A Frugal Guide to Holiday Gift Giving! Thursday, Dec 20 2012 

Hey everybody – Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! When it comes to gift-giving this year, I’ve decided my lofty goal for gifts to family, friends, clients & co-workers this year is three-fold: the gifts I’m giving have to (1) be adored, (2) used almost immediately, and (3) be inexpensive. Impossible? Not at all! Think FOOD!

I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating – in Victorian Times, it was commonplace for a household to spend at least 25% of their income on food – can you imagine? Given how expensive the most basic of food items was back then, a gift recipient was thrilled to receive a high-quality food item for the holidays! I’m here to bring that holiday tradition back into brilliantly frugal vogue with some fantastic food gifts that everyone on your list will love, all inexpensively found in local discount groceries and beautifully put together in any of the (if you’re like me) 8217 baskets you have around the house!

Gift Basket Idea #1: Fruit, glorious fruit! Traditionally, fruit gift baskets have been marketed to adults (especially grandparents) but I have to tell you, if my 8-year old and 5-year old saw a basket filled with gorgeous fruit they’d probably lunge at it as well. Keep it simple with lovely produce straight from Produce Junction – the prices are fantastic and the quality is superb. If you’re making it for a family, keep it to a maximum of two or three pieces of fruit per family member. If you’re making it for a person living alone, keep it around 6-8 pieces of fruit total. If you really want a showstopper, make sure a beautiful tropical pineapple is showcased front and center.

Gift Basket Idea #2: Caffeine – the gift that just keeps on giving. You already know me to be a caffeine addict of the highest order. For me, it’s not just a food group, it’s a blood type. That kind of habit makes paying $8-$12 for a bag of java borderline ridiculous in my book. Time to hit your local discount grocery yet again where you’ll find those same bags of gorgeous, gourmet coffees for $2-$5 instead. Put three together with the flavored creamer of your choice, et voila! A gift your most devoted caffeine aficionado will adore.

Gift Basket Idea #3: Specialty food basket – we all know someone who is steering clear of a certain food group nowadays. Maybe they’re steering towards organics, or steering away from carbs, fats, gluten or dairy. You name it, we all know somebody who’s avoiding it. Often, those healthy dietary choices are hitting people big time in the pocketbooks – what could be better than to receive a gift basket filled with everything they love (and can enjoy with no guilt!). Fill a basket with organic snacks, or perhaps gluten-free goodies, and watch the recipients’ eyes light up every time.

This holiday season, remember that gift giving is about telling the important people in your life how much you care, not how much you spend. Final bit of food for thought: In Andy Williams’ “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year” not once did any of the lyrics mention spending thousands of bucks (that they didn’t have) on over-priced presents, using credit cards charging 22.5% interest. Just sayin’. Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays, everybody!

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Celebrate Hanukkah – For Less! Saturday, Dec 1 2012 

Hanukkah starts December 8th, and already I’m receiving emails from people looking to keep their spending lower than in years past. Hanukkah may last for eight fabulous nights, but it doesn’t mean you have to emerge broke on the other side of it. With some simple strategies, your holiday will be a wonderful affair for a fraction of the cash!

The Food –I have friends who have always been master cooks – during Hanukkah, they take it to an art form. Latkes, doughnuts, anything and everything fried in oil taste like they belong on a dessert cart at the Four Seasons. I’ve asked their secrets on occasion, and I’m told they always cook with only the best ingredients, usually purchased in rather pricey custom groceries. Now, if you’re cooking Kosher, you do indeed have to hit some specialized stores, but even famous online kosher groceries have sales pretty regularly (example: check out http://www.kosher.com). As for your local kosher groceries, keep up to date on their sales and be sure to schedule your shopping trips around those sale items you’ll use the most. If you have some latitude working in your favor (you’re cooking for Hanukkah but not cooking Kosher), resources are everywhere to bring down your food bill considerably! Best bet: hit your local discount gourmet grocery’s kosher aisle. Every single discount grocery I visit has Hanukkah and kosher items. Take a look at the ones nearest you, you might be amazed.

