Pop quiz: how much does it cost to look like you? Take a quick inventory of your hair, beauty and clothing expenditure. When did personal maintenance start costing so much money? There was a time when I knew nothing of beauticians, deep conditioning treatments, jogging or anti-aging eye creams. That was a happier time. Even men, who historically have spent far less money than women on their appearance, are passing over a quick wash with a bar of soap and investing in products, labels and personal trainers.

TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics

But beauty doesn't have to break the bank. Here are our top tips on how to save money on new clothes, keeping fit and personal maintenance - without anyone knowing that you're scrimping! (For more, see 5 Money-Saving Shopping Tips.)

Get Clothes for Free
The latest trend in fashion is ethical, eco-fabulous, social and fun. Why not join the global phenomenon and throw a swap party?

Sometimes, when times are tight and you need new clothes, you have to get creative. Thus, the idea for the swap was born.

Called a swish party in the U.K., if you love new clothes, but not the unfortunate side effects on the Visa, this might be a great way to cut some dead weight from your wardrobe while adding in some new pieces. Swapping is shopping without the guilty-spend hangover.

Running a swap party is simple, if you just follow these rules.

1) Everyone must bring at least one item of quality clothing.

2) You will have half an hour to browse before the swap opens.

3) No item may be claimed before the swap opens.

4) As soon as the swap is declared open, everyone may take what they want.

Free, eco-friendly and fun, plus your bank manager will be delighted. Call your friends today! (For related reading, see 5 Painless Ways To Save More Money.)

Cut Maintenance Costs
Haircuts, root tints, waxing, massages, the costs soon mount up. If you cannot live without your treatments, why not contact your local fashion or beauty college and see if you can get cheap or free treatments? Facials, manicures, pedicures, massages, body wraps and other treatments are very often available at a fraction of the normal price if you're willing to be treated by a trainee. Don't worry though - they're always supervised!

Men would do well to remember that branded male toiletries are generally a lot pricier than their female equivalents, and chaps can save a lot of money if they dare to buy products aimed at women. Lots of women's products are fragrance-free - so men don't need to worry about smelling "girly!"

If you spend a lot on lotions and potions, then take the time to check the ingredient list to see if the more expensive product is really worth the extra money. It may be exactly the same product as a cheaper alternative - but with fancier packaging and advertising. However, even though I know in my heart that many products are the same, I won't be using foot cream on my face - just in case. (For related reading, see 10 Money-Saving Year-End Tax Tips.)

Cut Down on Fitness Costs
The gym, personal trainers, home exercise equipment - it's a billion dollar industry. Many of us believe we'll lose weight simply by paying our gym membership fees, but unfortunately, it's just not true.

Exercise could well be overrated. In the history of civilization, exercise is a rather late arrival. Until around 1910 people exercised all the time, but did not think of it as this - it was just life itself. And then, along came cars. Cars are the reason people now have to go the gym and walk on a stationary conveyor-belt. The good news is that I don't own a car. Maybe I can stop exercising?

If you do want to be a member of a gym, don't throw in the (sweaty) towel of money saving just yet! There are easy ways to cut the costs of membership.

Firstly consider the time of year that you are joining. Thanks to New Year's resolutions and renewed resolve, the first few months of the year are the busiest and thus the worst time to get a good deal. Similarly, the colder months are also busier than warmer months because people can't exercise outside. Membership slides during the summer and toward the end of the year, so that is the best time to try and get a good discount.

Most gyms and fitness centers will have membership goals for each month. They want to gain new members and retain the ones they have. Consider visiting at the end of the month, when most gyms are willing to make a deal with you so they can hit their targets. (For related reading, see Get The Best Deals On Gym Memberships.)

Looking Great
A few simple cuts can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. Keeping up appearances need not blow the budget. This year, it's all about credit-crunch-chic! (For related readings, see Go Green, Save Money.)

Related Articles
  1. Budgeting

    How to Cost Effectively Spend on Baby Clothes

    Don't let your baby's wardrobe derail your budget. These top tips help you to save money and spend wisely on baby clothes.
  2. Budgeting

    Key Questions to Ask Before Moving in Together

    Moving in together is a big step. Here are some key financial questions to ask your partner before you make the move.
  3. Personal Finance

    College Students are Failing Financial Literacy

    Financial trends among college students are a cause for concern, prompting a renewed emphasis on financial literacy.
  4. Savings

    Passing Down Values and Money to the Next Generation

    Amassing wealth to pass down to your kids is great unless your values don't come with it. A priceless gift is teaching them to be financially responsible.
  5. Budgeting

    6 Cost-Effective Tips for Raising Your First Child

    The excitement of welcoming your first child to your family shouldn't prevent you from making good cost-effective decisions.
  6. Budgeting

    5 Ways to Date on a Budget

    Dating on a budget doesn't have to be boring. Try these 5 tips to find the best dates on a budget.
  7. Budgeting

    7 Kids Items You Should Never Buy Used

    Buying secondhand items is a great way to save money, but these seven kids items should not be bought used.
  8. Stock Analysis

    Top 3 Stocks for the Coming Holiday Season

    If you want to buck the bear market trend by going long on consumer stocks, these three might be your best bets.
  9. Investing News

    This is the Fastest-Growing Consumer Complaint

    There’s no way to guarantee that your Social Security number won’t fall into the wrong hands. Here are some ways to make yourself less of a target.
  10. Investing

    10 New Apps That Help Budget For Expensive Cities

    From platforms for saving money to those that account for side jobs, mobile apps are changing spending habits and income generation in urban areas.
  1. Is Japan an emerging market economy?

    Japan is not an emerging market economy. Emerging market economies are characterized by low per capita incomes, poor infrastructure ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Are Social Security payments included in the US GDP calculation?

    Social Security payments are not included in the U.S. definition of the gross domestic product (GDP). Transfer Payments For ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Discretionary income is the money left over from your gross income each month after taking out taxes and paying for necessities. ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does the trust maker transfer funds into a revocable trust?

    Once a revocable trust is created, a trust maker transfers funds or property into the trust by including them in a list with ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What economic indicators are important to consider when investing in the retail sector?

    The unemployment rate and Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rank as two of the most important economic indicators to consider ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How do changes in interest rates affect the spending habits in the economy?

    Changes in interest rates can have different effects on consumer spending habits depending on a number of factors, including ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!