Tuesday, March 22, 2011

$ Saving money $

I admit it, I have expensive taste. I would love to have a closet full of Chanel, Michael Kohrs, Prada and Jimmy Choo and go on 3 week Mediterranean cruises, but as a working student that isn't the case. However I do have a wardrobe of what I consider stylish clothing and the hubby and I eat well so we must be doing something right. So how do we do it? Well here are some of my favorite places to shop and/or eat for cheap:

 I learned about ELF via a gal who does fashion and makeup videos on Youtube. If you love makeup but can't justify spending a ton on MAC and other expensive brands, ELF has cheap, quality makeup that can be great additions to your collection. Many of their makeup products are $1! And what's even better is even though they are cheap, the product itself is really good quality. If you sign up for their emails, you can get notification of sales and promotions (which is great if you don't make it a habit of checking their website on a regular basis). In the past I've managed to snag 10 of their mineral eye shadows for FREE, a 20+ piece kit (with brushes, rolled brush holder and makeup remover) for under $20 plus other great deals. Shipping can take quite a while so be prepared to wait at least a week before receiving your product, but once you do you'll realize it was worth the wait.

Forever 21 is one of my favorite places to buy clothing when I'm looking to be up on the latest trends. They're constantly adding stock, almost weekly, with cute and cheap clothes. If you are one who wants to stay on trend but not break the bank this is a great place to start. Be advised, sale/clearance items plus all accessories are NOT returnable and all other items can only be returned for store credit so if you are someone who gets buyer's remorse this might not be the place for you. Also be advised that not everything that is on their website is always available in their physical stores (I learned that the hard way when hunting down a dress). However their physical stores can be difficult to navigate with racks sometimes stuffed with clothes to the point items are falling off the rack. Their sizing in clothing most of the time seems to be true to size however I have found some items run small (including some of their shoes) so it might be beneficial to you to go to an actual store and try items on to get an idea of how their stuff fits you.

Old Navy used to conjure up images of polos and khakis. However I have found that they can have extremely stylish and affordable clothing that doesn't make you look like you belong in the Hamptons during spring break. If you like their facebook page and/or sign up for emails, you can get notifications of sales and promotions and receive coupons for even greater savings. Also keep an eye out for the annual Gap Give and Get program, this year if you signed up (for free) and picked a charity off a list, you received a coupon/code for 30% off your purchases at Old Navy, Gap and Banana Republic (online and in stores, some exclusions applied) and those same stores donated 5% of your purchase to your chosen charity. Shopping with a cause, how much better can it get?

Groupon is a money savers dream! Sign up (for free) and every day you'll be offered the opportunity to purchase a certificate at a discounted price for a product and/or service in your local area (and sometimes online companies so your location doesn't always matter). I've managed to snag certificates for miniature golf, many restaurants around our area, car washes, games of paintball, even the auto show.

Living Social works just like Groupon, so using the two makes for some wonderful saving power. Between the two sites I'm sure that I have saved hundreds of dollars in the last 3-4 months and will continue to save. Just a word of warning, you may become addicted to saving money so make sure your printer is full of ink and start saving!

Restaurant.com is similar to Groupon and Living Social, but it's just for restaurants. You can buy gift certificates for under face value and use them at hundreds of restaurants around the country. If you like their facebook page you can be notified of codes to purchase certificates at even greater savings. I just recently purchased three different certificates with a combined face value of $60 for $9! Just be aware of the fine print, many certificates can have stipulations of what time of day they can be used and for what kind of food (some don't allow alcoholic beverages to be part of your minimum total) and they all have a minimum purchase required (usually $5-$10 above the face value of the certificate) and a built in gratuity. Even then, the savings are well worth it and we have found some great new restaurants that we might not even have heard of if they hadn't been on the list.

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