The Gifts –We all want to be generous at the holidays. That being said, I’ve heard from too many people whose lovely generosity was always surpassed by a crushing post-holiday spending hangover. By all means, be generous with gifts – simply find them for less! Wherever you live, chances are excellent that untapped resources are everywhere to find all of your favorite designer names for greatly reduced prices. My best tip is always to head towards your local thrift stores and consignment shops, where fashion meets frugal fabulousness. Examples? Try the Jimmy Choo boots I found for my sister, which I’m guessing retail for a bit more than the $2 I purchased them for. How about Louis Vuitton & Coach bags, Ralph Lauren scarves, cashmere sweaters, golf shirts from the Masters, bestselling books, outstanding DVD’s and more, easily for 95% off the retail price. Get yourself to your nearest shops, and see which ones best fit your needs.

The Kids –Everyone wants to make the holidays a spectacular time for kids, but there’s no need to equate “Wow, this is GREAT!” with “Let’s overspend!”. Trust me, down the road, they’ll be glad you sunk your extra income into a college account year after year rather than the latest holiday gadget that gets outdated within a half hour. Stick to the same consignment and thrift stores where you find friend’s and family’s gifts for 95% off, and you’ll no doubt run across kid’s clothes, gadgets, jewelry and electronics that will dazzle. I’ve also heard charming comments from people my age who are reverting back to the Hanukkah gelt gifts consisting entirely out of chocolate coins, rather than actual money. Now, if you’re a parent or grandparent with a lot of wiggle room in your budget, by all means go for a couple of real coins. But note, I’m in my forties, and I’d shriek with delight if someone gave me a bag filled with chocolate.

Above all else, remember that the holiday is about friends, family (and perhaps a touch of fabulous food). Happy Hanukkah!

Getting a start on the season The Frugal Way! Tuesday, Aug 28 2012 

If you’re anything like me, you’re finding it hard to believe that the summer is nearly over.Yet, here we are, with kids ready to head back to school and holidays less than 12 weeks away!With summer activities and spending winding down, now is the perfect time to get back into saving mode, with easy tips that can easily put hundreds in your pocket by year’s end!

(1) Start packing your kids’ lunches this year (if you don’t already): Average school lunches can run anywhere from $2.50-$6 per day.You can easily make one yourself in 5 minutes a day for less than $1.Even if you’re only saving $1.50/day, do that five days a week from now until Christmas and you’re saving $127.50 – for one child! Two kids, even three, and you’re talking about nearly $400 in savings just in the time between now and Christmas! As for lunch ideas, keep it simple. We’re talking about sandwiches, maybe a baggie of pretzels, piece of fruit and a cookie, and boom, you’re done.

(2) Ditch one unhealthy habit.We all have them, we could all do better off without them.It doesn’t have to be a horrific, absurdly idiotic habit like smoking, but, if you do smoke, say, a pack of cigarettes a day, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded that a pack of cigarettes costs an average of $7.Simply cut that habit in half and you’re talking about savings of $415 in just a few short months.Ditch that habit all together and you’re saving yourself over $800, just in the few months between now and Christmas.Crazy, no?

(3) Even if you’re not a smoker, a little self-reflection could reveal an unhealthy habit or two (and again, we all have them). Do you hit the soda and/or candy machine at work? Do that once a day, just an average of $1.25/day, Monday through Friday, and that’s $150 between now and Christmas.If you must have an afternoon soda or sugary candy hit, head to the local discount grocery and pick up a good stock of sodas and/or candy bars for 25 cents each, and you’re saving nearly $120, and still getting your daily fix.

(4) Bring on the autumn tax writeoffs! As you’re getting out the fall clothes for you and your family, take an honest look at what’s going to be used, and what will probably sit unused in your dresser drawers.Do your bottom line a huge favor and bundle any extra – sure to be unused – stuff into a hearty extra tough garbage bag and haul it to the local Goodwill or Salvation Army so it can actually get used by someone.Best of all, rather than having to find somewhere to stuff it into your closet, you now have a delicious bag of tax writeoffs instead!

