Just because the economy looks bleak doesn't mean you have to deprive yourself. With a little creativity, you can live a rich life without being rich - try ideas:
1. Plan a swap meet. Organize a group of friends with similar styles; everyone brings rarely or unworn clothing and walks away with some new (to them) styles.
Make the most of the clothes you have by wearing them in many ways.
2. Put the web to work for you. Before shelling out full price, check eBay, where a slightly used or even brand new version may be available for a fraction of the price. You can even request that the site email you when the item you're looking for becomes available. If you can't wait, do a search to see if any coupon sites have codes for free shipping or discounts.
Check out these designer styles from QVC.
3. Learn the art of the haggle. "No matter where or when you're shopping, or for what, the day of the fixed price is over," says Fred Brock, author of Live Well on Less Than You Think. "If you don't ask, 'Is that the best you can do?' you're doing yourself a disservice, especially with big-ticket items, including home appliances and furniture."
Get stylish for spring on a shoestring.
4. Butter up your favorite brands. Companies love hearing from loyal customers and will often send them coupons or free samples, reports Brock. Pen an enthusiastic letter or e-mail to the customer service department of your favorite conditioner, snack food, or cleaning product; it could save you cash while you continue to enjoy name-brand products.
Learn how to trick yourself into saving money.
5. Take a chance on a student. Contact hairdressing or massage schools in your area to connect with stylists and bodyworkers in training. Students are required to practice on real-life clients, usually with supervision, before receiving professional certification, and services will cost you a fraction of the usual price. Find a reputable beauty school near you at beautyschoolsdirectory.com.
Try these mini makeovers for inexpensive pampering.
6. Use the card (not the credit card). Did you know that you can get CDs, DVDs, and even video games for the price of a library card (i.e., zilch)?
Follow these easy steps to tame your credit card debt.
7. Make talk cheap. Astronomical cell phone bills? Enter billshrink.com, a Website that analyzes one of your monthly statements for free and recommends the best packages for you, taking into account who you call the most and when, the features you use, and which company offers the best coverage in your area.
Check out more money saving tips and real world success stories.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.