Brilliant Frugal Living – Loving The Makeover! Tuesday, Sep 25 2012 

OK, I’ll admit it.I love makeover shows. All of them.I don’t care if we’re talking about making over a home, car, person or pet, I love seeing what creative professionals can do in a short amount of time with the right materials.

What I’m not so crazy about is the money people are often shelling out to transform themselves from their “before blahs” to “after-aaahhhs” – give me a break! Truth is, if we’re talking about updating your style, you’ll be amazed how you can achieve the same magic as the big shows, for easily 95 percent less!

First of all, let’s talk hair.Keep your style simple, and beautiful. Don’t go for elaborate styles that require a $150/month cut, color or treatment (I’ve connected with many in dire financial straits who admit to spending double that, enough said). I’ve called wonderful salons that inform me my own low-maintenance style and color would require a $150 monthly appointment. Sorry, that’s just not happening.Instead, I keep the cut simple, easily maintained at home.If you currently have your hair colored at a salon for hundreds a month, it’s time to launch a bold initiative and attempt it at home. I’m no stylist, but I’ve dyed my own hair dozens of times at home, kids running about, phones ringing, emails announcing themselves in the background. Hardly a serene, pampering environment, it’s more like a beauty spa’s evil twin.But with an extra $1,800/year in the bank to show for it, I’ll dodge the hot wheels cars underfoot in the powder room as I snap on my plastic gloves and get to work.

This close to the hairline, let’s talk eyebrows. I know many who indulge in a $25/month wax treatment.My sophisticated math (and a calculator) tells me you’re spending $300/year.Allow me to direct your attention to my $10 salon-quality tweezers.Go get some.

On to the nails. Mine are awful, courtesy of admittedly poor maintenance, washing dishes with no rubber gloves, running after two fabulously active kids and an active writing/emailing/blogging (and OK, yes) Facebooking day. You ever hear of those people who sleep with their hands slathered in luxurious lotions slipped into those heated gloves?If they have a secret club, their clubhouse features a dartboard with my picture on it.All that said, I adore the look of well manicured nails.If I’m heading out to a speaking event, I love to perpetuate the illusion that I’m the sleeps-with-gloves-on-diva.I could head to the salon, but then I’d be paying $50-plus for the full treatment.Don’t think so.Instead, I head to the beauty supply store for their fantastic supply of medium-length, salon-quality, no-chip guaranteed, custom-fit French nails instead.They’re $6 or less, take 10 minutes to apply at home, they’re beautiful, and they last for days afterwards, even when you use them to unscrew your screens as you put in the storm windows for winter.Great multitasking, no?

If you’d like to update your style, go for it with no fear (and no overspending)! A fabulous new look awaits you, for 95 percent less than the cost of a salon – 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

Fabulous Fitness, Found Frugally! Tuesday, Mar 13 2012 

Brilliant Frugal Living
Serenity Fitness & Spa
Fasten your seatbelts folks, we’re headed at Mach speed into another gorgeous summer and (dare I say it?) swimsuit season! Trust me, I’m right there with you, involuntarily cringing as my thoughts drift back to every piece of holiday fudge and butter-coated carbohydrate I consumed just a few short months ago. However, with the dog days of summer still a couple of marvelous months away, now is the time to start taking solid steps to turn those health & weight loss goals into reality!

To my rescue: Cyndi Po, Owner of the Serenity Spa Chain and Author of the popular new book “The 5 How To’s for a Healthier You”. Here, she perfectly details the simple steps to take in creating a personal road map for your journey to good health. With over twenty years in the industry as a fitness expert and personal trainer, Cyndi is not only her own best advertising, but a fitness force to be reckoned with. Her five simple (and fabulously frugal, I might add!) steps to get you on the road to better health include:

Step 1: Evaluate and set Goals: Get a true and accurate idea of where you are physically with a doctor’s exam, including weight and body measurements. With those measurements in mind, set your goals, making sure they’re healthy, safe and achievable.

Step 2: Start Yourself with a Clean Slate: Look at the pitfalls in your life that have been road blocks for you and get them out of the way. That’s code for: Go through your cupboards and get rid of the junk that is in there!

