Delicious Christmas Gifts that Save Money, Time and Stress! Monday, Dec 16 2013 

Hey gang, it’s happening again. People are freaking out over Christmas gift-giving, and they’re getting set to spend way too much again. The crowds are getting ugly, too – when you start hearing news stories in which the words “Shopping Mall” and “Tasers” go together, you know we’re in for a rough one. When it comes to spending, I’m getting emails you wouldn’t believe, from wonderful people who normally think quite frugally, yet are still convinced that a magnificent holiday is tied to the money spent. So not true! Don’t believe me? Then just gently put the credit card down for a moment and try this little experiment on for size. Think back to your wonderful childhood Christmas memories. Chances are you spent a good 20 years under your parents’ roof. We all have fantastic holiday recollections, but can you name three things you received as gifts as a kid? Many of my readers can recall a cherished bike (myself included, it was a pink Schwinn with red and white tassles, and it was dynamite). Beyond that however, gift memories become extremely hazy; rather, it’s the vivid memories of childhood fun, food, laughter with relatives who came from miles around to celebrate the holiday, and of course, the treasured two weeks off from school that truly stick in my mind. Trust me, your kids and family feel the same way. With that in mind, read on for fantastic, frugal gift ideas guaranteed to be a cherished hit for family and friends, not to mention clients and co-workers!

One of the best gifts of all – fabulous food! Back in Victorian times, the average family spent 25% of their income on food, an incredible number. To add insult to injury, the food of the era often wasn’t even that good, bland due to lack of spices, not to mention created in unsafe conditions a good deal of the time. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that delicious homemade food gifts were a huge hit at the holidays, created with loving care from cherished family recipes, and often sent in tins that were used again and again for years to come. Now that is a memorable gift. For those of you on a tight budget this holiday season (and who isn’t?), it’s time to harness your inner Victorian and put your favorite recipes to work for you. Cookies, candies, brownies, pastries, cakes – whatever your passion, have fun with it, and put the kids to work “helping” (another fun childhood memory of mine). Hit your local dollar store for tins and trays to present them on, et voila! The end result will be wonderful, memorable gifts that will be truly appreciated by the recipients, created for a fraction of the price of forgettable store-bought trinkets. Fabulously frugal side note – these types of gifts ship beautifully as well.

So let’s review – When it comes to frugal gift-giving this Christmas, there are many reasons to indulge your inner Julia Child. First, you’re succeeding in every gift-giver’s goal: You’re sending gifts that will be loved, appreciated, and remembered. Second, when you open your credit card bill in January, you’ll be one of the few that draws a huge sigh of relief at the low number due. Third, you’ll be steering clear of the high-voltage, taser-toting rabid shoppers that are apparently out in full force! Let’s keep the high-holiday wattage to the outdoor Christmas lights, shall we? Merry Christmas everybody, and Frugal On!

