Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Save on a Summer Pedicure by Skipping the Spa

Looking your best when you wear Summer sandals requires that your feet be in tip-top shape.  But as lovely as it is to book a pedicure at the local spa, all that pedi-pampering can cost big bucks.  You can create a luxurious experience at home for a fraction of the cost.  The result?  Beautiful feet that look like you just walked out of a spa.  Here's what you do:
  1. In a mixing bowl combine 1/2 cup sugar, the juice of a grapefruit, lemon, and lime, and 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil with a splash of warm water.  Bring this bowl with you into the bathroom, along with 1/3 cup of sea salt and a lemon, cut into 1/4 inch slices.
  2. Run warm water in the tub to a depth of about 6 inches.  Add the sea salt and lemon slices and soak your feet for about 5 minutes, enjoying the citrus scent.  Use a pumice stone on your heels and balls of your feet to slough away calluses.
  3. Exfoliate your feet and calves with the citrus/olive oil scrub, then rinse it off with warm water. Finish by applying a rich body cream to your feet and calves to keep them soft and hydrated.
  4. Trim and file nails, if necessary and then buff them briefly to get rid of any ridges on the surface.
  5. Gently push back cuticles with a cuticle stick.
  6. Wipe your toenails with a cotton pad soaked in nail polish remover.  It is best to do this even if there's no old nail polish to take off, because you want your nails nice and clean with no lingering lotion.
  7. Thread a folded piece of Kleenex or toilet tissue between your toes to separate them.  If you don't have time to sit around while your polish dries, this is a good time to put on flip flops, too.
  8. Apply a thin base coat followed by two coats of polish in your favorite color.
  9. Seal with a high-shine topcoat and let toenails dry for at least 30 minutes before putting on shoes or socks.
Want the feel of a spa at home?  Check out Real Beauty's tips for an amazing at-home spa experience.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Sales

You don't usually find deep discounts on summer merchandise until late July, but already stores are full of summer savings.  Ann Taylor currently offers 40% off a wide variety of of summer tops, bottoms, dresses and accessories and 30% off bathing suits.  Banana Republic also has a 40% off sale going on, as does Lands End.  You can also find great bargains on summer fashions for women at JJill.com, where discounts are to 80% off and at Coldwater Creek where almost 700 items have had prices slashed to $25 or less.  Spiegel is touting their summer sale with savings up to 70% off and Newport News is advertising their semi-annual sale with savings of 75%.

It isn't only women's clothing that's on sale.  Crate and Barrel's summer sale is now in progress with deals at 50% off; Lillian Vernon has a large selection of items with discounts of 70%, and Target has lots of good deals at 65% off.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Money-Saving Tips from Redbook Readers

I often get frustrated when I read magazine articles that offer generic advice about saving money, like "spend less" and "put money in the bank to take advantage of compound interest."  Certainly almost all of us know these things - it's kind of like knowing that if you burn more calories than you take in, you'll lose weight (easy to say, harder to implement because of all the temptations).

I generally find that regular people often have more practical, usable suggestions about how to get from Point A to Point B.  And the recent round-up I found of money-saving tips from Redbook readers is no exception.  None of the advice here is really earth-shattering, but they are real tips that you can use on a regular basis to avoid the temptation to spend instead of save.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Frugal Summer Fashion

I just signed up for a guest membership at BagBorrowOrSteal.com, which features the latest trend in frugal fashion — luxury rentals.  Now you can feel like a celebrity who doesn't have to dish out hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars to show off the latest purse, jewelry or other accessory at a special event.  Of course while celebrities get these items for free, you'll have to pay a small fee to borrow them, but the result is the same: you won't be spending big bucks for items that you'll wear once (or only for a short time).   

Here's how it works: as a Guest you're entitled to:

• Access to the world's most coveted designer handbags, jewelry, sunglasses and watches
• Savings of up to 70% on BBOS Private Sale purchases
• A personalized Wish List to keep track of items you love
• Weekly email updates of new product and hottest trends

But if you are convinced that this "Netflix of Purses" is for you, you can get an instant $60 rental credit by signing up for a $60 annual membership.  As a member you'll also enjoy:

• 20% discounts on all rentals
• BBOS Private Sale access
• Wait List privileges for popular items
• Loyalty Rewards
• First access to new arrivals.

So don't buy, just borrow!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Frugal Ideas for Summer Entertaining

As we've said in a previous post, one of the best things about summer is how little you have to spend for entertainment. Basically, if you're outside enjoying the sunshine and warm weather, you're almost guaranteed to have a good time. It is the same with entertaining guests, as it is with providing fun for yourself and your family.

Summer parties tend to be much more relaxed.  No need for the fancy champagne and caviar you might serve at a New Year's Eve bash.  Instead, rely on inexpensive dishes like pasta salad, corn on the cob, and hamburgers and hot dogs.

Similarly, whereas a full bar might be appropriate for a holiday cocktail party, all you need for summer entertaining is beer, refreshing white wine spritzers, and a big pitcher of iced tea.

Dessert can be as simple and cheap as icy watermelon slices or a bountiful fruit salad served in a hollowed out watermelon.  Or here's another idea for serving deliciously sweet seasonal fruit like berries or cherries: make an ice bowl decorated with sprigs of mint or edible flowers.  (To make an ice bowl, use two nesting bowls that have a 1/2 inch to 1 inch between them when the smaller is inside the larger.  Fill the space between them with water - first placing any decorations in the larger bowl - and let the water freeze overnight.  To unmold, let them rest on the counter for 10 or 20 minutes - do not run under water.  Then keep the ice bowl frozen until you're ready to use it.)

And perhaps the party decorations are the simplest and easiest of all -- just rely on the beauty of your backyard or deck to serve as the festive setting for your party.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Links for Frugal Summer Fun

Here's a round-up of web sites offering ideas for lots of fun but frugal ideas for the summer:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Frugal Summer Fun

One of the best things about summer is how little you have to spend for entertainment.  Basically, if you're outside enjoying the sunshine and warm weather, you're almost guaranteed to have a good time.  Here are some ideas to get you started on a summer full of frugal fun:
Go to the Beach
Whether you live by an ocean or a lake, it's great to lie in the sand with the option of taking a dip in the water from time to time.  Be sure to take a blanket and a picnic lunch (plus plenty of sunscreen) so you can make a day of it.
Play Ball
Play catch in the park or practice hitting curve balls at the batting cages.  Either way, you'll enjoy a taste of competitive spirit while getting a bit of exercise outdoors.
Feed the Ducks
Gather up your stale bread and feed it to ducks at a pond. Some things just never get old!
Stroll Through the Park
Find a Little League team to root for, smell the roses in the garden, or just enjoy an unhurried walk.
Go Fly a Kite or Toss a Frisbee
Need I say more?
Pack a Picnic
It doesn't matter whether it is coffee and croissant in the morning, sandwiches at mid-day, or wine and cheese in the evening, it all just tastes better on a blanket in the grass.  Don't feel like making the effort?  Just eat outside on your porch, patio or front steps.
Run Through the Sprinkler
Go ahead: put on your swim suit and turn on the water.  On a hot, hot day, you'll be so glad you did!
Gaze at the Stars
Not only is it more pleasant to stay outside late into the evening in the warmer weather, but the plethora of shooting stars (especially in August) makes it more fun.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Enjoy a Free Summer Vacation

For the last two years the best way for folks hit hard by the Great Recession to take a break was to book a "staycation" - staying at home but trying to make the best of it with museum trips, time at the beach or community pool, and maybe a trip to the local zoo.  If you feel overcome by wanderlust and the need to get away, a third year at home isn't going to cut it.  But what if your bank account hasn't caught up to your yearnings for a real vacation?  Take at look at the nine suggestions in The Ultimate Guide to Free Travel -- while all of them might not be for you (house-sitting, for example, might be more work than its worth), you might find something that that will allow you to enjoy a real summer vacation - for free!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Free Shakespeare

Every summer I look forward to free outdoor shows - it seems that every city and town brims with free concerts and theater performances when the weather gets warm.  The New York Times reported today on the proliferation of free Shakespeare performances throughout the greater NYC area.  Here is a partial listing of free NYC theatre:

INWOOD SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL “The Comedy of Errors” (through June 19)

HUDSON WAREHOUSE - “The Trojan Women” (through June 27); “Cyrano de Bergerac” (July 8-Aug. 1) and “Romeo and Juliet” (Aug. 5-29)

NEW YORK CLASSICAL THEATER - “Richard III” (through June 27); “Much Ado About Nothing,” in Battery Park City (July 17-Aug. 1) and then Central Park (Aug. 5-29)

SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK - two plays (June 9-Aug. 1): “The Merchant of Venice,” starring Al Pacino as Shylock, and “The Winter’s Tale”

GORILLA REPERTORY COMPANY - “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (June 20)

BOOMERANG THEATER COMPANY - “The Tempest” (June 19-July 18)

SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARKING LOT - "Love’s Labour’s Lost” (July 8-24) and “Julius Caesar” (July 29-Aug. 14)

HIP TO HIP THEATER COMPANY - “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Macbeth” (Aug. 10-29)