Girl Scouts – Frugalistas in Training! Saturday, Mar 23 2013 

101 years ago this week, Juliette Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout Troop, on March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Georgia. I’m now taking 10 seconds for a “chuckle/snort” moment as I envision Juliette’s response to a 2013 box of cookies priced at $4.00, especially considering the average 1912 salary was $750/year. Apples and oranges, I realize, but still pretty wild. Okay, *snort* I’m done. Ultra-additive, somewhat pricey cookies notwithstanding, I’m here to make the case that the 2.3 million members currently in Girl Scouts not only enjoy a fabulous and fun educational experience with other young ladies, but they’re also heading into adulthood far better equipped for life’s ups and downs, physical, emotional and financial. To all of those young ladies, the hard working Troop Leaders, and the tens of millions of adult women walking about today who can claim a faded sash and beanie in the attic, 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 much more. In my small opinion, this is somewhat better at building character, respect, team-building, sound-decision making and leadership than say, spending every afternoon playing video games. Just a thought, but I’m 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 Girl Scouts, as well as two-thirds of American Congresswomen. Now let’s talk about the first female Space Shuttle Commander, Secretary of State, Supreme Court Justice, Evening Network News Anchor, President of Harvard and Secretary of Homeland Security, who all are – you guessed it – grown up Girl Scouts.

(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, yet over 70% of females will be responsible for handling their own finances at some point in their lives. Tragically, “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 attend Girl Scouts with my 8-year old daughter, Katie, start practicing that wave as you board Air Force One in a few decades. Viva thin mints!

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.

Minimizing the Effects of the Downgrade Wednesday, Aug 10 2011 

Minimizing the Effects of the Downgrade
Okay, so unless you’ve been under a rock for the last week, you’re aware that U.S. debt has been downgraded. Yes, it’s unprecedented, it’s unnerving, it is also eventually reversible down the road if we truly get our act together, and in the meantime, it’s survivable. The key to minimal financial headaches in the meantime is to familiarize yourself on the ripple effects of the downgrade, and how you can protect yourself and your household.

As a result of the downgrade, American debt will be more risky for our creditors, and as a result, it will cost more for the United States Government to borrow money. As a result, it will cost you more to borrow money as well. Ripple effect: higher interest rates on credit cards, car loans, home loans, etc. Prepare yourself now, and you can respond with a focused financial strategy.

Credit Cards: When it comes to your personal plastic, start paying the balances down NOW. Do whatever it takes, shop at the discount groceries regularly from now on, you’ll save thousands that you can then put onto your credit card balances. Looking for clothes, gifts, housewares? Shop at the thrift stores and save another bundle. If it’s feasible, go out one less day every week to save on gas. It all adds up huge, and those savings need to be used to pay down any outstanding credit. You will soon be paying more for your borrowing (sound familiar?), so reduce your debt spending, show Washington an outstanding example, and prevent your own debt from being “downgraded” by your lenders.

Stock Market Holdings: Worldwide stock markets have been all over the map with uncertainty in this past week. On one channel you hear an expert saying the uncertainty has panned out and you should buy-buy-buy the bargains, switch to another channel and another so-called expert is shrieking to sell-sell-sell and save yourselves. If you have sizable holdings in the stock market, for the sake of clarity and sanity, have a talk with a reputable financial advisor for straight talk on where they think the market (and your particular portfolio) could be better protected so as to ride out the bumps with a minimum of Tylenol.

Higher taxes – Independent of the downgrade, we’ve known for some time that tax loopholes are going to close and cap tax expenditures. Have a talk with your accountant, see how these changes might affect your household, and see how you can invest your money in ways that will minimize your (possibly) increasing tax burden.

Car loans – If you’re in the market for a car, do yourself a favor. Save your money and buy a used car with cash, rather than going for a car loan with (higher than expected) interest rates.

Home loans – If interest rates go up, you’re looking at higher costs on home loans. If there is any “silver lining” in this, it’s that home prices may come down a bit more in response to the higher interest rates. Rotten news if you’re looking to sell, but somewhat helpful if you’re looking to buy. There has never been a better time to invest in real estate. The bigger the down payment, the better.

