Since the new year, I’ve been inspired to take this blog more seriously. But more than that, to fill in the gap with what I feel is needed. I am NOT an Instagram Model, and I don’t aspire to be. I want to be a Role Model. There are so many opportunities to compare yourself with others on social media, and it’s seriously exhausting. I’m hoping to take an alternate approach and tell it like it is: with humor, honesty, and a realistic budget for the everyday single woman. At this point, I don’t get anything for free. I buy everything myself. On one salary. And I want to show you how to “live an abundant life” the same way. It IS possible to live fabulously AND save at the same time, and never feel like you’re missing out!
Having said that – I’ve been sitting on this post for several months now. Half of me wanted to share all of my secrets, the other half wanted to keep it all to myself. But, I went to the Sisterhood One Night event at my church in September, and the guest female Pastor was speaking about when you’re vulnerable and share your struggle with other women, they can share in your miracles too. And it got me thinking, “I’m never ashamed to talk about the deals I’ve scored, so, why should I be ashamed about the other things I do to keep myself feeling good?” If y’all can share in my struggle of trying to keep up with all of the other women, then y’all can share in the joy about having it all. Suddenly, we are all on the same team! And instead of trying to out-do each other, we instead share in the sisterhood bond of taking advice and tips where we can, so we can be the best versions of ourselves. The best women to get tips from are the women we admire – The women who ask for help when they need it, women who live the lifestyle we aspire to, women who have the relationship we desire, women who have scored the boss-job we crave, and yes, women who admit that they go to Hair Cuttery for trims to save money. Today, I’m hoping I can be the sister that shares her vulnerability, so that we don’t feel alone in our struggle to do/be/have it all.
Do you ever see Instagram or Pinterest photos and think, “I didn’t even know women existed that could look like that?!” Every contour is perfect, hair is flowing, clothes are endless, bodies are incredible, homes are out of a magazine, engagement rings are the size of a small car, oh, and their husbands are usually millionaire models.
How do they do it?? Well, I can’t answer for everyone, and I surely have some things that could be improved (currently working on snagging all of the above). But, I’m going to speak some truth and tell you my tricks for making me feel like a goddess on an everyday budget:
I paint my own nails. I like Sally Hansen’s Complete Salon Manicure line, with her Gel Topcoat. I can usually get 3-4 days out of that!
I swear by a good self-tanner. If I could only do one thing, it might just be this. I recently linked a new self-tanner on my Instagram profile that I tried and loooooved called Skinerals. It comes in a “normal” color that they call Californium Original Blend, and an “extra dark” version called Onyx Extra Dark Blend. It’s way affordable and you can get it on Amazon Prime!
I purchase my services in packages. I like to say that the only Italian trait my mother gave me is thick body hair. So, waxing is a MUST. For my Philly fans, I used to see Annie Morris at Salon L for the past 12 years! They used to take a percentage off of your visit if you “checked in” on Facebook. They may have updated their policy, but you could always ask if there’s a “bulk” discount. And just this past week, I just started seeing Liz Bailey at Bikini and Bronze by Liz. She gave me a great (and *almost* pain-free) wax, and I bought a one-time spray tan session to be used at a future date, since it was a little cheaper to buy them together! Same thing with purchasing mani-pedis together, if I feel like treating myself!
I buy some drugstore makeup products. In the winter, I mix my usual Lancome foundation with a drugstore brand, and I use drugstore mascara. I’ve tried expensive brands, but I think I get similar results with cheaper brands!
I REALLY REALLY REALLY need to have a skincare routine, and if I did, it would be in this section. Currently, I’m still in denial that I’m at an age where I need a skincare routine. Also, feeling overwhelmed with my options and the cost. I’ll need to resolve this sooner than later 🙂
I use Rodan + Files LashBoost. Using Rodan + Fields LashBoost isn’t cheap. I usually pay $135 per tube, but it lasts me about 4-5 months. However, it beats the cost of getting lash extensions every 2 weeks. *Note: There’s TONS of reviews, likes and dislikes about this product. I’ve had great results and I love it, but there’s a few other options you can look into if you’re still feeling unsure!
