By Sara Noel
Personal care and beauty products can help you look and feel your best. But their cost can make them one of the first things to be cut when living on a budget. Instead of sacrificing completely, you can make every dollar count by seeking out lower-cost options. For example, you can make your own home beauty recipes. Visit my make-it-yourself forum www.frugalvillage.com/forums/make-yourself for beauty recipes such as lotion, shampoo and facial masks and toners. The first reader tip has a recipe for home waxing.
Home waxing: I canceled my waxing appointment because I learned how to make my own sugar wax and do it myself. You take 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/8 cup of water and 1/8 cup of lemon juice (can also use vinegar). Heat it up over low heat and stir until the sugar becomes melted and caramelized. Let it cool a bit before using. Be careful about drips because the wax is very sticky. Spread on skin to be waxed in the direction of hair growth. I cut up strips of an old cotton t-shirt as waxing strips. Smooth over skin and pull the strip in the opposite direction of hair growth. This tip saves me $30 a month! — Marcy, e-mail
Outgrown baby clothes: We keep a cardboard box next to the changing table. We put all the clothes that are too small in there. We marked the box with the smallest size we've put in (usually the size of the first item that goes into it), and once it's full, we will add the last size. There is an overlap between sizes marked on the boxes, but that does not matter: The clothes are roughly for the same size/months within one box. We are on our sixth box now, and my daughter is only 10 months! It keeps my daughter's dresser from overflowing and has the added benefit that it keeps my husband from cursing because he can now be certain that the clothes in the dresser will fit. Furthermore, it saves time (that's a commodity that is gone once the baby has arrived), hassle (because you throw in clothes as you dress baby and don't have to try on all her/his clothes every week), and makes easy storage/giving away/selling. And because it comes from the dresser, you know that it's clean. — Siebre, The Netherlands
Fun get-together idea: Our church youth group once did a "mystery dinner." They preselected a style of food – such as Italian or Chinese. They printed out a menu entirely in the correlating language. Each person could select one thing out of each category on the menu, not knowing what it was. Some people ended up with a fork, soup and rice. Others had chopsticks, tea and a plate. It was fun and interesting and the kids all had to swap items to get full meals. It was a neat thing to see them interact. Something like that could be done for a few close friends as a fun little get-together to celebrate without an awful lot of money tied up in it. — Nichole, forums
Sara Noel is the owner of Frugal Village (www .frugalvillage.com), a website that offers strategies for everyday living. Write to Sara Noel, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., Fourth Floor, New York, NY 10016, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.