With just a few effortless steps, you can make these last months of 2012 a money-saving venture that will pay off big time by the time the holidays roll around.Frugal On!

Kristen Hagopian is a radio talk show host, columnist, consumer reporter, motivational speaker & author of “Brilliant Frugal Living”. Her radio talk show airs Tuesdays & Saturdays at 11 a.m. on Philadelphia’s 1180AM WFYL. You can find her online at http://www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

The Brilliant Frugal Living Show – today at 11A (Eastern) on News/Talk 1180AM WFYL! Tuesday, Feb 21 2012 

www.CreateTheMoment.com
www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com
Birthday Bashes, Anniversary Parties, Weddings – we love a beautiful Event, but the costs can get insane! Today we talk strategy for gorgeous gigs that won’t break the bank, with Event Planner Stacey Herreid-Halstead, Owner of Create The Moment joining us for fantastic money-saving tips on food, venues, photography, music and much more. If you have a fabulous Event coming up, you won’t want to miss it! Tune in at 11A (Eastern), or livestream it at the link!

A Fabulously Frugal Valentine’s Day! Tuesday, Feb 14 2012 

www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com Like a gift from romance gods, another magnificent Valentine’s Day is upon us. A day dedicated to chocolate, romance, flowery cards, jewelry, and anything that can get stuffed into a heart-shaped box. Now I know other frugalistas who scoff from start to finish on February 14th, treating it with utter disdain for the overpriced Hallmark holiday that it is. On the other side of the spectrum, you find me, going “What are you, crazy? A day designed around wearing red, eating chocolate and fabulous romance? Sign me up!”.

The good news here is that all of the great earmarks of a fantastic Valentine’s Day – the romance, the flowers, the jewelry – can all be had for a fraction of the price of retail. Read on for tips on creating a full-blown Valentine’s Day for easily 75% off…and to this frugalista, that’s romantic!

The Jewelry – Mark Twain once wrote: “It is far better to have secondhand diamonds than none at all, and who should know the difference?”. Not only was the guy an amazing writer, but these sentiments prove him to be a genius at gift giving as well. Is gorgeous jewelry on your wish list this Valentine’s Day? By all means, indulge it! Simply steer clear of the regular jewelry stores, and head to the upscale Consignment stores near you, where glorious cases of lovely jewelry – diamonds, rubies, pearls, you name it – can be found at phenomenal prices. My favorite aspect of jewelry shopping in local thrift stores is that much of it is vintage antique – absolutely gorgeous. Channel your inner Liz Taylor this Valentine’s Day, ladies, and steer the lucky Significant Others in your life towards some fabulously affordable bling.

The Flowers – whatever you do, don’t go near the absurd prices for flowers online. I’m looking at websites that will happily deliver two dozen roses anywhere for you, so long as you fork over $140 for it, not including tip — you’ve got to be kidding me! Do yourselves a favor and head to one of the best kept secrets in the floral world – your local Produce Junction. Renowned for their high-quality fruits and veggies at phenomenal prices, your local Produce Junction also carries gorgeous long-stem roses for $10/dozen or less! The only catch: bring cash, Produce Junction doesn’t take credit cards.

The Romance – whoever said romance has to cost big bucks never went shopping with me. Looking for stores that can deliver romance for less? Hit your local secondhand book store and peruse the shelves for an older copy of Shakespeare, Lord Byron, maybe some Keats. If you really want to get daring, try writing some marvelous poetry of your own into a card you create yourself. And Hallmark, Schmallmark – sure, a card you buy at the store will be appreciated, with a definite “Oh, how nice!” for good measure. But a card you make yourself will get cried over, shown off at work, framed, and quite likely, insured. The choice is yours.

Above all else, whether you’re with friends, family, or Significant Others this Valentine’s Day, embrace it for the marvelous holiday it is – one revolving around love, laughter, working the fabulous red dress in the back of your closet, and – yeah baby! – heart-shaped boxes of chocolate for 50% off come February 15th! Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

This Christmas, Think Inside The Box Saturday, Dec 17 2011 

Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of connecting with The Chester County Food Bank’s Program Director, Phoebe Kitson, on my “The Brilliant Frugal Living Show” on News/Talk 1180AM. I knew from past experience that any conversation with The CCFB would be informative and entertaining (and it was), but this interview unintentionally became one of the biggest heartstring-tugging chats of all time, leading to loads of email feedback from listeners, and giving me some new thoughts on gift-giving in general.

One of the most touching segments of the interview was Phoebe’s description of an anonymous Middle School student in our area, who broke down in his School Counselor’s office because he wasn’t sure if his house was still going to be there when he got home (at imminent risk of foreclosure), much less if there would be food on the table for dinner that evening. Thanks to The CCFB, his family, and hundreds of others like it, were able to create a Thanksgiving dinner that otherwise would have been impossible. With new studies confirming a staggering number of children (1 in 4) now run the risk of going to bed hungry, this was a story that really hit home.

During the interview, emails and texts started pouring in: “How can I help, what types of food do they need?” (Answer: Just about anything, but peanut butter, canned fruits, vegetables and meats are a great start.), “Does the CCFB take credit card donations?” (Answer: They do!), “Does The CCFB accept food stamps in exchange for food?” (Answer: The food is FREE, there is no need for currency), and so on.

Here’s the statistic that really stuck with me: This holiday season, a box of food, comprised of all the staples and basics a household depends on (see earlier mentioned peanut butter, canned goods, etc.), can be put together to feed a family for a week, for $25. Think about that – for the price of an average holiday gift (NYT bestseller, music box, sweater), you could feed a family desperately in need this holiday season for an entire week. It got me thinking – we all love Christmas for the family times, laughter, fun food, and memories created. Honestly, when it comes to receiving gifts, I’m blessed in that I have just about every single thing I need, and there are probably many of you out there who feel the same.

This Christmas, give some thought to donating a $25 food box to the CCFB, in the name of someone you love (Mom, Dad, Spouse, etc.), and in your loved ones’ Christmas card, try something along the lines of: “Mom & Dad, I remember when I was young, I never went hungry a day in my life, thanks to you. This Christmas, a hungry family in our area can also say they have food on the table, thanks to you. Merry Christmas, love Kris”.

For more information on how you can easily donate to The Chester County Food Bank, please log onto their website at http://www.ChesterCountyFoodBank.org, stop by their Warehouse at 1208 Horseshoe Pike in Downingtown, or give them a call at 610-873-6000. Merry Christmas, everybody!

Kristen Hagopian is an Author, Columnist, Motivational Speaker and Radio Talk Show Host with WFYL 1180AM. “The Brilliant Frugal Living Show” airs Tuesdays and Saturdays at 11:00A. She lives fabulously & frugally just outside Philadelphia with her husband and two kids. Log onto http://www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com for more information.

Celebrate a Brilliantly Frugal Black Friday! Tuesday, Nov 22 2011 

JOIN ME TUESDAYS AND SATURDAYS AT 11A ON PHILADELPHIA’S 1180am WFYL FOR “THE BRILLIANT FRUGAL LIVING SHOW”! LIVESTREAM IT ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD AT THE LINK! WWW.1180WFYL.COM BRILLIANT FRUGAL LIVING
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Happy Thanksgiving everybody! We all have a lot to be thankful for. Personally, as I look at healthy family and friends around me, I realize I am truly blessed. Now, I realize Thanksgiving-related articles, recipe ideas, home décor suggestions and such are going to be found in abundance this week, so I thought I’d look ahead just a smidge to the next big date on the books – Black Friday.

Nicknamed such because it became known to be the first date in a Retailer’s calendar year when their books were “in the black”, it has since evolved from a simple, tasteful shopping day to what appears to be a full body contact sport, complete with seasoned shoppers armed with first aid kids and pepper spray lest someone cut ahead of them in line. Combine that with the fact that many stores are opening their doors to Black Friday shoppers at 12:01A on Friday (as compared to the far more reasonable, say, 4:00am of years past) and I’m honestly starting to freak out.

