My mission was to check out the Morgantown Goodwill store. I had to see if what I'd read on Kristen Hagopians' blog was true - that you can find designer handbags and suits for basically pennies.
In hindsight, it's probably a bad idea to visit any Goodwill store on a Saturday afternoon. This particular store - a large one with a "clearance outlet" in the back - was packed with families hunting for bargains. And I was there a little late in the day for the "best" finds, I believe.
Unlike Hagopian, I did not find a Louis Vuitton or Prada handbag, or any other name-brand bag, for that matter. But there sure was a lot of women's clothing. And if I was a size 4 (I don't believe I've ever been a size 4 ... skipped right over that one), I could've walked away with a gorgeous black beaded evening gown for $25. I also found several fashionable-looking winter coats (including a gently used Calvin Klein car coat priced at $14.50).
I didn't have a lot of time to spend digging that afternoon, but many folks were eagerly sifting through bins in the "outlet," where items including jeans and sweaters were going for dimes. On the non-outlet side, there were Evan Picone suits, Talbots tweed jackets, and Jones New York blazers. There were used and brand-new DVDs of children's movies, books galore, housewares, furniture, and even a Halloween costume shop.
In short, there were bargains to be had for all kinds of shoppers. Hagopian was right.
The savvy shopper and mom of two has been interviewed on Philadelphia TV news stations on timely topics including How to Throw a Thanksgiving feast for $40 (click here to see FOX video) and how families can revise their food budgets (click here for NBC video). Hagopian seems to know her stuff.
The Chester County resident (pictured below) put some of her tips down in a book that she guarantees will save you money. That's a pretty bold statement from someone who's trying to SAVE money, but the author of "Brilliant Frugal Living" backs it up: The book comes with a money-back guarantee if you don't save thousands of dollars in one year's time.
In the book, Hagopian says she eliminated the need for a second income when she made the decision to become a stay-at-home mom with her first child by saving more than $50,000 a year using the same tactics she put down in this book.
"If you think you can’t survive on less income than you’re currently bringing in, this book can help you stock a financial arsenal with tools and tactics that make Russian mercenaries look like Girl Scouts," Hagopian writes in the introduction.
Hagopian said her family of four was able to save thousands without sacrificing quality and add to savings in the bank - all during the recession.
The first nine pages of her book are available free on Hagopian's website, http://www.brilliantfrugalliving.com/. From what I've read of her blog and this excerpt, Hagopian's writing style is light with a girlfriend-confidante air. Her tips are sensible and matter-of-fact, and her "If I can do it, you can do it" attitude shines through.
On Hagopian's website, you can also purchase her book, "Brilliant Frugal Living" for $19.95 plus $4.95 shipping. It's also available on Amazon.com, at Sam’s Club and is downloadable to Kindle.
She also offers workshops to help people live more frugally and, of course, to promote her book. Two coming up are:
1) Main Line School Night workshop on Saturday, Oct. 9, from 1 to 3 p.m., at the Creutzburg Center in Radnor. Cost is $49 and you have to register with Main Line School Night.
2) Serenity Health & Fitness is hosting a holiday workshop on Sunday, Oct. 24, from noon to 2 p.m. at their spa in Red Hill. Cost is $15 in advance at the Serenity Health & Fitness website, or $20 on the day of the workshop. They are also offering copies of Hagopian's book for $15.