Step 3: Don’t Go It Alone: One of the best tools for a new healthy plan is a workout partner. Having someone to motivate you and be accountable to will help ensure your success.

Step 4: Make your Plan: Creating the perfect fitness plan includes realizing what workouts are best for you, and should always include fitness for the mind, body and soul. Just as important, you can’t be successful on a health plan without looking intently into your nutrition. Remember, good health is 80% nutrition, 20% movement.

Step 5: Never Stop Learning: Once you reach your goals, Congratulations! Now, it’s time to re-evaluate yourself and make new goals to reflect your new self. One journey ends, and another begins. It’s continuous growth for your whole life.

Cyndi’s book, “5 How To’s for a Healthier You”, is available on You can also work with Cyndi Po in person at her Serenity Fit Spas in Red Hill and Quakertown. Find her online at

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

A Frugalista’s Guide to Summer Savings Friday, May 27 2011
If you’re anything like me, you’re loving this fabulous turn to warmer springtime weather, especially after the crazy winter we all just endured. I mean, really, was Mother Nature totally hormonal last winter, or just plain mean? Both? When it comes to the warmer months that lie ahead, there’s no better way to welcome a spectacular summer than to dive into it well prepared, and for as little cost as possible.

The Clothes – We all want to freshen up our wardrobes with some fabulous new pieces. Shorts, summer dresses and suits, bathing suits, shoes — ladies, start your shopping engines. Did you just get an amazing deal on a summertime cruise? Upgrade with a new fabulous wardrobe to match! However you’re ringing in the summer, forget the cheaply made polyester knits, go for the designer names that make you look and feel great! Just don’t dare to buy them retail, not when they can all be found (for easily 50-95 percent off) at your local meticulously run consignment stores, thrift stores and church stores. I’m a bit of a fanatic when it comes to these goldmines, and trust me when I tell you, the best of these stores are taking couture clothing to an art form.

Kids’ clothes – Looking to update your kids’ wardrobes as well? Do your shopping in about five minutes time, for easily 90 percent off, with a click or two on Craigslist. As I type this, parents (far more organized than I) are cleaning out their kids’ closets, piling well-made, sturdy, easily washable designer name clothes into bags, and getting rid of it for $10 (or less!) online, often with detailed pictures you can comb thru to make sure it’s the right style for your kids. I’ve done this countless times, folks and I’ve never had a bad experience. Find a mutually convenient place to meet (local diner, school, church) and update your kids’ wardrobes with dozens of new outfits, often spending no more than $20 total. It’s a fabulous summertime ritual that does this Frugalista’s heart good.

The tax-write offs! – Somewhat-related clothing note: Once the weather starts hitting 80-degrees on a regular basis, you’re also in prime time to donate your winter clothes and gear to a local thrift shop or church store. Get rid of the sweaters, slacks, boots-that-never-quite-fit and old coats (you know, the ones in the back of the closet that you never wore), and above all else, make sure you get a receipt so you can detail the amount in your charitable contributions on your next tax form.

The utilities – To all of you who still wake up in a cold sweat thinking of last summer’s utility bills, I have an easy, lucrative challenge for you. Head to your local home improvement center for about 30 feet of clothesline ($5 tops), and tie it to whatever is standing upright in your backyard. Porch railing, swing sets or a hook attached to the garage. Then hit the local dollar store for $2 worth of clothespins. Start drying your clothes (especially your bath towels) on this handy, easily-taken-down clothesline, and watch your utility bills plummet compared to last year. To those of you with association rules against this activity, have a polite chat with your neighbors, then with your association board. Assure all involved that this new addition to your home will be virtually unseen by passersby, and casually mention that the savings (in the hundreds, if not thousands) will lend itself well to paying your yearly dues. The iron-clad association rules of years past (in the days of ever-rising home values and lower unemployment) may be somewhat more flexible in the current economy.