If I may, I’d like to suggest an alternative Black Friday routine that will not only keep your sanity and sleep patterns intact, but your wallets and bank accounts in fabulous shape as well.

First stop: your local Thrift stores! Hit the big chains of course, many Goodwill stores have fantastic Black Friday deals and bargains waiting for their shoppers. Personally, my past finds include Jimmy Choo boots for $2, Hermes scarves for $5, New York Times Bestsellers for $1 and Baccarat crystal for $10. Enough said. When you’re done, don’t forget the stop by your local Mom and Pop Thrift stores, often decked out to the nines and stuffed with incredible bargains on brand names as well. I’ve found breathtaking antique jewelry sets at some of these local stores, picture frames, artwork, you name it, all at incredibly low prices.

Next stop: your local independent book stores! Everybody loves receiving books as gifts, and there are few things more therapeutic than the fantastic fun of poking around a book store, especially during the rush of the holidays. The big bookstore chains will be nuthouses – instead, hit the marvelous, local booksellers for fantastic sales, and if you’re lucky, a small attached café where you can recharge your batteries with a fabulous cup of caffeine.

Last stop: your computer keyboard. In the last ten years, online sales shopping has skyrocketed, and it’s not hard to see why. You can shop anytime, it’s far easier to find a parking space in your own driveway compared to the local rabid stunt drivers taking over the mall parking lots, and depending on the gift list you’re trying to accommodate, with a few clicks of a mouse, most (if not all) can be handled online in minutes. What’s not to love? Ebay, Amazon and hundreds of other reputable websites stand at the ready to fulfill your every gift whim, from books, tapes, CD’s, DVD’s and tens of thousands of other gift items. Best bets are the smaller, lighter (a.k.a. cheaper to ship) items that will make it to your home with little difficulty.

This Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend, may your family and friends be healthy and fabulous, your turkeys be tender, your pumpkin pies be perfect, and your local thrift stores a holiday goldmine. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Kristen Hagopian is an Author, Columnist, Motivational Speaker and Radio Talk Show Host with WFYL 1180AM in Greater Philadelphia. “The Brilliant Frugal Living Show” airs to a listening audience of 3 Million people Tuesdays and Saturdays at 11:00A (Eastern), with fabulous strategies for slashing spending and keeping more money in the bank. She lives fabulously & frugally just outside Philadelphia with her husband and two kids. Her book is available at her website: http://www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com
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Three Easy Ways to Save Big at Thanksgiving Tuesday, Nov 8 2011 

JOIN ME TUESDAYS AT 11A ON PHILADELPHIA’S 1180am WFYL FOR “THE BRILLIANT FRUGAL LIVING SHOW”! LIVESTREAM IT ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD AT THE LINK! WWW.1180WFYL.COM BRILLIANT FRUGAL LIVING
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Greetings, fellow frugal fans! I hope you’re all dug out from last week’s freak snowstorm. Not sure about your house, but last week I discovered that nothing says “Happy Halloween” like helping your kids trudge thru snow-covered yards as they continually tug at Rapunzel & Nemo costumes over an oversized parka and snowpants. This, while the entire neighborhood has power generators roaring in their driveways, unintentionally giving kids the impression they were trick-or-treating along Runway Six at Philadelphia International Airport during peak air traffic, rather than an ordinarily quiet Chester County suburb. Alas, I have kids that – if they know candy is waiting for them at the door – they’ll happily face down flame throwers for a chance at a free Butterfinger. You can blame maternal DNA on that one.

With Halloween candy now at a solid 50-75% off at stores (candy corn, come to Momma…), it’s clearly time to start preparations for one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. I’m hearing from people who are used to spending $250 for a table of eight at Thanksgiving. With food costs on the perpetual rise, it’ s true, the cost of entertaining at the holidays can often shoot higher than we expect. But Turkey day doesn’t have to be a budget buster – especially when you use these three simple tricks to put together a fabulous feast, for far less.

