A Fabulous Valentine’s Day on a Frugal Budget! Thursday, Feb 13 2014 

I have to be honest, between the snow, school closings and power outages, not to mention being the last house in my neighborhood to put away the Christmas decorations, this year’s Valentine’s Day snuck up on me. How is it February already? If you’re like me, stuck in the solid grip of a “Will this winter ever end?!” mindset, Valentine’s Day — when embraced with the proper frugal thinking — can be a holiday godsend that gives us a temporary break against Mother Nature’s wrath. I heard that the average consumer could spend close to $150 on Valentine’s Day this year! Unless a solid chunk of that is on a good pre-owned snowblower, I urge V-day spenders to read on for a trifecta of Valentine’s Day happiness that doesn’t demolish your debit card.

(1) The flowers – You all know me to be a solid, upstanding, card-carrying Frugalista, not easily sucked in by overpriced gifts with a fleeting shelf life. That being said, I’m a huge fan of roses on Valentine’s Day. It’s embedded deep within my DNA, and it shall not be silenced. The trick here is to get them at a fraction of retail, and I know just the places. Hit your local Produce Junction, where a dozen long-stem beauties can cost less than $20, or hit your local warehouse stores where gorgeous flowers await you at very reasonable rates. Side note: If you think the odds of your significant other bringing you roses are about as likely as you being abducted by an alien life force, take the bull by the horns and buy yourself a beautiful bunch!

(2) The jewelry – I have as much need for glamorous jewelry as I do for the long-stem roses. However, see my earlier notes about the chick DNA. Add to that my lifelong adoration of old movies, and you can see where my addiction to vintage jewelry comes from. Guys, take it from me, when the ladies open up a box with a beautiful piece of bling inside, they’ll see jewelry, but you’ll see the solid gold “get out of trouble free” card that could come in handy as the year progresses. Again, the trick is knowing where to find it. Answer: hit your local consignment stores & thrift stores, where jewelry case upon jewelry case awaits you, filled with vintage bling that will make her heart sing, right along with your wallet.

(3) The chocolate – Valentine’s Day with no chocolate makes about as much sense to me as Thanksgiving without a turkey. I mean, really, what’s the point? You could try making your own – I’ve heard from people who do just that, and they earn a huge A+ for effort in my book. However, if your schedule is as pinched as your budget, opt for easier homemade chocolate goodies – chocolate cupcakes get rave reviews, and they’re super simple to create. Remember, chocolate calories don’t count on Feb. 14!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

Kristen Hagopian is a syndicated radio talk show host and columnist, consumer reporter, motivational speaker and author of “Brilliant Frugal Living.” The Kristen Hagopian Show airs on Philadelphia’s WWDB-AM TALK 860, and nationwide via Business Talk Radio Network. She resides in Chester County with her husband and two children. You can find her online at http://www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

A Fabulously Frugal Family Room! Sunday, Sep 22 2013 

Hey gang!  How’s the late summer treating you so far?  Around here, I’m being uncharacteristically productive in this gorgeous weather, perhaps because I know that the cooler temps can’t be far behind. 
For me, it’s become absolutely therapeutic decluttering during the last month or so, and I thought I’d kick it up a notch.  Read on for a great one-two-three decluttering strategy that will not only get your house looking fabulous, but put some fabulous money in the bank as well!
First Step – Declutter.  Look around your house – if your home is anything like mine, I suggest starting with the Family Room.  With a busy husband and two active kids, my living areas were starting to look like a cross between the show “Hoarders” and the Film “Twister”.  Honest to God, I have no idea how it got that bad, but having both kids in school for the last two weeks gave me an amazing opportunity to declutter and reclaim the room back.  It’s fabulous!  If you’re looking for a Fall Activity that will have you feeling like a million bucks, take a day to clear out anything and everything that’s cluttering up your most active spaces.  My wiggle-space-only Family Room now feels like a gymnasium.  It’s that good.  But it gets better.

Next Step – Turn Clutter into Cash.  Now that you have a pile of books, clothing, shoes, magazines, knickknacks, lamps, furniture, videos, DVD’s and more (none of which you’ve used in ages), it’s time to transform it into cash.  It’s easier than you’d think.  If your Community is holding a yard sale, throw your stuff into the mix and keep the prices LOW to move everything.  Easier still – get out the digital camera and put everything on Craigslist.  Easiest of all – detail everything, donate it to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill and be sure to count every penny of it on your next tax return. 

Last Step – Invest Cash into Heating Fuel for Winter before the prices go up!  So now you’ve cleared out your living spaces and completely decluttered.  Awesome.  Then you got rid of the mountain of unneeded stuff online, at your local Garage Sale, or by donating it.  BRAVO!  If you have cash in hand for your efforts, a serious gold star for you.  Don’t even think of springing the cash at a trip to the casinos.  Rather, call your local fuel oil company and fill up your tanks to the brim now, before the prices go up.  If you donated everything, fantastic!  When your tax return shows up next Spring, it’ll be another outstanding chance to fill up your oil and fuel tanks when the prices are lower.  Whatever you do, don’t fill them up when prices go sky high in winter!
Et Voila!  Your house is looking fabulous, you’ve got enough room in your most active living areas to do an arms-wide, Julie-Andrews-on-a-mountaintop spin (singing optional), and you’ve got some serious cash to show for it.  Here’s to another productive Autumn! 

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