I buy a few good-quality makeup products. I love Lancome, Makeup Forever, and The Balm for my splurges!
I had Invisalign. OK, so this could be an entirely separate post by itself. And it will be. But I did spend the money to get my teeth to where they are now. However, I was able to save in a few ways – my orthodontist generously gave me a discount because my ENTIRE family (Step-dad, mom, brother 1, brother 2, ALL got their braces there) and I paid for everything up front, which saved me an additional 10%. Altogether, I paid less than $2,000 to get a straight smile.
I got Zoom Whitening. I probably would have wanted to get this anyway, but, after the Invisalign, I wanted to get my bonding re-done. Bonding only lasts 10 years, and I was running up in the 15+ zone, so it was time. It doesn’t bleach, so, in order for the new bonding to match white teeth, I had to get this done before the bonding.
I have bonding. Genetically, the two teeth on either side of my front teeth are extra small. This is called peg laterals. “Thanks, Mom and Dad!” So, bonding, which is *kind of* like an acrylic nail for your teeth, has really been helpful to create a seamless smile. This only needs to be updated every 10+ years, so it’s definitely not a normal splurge item.
I go to Hair Cuttery/Great Clips for all hair cuts. *Insert shocked face* I know…Can you believe it? Since I only ever get a trim anyway, it doesn’t make sense for me to pay more than $20.
I only get balayage 3x a year. By choosing a method that doesn’t require too much upkeep, I can keep my costs down, but still feel bright and sunny.
I go to a good stylist. When I DO get my hair colored, I don’t mind paying a bit extra, especially because I only get it done every few months. Side note: I was enjoying a rare third mimosa at a restaurant this past fall, and couldn’t help but stare at a woman at the table next to me with perfect hair. I went over and asked her where she got her hair done, and she said she does it herself. SHE’S the stylist! Not only that, but SHE’LL COME TO YOUR HOUSE! Shout out to my girl, Jenna Frontiero #networkingwhiledrinking
I shop at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and outlets. With so many bloggers linking their clothes to LikeToKNow.IT, and listing all of the sales, it makes it easier to navigate so many stores. But let’s face it, I cannot afford Nordstrom every week…even if the items are on sale. My post on my favorite jeans for “petite height with normal thigh width” girls is coming soon – but TJX always has my favorite brands. Going to outlet stores and/or signing up for their online notifications has allowed me to score some pretty great deals., especially at J Crew Factory.
I’ll *occasionally* get a few key pieces at a boutique. Sometimes you just need a few unique, good quality pieces. And I think it’s important to mix expensive and affordable items together. As I get older, I have a little more money to spend on myself, so sometimes I splurge. But, it’s funny, because there’s times when I still can’t justify spending money on clothes that I think I can find at a better price elsewhere. Case in point: The $108 Pistola boyfriend jeans that I did NOT buy, which I featured on my Instagram Stories today. But, I’m sure to check out the sales rack first to see what deals I can score. I never really did boutique shopping in Philadelphia (no idea why…) – I’m sure there’s PLENTY of cute shops there, but I do have a few favorite around Charleston. Post to come soon!
I paid for a package gym membership. By paying for a 2 year membership in advance, I was able to save some money. Bonus, it includes ALL of the classes I want to take, so I have full-access!
I follow YouTube fitness videos in between trainings. Check out these videos that I watch to supplement my training and classes. I also follow Beach Body’s “Leandro Carvahlo’s Tummy Tuck videos from his Brazilian Butt Lift” series.
*Note: I’m not a fanatic about these, I just do them when I get bored.