The Turkey: Turkey prices can go upwards of $1.69/pound (or more!), depending on the brand name you prefer and where you shop. Do yourself a favor and wait until less than a week before Turkey Day. Then hit the big retailers, where turkey prices are drastically reduced as “loss leaders” to bring you thru their automatic doors. You’ll enjoy the best brand name turkeys, for easily $0.89 a pound instead.

The Side Dishes & Desserts: At my house, Thanksgiving is one of those “Bring On The Carbs!” holidays. Good thing too, as I can already envision the sweet potatoes, rice pilafs, bread stuffings, crescent rolls…and that doesn’t even begin to count the desserts! Care to create the same carbohydrate nirvana for less? Hit your local discount gourmet grocery (Amelia Grocery Outlet has all of the above, for easily 50% off retail!) to stock up on all of the fabulous side dishes and desserts you and your family love, for easily half the price of retail.

The Extras: Decorations, flowers, wine, … all the extras really up. This is where visiting family and friends come to the rescue! All of the visitors around your table are going to want to contribute to the festivities, so have them lend their perfect touches by bringing the perfect hostess gifts. When they ask “what can I bring?”, be specific. Have your flower-loving friend hand the centerpiece, the wine expert handle take care of libations…and watch your “additional extras” costs drop to zero.

Above all else, remember that this fantastic holiday is all about the faces around your table, and the many blessings we all have to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving!

Spooktacular Halloween — For Less! Wednesday, Oct 19 2011 

What a gorgeous October! Around here, the leaves are changing, the weather is getting just cool enough so I can pull out the turtlenecks, and we’re coming up on Halloween again. Love it! Personally, I adore this holiday – it’s fun, it’s a great excuse to dress up for a fabulous party or two, and one of my all-time favorite soul foods – candy corn – is as readily available as oxygen. Life is good.

That being said, the scariest aspect of Halloween 2011 seems to be the insane spending people feel is necessary to pull off a decent holiday. I’m hearing stories of $100 (or more!) for costumes, $50+ to purchase treats for the neighborhood kids, $200+ to skip the trick-or-treating and throw a party for the kids instead. Forget the terrifying ghoul masks out in abundance, it’s the idea of Halloween spending running into the hundreds that has me waking up in a cold sweat at night. But never fear – your candy-corn-loving frugalista is here! Read on for some fabulous tips on a fun and memorable holiday that keeps the good times going and your money in the bank.

Costumes –
Let’s attack once and for all the illusion that you need to spend hundreds for great costumes. I’m talking to people who are still spending $50+ for their kids, and $100+ for their own adult costumes for neighborhood parties and office shindigs. Unless nuclear-level anti-frugal sentiment runs in your family (or your last name is Gabor), this thinking has to cease at once. This is not to say you have to skimp on costumes or settle for less than Halloween fabulousness. Far from it! Just rethink your shopping locales, and enjoy the dazzling fun of scouring your nearest thrift stores, consignment stores, even church stores, where any establishment worth its cash registers has racks upon racks of fantastic costume offerings in all sizes, genres and categories. Southern belles, pirates, sports figures, movie stars, you name it – it’s waiting for you there, and as fantastic as the adult costume offerings are, they’ll probably have double that number of kids’ costumes! Get out there and find the perfect get-up for your kids, and for you, for 75-90% off!

If you don’t find the perfect costumes for your kids at the local thrift stores, try your local dollar store, where dozens of costume pieces await you! If your little one is longing to be a pirate, cheerleader, police officer or fireman, you will find just about everything you need for – you guessed it – $1 per piece.

One more costume-creating tip: look online to see if your city or nearby town is having a “costume swap” this year! This swapping trend is growing like wildfire, and is the perfect solution for fellow frugalistas looking to create a great costume for next to nothing.

Candy –
For Halloween aficionados like myself, it’s an already established fact that candy calories consumed just before or during the actual holiday don’t count. Yes, the day after Halloween, calories do count, however, if you find candy for 50% off, I find it morally acceptable to knock 50% off the calorie count as well. But I digress. When shopping for your Halloween candy, keep it simple, steer away from the retail stores, and hit the local dollar stores where fresh, fabulous, name brand candy awaits you at easily 30% off. If you have loads of kids appearing at your door year after year, saving 30% (or more) adds up big time.

