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Five ways to stay fabulous on a budget

  • Story Highlights
  • There are small ways to save cash without giving up clothes or fun
  • Shop thrift stores or hold clothing swaps with a bunch of friends
  • Instead of going to bar after work, invite pals over to your house for drinks
  • Get hair, nails done at a beauty school where prices are cheaper
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By Wendy Atterberry
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(The Frisky) -- I admit, I'm pretty much a walking gender stereotype -- I like shopping, getting pedicures, grabbing drinks with the girls after work, obsessing about my hair, and lusting over other woman's awesome boots. I also hate when models brag about how they can eat anything without gaining an ounce, and I have an unhealthy addiction to gossip sites, but that may be taking it a bit too far.

Thrift stores are seeing a lot more customers as wallets get thinner in tight economy.

Thrift stores are seeing a lot more customers as wallets get thinner in tight economy.

The point is, I embrace my girlishness and I'm not about to give up any of the fun parts about being a chick just because the economy is tanking. So I've decided to embrace my inner recessionista, who frankly, wasn't all that hard to find (she also goes by the name "cheap").

Before thriftiness was a necessity, I picked up a few tips about living fabulously without spending a bundle. After the jump are my five favorite tips for embracing your inner recessionista...

1. Grab gift cards: People are getting desperate for extra money, right? So they're looking through their stuff for anything they can sell for quick cash, and one of the things that tops the list is the gift card/store credit. Whether they got it as a gift, won it online, or have it leftover from a store return they couldn't get a refund for, the gift card = money, but the only way collect on it is if it's sold for less than its face value.

Just the other day, I bought a JCrew gift card valued at $176 for just $125! That means a guaranteed 30 percent savings on stuff that's not even marked down! Look for gift cards on Craigslist or eBay and try to meet at the actual store to verify the value of the card before you hand over your money.

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2. Go back to school: Like a typical girly girl, I like to indulge in the occasional massage, pedicure and facial, but since I'm on a budget, I don't head to an expensive spa with good lighting and free tea, I head back to school. Massage and beauty school students offer an array of treatments and services for a fraction of salon and spa prices. To find a school in your area and read accompanying reviews, I recommend Yelp.

3. Have happy hour at your place: I have a group of girlfriends I love meeting up with for happy hour drinks after work every once in a while. It's a great way to connect, catch up and blow up some steam, but all those drinks -- even at their discounted prices -- can really add up. So I've invited the girls over to my place next time and if it goes well, which I'm sure it will, I hope we can make it a regular affair, taking turns hosting. I figure we can all get good and liquored up for, like, ten bucks each, and we'll have control over the music and how much booze (a lot) goes into our cocktails.

4. Get thrifty: When I was a kid, the thought of buying anything secondhand grossed me out, but now that I'm old and wise, I realize some of the coolest stuff out there was owned by someone else first. Flea markets, garage/yard sales, Craigslist, eBay, and Freecycle are hot spots for awesome stuff for next to, or literally, nothing.

Make secondhand shopping a hobby, like a scavenger hunt of cool -- grab some friends or go it alone and see how much cheap awesome stuff you can find. I just scored some fabulous vintage necklaces on eBay for just a few bucks!

5. Swap clothes: Your "trash" may be another woman's new treasure, and vice versa. I scored a vintage maxi dress at a clothing swap a couple of years ago that has been one of my favorite finds of all time. It's comfortable as hell, shows off my assets, and I get compliments on it every time I wear it...and it was free!

Not only are clothing swaps a great way to score some new-to-you stuff and get rid of what you no longer want, they're the perfect excuse to hang out with your friends without dropping a lot of dough.

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