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Beauty Is As Beauty Does: Great Ways to Reduce Your Grooming and Beauty Aid Expenses
By Vicki McClure Davidson
Beauty products sure ain't cheap anymore. A single tube of waterproof mascara can cost more than a bag of groceries these days. Times are tough for those of us who aren't naturally gorgeous and rely on cosmetics to enhance attributes and to fix or hide flaws.
I remember back when the price of a bottle of nail polish was less than an hour of minimum wage work.
When Vaseline dabbed on the lips for a bit of shine and lubrication was respected, and a restful, bubbly bath was cheap-cheap-cheap. When washing your face wasn't a complicated, expensive science project.
When pinching your cheeks for a natural glow of color was the "in" thing to do, a frugal and fast way to appear to be in rosy health (OK, that one's not really true of my generation—I had several palettes of Cover Girl and Revlon powder blush and a Yardley gel shimmer cheek highlighter—but my mom's generation of cosmetic wearers did a lot of cheek-pinching to save money).
It's not just women who are cringing at the escalating costs. Many men are feeling the financial pinch with the high-rising cost of bronzers and other subtle grooming/beauty enhancers. When bills need to be paid and your supply of grooming products run low, difficult choices must be made to stay on budget.
Being broke, though, doesn't mean you can't look good nor have to delay paying your utility bills.
There are many ways to combat the high expense of grooming and beauty aid products. You can make your own skin treatments at home using common items and foods and stretch out how long they last. Reducing your outlay of cash to be able to buy things that are actually more important in the whole scheme of things—important things, like paying your rent. You can skimp on your daily usage to make them last longer.
Cheap (and free) beauty tips have been around for years... centuries, actually. During the era of Cleopatra in 4000 BC , the wearing of kohl eye liner was all the Egyptian rage for both men and women (and was made of ground lead sulfide, which it still is today).
Beautiful Beans Bonanza: Yummy, Filling, Money-Saving Recipes for Beans... Soups, Stews, SaladsBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Food prices continue to skyrocket, and for many families, grocery shopping has become a horrific financial nightmare. As of 2013, more families in America were receiving government-issued, taxpayer-funded food stamps than had ever received them in all the nation's history.
Ground beef has gone up 24 percent since January 2009, and bacon has gone up 22 percent in the same period. Ice cream has jumped 19 percent, and the list goes on and on. With no end in sight to rising gasoline costs, food costs will continue to climb because of the rising costs to harvest, transport, and process fruit and vegetable crops, meats, dairy products, and other food items.
You can't dial back the clock to the more affordable, pre-2008 food prices. However, there are ways for you to battle the food jungle, saving money while maintaining nutritional health. There are so many bargain foods out there that will slash your family's dinner bills. Frugal food shopping is key during these horrible economic times.
I'm talkin' about BEANS. Yes, beans.
DIY Hygiene Concoctions: 3 Easy Homemade MouthwashesBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Not one, not two, but three DIY homemade mouthwashes here! From these, pick one of the hygiene concoctions that you think your family will love.
Make only enough for a week at a time to keep it fresh. Since these are homemade, there are no preservatives or stabilizers added.
An estimated 25 percent of Americans suffer from chronic bad breath, called halitosis. Many more suffer from it occasionally (e.g., after eating garlic or onions), or are at risk of it because of periodontal disease. Breath-freshening products are part of a billion-dollar business in the United States. There are risks and ineffectiveness from the alcohol levels in some store-bought mouthwashes. Unpronounceable chemicals crowding the ingredients list should cause most people a bit of alarm.
What, exactly, are you putting in your mouth every day, all for the sake of clean breath?
Save some money for yourself, and a bit of peace of mind, with any of these three natural, DIY concoctions.
Cheapskate Lifestyle: Thrift Store Shopping Exploding As People Rediscover the Savings & Joys of Second-hand BargainsBy Vicki McClure Davidson
My 21-year-old daughter and I hit the used thrift stores and garage sales in our area with enthusiasm at least one weekend a month. I raised my children as I was raised: second-hand shopping always comes before retail shopping. Buying used whenever possible is the smart path to take to give yourself more money at the end of the month for other bills or to put into savings, without having to get a raise or win the lottery.
When money's tight and prices soar in the retail stores, there's no need for despair or foolishly overspending. Second-hand stores always have inexpensive alternatives, fabulous buried treasures.