A Gorgeously Frugal Porch and Patio Project! Saturday, Jul 13 2013 

Hey, everybody – I hope you had an outstanding 4th of July! Now that we’re in the middle of another gorgeous summer, the timing is perfect to tackle an inexpensive home improvement project you and your family will love – your porch and patio! This time of year, your outdoor spaces are extensions of your home, extra “rooms” that can provide immense value for outdoor living and entertaining. Put your porch and patio to fantastic use with inexpensive projects that help them look their best.
(1) The Furniture – You’ll want a comfy set of furniture if you’re going to entertain outdoors. Here’s the good news – friends, family and neighbors that went out to buy a pricey new set for their 4th of July parties now need to unload their “old” set. If they haven’t traded up, no worries, dozens (if not hundreds) of people who live within quick driving distance will be trying to get rid of their old set via Craigslist. Time for you to come to the rescue! If you’re one of the lucky recipients of what looks like somewhat-banged up pieces, never fear. Porch furniture is designed to withstand the hard knocks of Mother Nature, and chances are excellent your “weathered” loveseat, sofa and/or chairs will come right back with a little TLC. Your best bet – hit your local hardware store for some outdoor furniture spray paint and go to town! If you have a handful of scratched-up (originally) white pieces, even if they’re from different sets, it’ll spruce right back up with a fresh coat of paint and look completely new by the time you’re done. Perhaps you want to be daring with a dark cherry brown color this time. Maybe the kids want to paint the wicker rocker cherry pink – who cares? Considering what you (didn’t) pay for the set, show no fear and have some fun! If the cushions are looking worn as well, no worries – local department stores, discount stores and thrift stores often have them by the truckload for at least 50% off retail.
(2) The Paint! – Have a look at your porch and patio floors and railings. If the floors are banged up, one can of paint and a huge roller should take care of the job in no time. If the railings need a touch-up, get to it! A small can of paint (and an even smaller brush) will cover scratches and make it look better than ever.
(3) The Plants – One of the best eye-catching colors for your porch and patio is vibrant, summertime green. One of the easiest ways to acquire it is with plants. Many of your local hardware stores and home improvement centers are in the midst of a full-scale “unload it now” mentality with regards to their lush-looking summertime plants. Get your hands on a few tropical beauties (trees, hanging plants, palms, potted flowers) and place them in the corners of your porch and patio where they can pick up the breezes.
Whatever the size of your porch or patio, a weekend, a can (or two) of paint, and a fearless attitude can transform it into an entertaining paradise for family and friends. Viva summertime!

Create a Fabulously Frugal Father’s Day! Saturday, Jun 8 2013 

As another beautiful summer unfolds, we come upon one of my favorite holidays – Father’s Day! When I put out the word to my social media army requesting tips for a fabulously frugal Father’s Day, they didn’t disappoint! For everyone out there with a special Father, Grandfather, Stepfather, Godfather or someone “whose like a Father to me” they’d like to honor on June 16th, read on for a list of four thoughtful sentimental gifts that Dad will LOVE, without breaking the bank!

(1) A Flawlessly Clean Car: Ladies, I hate to break it to you, but you know how you and I personally really don’t mind a somewhat-cluttered car? I mean, really, what’s the biggie about having a baggie of crushed goldfish crackers keeping company with your kid’s empty hamburger wrapper? Newsflash: it makes the guys nuts. This Father’s Day, pull out all the stops with a car-cleaning session that will make him instantly forget the time your daughter left her lunchbox in the hot back seat for an entire weekend…open…with an uneaten dill pickle marinating in 140-degree heat for two days. Plug an extension cord into your vacuum, haul it to the driveway and use every attachment it possesses to reach every crevice from the front seat to the trunk. A couple of rags and some Windex (Febreeze also highly recommended!), and the interior will sparkle as well.

(2) Personalized Golf Balls: For some reason still completely unknown to medical science, 99.9% of Dads are somehow drawn to the sport of golf. Put the paternal DNA in its happy place with personalized golf balls! Get your hands on a dozen or so from his golf bag, scrub them well, and let the kids (or grandkids!) have fun with their favorite markers – I’m told just about every type of marker out there will stick. Make sure the kids initial it and add the year, and you are guaranteed Dad will keep these wonderful mementos for decades to come.
(3) Buffet on the Barcalounger: You know how Moms adore the Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed? Allow me to introduce the male counterpart: a Father’s Day Buffet on the Barcalounger! Get Dad in his favorite chair, and surround him with the snacks he loves most, as well as a free pass to pick the television programming of his choice (golf, anyone?). It’s a no-carb-left-behind kind of holiday, make sure he does it proud.
(4) Certificate of Achievement: As hard as the Dads in our lives work every day, we exist in an economy where raises and recognition are at undeserved historic lows. It’s time for an Awards Ceremony that shows Dad how much he’s appreciated. Take two minutes on the computer to draft something along the lines of: “For outstanding accomplishment and performance, dedication, commitment to excellence in all aspects of work and home, for being a wonderful husband and outstanding Father, and in recognition of your superb and tireless efforts to support your family well, Happy Father’s Day!” Put it in italics, center it on the page, tweak it a bit here and there for effect, print it out and have the kids sign it. Then put it into a classic frame from the local dollar store. I guarantee you he will hang it with pride.