Bottom line: The best thing you can do for your financial sanity? Take a deep breath. This latest lunacy too shall pass. In the meantime, protect yourself, your household, your portfolio, and your bank account by thinking frugally on all of your purchases, living within your means, and generating a sizable nest egg for emergencies. Then, run for office (you’ll get my vote!), and show the folks in Washington how it CAN be done.

Enjoy a Fabulously Frugal 4th of July! Tuesday, Jun 28 2011 

Hey everybody – Happy Independence Day! Read on for some effortless ideas on doing up this wonderful red, white and blue holiday without spending a lot of green!

The Food – Nowhere in literary or movie history have I witnessed a 4th of July menu that required champagne, filet minion and crème brulee. We’re talking hotdogs, hamburgers, chips, lots of cold beverages and some fabulous apple pie here! Et Voila! Fourth of July menu perfection achieved! If you really want to dazzle, finish off the meal with a delicious red, white and blue-themed dessert. Try a light cake topped with white buttercream, blueberries and raspberries! Or perhaps a gorgeous fruit salad loaded with watermelon, blueberries and raspberries! Hit your local discount gourmet grocery to stock up on the best brand names for a fraction of the price, and remember at all times that calories don’t count when you’re celebrating America’s independence. Trust me, Betsy Ross didn’t snack on Fiber One bars while she was creating the American flag. I’m sensing she went straight for the carbs. If weather permits, save on utilities by cooking outdoors on the grill! It keeps the kitchen cool and saves loads on air conditioning.

The Sales! – Stores nationwide of all shapes, sizes and offerings, whether they’re huge Department Store conglomerates or corner Mom & Pop shops, long for a worthwhile reason to drive shoppers thru their doors. Black Friday is legendary in the wintertime, what’s slightly lesser well known is its summertime twin – 4th of July weekend. Sales are everywhere! Have a look in your favorite stores – if you’re in need of housewares, clothes, appliances, even automobiles – 4th of July weekend sale offerings could fit the bill nicely.

The Fireworks – I don’t know about your neighborhoods, but around me, stands and tents are everywhere offering these colorful little explosives (‘scuse me, “fireworks”) for sale. It could be the Mom in me, but every time I drive by one of these lovely tents, I cringe. Huge. If I see anything other than hand-held sparklers in the neighborhood kids’ hands, my pupils tend to dilate wildly. Trust me folks, the statistics on injuries is insane. Save yourself the effort, expense, and potentially painful and pricey emergency room visit by heading to one of the dozens of parks near you for a fantastic, professionally-run, free fireworks display!

The Clothes – Make it clear to the world you’re proud to be an American by wearing your most fabulous red, white and/or blue outfits – and the more colorful, the better! Dig deep into your closets for some fun combinations, or hit your local thrift stores for a few new pieces – the sales are huge! Some ideas? Try a fantastic casual white dress, paired with navy blue pumps and a red scarf or belt. Or have some fun and go totally flamboyant with pumps of different colors (one red, one blue), paired with a white blouse and red skirt. Or just make it a Bruce Springsteen kind of holiday, with your classic blue jeans and a fabulous white t-shirt. Pull some red flats out to complete it, et voila! A fitting 4th of July wardrobe for next to nothing.

The Fun! – if you’re looking for some inexpensive activities to enjoy, check your local newspapers and get online! A few minutes of searching on Google (try entering “4th of July festivities”) will turn up fairs, festivals, and – if you’re lucky – a parade or two within close distance. Important Frugalista Tip: Pack a snack (that $2 soda cart is selling items you can buy for .15 at your local discount grocer… you get the point). Bring small flags for everyone to wave (available on sale in just about every hardware store and dollar store this time of year) and have a ball!

Above all else, remember that thinking, acting, and adoring all things frugal is as quintessentially American as apple pie – what better way to celebrate America’s independence than to do it with some fabulously frugal fun? Happy 4th of July, everybody!

Kristen Hagopian is a Motivational Speaker and Author of “Brilliant Frugal Living”. You can listen to her money-saving tips Wednesday mornings on Montgomery County’s WFYL 1180AM, (stream it live at http://www.wfyl1180.com!) and her book is available at her Web site http://www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com.

January Challenge: Feeding 4 (fabulously!) for less than $300/month! Day 29 Update! Saturday, Jan 29 2011 

BRILLIANT FRUGAL LIVING
AMELIA’S GROCERY OUTLET – SAVE MONEY!
Hey everybody! I hope you’re all having a fantastic weekend! The snow is beautiful, the roads look pretty clear, and fear not fellow citizens, I’m still not driving on them, so it’s all good. Got a TON done in the house today, lots of stuff organized, feels FABULOUS. Time to veg out on the couch. With popcorn, of course. But first, today’s Challenge Update!

Day 29 Total: $13.79, total for the month is $264.95!

Today’s Menu:
Morning Coffee: (0.50) – another double batch, this time a delicious “Morning Blend”. Packs a nice punch! Definitely adding it to the favorites.

Breakfast: ($4.00) — weekend breakfast calls for something cooked on the stove, I went for French Toast this morning. One loaf of whole wheat bread, one dozen eggs, oil to brown them in, and syrup on top.

Everybody’s Lunch: ($0.00) Loads of lasagna leftover from last night, heated in minutes and everybody loved it.

Afternoon Snack – ($2) More grapes – they are FABULOUS for January, not a mushy one in the bunch. The kids were in heaven. Nice treat.

Dinner: ($6.29) – loads of fantastic wiggle room in the budget, went for a Saturday night dinner splurge. TaiPei General Tso’s chicken for the adults (two HUGE servings for $2.29), with extra rice (.25), and egg rolls $1.50 for 6, so we had leftovers. The kids had a half pound of chicken breast ($1) sautéed in olive oil (.25) with a side of rice pilaf (.50). Made another cake today, this time a yellow one with chocolate icing. It cost $2, but it should last four days, so I’m pricing it out at .50 per day.

Evening Snack: ($1) Big batch of popcorn!

Total for today: $13.79, total for the month is $264.95!

That about wraps up a Saturday night for me, gang. I’ve got a big bowl of popcorn here, and I’m not afraid to use it. Have a great evening, everyone!

Feeding 4 (fabulously!) for less than $300/month! Day 27 Update! Thursday, Jan 27 2011 

BRILLIANT FRUGAL LIVING
AMELIA’S GROCERY OUTLET – SAVE MONEY!

Hey gang, is everybody dug out from under the snow yet? Took a little while to get the cars dug out here, and the back steps done, but man, was it beautiful out today. And not even really cold! That’s my kind of snowstorm aftermath. Beats “thundersnow” any day of the week! Katie was home from school again today, and she’s delighted at the prospect of going to school tomorrow, because it’s Friday and she then gets a weekend after only one day of school. This is so my child.

Okay, onto the Challenge Update!
Day 27 Total: $7.03, total for the month is $240.11!

Today’s Menu:
Morning Coffee: (0.50) – back to just the double batch of coffee…okay, and the leftovers from yesterday’s quadruple batch. I’m calling it progress anyway.

Breakfast: ($1.50) — two hard boiled eggs each for the adults, cheerios and milk for little people. They were REALLY hungry! So great to see!

Everybody’s Lunch: ($0.0) Leftover smoked sausage with baked macaroni & cheese from last night. Whoever invented the microwave should be up there with the inventor of penicillin. I mean it.

Afternoon Snack – ($.30) Kids snacked on fruit, about a pound of bananas, and some leftover sugar cookies from yesterday.

Dinner: ($3.73) – After my attempt at shoveling, I was whipped, so I took it easy for dinner. One pound of Linguine (.79) topped with organic marinara ($1.19) and parmesan cheese (.25), served with super easy heat-n-eat breadsticks ($1), salad (.50), and the last of the chocolate cake for dinner. Once I got the water boiling, dinner was on the table in 15 minutes. Sweet. Quick note: the price was certainly right for tonight’s dinner, but I should note that there wasn’t much left for leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I’ll probably resort to leftover soup from two days ago.

Evening Snack: ($1) Still loving the popcorn. Did a monster sized batch tonight. It was a crazy day, and I must crunch.

