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

Five Frugal Tips for Summertime Savings! Thursday, Jul 14 2011 

Brilliant Frugal Living Website!
Well, we’re halfway through a gorgeous summer, and while we’re all enjoying the blue summertime skies, the heat-related bills are definitely adding up as well. Cool off your summertime spending with these easy, money-saving tips!

(1) Time to Tweak the Thermostat – when we first fired up the air conditioning this summer, the heat was just starting to inch up to the 80-degree mark. Now that we’re kissing the melting edge of 90+ degrees several days a week, it’s time to tweak the air conditioning a bit as well. If you’re used to setting your air conditioning at 68 degrees, do yourself a favor and bring it up to 70 (or even 75 degrees) instead. Many experts agree that a simple 20-degree difference between outside and indoor temperatures are ideal for optimal comfort. Regardless of how you’re cooling your house, you’ll enjoy tremendous savings with the increase of just a few degrees in your thermostat. This is also a perfect time to replace your air conditioner filters (if you haven’t already) for maximum output at minimum costs.

(2) Fans to the rescue! – Daytime temperatures are hitting 90-plus degrees at their peak, and air conditioning is a must. However, nighttime temperatures are still consistently in the 60-to-70 degree range, so put Mother Nature to work for big time savings! Open up bedroom windows when you hit the sack – using a box fan during nighttime hours alone will save you big bucks on utility bills and give your cooling systems a well-earned break. For those who fear their unbearably hot sunrooms are currently off limits (unless you want to fry an egg on the coffee table), give serious thought to installing ceiling fans for fabulous air movement and far superior comfort levels for friends and family.

(3) Cool off the Kitchen! – No doubt about it, cooking at home rather than eating out saves big bucks on your food bill. One of the few downsides is the resulting heat it creates. Keep your kitchen fabulously cool (and save money doing it) with some simple tricks. First, a utility FYI: your microwave costs a fraction of your other appliances, and gives off far less residual heat than stove burners or oven broilers. With that in mind, keep your stove cooking to a minimum and utilize your microwave instead. if your family loves pasta like mine does, try cooking a double batch on the stove next time, keep the extras in the refrigerator, and microwave leftovers as you need them for fast, simple meals that won’t take a lot of time or require heating up the stove. Tip: when you do cook on the stove, keep pots covered to reduce heating costs as much as possible. Does your family love French Toast? Great! Make a triple batch, keep the leftovers in the fridge or freezer, and simply reheat as you need it in the microwave, rather than cooking batches time and again on a hot stove in an already warm summertime kitchen.
Another fabulous summertime trick – put your grill to work! If you can, designate at least one night a week to grill outside rather than cook inside. Hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken, fish, you name it – it all tastes fabulous grilled outdoors, and saves the money and hassle of cooling your kitchen back down after an already-hot day.

(4) Keeping your car cool – Summertime is synonymous with lovely, long drives, beautiful day trips and fabulous car vacations. All of that extra mileage, usually with air conditioners blowing non-stop, can take a serious (read: expensive) toll on your car if it isn’t properly maintained. Luckily, maintenance is as easy as getting the occasional tune-up, regularly checking the filters, getting the oil and fluids changed on schedule, and keeping tires at their proper pressure for optimal use and top-notch gas mileage. By investing in proper maintenance, you’ll save in the long run with lower amounts spent on gas, tires, and longer life of the car itself. It’s a no-brainer.