The beach gear – if you’re planning a beach trip and looking to get the kids a few new things for it, hit your local Dollar Store for everything you need! Shovels, pails, sand sifters, toys, nets, games to play in the car, and just about every other beach-worthy item they might enjoy burying in the sand.

The tan – if you’re over the age of 5, you’re well aware of the dangers of tanning unprotected in the sun. Not only does it prematurely age you at an exponential rate, but who the heck has the time to lay out in the sun for hours anyway? Hit your local discount grocery’s cosmetics section, and find the brand name spray-on tanners for easily 50-80 percent off. They look incredible, they take five minutes (yes, that’s minutes) to apply, they easily last for a week, and your gorgeous skin gets thru the summer looking perfect and protected.

Air conditioning – I know, it seems absurd to be thinking about air conditioning, especially since it feels like many of us turned off our heaters, oh, last week. But trust me on this, the frigid days of winter will feel a long way off come the first heat wave. One of the biggest money-saving tips for summer is simply being prepared for it by the end of spring. Now is the time to have your air conditioners serviced and finely tuned for optimal cool air production come summertime. The same air conditioner repairmen that can make you a same-day appointment today are going to have to put you on a five-day waiting list at a $100-just-to-visit premium to get to you in the 95-degree heat come August. If your air conditioner is on its last legs, now is the time to shop for a new one, and shop carefully for the one that will cool the square footage of your home in the most energy-efficient, lowest cost manner possible.

After this crazy winter, we all deserve a fabulous summer in the sun! Spend a couple of minutes utilizing these easy strategies, and you’ll not only save your skin, but your hard-earned cash as well.

Frugal On!!

“Fruglamour” – Time for a Spa Day! Thursday, Apr 1 2010

Hey all!

Considering Easter Sunday is in a few days, then a fabulous opportunity to do a Brilliant Frugal Living segment on “Better Philly” at WPHL Channel 17 first thing Monday morning, it occured to me yesterday that a Frugal Mega Spa Day might be in order. (As to the effort required at this point, think “Miss Congeniality” when Sandra Bullock is locked in an airport hangar overnight & beauty technicians do their magic). Would LOVE that scenario personally, but being short one airport hangar (and 57 beauty technicians at my beck & call), I’m going with the next best thing – doing it myself.

If you’re thinking of going for a “let’s try to make people think we look like this ALL the time” look this weekend as well, here are the moves that have given me an outstanding frugal bang for the buck, head to toe.

Okay, first things first. Time for Prep – deciding what is really necessary to do, and what is not. Quick look in the mirror (pre-coffee, no less) tells me it wouldn’t be a bad idea to just touch up, ummmm, everything. Alrighty then…

Haircut: A quickie hair trim is a no brainer & not so tough, been doing it myself for decades. Trust me folks, if I can do it, ANYBODY can. A quick 1/4 inch cut to eliminate split ends is also a smart move before working with any haircolor. Total cost: $0

Deep conditioning hair treatment (pre-color): if you’ve never done this, try it once – you’ll LOVE the way your color looks afterwards. Tresemme has some great salon-worthy conditioning products. Pretty pricey when purchased retail, but still less than a salon. I buy my Tresemme stuff (shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioning, etc) at my local discount gourmet grocery, usually find it for about 70% off. Very cool. Total cost for today’s treatment, about $1.

Haircolor: In high school, my hair, courtesy of Mother Nature, would best be described as “black”. With my 25-year reunion rapidly approaching, my hair color would now be best described as “Loreal Mega Browns series in Truffle, combined with Oreor #20 developer”. Fantastic, fast, frugal, effective. Total cost: $4.50, vs. $150 in a salon. Nuff said.

Nails. Gloriosky. I run after two fantastic Energizer bunny children during the day, and bang on a computer keyboard mornings, nights, and anytime the kids allow me a break. Enjoy the visual on what my hands look like. Since I’d like to perpetuate the illusion of looking like an actual GIRL for Easter, it is sooooo time for a manicure. Cuticles, heated lotion treatment, nail tips, filing, polish, boom. done. And hello, thank GOD for fast-drying nail color, as it lends itself well to the non-stop commentary from the other room… “Mommy, can I have a glass of grape juice… Mommy, Robbie is making funny faces I think he needs a new diaper… and my favorite – Mommy…Robbie is trying to put the remote into the fishtank again!” calls from the other room. In a salon, todays hand transformation would easily cost $50. At home, we’re talking more like $5.