Granted, you can't always find what you're looking for at a used store, but you'd be surprised at what you often do find. And the hunt makes the conquest just that much sweeter. My daughter nearly shuns the malls these days, preferring instead to "go on the hunt" at Goodwill and other second-hand stores. Her friends are always stunned at the fabulously funky clothes she wears, many of which cost her only a dollar or two. She is quite petite and has unconventional tastes, and always scores a few amazingly cheap fashion finds when we go out. She never has been faced with not finding something she loves. When necessary, she makes a few alterations to make a shirt fit better or to update the look, but that's not too often. I have found Descoware, Revere Ware, a Pfaltzgraff serving platter in mint condition, and other kitchenware pieces stunningly under-priced. Instead of spending $7 to $10 on a new paring knife, I found an excellent one at Goodwill this summer for 99 cents, which I bought for 50 cents on half-off Saturday. I do about 60 to 70 percent of my Christmas shopping at the second-hand venues.
Being frugal doesn't mean going without or dressing frumpy. It means being wise with the cash you have and stretching it as far as it can be stretched. Why buy a pair of pants or a blouse or a large sauce pan at the mall for $50 when you can find often something of equal (sometimes even greater) value at the Salvation Army or a garage sale for less than five bucks? And you don't have to sacrifice style for savings.
DIY T-Shirt Transformations: Save Big Bucks with Adorable Fashion Makeovers Using Old T-ShirtsBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Specialty and fashion T-shirts are often horrifically expensive... you can easily make your own cute and casual fashion statements at a fraction of the cost by using old T-shirts. Why spend $30 to $50 (or more) on a cool spring or summer shirt or dress or shoulder bag when you can T-shirt DIY for next to nothing?
Dig through your drawers for old T-shirts, or take a trip to the second-hand store or hit some neighborhood garage sales. Clearance racks at clothing stores or T-shirt swaps with friends are other good sources for collecting inexpensive T-shirts.
Fashion trends may come and go, but T-shirts are always in style at school, the pool, the park, or any casual gathering or outing. Some of these T-shirt makeovers are more upscale, making them suitable attire for clubbing or parties.
These how-to videos are easy to follow (some require no sewing) and barely scratch the surface of what you can create for less than a few dollars... and still look fabulous.
Frugality and recycling rock, so embrace your inner DIY!
DIY: Homemade Seasoned Dried Bread Crumbs, Plus Italian-Style Bread Crumb RecipeBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Making your own seasoned bread crumbs isn't rocket science.
It's super simple and much more economical than anything you buy from the grocery store pre-made (often with a few mystery ingredients thrown in). Making a big batch of your own bread crumbs is so easy, it's surprising that anyone actually buys pre-made bread crumbs — the price markup is staggering. Homemade is cheaper, fresher, healthier, and usually tastes far better.
Even some of the most thrift-minded of people these days don't make their own bread crumbs because, frankly, they probably never thought about it. Perhaps their own mothers or grandmothers didn't make them. But for centuries, homemakers did not have pre-made bread crumbs available at the corner general store or open market place. They made their own, as they made so many other things for family meals and for the home.
Bread crumbs are an imperative to have on hand in your pantry when coating chicken pieces or fish or pork for a "shake 'n bake" entrée, for sprinkling over homebaked macaroni and cheese, scalloped potatoes, and other casserole toppings, mixed into meat loaves or meatballs, ground turkey patties, economical bread puddings, and many other dishes.
Dried out bread for homemade bread crumbs is OK to use, although fresh bread is usually better. Using very old stale bread, however, will taste stale, so don't use stale bread that has an "off" or icky foul odor. Stale bread could ruin the flavor of anything in which you use the crumbs.
I recently checked out the General Mills website. The price for a 2-pack of Progresso Italian Bread Crumbs (24.00 oz.), at the time of this writing, was $6.74 USD for the 2-pack (or $3.37 USD each). For bread crumbs, for crikey sake. Sodium content per serving is estimated at a whopping 470 mg (20% of daily value) and the product contains a number of mysterious ingredients, including calcium propionate and potassium sorbate as preservatives. A 12-pack of Old London Seasoned Bread Crumbs (the 10-ounce size) currently costs $29.19 USD at Walmart, which is about $2.50 for one container. That breaks down to about 25 cents per ounce of bread crumbs in a 10-ounce package, or $4.00 a pound — more than the price per pound for chicken, many cuts of pork, grains, fruits, vegetables, and a number of fishes.
For bread crumbs.