(5) Emergency Power Outage Kit – I’m still trying to figure out if the violently stormy summer weather is getting progressively more dangerous each summer, or if I’m just getting old (both, perhaps?). With each summer that passes, my mind is filled with increasingly-vivid memories of storm-induced power outages that catch me off guard in some way or another. During the next power outage, keep your comfort level high, your irritation levels low and your expenses to a minimum with a brilliantly frugal Power Outage Kit. Here’s the basics to include: two flashlights per person in your household, with enough new, fully charged batteries to replace the flashlights at least twice. Add a small battery-powered radio and/or television set to keep up with news and weather announcements, as well as your Deluxe Scrabble game and a full set of playing cards for some perfect power-outage entertainment. Make sure you have a car-charger for your cell phone (you obviously can’t charge it in the wall outlet at the moment) and if you currently have only cordless phones in your home (unusable in power outages), give some thought to installing a hard-wired phone for emergencies.
Then, write down your utility company information on an index card, including phone numbers for the power company to report the outage and your account number. Please trust me on this, there’s nothing more annoying than rummaging through a pitch dark home office at 1:00am groping for the file cabinet so that you can then search for an impressively-elusive account number. Next, have an inexpensive ice chest at the ready, with blue-ice packs in your freezer ready to throw in there to keep food, beverages (and if necessary, medications) cold. Talk about a money saver! Keep a water supply handy, the general guideline being one gallon per person in your household. Add some easy-to-eat food items like cans of mixed nuts, granola bars, crackers, canned fruits, etc., as well as paper plates and plastic cutlery. Keep a well-stocked first-aid kit handy and close to your Power Outage kit for any (dare I say “inevitable”?) slips, trips, bumps and wipeouts inherently connected with pitch-black rooms. Put together a Power Outage kit for yourself pronto, and give some thought to creating a few for friends and family as well. Any friends that initially respond with raised eyebrows and good humor will no doubt follow up with worshipful feedback after the first black out with stories of how it saved their sanity.

Above all else, remember that the numerous hassles inherent in a power outage are more than offset by how fabulous we look playing Scrabble by romantic flashlight. Viva triple word scores!

Fabulous frugal travel website! Tuesday, Sep 21 2010 

Hey gang! VERY cool travel deals at this awesome website – somebody go to Tahiti for me so I can live vicariously thru you! (although I AM looking forward to NYC…) Thanks for the great link, Rick!

Next “69 News at Sunrise” segment set for June 29! Wednesday, May 19 2010 

Hey fellow frugalites! Hope your week is going great!

Here in the deep frugalsphere, I just lucked out with another “Brilliant Frugal Living” gig on “69 News at Sunrise”! Looks like we’re going with Tuesday, June 29, for a “Fabulous, Frugal 4th of July Celebration!” I’m thinking of focusing on fantastic get-togethers with all the trimmings – saw lots of perfect decor at the dollar store. Then, for the second segment, I think I’ll incorporate some food ideas that won’t break the bank. ANYTHING to get my hands on that gorgeous studio kitchen again! 🙂

If you’ve got ideas that’ll fit into this theme, send them my way! Would LOVE to hear them!

Absolutely can not wait! Eve, Jaciel – thanks a million!

‘Tis the time for Economical Entertainment! Saturday, Oct 31 2009

Imagine a fabulous place that contains every magazine you long to pore over, just about every television show you’ve ever loved, every movie you’ve been dying to see, every single book you’ve ever wanted to read, and oh, I almost forgot, several computers with high-speed internet access… and almost all of it is available for FREE!

Fellow frugalities, this wonderful place exists near each and every one of you – it’s time to rediscover your public library! If you envision your library as the domain of herds of school-aged kids working on an overdue book reports, it’s time for me to remind you that it is your personal frugal GOLD MINE!

We have a spectacular one near us, in Exton, PA, with a computerized system linking it electronically to a dozen other fantastic libraries in Chester County (excuse me, I’m drooling. Apologies).

This networked system ensures that I now have access not only to the resources of the magnificent Exton library, but that at the tap of a keyboard, I can summon anything within the system and have it sent to Exton for me to pick up. To a book/movie lover like myself, who adores great customer service, this appeals tremendously to my inflated sense of self-importance… Also appealing to my sense of self-importance, the Chester County Library System now offers a brilliant book on frugal living for your enjoyment…

