They are outstanding, economical, and super-safe for everyone in the family – their ads feature a cat sitting safely atop the heater as the gentle heat jets out the side!

Once you find the heater that fits your needs, the next step is blocking off your busiest living spaces to keep the heat right where you want it.  In our Victorian, and older homes in general, curtains on spring rods placed in standard doorways are perfect for blocking in the heat.  For today’s newer architecture with lovely soaring ceilings and open entryways, give some thought to corralling your family’s wintertime reading, socializing and TV watching into a smaller side room, perhaps on an upper floor where the heat naturally rises – you’d be amazed how a lovely warm room gravitates your family members to it.  Stay warm, everybody – Frugal On!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Columnist & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living.  “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs 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

Brilliant Frugal Gifts They Actually Want! Sunday, Feb 24 2019 

It’s the 2nd week of December folks, we’re coming up on crunch time.  I know you’re crazy busy with work, family and friends, but this is the week to take care of the bulk of your holiday shopping, if you haven’t already.  You’ll thank yourself later, I promise!  If you’re looking for more gift ideas that are the perfect combo of (1) inexpensive, (2) easy to create, and (3) beloved by recipients, read on for fantastic, proven gift ideas guaranteed to please!

(1) A new wallet full of gift cards!  Perfect for adults, kids, retirees, you name it.  There are several reasons I adore gift cards at the holidays.  They’re easy to get from place to place (no bulky boxes), and they’re sure to be appreciated by the recipient.  Imagine the delight of anyone on your gift list when they open up a box containing a brand new wallet filled with gift cards from their favorite restaurants, gas stations, bookstores and coffeeshops!  The gifts don’t have to be used that day, it’s effortlessly easy to get the gift home, and it will be one of the few gifts given at the holidays that could save the day in April when you’re low on cash and your gas tank is hovering right over the “E”.

(2) A Package of Delectable Embellished Oreos!  In my house, the holidays are notorious as a “no carb left behind” kind of affair.  Your house may be the same.  A week ago, I received a divine Christmas package from a co-worker, filled with hand crafted, deliciously embellished Oreos!  They didn’t last an hour.  It’s kind of a blur, actually.  To recreate the magic at home – take your favorite variety Oreos, pipe a small ring of frosting around the outside of the cookie, and gently dip it into your favorite sprinkles, chocolate shavings, or finely shredded coconut.  Words can’t describe the deliciousness, but “Oreos touched by culinary angels” comes close.

(3) Gift box filled with Candy Cane Quarters!  The perfect gift for the friend or relative who loves the vending machine at work, lives or works near parking meters, or the new college kid dependent on the dorm laundry room.   Get a small, decorative box from the Dollar Store, fill it with 3 or 4 rolls of quarters wrapped in striped candy-cane paper, and enjoy the thrilled response when friends and family open a gift they can easily use!

Whoever is on your gift list this year, chances are excellent – whether they say it out loud or not – that they would prefer a practical gift they can actually use, especially if its usefulness extends well beyond the crazy rush of the holidays.  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