Facials – I so love these, and I just finished my eyebrows (I find eating chocolate simultaneously is a great numbing agent), so pain is over, let the pleasure begin! I do everything with the Olay Regenerist line, which I’m completely addicted to. Regenerating Cleanser, Pore Minimizing Thermal Scrub, Eye Derma Pods & Transforming Cream, finishing off (as Michael Caine’s character so perfectly said it…) with “two more coats and a sealant”, my sealant of choice being Olay’s Micro-Sculpting Cream. Got all of my Olay products for roughly 80% off at BB Grocery Outlet in Morgantown, so today’s treatment (yes, in frugalista fashion, I calculate these things…) comes to a total of $2. My freaking face doesn’t know what hit it. However, when I finish up, I ask my highly-perceptive 5-year old daughter: “Does Mommy look different?”, her immediate response (after a brief glance my way): “No. Can I have some more grape juice?” Yokay…Whatever.

Smile Time: Coffee addicts like myself are wise to use a whitening tooth polish, keeps the worst of the “Bold Columbian” effects at bay. Really not bad already, but couldn’t hurt to do a super whitening treatment. Not sure what they cost at the dentist – at home it’s two sets of whitening strips for $2. (bought them for next to nothing at B&B). Good stuff.

With the fabulous sunshine & high temps expected this weekend, briefly considered doing a self-tanning job, I’m in possession of plenty of Loreal self-tanner (GREAT product) and it’s pretty easy to do. Decided against it, but will definitely hit this fabulous stuff later in the month.

Okay, looking *pretty* good. Time to get the outfit ready: Found a GORGEOUS Evan Picone suit in cobalt blue at the Goodwill Outlet in Morgantown, freshly dry-cleaned no less, for $1.50. Great cut, great color – I adore this suit, perfect for Easter.

Shoes: More Evan-Picone – found brand new shoes, again at Goodwill, for $1.50, perfect match for an adorable Kate Spade bag that I recently purchased at the Exton Goodwill for $4.

Okay, hair, face, nails are done, quick dry run with the outfit on, shoes on, handbag in hand. Final Result? Definitely better than I was this morning, feeling far more camera worthy.

Final cost: $14.50 for head to toe frugalista glamour treatment, another $7 for brand new Evan-Picone/Kate Spade Easter Outfit, for a total of $21.50.


The Bold & The Beauti-frugal… Wednesday, Mar 10 2010 

Hey everybody! Gorgeous day here, going up to 59, and looks like the snow still lingering in the yard is almost ready to go for GOOD. WOO HOO!

Went to B&B Grocery Outlet for the standard get-you-thru-the-week list o’things, fab prices as expected, then headed down the beauty aisle when they were stocking (*gasp!*) my all time favorite beauty products, Oil of Olay (yes, Kris is an Olay girl…), and they had the ENTIRE Oil of Olay Regenerist Line for 75% off!! OH YEAH BABY! With no poker face whatsoever, let out a yelp of joy, quickly echoed by my five year old daughter, then mimicked perfectly by my two-year old son. We are one subtle bunch when we get hold of a bargain….

Got the Microsculpting Cream, Thermal Scrub, Cleanser and the FAB-FAB-FAB Eye Dermapods (use these once & you’ll never go back, I swear, they’re THAT good). Loaded up with $150 worth of stuff & paid only $34, all because each of the boxes had a little scratch on it. LIKE I GIVE A HONK ABOUT THE BOXES! Not sure if today’s glow is due to the beauty products or the price at which I bought them…and hello, do we care?! A glow is a glow!

Also got 10 HUGE bars of Ghirardelli dark chocolate for .25 each. Need I say more? Basically feeling like I won the frugal lotto this morning. Life is good.

Have a fabulous, exfoliated, chocolaty day everybody! K