The Halloween Parties –
I’m hearing from an increasing number of households that are steering away from sending kids door-to-door this year, opting for an equally fun shindig for the kids, their classmates and nearby relatives at their homes instead. Personally, I love this concept. I live in an area where houses are acres apart, and the idea of my kids having all the fun, the candy, and all of the fabulous Halloween karma right on their home turf is extremely appealing. Don’t let costs go thru the roof, though. Work with the other kids’ parents; everybody is going to want to contribute, and each will have their area of expertise. Let one parent handle the cake, perhaps another will donate the decorations, another will handle the bobbing-for-apples setup, yet another will handle any spider-shaped piñata on the opposite side of the room. You get the picture. When all is said and done, you can create a party that will win you fame amongst your daughter’s elementary school class (no small trick) for very little cost, and save you miles of walking around strange neighborhoods on the scariest night of the year.

Above all else, remember what Halloween is all about – clean fun, lots of laughs for the kids, a great opportunity for grown women to jump into a corset, adopt a southern accent and be Scarlett O’Hara for the night, and – let us not forget – store upon store selling off their excess candy corn for 50-75% off in the days after Halloween. Oh yeah! Happy Halloween, everybody!

Easy Ways to Save on Labor Day Weekend! Tuesday, Aug 30 2011 

“If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day Weekend.” – Doug Larson

Yup, this fast-moving summer is winding down and another autumn is right around the corner – it’s time to take that one day out of the year to celebrate our labors with a day built just for us. With gas prices finally coming down a bit, more Americans are looking a bit further away on the map for a fun destination to create some Labor Day memories. Wherever you wind up, always remember: there’s no better way to pay homage to Labor Day than to find a way to enjoy it without spending a lot of money! Read on for some fabulously frugal Labor Day activities that will help you enjoy the weekend without breaking the bank.

Labor Day Frugal Fun Idea #1: CAMPING! Keep it easy and inexpensive by renting a camper or tent from a reputable source (better yet, borrow one from a friend!) and spend some time away from all of the trappings of labor this Labor Day. And need I say it: Leave the laptop at home! It simply does not compute compared to the gorgeous solitude of a beautiful campsite. Leave the computer games at home and instead try a sharpened stick filled with marshmallows roasted over the first campfire of the season to relax.

Labor Day Frugal Fun Idea #2: Labor Day weekend means a three-day break for many, so take advantage of it with activities you wouldn’t think to try on a regular two-day weekend. Take one full day to enjoy a local art museum, take a long hike at a nearby trail, hit a local winery for a tour, linger thru a fabulous festival, or host your own full-day barbeque. The sky is the limit!

Labor Day Frugal Fun Idea #3: Apple picking at your local orchard. It’s harvest time at many local orchards, and regardless of weather, the vast majority of local growers are offering great deals during Labor Day weekend to entice families to come out and relieve them of their extra produce, often at tremendous discounts! So grab your biggest apple picking bags, load up, and bring them on home to create every single apple dish you’ve ever loved. Pies, Strudels, compotes, sauces, side dishes, you name it, it tastes all the sweeter when the apples you use in it are easily 75% off the price of retail.

Labor Day Frugal Fun Idea #4: Yes, I’m saying it – you have permission to eat out. Now, those who know me rarely hear me endorsing the idea of eating out. However, national holidays over long three-day weekends have their own special rules, especially when there are specials galore at restaurants everywhere this holiday weekend. Half price deals, BOGO’s, family specials, the deals are everywhere – check out newspaper ads, online coupons and more. Take a look at your favorite restaurants first and choose the deals that will suit your family best.

Above all else, remember that Labor Day weekend is about relaxing, kicking back, and forgetting about work for a while. The less you spend, the less actual labor you’ll have to expend to make up for it. Keep with the spirit of the holiday by enjoying the weekend in a way that will keep the fruits of your labors right in your pocket, where they belong. Happy Labor Day Weekend!

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