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  • By Robert Frank,

    You don't have to be the Earl of Grantham to own your own British country estate. But it helps to have a royal-sized fortune to burn.

    With this week's season premiere of the third season of "Downton Abbey," we decided to take a look at what it costs to buy, own and maintain a grand estate in the U.K.

    Highclere Castle

    Highclere Castle

    Rupert Sweeting, head of the Country Department of Knight Frank in London, said that the biggest costs of owning a country estate are the staff. He said that for a "moderate-sized" 1,500 acre spread, you'll need a butler, cook, secretary, groundspeople and cleaning staff.

    "And for hunts, you need gamekeepers, one or two at the very least," he said.

    Total annual cost for the staff would be anywhere between $600,000 to $1 million a year.

    Then there all those leaky roves and crumbling gargoyles. Everyday repairs on your estate or castle will set you back another $100,000 a year or so.

    Renovations are the big ticket item. Sweeting said most owne

    ...Read More »

  • Photos by: Getty Images, iStock and Thinkstock

    By Stephanie Emma Pfeffer

    Here's some good news: The country's economy is projected to improve (slowly, but surely) in the year ahead. Even though economic upswings tend to drive up prices, deals will be available in 2013-if you know where to look, says Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Here, a few categories where your dollars will go farthest. Photos by Getty Images, iStock and Thinkstock.

    1. Laptops, Flat-screen TVs and Digital Cameras

    The cost of commoditized technology (products made with basic, widespread knowledge of hardware components) will keep going down, says Brad Wilson, founder of the savings website BradsDeals and author of Do More, Spend Less: The New Secrets of Living the Good Life for Less. Because of technological improvements, electronics parts are becoming cheaper and easier to manufacture, tempting more companies to get in on the action. As suppliers compete for market share, prices for consumers fall-except on those be

    ...Read More »

  • By Rebecca Taras, Photographed by Anjali Pinto, Refinery29

    We'll admit it, we're modelizers. Whether we're looking at Kate hitting the London streets or Carolyn being poreless in a glossy, we've been taping our favorite supers to our walls since junior high. Closer to home, our local pin-up girls have us crushing hard. Oh, the beautiful life. Seriously, though, we can't help but wonder what it would be like to walk a day in a model's stilettos. Well, ponder no more, friends.

    We tapped Ford model Noelle Lynch to bring us in tow during the hours leading up to a high-energy runway show in Millennium Park (the official kickoff to Fashion Focus Chicago) and go way behind the scenes. From walk-throughs down the catwalk to a three-hour hair-and-makeup session, we stuck by this doe-eyed knockout's side to learn all the tricks of the trade. Don't worry: In the midst of the backstage chaos, we managed to get Lynch to dish on how she stays in such great shape, the business side of the industry, and most importantly, her post-show plans. Put your curiosity to rest and follow our day-in-the-life of this beauty. Warning: It's not as easy as it looks.

    More from Refinery29
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  • Courtesy Photo (3)

    Did you get everything you wanted for the holidays, and then some? Well, it's that some that sometimes you just don't know what to do with, which is why we polled readers in a recent issue to find out if they felt guilty returning gifts. And it was a close call for the results! 51% of you said that you felt guilty when you returned gifts, while 49% said that you were guilt-free. Now that you've received your presents this season, are you planning on to return or exchange your goods? Tell us in the comments below!

    Plus, if you're exchanging, check out some of our favorite items to snap up in our gift guide!

    Returners Remorse: The Poll Results
    Target + Neiman Marcus Collection 70% Off!
    10 Items You Need for 2013
    Shop the Victoria's Secret Semi-Annual Sale
    Hollywood's Newest Moms

    -- Jennifer Davis

    ...Read More »

  • SELF magazine

    It's SO easy to splurge--think about all the gorgeous handbags or exotic vacations you could buy--if you had unlimited funds, that is. But most of us don't. (Right?) So we talked to Christine Parker, a certified financial planner in La Plata, Maryland, who told us to ask ourselves these three questions before making any purchase.

    See more: The No-Cook Diet

    1. WHAT'S MY GOAL? Know exactly what you're saving for--leaving your job, say, or buying a car. Write it on a piece of paper, keep it in your wallet and pull it out when you falter.

    See more: The Flat-Abs-Fast Secret

    2. IS THIS IN MY BUDGET? Use an app like iSpending Deluxe ($3; to do a cash flow reality check before you try on and fall in love with those sweet suede booties.

    See more: 20 Superfoods for Weight Loss

    3. HOW DO I FEEL? If you answer "grumpy" or "frustrated," back away from that cash register. We make smarter, more consistent choices when we're in a clear state ...Read More »


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