Look Like a Princess on a Pauper's Budget

contributed by Diane Bergman

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It's hard to think about looking good when you have a limited amount of money with which to work. You are too busy trying to pay your bills and most likely have given up on your appearance. But you know, I think you feel better about yourself when you take care of your appearance. Little things can make such a big difference. Shiny hair, a fresh face and well put together clothes can make you feel like you are ready to take on the day.

I come from a long line of thrifty women who take pride in getting the deal. The women in my family looked good when they haggled for cheaper prices.

My grandmother made her own clothes and didn't own a sewing machine. She did each stitch by hand and carefully made beautiful clothes. So beautiful that she won a sewing contest in Toronto for "Best Dressed." The rules were to sew an outfit and model your creation. All the other girls made their outfits by machine. My grandmother couldn't afford one, but that didn't stop her from trying. I learned from my grandmother that old phrase "make do or do without". She certainly practiced what she preached. Grandmother always looked sharp and I paid great attention to how she achieved her look.

Twenty years have passed and I have come to realize that I also have learned many tips through experience and the need to make do. I'm sure you will learn something new so enjoy reading my tips about looking great!


My Grandmother went to beauty schools to get her hair done and saved a tremendous amount of money this way. It's a terrific idea, but I went a step further.

I cut my own hair. I got the idea after hearing a few celebrities on television admit they cut their own hair. I thought to myself that if it's good enough for them, then it's good enough for me.

Of course I wasn't going to cut a strand until I had some idea of what I was getting into. So off I went to the library; I was pleased to find several books on the topic. I studied the books carefully and found the books with the illustrated diagrams most helpful.

Ever since I have been cutting my own hair with very good results. If you have very thick hair, I don't recommend cutting it yourself because thick hair is very difficult to do. You can take a night school course on haircutting basics, and you can practice on your family members.

I also dye my own hair because it's very easy to do. As long as you follow the instructions, you shouldn't have any trouble. I recommend using a color closest to your own hair color for best results. Furthermore, I always buy the most inexpensive brands because there is very little difference.


My grandmother only wore lipstick and perfume to feel attractive. She always seemed to look good, but I like more makeup than that. I manage with foundation, blush, one shade of eyeshadow, and mascara. Everyone is different. The point is to use makeup sparingly to save money and have a nice fresh look.

My own experience has taught me that having the right colors is more important than how much you spend. You can have the most expensive makeup in the world, but if you have the wrong colors on your face and too much of it, you look like a clown wearing cheap makeup. Most cheap makeup is very suitable. Make friends with the Cosmetician if you don't know what colors to wear or what brands to buy. My sister did just that and the Cosmetician really enjoyed sharing all her cosmetic secrets and recommendations.

So make sure that you choose colors wisely and wear cosmetics sparingly and you will look great.

Body Lotion

For soft skin, I never use body lotion because I think it's too expensive and it doesn't work. Instead, I use petroleum jelly after I shower. After a few days, you will notice that your skin is softer and more supple. Apply sparingly because a little goes a long way. Petroleum jelly is a very good alternative to pricey lotion.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money please send it by mailto:MyStory@stretcher.com

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