I don’t drink too much alcohol. I’m not much of a drinker…I mean, if I could get drunk on Betty Crocker brownies, then I might have a problem, but I’d ALWAYS rather eat my calories. I’d say I might have 2 drinks a week. Maybe more, if mimosas are involved…
I pay for personal training. I see Tom at Pivotal Fitness 3 times a week for weight training. This cost was separate from my regular gym membership, but I really wanted some one-on-one time with someone knowledgable. Now that I’ll know how to use the machines, I’ll feel more comfortable doing this on my own, intermixed with classes.
I listen to Abraham Hicks on YouTube. This is totally free and has helped me way, way, way more than anything has ever helped me before. It has opened the door for my relationship with God and to see the abundance around me every single day. Abraham has calmed me down and opened my eyes to the fact that every day is made for my enjoyment. And it’s true for everyone, which is so wonderful!
I go to Church. Now, this is something that’s kind of new for me. I mean, I was raised Catholic but would hardly consider myself “religious”. In Philadelphia, I occasionally attended Epic Church, but in Charleston, I’ve become really involved in Seacoast Church. It’s my time to reflect, pray, and mostly THANK God for everything I’ve been given.
I work with Jacki Crawford from Everybody Energy. Jacki has seriously turned my life around. I highly, highly, highly recommend talking to a therapist, meditating, going to yoga, reading, listening to inspirational speakers, going to Church, or whatever else gives you some mental peace and clarity. I can’t say that I would have always been ready for the kind of work that Jacki and I do – I had to get to a certain place of healing before she could help me be more “bright and shiny”, as she likes to say. But I can always talk to her about what’s going on in my life and we work on how to overcome any obstacles.
I shop at HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, Target. I’ve found SO many pieces of furniture, accessories, lighting, bedding, dishes, and candles at these stores, that I can’t even imagine going anywhere else to buy things!
I repurpose hand-me-downs. I’m lucky to have some really great antique pieces that my family has given me. I love that they tell a story. My home feels so much like me, because it’s filled with my history.
Through my profession, I’ve been able to use my trade discounts on furniture. Everyone has a skill that they use to help them. I can get discounts on furniture, but I pay to get my taxes done…so, we’re even 🙂
I buy a few key pieces from brand name stores. A few years ago, I bought the Montclair sofa from crate&barrel. My first “Big Girl” piece. I love it and it was worth every penny.
I fly Frontier as much as I can. Frontier has awesome deals, so I check their site first when I’m booking my flight. Sometimes I even book one-way trips, since it can be cheaper to mix-and-match flights.
I choose all-inclusives. Let me just say that I’m a super snob when it comes to hotels. I never want to stay at a place that isn’t as nice as where I pay to live every day of the week, so I can be picky. However, I’ve found some excellent all-inclusive hotels in the Caribbean, and even better, I could budget the entire tript by paying for everything together and upfront.
I stay with friends/budget hotels. Sometimes I’ll stay with friends or a cheaper hotel for a majority of my trip, so that I can stay 2 nights at a really fancy place.
I’ll stay at a nice hotel for a few nights max. By treating myself to a 2-night stay in a fancy hotel, I still feel like I”m living my best life, but not depleting my bank account!
I allot portions of my paycheck to savings/bills. This is one of my FAVORITE tips to saving money. I have a direct deposit to my savings account so I’m constantly saving with every paycheck. I also figured out how much of my paycheck needs to go to my bills, so I have that direct deposited into another account, meant only for bills. Anything else is for me!
I negotiate pricing for living arrangements. Often, apartment complexes will run holiday or seasonal specials. Look for them! If you live in an old house, like me, sometimes you can negotiate the cost, especially if you agree to stay for a longer term, or pay more upfront.
I take on side projects. I take on some side hustle if there’s something important that I’m saving for. I’ve been blessed to have some great, repeat clients that have helped me!
I cook most meals at home. I do go out to eat, but by cooking at home most of the time, I’m able to save some money there! This is SO hard to do in Charleston, because literally, every restaurant is unreal!
I really hope that spilling ALL of my secrets has been helpful. And, go ahead, tell everyone. These are the kinds of secrets that are meant to be shared!
❤ The Huntress