Above all else, use this wonderful holiday to unabashedly tell the wonderful Dads in your life how incredible they are and how grateful you are for them. A special side note to Victor and my Dad – the two best Dads on Earth – Happy Father’s Day!

Five Steps to Fabulously Frugal Spring Cleaning! Sunday, Apr 7 2013 

Hey everybody! Enjoy the sneak preview look of next week’s Daily Local News Column! K
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Five Steps to Fabulously Frugal Spring Cleaning!
What a great week! In the last seven days, I’m thrilled to report that my daffodils sprung into bloom, I’ve firmly retired my snow shovel back to the shed and my winter coat is back where it belongs – way in the back of the closet. Way back – as in “not seeing the light of day until at least October” way back. We made it folks, it’s Springtime! What better way to celebrate than with a wonderfully freshened up house – it’s (trumpet blare) Spring Cleaning time! Yeah, yeah, okay – I’d prefer a round trip ticket to Hawaii too, but hey, let’s get our kicks where we can, shall we? Trust me, a sparkling clean house goes a long way towards ushering in the warmer weather perfectly, and with a few – incredibly inexpensive – tricks, you’ll love how fast your house gets into spic and span mode!
Step One – Forget about the expensive household cleaners. Not only are they filled with chemicals I can’t even pronounce (once you get to 14+ syllables, you know you’re in trouble), but they’re ridiculously priced to boot! Make your cleaners effortlessly at home from ingredients that are highly effective and safe for kids and pets to be around as well. Best bet – mix equal parts of white vinegar and warm tap water into a spray bottle and use everywhere. Sinks, windows, vinyl floors, mirrors, fixtures – you’ll love the shine and you’ll adore the price.
Step Two – Declutter. There’s nothing like the feeling of a de-cluttered closet. Start a donation pile with the shoes that you haven’t worn in three years, add to it the suits that haven’t fit in ten years, and top it off with the sweaters that went out of style long before you even bought your suits. Get the picture? Don’t forget to write it all off on your tax return!
Step Three – Throw open the windows! Even the cleanest, dust-free homes could use a massive blast of fresh air after a long (emphasis on long) winter of closed windows. On the next balmy (say, higher than 60-degree) day, throw open the windows for at least 30 minutes, and get a box fan or two running for good measure, to speed things up.
Step Four – Change your Filters! Start with the filters bringing air into the house. While you’re at it, change (and/or clean) the filters in your vacuum cleaner. If you can’t remember the last time you cleaned your vacuum filters, brace yourself. If your vacuum filter is off-the-charts gross (I’m not speaking from experience or anything), placate yourself with the knowledge that all of that dust and gunk are far better in your vacuum filter than embedded in your carpets.
Step Five – Don’t forget the cars! If you think it’s a fabulous feeling coming home to a sparkling clean house, imagine the feeling of driving back to Home-Sweet-Home in a car that looks like it’s right off the showroom floor! Get rid of every speck of trash and ancient grocery receipts, haul your (newly-filtered) vacuum out there with the extension cord and get rid of the pulverized Cheerio and cracker crumbs embedded under the seats, then take your vinegar cleaner spray bottle and go to town getting everything to sparkle.
Above all else, pat yourself on the back for getting through another winter intact. Happy Springtime, everybody!

