Sunday, September 20, 2009

ABC News Now - Frugal Holiday Tips Starting NOW

Here’s the link to my major media appearance on ABC News Now “Good Money” where we talked about frugal holidays. View the winning tips entries from Summer who lives in Springfield, OR; Sasha Payne and from Ann in Charlotte, North Carolina. Each of these frugal tipsters got a complimentary copy of my book, The Little Book of Big Savings, just for sharing their tips.

It’s no surprise that everyone racks up massive debt during the holidays, but I say the time to start saving and preparing is now! Buying early is the key to holiday savings. Set a holiday spending plan, make your list, scour the sales and mark off items purchased. By the time the holidays get here, you could have most of your gifts already bought and consequently have minimal credit card charges.

There are 2 areas we can save the most money: gift giving and the food. First, shopping for clothes: I think they are going to be a common gift item as families need practical gifts to recover from the recession year. The next time you’re shopping clearance racks at your favorite clothing store in the mall, don’t let the wrong size on the rack become a deterrent to saving. First, ask the sales associate to check the back for your size. Many stories do not put all their clearance items out front. Secondly, if they do not have your size, ask them to check another store, give you the sale price and ship it free. More and more stores are starting to offer this service in order to compete with online retailers.

The second area is food and it’s important to look out for how much you spend on groceries for the holidays. Don’t settle for just one kind of savings at the grocery store. Instead learn to add “layers” of savings such as store sales, coupons, double coupons, cash off your next shopping trip, store coupons and more. One place to go is to see what items are on sale with a coupon in your neighborhood. According to the USDA cost of food at home in 2008, the average family of 4 spends $7,968/year on food and by following these tips can spend in the thrifty category of only $4,068/year.

Thanks for your tip entries and keep posted for our next contest where you can win a book and have your tip or question featured on national television, too!

Ellie Kay
America's Family Financial Expert

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Win Ellie's New Book - Submit Your Ideas for Frugal Holidays

It's time for you to have another chance to win a copy of Ellie Kay's new book, "The Little Book of Big Savings" (Waterbrook/Random House, 2009).

According to a new study, the new frugality is here to stay. The report indicates that post-recession spending is predicted to be at 86% of what it was pre-recession. So that means, Americans will be spending 14% less than we did before our economy tanked.

Along those lines, how you are going to be frugal during the holidays this year? What are you frugal tips to save?

Enter your frugal ideas at Ellie's blog at: and/or send a copy of your tips to .

If the producer selects your questions to air on ABC NEWS "Good Money" on Sept 15, 2009, we will send you a free copy of Ellie's book! Please be sure to send us your email address, so we can contact you if you win.
The deadline for submissions is September 14, 2009 at 6:00 PM PST .

Happy Savings!
Ellie Kay
America's Family Financial Expert (R)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Is the New Frugality Here to Stay? -- Ellie on FOX NEWS - Neil Cavuto

A new study by research firm AlixPartners indicates that when a new normal sets in after this recession is over, Americans will spend at about 86 percent of their pre-downturn level. Today, I was on Neil Cavuto to discuss with guest host, Stuart Varney, whether this new frugality is lasting or just a passing fancy.

I believe it's here to stay for several reasons. I think that the hard-earned, hard-learned lessons of the recession are not likely to fade as soon as our economy shows its first two quarters of growth. Some of those lessons came through job loss, foreclosures and underemployment and if you weren't directly impacted--you know someone who was.

Secondly, I think that we're not going back to those pre-recession spending levels because there will be what I call a forced frugality. While there will always be spenders out there, it’s going to be harder to spend because:

· NO MORE EASY CREDIT the days of easy credit won’t be so easy as lenders continue to scale back on available lines of credit. One of the reasons Americans could spend beyond their means was because of the ready availability of easy credit.
· NO EQUITY - there’s not going to be the equity in your home to leverage in order to pay for consumables. The people who used home equity to pay for vacations, get out of consumer debt or add a new kitchen are now wishing they had the equity instead. Some of these people are even upsidedown in their homes because of leveraged equity.
· EMPLOYMENT ISSUES – Because spending is down, more job sectors are going to continue to be impacted. As people spend less, more folks lose jobs and unemployment may continue to rise even after the recession if officially over. It’s going to take a while for the job market to bounce back—unemployment and underemployment are going to be continued problems.

Thus, the need to adopt the new frugality as a classic style rather than a passing fad. People like me, who have been preaching the gospel of living within your means, paying cash, paying down consumer debt and letting your kids go to a college you can afford---are now in high fashion.

I hope this kind of fiscal sensibility never goes out of style!

Ellie Kay
America's Family Financial Expert (R)