Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Top Ten Beauty Products Under $10

I was delighted to find RealBeauty.com's list of great beauty products that cost less than $10 - they've proved once and for all that less is really more!  Here's the list:
  1. CoverGirl LashBlast Length Mascara
  2. NYC Blushable Crème Stick
  3. Nature's Gate Deodorant
  4. Freeman Beauty Mint & Lemon Clay Mask
  5. Milani Body Bronzer
  6. Essence Blush Brush
  7. Maybelline Lasting Drama 24-hr. Gel Eyeliner
  8. St. Ives Green Tea Scrub
  9. Aussie Hair Insurance Leave-in Conditioner
  10. Organix Acai Berry Avocado Shampoo and Conditioner
 To learn more about each product, click over to the RealBeauty.com article.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Get Fashion for Free with a Clothing Swap

I've participated in lots of book swaps, so I like the idea of applying the same notion to sharing clothing you no longer wear with friends (and getting some new duds back in return).  Redbook.com has an article about how to put a swap together - you can check it out by clicking here.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fashion Basics

One of the best ways to build a wardrobe that looks like it costs a lot more than it really did is to start with classic building blocks.  You'll want to buy these on sale of course, but if you know what you're looking for, it is often easy to hold out for the high-quality pieces that will look great, season after season.  So here's your fashion basics shopping list:

Tops
  • White blouse (I especially like no-iron cotton shirts).
  • White t-shirt.
  • Embellished top that can glitter under a tailored jacket or dress up basic jeans.
  • Cashmere turtleneck (unless you live in a warm climate), 2-ply rather than 1-ply may cost more but will pill less and last longer.
  • Pretty cardigan in a fine-gauge knit.
Pants
  • Black trousers.
  • Perfect-fitting jeans.
Skirts
  • Neutral colored pencil skirt or A-line skirt (depending on your body type).
Jackets & Coats
  • Trench coat in a neutral color with a figure-flattering belt that cinches at the waist.  Get one with a zip-out lining for 3-season wear.
  • Suit jacket that matches either a pair of pants or a skirt - you don't always need to wear them together, in fact it's great to purchase them with the idea of mixing and matching - but nothing is quite as authoritative as a real suit.  For the most flattering look, choose a jacket that nips in at the waist.
Dresses
  • Solid color dress (it doesn't have to black) that fits and flatters.
Shoes
  • Solid pumps or sling-backs that coordinate with your suit, heels with pointed toes are the most flattering.
  • Strappy metallic heels that dress up everything.
  • Comfortable flats.
Accessories
  • Leather purse in a size and shape you can use for work or play.
  • A distinctive, eye-catching piece of jewelry in a shape and color you love.
  • Black leather belt that's about an inch wide.
Of course, you want to make sure that everything you own fits and flatters you.  Sometimes, that may involve a trip to the tailor - remember that a good tailor can perform miracles far beyond just hemming pants to the perfect length.

Update: Real Simple has a useful wardrobe basics checklist as well as tips for shopping and saving money on these wardrobe essentials.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Discounted Designer Duds

If you love clothes and bargains, but haven't yet signed up as members of Gilt.com, HauteLook.com, and BeyondTheRack.com, now is the time to do it!  In theory, you need an invitation to become a member, but I've found that if you ask to be put on their waiting list for membership, it won't be long before they invite you in.  Every day you'll receive an email that will lead to remarkable savings on designer duds.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's Your Birthday - Let Everyone Know!

As we get older, it's tempting to try to ignore our birthdays altogether.  But casually mentioning that its your big day at a restaurant or bar could score you a free drink or appetizer.  And if you're planning a birthday getaway, be sure to let the front desk at your hotel know that you're celebrating - the clerk will be more willing to try to upgrade your room or even have flowers or champagne delivered free of charge (this works for wedding anniversaries, too!).  But don't announce that it's your birthday if it really isn't -- some places will check your ID before they pass out the freebies.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ask And You Will Receive

I've blogged before about how some discounts are easily available -- all you have to do is ask!  I routinely ask to receive 10%-20% off when merchandise is slightly dirty, damaged (i.e. a shirt with a loose button; a picture frame with a scratch on the back), or shopworn -- and most of the time I get it!  Today, I had to return to a sporting goods store because a clerk had left the security tag on a shirt I had purchased for my son.  While I was waiting for the store manager to remove the tag, I mentioned that the clerk's mistake had resulted in a real inconvenience for me: not only did I have to go out of my way to make a return trip to the store, but the tag had set off the alarms at another store which was embarrassing.  And so the manager agreed to a $5 refund - the same as a 17% discount on the shirt.

Finding a Free Weekend Getaway

Many time share properties offer a free weekend stay in return for listening to a sales pitch while you're there.  Since these properties are often located in wonderful tropical locations like Puerto Rico, Mexico, etc. it might be worth it to listen to a couple of hours of sales pitching in return for luxurious accomodations.  But be warned: the sales folks are good at what they do and we know of at least one couple who signed up for the free weekend with no intention to buy and ended up buying property anyway!  And while it might assuage your guilt to let the sales team know up front that you didn't bring your checkbook, you need a certain shamelessness to carry this plan out.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Buying in Bulk

When I think of buying in bulk, I think of huge packages of toilet tissue and such from Costco, but in fact, many supermarkets often call their "buy by the pound" sections the "bulk aisle."  And buying just what you need from these bulk bins -- be it spices, driet fruit and nuts, or grains -- can be a great way to save money.  Read more about it at the Healthy Eats blog, in a post entitled Don’t Skip the Bulk Aisle.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Decorating on a Dime

I love HGTV shows like Decorating Cents,  Design on a Dime for their high-end style with low-end prices.  So I was delighted to see the the HGTV web site is similarly full of great ideas to make your home beautiful and welcoming without spending lots of money.  Here's a sampling: