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How To Look Good Without Spending Too Much

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Getting and staying cute can be expensive! But we can tell you how to look good without going broke.

Looking Good Pays

Read it and weep. Attractive people make more money than their less attractive counterparts. Anyone can be attractive with some effort. You can spend a lot of money doing it too, but you don’t have to. If you want to know how to look good the Frugal For Less way, read on!

Being Fit

Being fit makes you more attractive not only because of how you look but for how it makes you feel. When you feel fit and well, you feel more confident which is attractive to other people. Exercise doesn’t have to be something you dread, and it doesn’t require expensive gym memberships, classes, or gear.

The first step in getting fit is to find a type of exercise you like. You’re unlikely to stick with any form of exercise if you don’t enjoy it. It may take a few times to find the right fit. Because of that, don’t invest a lot of money in specialized equipment. If you decide you don’t like rollerblading after a few days, you don’t want to have spent money on roller blades that will now go unused.

See if you can borrow what you need or even rent it online. There is a great site called Fat Lama where you can rent all kinds of exercise and sports equipment and try it before you buy it.

There are countless exercise videos and tutorials available for free on Youtube that can teach you the correct techniques for a variety of types of exercise. If you want to build muscle, you don’t even need to invest in a set of weights. There are tons of muscle building exercises you can do with just your body weight.

Walking and running are excellent forms of exercise and don’t require any specialized equipment beyond a good pair of shoes. Running shoes are something to invest in.

The right shoes with the proper fit can protect your feet and joints. If you have a dedicated running store near you, buy your shoes there rather than a big box store. Running stores have all kinds of neat ways including recording your gait while on a treadmill and software to analyze it to suggest the most appropriate shoes for each individual.

Eating Well

Eating well goes hand in hand with exercise. You can’t outrun a bad diet as the saying goes. Eating well means different things to us all, some of us are Paleo, some are Vegan, some count macros, and some adopt a Meditteranean diet.

But we all know the basics of what food is good for us. No one thinks a piece of cake is healthier than a bowl of broccoli (even if you wish it were!).

If you don’t know a lot about nutrition, there are plenty of great books and websites that can teach you more. I like a few subreddits dedicated to eating well including Nutrition and Fit Meals.

Eating well doesn’t have to be expensive, but I won’t lie, it does take more time and effort than tossing a frozen ready meal into the microwave. Not a ton of more time and effort though. If you spend some time evenings or weekends to do some meal prep, things like chopping vegetables or marinating meat, you can have dinner on the table pretty quickly.

Frozen vegetables are often cheaper than fresh and just as nutritious, sometimes more so because frozen vegetables are picked at their peak and frozen immediately while fresh is often picked before it’s at it’s best, artificially ripened and then flown or trucked a great distance.

Certain cuts of meat are cheaper than others, chicken thighs, for example, are less expensive than chicken breasts. If you don’t know how to cook, Youtube to the rescue again. There are video tutorials for pretty much anything you want to cook, even straightforward dishes like scrambled eggs.

One of my favorite recipe sites is Budget Bytes. Beth provides healthy, easy to make meals with step by step photos and directions and breaks down the cost of each dish.

Drinking enough water is part of proper nutrition too. It’s not necessary to drink the much-touted eight glasses a day (although there is indeed nothing wrong with doing so). If you’re eating a lot of vegetables and fruit, you’re getting water from those. Cucumbers are 96.7% water, and watermelon is 91.5%.

Drink when you’re thirsty. If you think you may not be getting enough water, a good way to determine is to look at the color of your urine. If it’s dark, you’re likely dehydrated.

Skincare

If you’re eating well and exercising regularly, your skin will look better. What we put into our bodies directly impacts the quality of our skin. Research has shown that eating fruits and vegetables, especially those containing beta-carotene and lycopene, gives skin a healthier color. Those who eat few fruits and vegetables show a greyish pallor while those eating lots of produce show a healthy glow.

The best fruits and vegetables to get that glow include oranges, yams, peaches,  spinach, tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruit. And it only takes six weeks for the results to show up in your skin.

Exercise helps because it creates blood flow to the face which brings the nutrients your skin needs. Sweating helps clear the skin of impurities.

Cleaning your face correctly, especially removing makeup if you wear it, before bed, and moisturizing morning and night improve skin condition. You don’t need expensive cleansers and moisturizers. Cerave is an inexpensive skincare brand that includes both and can be found in most drug stores.

If you’re over 30, it’s a good idea to use an anti-aging serum. Boots #7 is a cult brand in the UK that is now widely available in American drugstores including Walgreens. The first reliable clinical trial of a wrinkle cream found that Boots #7 Protect and Perfect Serum really does help reduce wrinkles.

A good sunscreen is vital to help protect against premature aging. Boots makes a good day cream containing SPF. If you try and like Boots products, keep an eye out for sales. Walgreens often sells Boots for buy one get half off the second. The products are inexpensive, effective, and a little goes a long way. I have been using Boots #7 for years and only need to buy two or three bottles a year.

You don’t need to buy expensive masks; you have all the stuff you need right in your kitchen. There are three masks I have used at various stages of my life that are cheap and work great. When I was younger, and my skin was oily, I’d mix a bit of oatmeal with water and put that on my face. It soaks up oil and gives you a matte finish.

If your skin is looking a little dull, smooth some plain Greek yogurt over it. The lactic acid is a form of alpha hydroxy acid, the same ingredient in store-bought chemical exfoliants. The acid helps remove dead skin cells and doing so brightens the skin. Yogurt is a better solution than scrubs that contain physical exfoliants like apricot pits which can cause microscopic scratches to the skin or plastic beads which are not bio-degradable and are being found in the fish we consume.