Total for today: $7.03, total for the month is $240.11!
Hang in there, everybody! One day closer to Spring! (actually, we’re one day closer to more expected snow on Saturday, but HEY, who wants to go THERE?!)

Feeding 4 (fabulously!) for less than $300/month! Day 26 Update – In The Homestretch! WOO HOO! Wednesday, Jan 26 2011 

BRILLIANT FRUGAL LIVING
AMELIA’S GROCERY OUTLET – SAVE MONEY!
Okay, so we got stomped with snow this morning. And we’re about to get stomped again late tonight. And probably again next week. Yes, it stinks, BUT so long as my popcorn crunch therapy holds out, I refuse to take on a negative attitude. I’ll take my cues from my Kindergartner, whose “Hooraaaaaaaaaay! School’s Cancelled!” shrieks of glee was probably heard for a mile in every direction. The girl has some serious voice pitch, as well as contagious enthusiasm. The house is a wreck, but we had a blast today. Go Fish, anyone?

Both kids are doing great, bouncing back from this rotten cold & getting closer to 100% every day. I’m thinking Katie is going to have another snow day tomorrow. And can I tell ya?… Thank HEAVEN you can print out those “Highlights Hidden Pictures” online! It’s a hit! Buys me at least 10 minutes at a time to do something productive of my own. Side Note: I think all Kindergarten Teachers should be sainted.

Okay, onto the Challenge Update! Day 26 Total: $8.69, total for the month is $233.08!

Today’s Menu:
Morning Coffee: (1.00) Okay, yes, I’m embarrassed. A double-double batch, a.k.a a quadruple batch. The kids ARE getting better (so proud of them!), but are still calling me in for a snuggle (or two) during the night. I adore it, but I’m whipped. It should be noted that I didn’t drink the WHOLE quadruple batch, a good part of it is in a mongo mug in the fridge, just waiting to nuked at the proper time tomorrow.

Breakfast: ($1.00) — apples & cinnamon toast for little people, 2 HB eggs for Victor, just coffee for me.

Everybody’s Lunch: ($0.25) Leftover soup! Served pureed over elbow macaroni (topped with parmesan cheese) for little people, served straight to the adults. No salad, just the bare basics.

Afternoon Snack – ($.70) Kids snacked on apples again, somewhere between the “Toy Story 3” and “The Incredibles” Double Feature.

Dinner: ($4.74) – So far today, I’ve been shoveling, cleaning, baking cookies with the kids (most of which will go to the VERY COOL guy who plows the driveway, blogging, and basically watching the house get turned into a tornado debris field by two little people (it really DID sound just like a freight train coming thru, I swear!!). so we’re taking it easy for dinner. Smoked sausage sauteed in a frying pan (1.99) with a side of baked macaroni & cheese ($2). Fast & easy, and the oven really heated up the kitchen beautifully! Didn’t do a salad with it, but we DID do chocolate cake for all (.50). It should also be noted that the kids will be eating about a half dozen of the cookies we made, so I’ll count them here (.25).

Evening Snack: ($1) Can I tell you how much I’ve been looking forward to popcorn all day? Great way to wrap up a great day. I didn’t actually witness it, but I assume Victor is finishing up the rest of his chips doing computer work upstairs, so I’ll add that too.

Total for today: $8.69, total for the month is $233.08!

Take it easy out there everybody! And for God’s sake people, learn from my experience — When you shovel your back steps, lift with your legs! (I’m getting so freakin’ old.) 🙂

Feeding 4 (fabulously!) for less than $300/month – Day 25 Update! Tuesday, Jan 25 2011 

BRILLIANT FRUGAL LIVING
AMELIA’S GROCERY OUTLET – SAVE MONEY!

Okay, so it’s going to snow, it’s not going to snow. Snow & Ice… or maybe just rain. Rain, with perhaps a 40% probability of frozen sheep falling from the sky. Okay, I made that last one up, but can SOMEBODY come up with a solid forecast for tomorrow? Sheesh!

