Woman putting on make-up and looking great on a budget.

How to Look Great on a Budget

Most people want to look great. Whether it comes naturally or it’s socialized is a debate for anthropologists and sociologists. The question we want to deal with is how to achieve great looks for less. And we have some awesome ideas.


Find the deals

Become radical in bargain shopping. Vow to never pay full price again.

High end consignment shops

Unlike thrift stores, they are very selective about what they accept. You’ll find luxury brand names, designer evening-wear and high quality fabrics for a fraction of the cost.

Discover thrift stores

You’d be surprised what you can find in places like Value Village, Goodwill and Women in Need shops. For those of you who can’t wrap your head around the idea of “thrifting,” keep reading for more great options.

Shop your own closet

We all have so much in our closets that we forget what’s there. Sometimes if you take a closer look, it feels a little like Christmas―or finding that piece at a bargain price all over again!

Shop your pile of clothes on “the chair” (we all have one)

Sometimes cleaning your room can lead to a big surprise that was once your favourite shirt!

Address your shopping habits

If you’re a serial shopper, it might be time to see someone. Lifestyle addictions like shopping are common. Do some research about it to find ways to curtail your habit.

Hair & Beauty

The haircut

A good haircut is essential. There are excellent hairdressers outside the downtown core where you will pay 25% to 40% less for your cut. The higher rent cost of the salon is factored into your price. If your budget is really tight, try a school for hairdressing and remember to ask for their most senior student.

Avoid salon money makers

Highlights, ombre and cool colours have replaced perms as the key money maker for hair salons. Do you really need them? Can you get away without them?

Manicures and pedicures

Many women’s RRSPs could be easily funded by this luxury. Can you do both yourself and put the money into something else?


Women annually waste hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on overpriced cosmetics. Do yourself a favour and check out the book Don’t Go To the Cosmetics Counter Without Me by Paula Begoun at your library. She’s been updating this book since her first edition in 1992. Think of it as the Consumer Report for makeup.


The gym membership

If you use your membership regularly, that’s great, keep using it. However, if you’re paying money for a gym you don’t go to enough times in a month to justify the cost, cancel it.

Cancellation costs

If the membership cancellation fees are too high to make financial sense, get back in there. Make it your go-to activity instead of retail therapy when you feel stressed―it’ll keep you out of the malls.

Thinking about fitness

If you don’t have a gym membership but have been thinking about it, do your homework. How much will it cost and where will it fit in your schedule to make financial sense. If you want to get into fitness but the gym doesn’t appeal to you, shop around for other activities―yoga, recreational sports leagues or outdoor walking or running groups. There are plenty of cost-effective options.

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