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Kristen Hagopien's Special Christmas Savings

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'BRILLIANT FRUGAL LIVING' WITH KRISTEN HAGOPIAN

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Thriftmas!

Kristen Hagopian

As the real holiday season nears its finals days, I’m hearing from consumers delighted to have acquired high priced items for as much as 25-40% off retail. It’s true, these are fabulous discounts; I myself take on a rather attractive glow when I happen upon anything at 50% off, and I love to see hard working consumers keep as much money in their pockets as possible. It’s all good.

When it comes to my own personal shopping, it’s only been in the last 5-6 years that the need to keep holiday spending in check has become a priority, as my Family Tree simultaneously took on fabulous new branches with not just my children, but also a niece, nephew and a couple of hysterical brothers in law.

Where I used to purchase only a handful of presents when I was in my twenties, two decades later I’m now lucky if I fit in the car with the gifts as we head across town. Combine that with the fact that I’m one of those uber-indulgent parents who adore seeing my kids’ faces Christmas morning when they look under the tree and see it covered in presents, and you see my dilemma in attempting to keep the spending down to a reasonable level.

That being said, I’m about to share with you a tried-and-true shopping secret that will forever spoil you for any gifts you buy in the future that aren’t at least 90% off retail price – your local meticulously run Consignment and Thrift Stores, which I love to call “Tiffany’s For Tightwads”. What’s more, to hammer my point home, I’m about to share some serious insider information as to what some family and friends are receiving this year. Hold on to your hat.

For my gorgeous, truly hip and fashionable sisters, I went straight for bling! How bling-y? Try a Prada handbag for one, and Jimmy Choo boots for the other: Both authentic, and in fantastic shape. Retail price for this Prada/Choo combo is easily $900, even on the “sale” websites. Price I paid at the Goodwill in Morgantown: a somewhat more reasonable $17. Trust me, if I’d found the boots in MY size rather than my sisters, I’d be wearing them as I type this. However, a size 7 I am not, therefore, I get to play Santa Claus on steroids…

For my fabulous folks, beautiful crystal and French silk scarves for Mom, retailing for easily $100+, which I purchased for $8. For my golf-addicted Dad, two beautifully made shirts from the Masters, which I’m guessing retail for more than the $12 I paid.

Brilliant niece & nephew (ages 5-2) are receiving educational toys, unopened and still in original packaging,Christmas photo: http://www.thedailygreen.com/cm/thedailygreen/images/WT/christmas-tree-with-gifts-flipbook.jpg purchased for $20, easily 50% their retail price. Can I tell you, the marketing and packaging are fantastic on these toys! I’m 42 years old, and even I wanted to play with them (“Hey look-look-look! The thingy lights up and spins around when you get the answer right!”).

My husband will be receiving 10 designer shirts and sweaters, two NYT bestsellers, a DVD, and a gorgeous signed wildlife painting that has its original $270 price tag still on the back. Total amount I paid for shirts, books, movies and painting: $25.

As for my kids, Katie is loving kindergarten, her books, dolls, Barbies, Toy Story, Disney Princesses, and her drawing materials, while three-year old Robbie is still in his Thomas the Train (and anything else on wheels) phase. With that in mind, this year’s Christmas list consists of doll clothes, Disney Princess sticker books, craft supplies, Disney & Thomas the Train movies, indestructible trucks, trains, holiday outfits & warm winter clothes, educational books, and a touch of candy. Total retail price (yes, I’m enough of a frugal nerd to add it up) is easily over $300. I paid $29.

And if I might, I’d like to run by you a DVD vs. VHS observation: I love the stories of thoughtful parents and grandparents who treat little ones with the latest $25 edition DVD of newly re-released classics. Especially when it coincides with the “old”, perfectly usable VHS versions then being donated to local thrift stores, where I purchase them for $1. If your household is anything like mine, the DVD versions prove to be fragile as glass, and require a gossamer handling to survive.

Alas, a neurosurgeon’s touch is somewhat lacking in my household, especially with the age 6 and under crowd. This is evidenced by pretty much every high-priced DVD being destroyed after about 72 hours of regular use, whereas the “old” VHS versions are in perfect shape years later, surviving bangs, bumps, soda splashing, high drops, being stomped on, and in one case, an 1993 Aladdin tape that was constantly abused for teething, yet is still perfectly usable today. Stick with the VHS folks.

I could go on with more fabulous fun shopping stories and a lovely bit of math, but you get the point. All in all, by shopping at beautiful local thrift and consignment stores, I spent $99 for gorgeous gifts that would have easily retailed for $1800. If you find your gift-giving budget this holiday strained a bit more than in years past, get yourself to these stores pronto – you won’t be sorry, and more importantly, neither will your wallet!

Happy Holidays, everybody!

Kristen Hagopian is the local author of “Brilliant Frugal Living”, the only book on the market that guarantees you will save you thousands of dollars in one year’s time, or your money back! Kristen lives with her husband and two kids in their as-of-yet-unfinished fixer upper in Chester County, PA. Her book is available at Amazon.com, is downloadable to Kindle, and can be ordered at her website www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

Christmas photo: http://www.thedailygreen.com/cm/thedailygreen/images/WT/christmas-tree-with-gifts-flipbook.jpg