Now that I’m older, my skin is drier, so I use avocado. Scoop out the flesh, turn the empty half inside out and rub it on your face. Two uses in one little fruit! Your skin will feel really soft. All of these masks can be left on for 10-15 minutes and rinsed away with water. Cheap and effective.

Makeup

If you have limited funds to spend on looking good as most of us do, set your budget for skincare higher than your budget for makeup. A good skincare routine improves the quality of your skin while makeup can just enhance or cover up your skin be it good or bad.

I’m sure all of us who buy makeup have spent ages choosing the perfect shade of foundation or lipstick color only to hate it once we get it home and try it. There are two good ways to combat this kind of makeup buyer’s remorse. Go to a store that lets you try out products. Sephora is well known for this with the added bonus of a salesperson to help you choose colors if you have no idea where to start.

Sephora can get pricey though. Some Walgreens have cosmetic sampling stations too. Not all of the products are available to try out and not all Walgreens offer this but check out those near you to see what they have.

The other tip is to shop at CVS for your makeup and all of your other beauty needs. CVS offers a money back guarantee for products including makeup, skincare, hair and nail care, sun care and even fragrances. If you buy something and it doesn’t suit you, you have 60 days to return it.

I only recently discovered this, and now if I need to buy a beauty product I’ve never tried, I only go to CVS.

Hair Care

The easiest way to save money on hair care is to get a cut and style that suit your hair’s natural texture. If you have very curly hair, it’s going to cost a lot in both time and money to straighten it.

I had a keratin treatment a few weeks ago, not because I have curly hair that I wish were straight but because of the humidity of a New Orlean’s summer. If I don’t, my hair looks like a cotton ball that’s been brushed with a wire dog brush. The whole process takes about three hours and cost close to $300 after tax and tip.

I hate spending that kind of money, but I’m really, really vain! If there were a cut or style that humid weather enhanced, I would adopt it!

People often say short hair is easier to care for than long but short styles require more frequent cuts than long hair. Mine is shoulder length, and I only get it cut about three times a year. If you have bangs, many salons offer free or inexpensive bang trims between regular cuts.

I color my hair and have been doing so since I was 16. A few times I’ve had it professionally colored, but I never get as many compliments as I do when I use a $7 box of Nice and Easy.

If you use product in your hair, they can build up over time making your hair dull. You don’t need to buy a clarifying shampoo. Sprinkle a little baking soda into the pool of shampoo in your hand and wash your hair as you usually would. The baking soda gets rid of the product build up.

For added shine, put a third of a cup of apple cider vinegar in a cup and fill the rest with water. After washing and conditioning your hair, pour the mixture through your hair. Let it sit for a minute or two and then rinse with the coldest water you can stand. This works especially well for redheads, even out of box redheads like me.

I don’t have a cheap fix for frizz. As I wrote, I pay a fortune to have my hair keratined to eliminate the problem. I’ve tried any number of home remedies and store-bought products, and none of them are effective. If you know of something that works, share it in the comments, please!

Clothes

I have two friends who are “professional thrifters.” Both these ladies make a pretty nice living doing it so when I write about reselling clothes on sites like eBay and Poshmark; I’m not just guessing it’s a good way to make money, I know you can because I know people who do!

I didn’t have strong feelings about buying thrift store clothes until my local pro friend invited me to come to a thrift store with her one day. It’s excellent and I’m a believer! I bought four little summer sundresses for less than $30, total, not each! It can take some hunting, both for good pieces and a good store but when you find them, you can really get some great deals.

Some stores are more selective about what they put out for sale. There is one near me in a pretty ritzy area that must put out everything donated because it’s hard to find anything that doesn’t have a tear or a stain, or is pilled.

The selection isn’t that great either. But a good thrift store has a nice selection and only puts out clothes that are in good or better condition.

You can find casual clothes, dress clothes, work clothes, formal wear, and shoes. Tons of kids clothes too if you are shopping for children.

If you need new clothes, check out a good thrift store before you head to a department, mall or big box store. You will be amazed at what you find.

The only time I wouldn’t recommend shopping in a thrift store is when you need a very specific item of clothing. It can be frustrating to sort through racks and racks of clothes if you need a black, knee-length pencil skirt Size 6.

But if you just need a few summer outfits or a few sweaters for winter, you’re bound to find something that fits the bill at a thrift store, and for literally a fraction of the price you’d pay for something brand new and the stuff in the thrift is often better quality.

Unless you are buying very high-end clothes, it can be hard to find things that fit well. Mass-produced clothes are made to fit a wide assortment of people so if your measurements don’t fall within a manufacturer’s pre-determined fit; clothes never quite fit you right. And part of looking good in whatever your wearing is a good fit.

Try to find a local tailor. People think of tailors as something only rich people use and afford, but it’s surprisingly inexpensive to have a few pieces of your clothing altered to fit you.

It’s not like the tailor is making you an entire, from scratch made to measure outfit. That is expensive. You just need a few nips and tucks to a few of your best pieces. Most of us can afford that.

Looking Good

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look and feel good. It’s okay to spend money to do so. Is it necessary to color your hair or wear makeup? No, but we spend money on lots of things that aren’t strictly necessary.

It makes life better and more enjoyable. It’s only a problem if we’re spending more than we can afford on any of our budget categories.

But we’ve shown you that it is possible to look good without going broke. You beautiful thing you!

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