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 http://www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

Today on The Brilliant Frugal Living Show: Five outstanding strategies to earn more income from home! Tuesday, Jul 17 2012 

Then, Isagenix millionaire Jimmy Smith joins me on the air to discuss his story – a butcher for 40 years who retired due to injury, he turned to a Network Marketing career, and has earned thirty million dollars in the last 10 years. Sound interesting? It’s all today on Philadelphia’s News/Talk 1180 – tune in at 11A (Eastern) or livestream us at the link! http://www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

Today on The Brilliant Frugal Living Show: a Father’s Day Tribute to fabulously frugal Dads! Tuesday, Jun 12 2012 

What are some of the money-saving lessons YOUR Dad gave you?  Building a bank account? Changing a tire? Let me know! Then one of the world’s best Dads (MINE!)  – John Herreid of Keller Williams Media – shares brilliant advice for the summer real estate season, and the proven strategies he used to raise three (highly-verbal) daughters to adulthood without losing his cool…or his wallet.  It’s all today on Philadelphia’s 1180AM WFYL – tune in at 11A (ET) or livestream us at the link!   http://www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com
Kristen Hagopian is a Personal Finance Columnist, Motivational Speaker and Author of Brilliant Frugal Living.  Her weekly Talk Show, in addition to segments for ABC, NBC, Fox News and other major networks, bring her wealth-building message to millions.

A Brilliant Frugal Homage to Mom! Tuesday, May 8 2012 

Happy Mother’s Day, everybody! To all of the mothers, grandmothers, stepmothers, godmothers and “just like a mother to me” ladies out there who know how to stretch a buck and balance a budget in these crazy times, this one’s for you!

M: is for Money – To all the moms who prove daily that a fabulous life doesn’t require a lot of cash. From delicious bag lunches to fun, free library trips to birthdays at the park to gorgeously maintained hand-me-downs, you have mastered the mantra “Never try to keep up with the Joneses,” and in doing so, have no doubt surpassed them in your bank account – not to mention taught the next generation how to do the same.

O: is for Options (Eating Out, or Eating In?) – Guys, need I say it? Don’t spend this Mother’s Day in an overcrowded, overpriced restaurant. You have the opportunity to create one of Mom’s most brag-worthy moments today – breakfast in bed! Strap on the fabulous “World’s Best Cook” apron she got you for Christmas and get to it. Put the kids on toast detail, throw some eggs in a frying pan, try not to break anything as you head up the stairs, and watch Mom as she not only beams with pride at your creation, but eats charred toast and runny eggs with the delicacy and enjoyment of Queen Elizabeth sitting down to tea at the Four Seasons.

T: is for Thrift Stores – One of the last bastions of frugal hope for incredible holiday gifts, as well as an amazing place to score beautiful clothes, books, furniture and jewelry for easily 90 percent off. Is Mom in the mood for any of the above? Hit your local “Tiffanys for Tightwads” and find her something gorgeous!

H: is for Handbags – It goes without saying that, regardless of how many handbags currently line a frugal Mother’s closet, there’s always room for one more. While you’re in your local thrift store, hit the accessories section to peruse the gorgeous selection of Coach, Tommy Hilfiger and Kate Spade lining the shelves. My latest find was a Louis Vuitton number for $9. I’m still glowing from the experience. Got bling?

E: is for Erma Bombeck – It wouldn’t be Mother’s Day if we didn’t acknowledge one of the world’s greatest moms. A classic quote: “Mothers have to remember what food each child likes or dislikes, which one is allergic to penicillin and hamster fur, who gets carsick and who isn’t kidding when he stands outside the bathroom door and tells you what’s going to happen if he doesn’t get in right away. It’s tough. If they all have the same hair color they tend to run together.”

R: is for Radio – Where better for a loudmouth frugalista to honor her favorite, female, frugal role model! Join me on The Brilliant Frugal Living Show today at 11 a.m. on 1180AM WFYL as I have the great honor and privilege of interviewing one of the great frugal minds of all time – my mom! Learn firsthand the strategies and money-saving tactics she used for decades (then handed down to her three daughters, no easy task), to keep the budget balanced, the food fabulous, and the financial goals on track, including a retirement schedule featuring numerous cruises to tropical locales. Mom, did I mention my expert luggage carrying skills?
Happy Mother’s Day, everybody!

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

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 Lulu.com. You can also work with Cyndi Po in person at her Serenity Fit Spas in Red Hill and Quakertown. Find her online at http://www.serenityfit.com

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!

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