Don’t get me wrong, I adore a coffee chat at our local bookstore as much as anyone. But before you buy another just-off-the-press bestseller, read it, and put it on your overstuffed bookshelf (like I used to…), take a random count of how many books you’ve purchased full price only to read it once and never have the time to read it again. If you’re anything like me, you’ll stop counting at around 50 hard cover best sellers that cost about $25 each. Don’t bother doing the math, I’ve already cried enough for both of us. Please note, this doesn’t include the hundreds of magazines I’ve acquired over the years at full price, or the (*gulp*) 240 videos currently shelved in our family room. A few of these items were received as gifts…and the vast majority were simply ones that I just HAD to have when they first became available, watched once, and haven’t glanced at since. Again, don’t even do the math on this, I beg of you – even if I paid $1 each for every book, magazine, video & DVD, it’s still terrifying. And trust me, I paid more than $1 each. If you have similarly stocked homes, no worries, we’ve all been there. The vast majority of resources at your local library will be free, with very agreeable terms for rental (books usually check out for two weeks, videos, CD’s & DVD’s are usually one week). Everything on the New York Times bestseller list is usually available the week it comes out in print. Note: some libraries have a minimal $1.50 charge for the latest bestsellers, far more agreeable to the $25 you’d pay in the bookstore.

Another fantastic service at most libraries – state of the art computer access!   I’ve spoken to more than one person who gave up trying to keep their home computers up to date when they realized they’d spent thousands of dollars in a few years time.    These brave souls had the nerve and audacity to (dare I say it) give up maintaining a home computer, and now simply visit their nearby library frequently for any online needs. Despite computer-addicts’ shrieks to the contrary (including my very-computer-savvy husband), social e-mail from family & friends needn’t be checked every 90 seconds.  Some do just fine checking it once a week, and suffer no negative physical side effects from their electronics withdrawal…  For those who haven’t rolled their eyes yet, I ask, how much does YOUR computer cost every year for maintenance and high-speed networking?

When it comes to my favorite library offerings, I’m a movie addict. Before my friends & I started families, we’d go to the movies constantly, easily once a month. In the last five years or so since we’ve all had kids, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually gotten my act together and made it to the theatre! We’re talking going cinematic cold turkey here. Imagine my delight at seeing the library shelves filled with THOUSANDS of DVDs of every movie I’ve ever wanted to see. Just like the bestselling books, the latest, up-to-date blockbuster movie hits are stocked usually the day they become available on DVD, and LONG before they’re available on cable.

Speaking of cable television, here’s another quick math scenario – to those of you with cable television/internet access who think the library offerings are irrelevant to your lifestyle, I ask: how much are you spending per year for premium movie channels and internet access? Hundreds of dollars a year? Perhaps over a thousand dollars a year? Around here, cable/network fees are often over $100/month (more than $1200/year). We’re talking about an average mortgage/rent payment (or TWO) for most Americans.   How long do you work to earn $1200?  Is it worth it?  I know current cable packages offer thousands of movies, but how many of these movies are busy Americans really watching?

Most of us (my household included) require the basic cable package to ensure a decent television signal for the regular channels. This is easily $50/month. Pare down your current “Ultra Premiere Mega Fabulous” package down to the basic cable, and you could save hundreds over the course of a year. If this sounds too extreme, try this real-life scenario on for size: in one of my workshops, I met a wonderful woman who (after decades of paying household bills on time) found herself unable to pay the mortgage not once, but twice this year alone. Scared to death, and fed up with being tapped out, she canceled her cable & internet access, saving herself $1300/year (which ironically is the same as two of her mortgage payments). Her household immediately became talk radio & news radio fans, they used the computer for word processing & school projects, and they kept their television hooked up to the DVD player.  Twice a week they hit the library for books, magazines & internet access, as well as their favorite movies, which they watched on the weekends. Book reading & family time skyrocketed in their household, her kids’ grades improved, numerous house projects were finally completed, she herself says her house has NEVER been so clean, and she’s lost 25 pounds in the past year, which in turn resulted in her no longer requiring costly blood pressure medication.

Taking all that into consideration, how much is your top notch cable/internet access REALLY costing your family over the course of a year??

Take care everybody, and Happy Halloween! Kris