Avoiding the high cost of looking professional at work

The Young Professional Woman

by Amy Thomas

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You have a job you enjoy and work hard at it, and the last thing you want to do is throw your money away just getting yourself ready and into the office. By the time you buy clothes, shoes, accessories, skin care, cosmetics, shampoos and hair products, go for haircuts, eyebrow waxing, manicures, pedicures, facials, etc., your paycheck could be practically depleted. So what is the practical compromise that gets you looking and feeling like a professional without spending every dime you make? Read on for ways to spend less on getting ready for work.

1. Shopping for clothes

Make a list of what you now have, and what pieces you are looking for. If you do not want to shop at Goodwill, there are many consignment stores that have both classic and trendy clothing for excellent prices. Get to know the ones in your area. Shopping for off-season clothes provides the best savings of all if you are shopping in a department store. Never pay full retail for anything, including formal wear. When entering any section of a women's department, shop the "C" word first (Clearance), followed by the "S" word (Sale). After the holiday season, many department stores have fall and winter fashions priced 50-80 percent off. There are still three more months of winter at this point, so it is an excellent time to buy.

Related: 5 Ways to Save on Quality Women's Clothing

2. Skin care, makeup and hair

Some experts believe that the key ingredients in skin care creams, lotions, cleansers, etc. are basically the same in the lower priced items as in the higher end department stores. Why spend $100 on a moisturizer when you can get the same quality at your local pharmacy cosmetics aisle for $7.99? You think you need some under eye cream? A light coating of petroleum jelly worn while you sleep will do the trick, and save quite a bit of green.

The same cost saving ideas should be transferred to makeup, shampoos and conditioners. And why have a professional color your hair? The secret is actually picking a color that is flattering to you, so solicit some help from someone you trust. If you have longer hair, get two boxes, and once again, use your local department store aisle to compare prices, use coupons and shop the specials. Every week there is a brand on sale. Shampoos and conditioners will clean and moisturize your hair whether they cost 99 cents per bottle or $9.99, so why would you want to pay more?

Related: The Budget Smart Girl's Guide to Make Up

3. Accessories

A few classic pieces are all you need for work. With all of the beautiful costume styles that flatter everyone, does it really feel better if it is real? Wouldn't you rather have your money in the bank than around you neck or in your ears? Have a few necklaces in both gold and silver, a few earrings (not too large or low) and a watch that works, and you are set. The best place for finding jewelry cheap is at church yard sales, fairs or bazaars. It is like raiding your mother or grandmother's jewelry box without the guilt, because you are generally helping out an organization that is helping others.

You will need bras and underwear that fits. That does not mean that they have to be expensive. Well-made and comfortable are the way to go, since you will have them on your body all day and most of the night. A good, flattering bra that wears well under all of your tops does not have to be a designer style. Over two-thirds of women are wearing the wrong size bra, so get some expert help when you are in the department store, and then take advantage of the buy one, get one free deals.

Buy at least two pairs of the same color, size and style pantyhose. If you get a run in one, just cut the entire leg off and save it. When you get a run in the other pair, cut that leg off, and you can don each pair that has one leg, making a third pair for yourself.

Related: Affordable Wardrobe Accessories for the Workplace

4. Manis, pedis, massages, etc.

Manicures, pedicures, massages, acrylic nails, eyebrow waxing all may be enjoyed when professionals perform them for you, but you will see your savings increase and still feel pampered when you do these yourself. Get together with friends and have a self-care night. This is a great way to spend some time with those you enjoy being with, feel and look your best, and save a ton of money doing it yourself.

Related: Less Expensive Manicures

The one item you have as a professional that does not cost you anything is your self-confidence. Use this to your advantage; it is better than anything you can do to your physical appearance. Enjoy your professional life.

Reviewed May 2017

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