Katie really kicked her pneumonia back from whence it came (so proud of her!), and Robbie is on the mend as well, so things are getting relatively back to normal. Katie got back to school this morning after AGES off (between snow days & illness). I was afraid she’d be a little reluctant to get back into the swing of things, but it was basically a “smell ya later, Mommy!” as she bounded out of the car. What a great kid! She’s going to have to channel all that goodness later this week, ‘cause LORDY do we have some schoolwork to catch up on.

Day 25 Total: $9.68, total for the month is $224.39!
Today’s Menu:
Morning Coffee: (0.50). 2nd day in a row of “just” a double batch. My personal restraint knows no bounds.

Breakfast: ($0.56) — last of the leftover French Toast for little people, two hard boiled eggs each for the adults (4 total)

Everybody’s Lunch: ($3.23). Katie’s back in lunchbox mode, so she had a cheese sandwich (.45), a smallish apple (.15), a juice box (.15), and animal crackers for a snack (.05). Robbie was home with me, so he had a small bowl of pasta with sauce (.15). Victor took a pound of apples (.70) and a big 19 ounce can of Venice Soup (the super healthy kind with no preservatives, or something like that, only .79), with him for easy heat up. I did a can of vegetable soup as well, it was fabulous on this freaking freezing cold day (.79).

Afternoon Snack – ($.40) Kids each had two small bananas, sliced into bowls, as their afternoon snack. Figure about a pound.

Dinner: ($3.99) – Time for another batch of soup – the kids never seem to mind it, and it’s perfect for winter. Took a one pound bag of 16-bean soup (1.49), added the last couple of ounces of pork roast from Sunday (free), 8 cups of water, the leftover corn from last night (free), one 15 can of mixed vegetable medley (.50), and put it on a slow boil this afternoon. When the beans were soft, I pureed half of it in the food processor to add body to the soup, then poured it all back together into the soup pot. FAB-U-LOUS. Topped it with some parmesan cheese (.25), and made some whole wheat garlic toast out of WW bread, toasted then brushed with olive oil & sprinkled with garlic powder for .50 (don’t forget, whole wheat & beans make a fabulous protein when combined!!). The kids had theirs with some noodles (.25), the adults ate it straight, with a salad (.50), and we all finished up with some chocolate cake (.50). Best part – LOTS of leftovers!

Evening Snack: ($1) Popcorn, awesome popcorn with butter (.50). Victor dug into a bag of chips while he was working upstairs on the computer & finished off half a bag. (.50)

Total for today: $9.68, total for the month is $224.39!

Fingers crossed this next storm blows over us without a flake hitting the ground! Yeah, right…

Feeding 4 (fabulously!) for less than $300/month – Day 24 Update! Monday, Jan 24 2011 

BRILLIANT FRUGAL LIVING
AMELIA’S GROCERY OUTLET – SAVE MONEY!
Happy Monday guys! Know why? Cause the royal spanking from Mother Nature has (to my knowledge) been massively downgraded. Thank the LORD. It’s all good. Another reason it’s a great day? Because I cooked & baked my brains out yesterday and now my refrigerator is stuffed with easy heat & eat food. Viva leftovers! Katie is home just ONE more day, knocking out the remnants of Hurricane Pneumonia from whence it came. She’s being such a trooper, but she’s totally pooped.

Day 24 Total: $4.00, total for the month is $214.71!

Today’s Menu:
Morning Coffee: (0.50). Back to “just” the double batch. Aren’t you proud of me?

Breakfast: ($0.0) — leftover French Toast for all! Even more appetite on little people today, I’m so happy!

Everybody’s Lunch: ($0.00). More leftover soup for little people, and leftover beef ravioli with organic marinara sauce (from two days ago) for the adults.

Afternoon Snack – ($1.50 ) Two pounds of fantastic apples – I love the super crunchy ones. Easy to slice up for little people, everyone’s happy.

Dinner: ($1.50) – Leftover pork loin roast and sweet potatoes from last night, plus another salad (.50), another can of corn for the kids (.50), and chocolate cake for dessert (.50)

Evening Snack: (.50) Popcorn. I think I know how to make this stuff in my sleep by now. Extra butter, light on the salt. LOVE it.

Total for today: $4.00, total for the month is $214.71!
Hang in there, everybody – one day closer to Springtime!

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