Living on a Writer’s Budget Part 3 – Looking Good

I’m really trying to get this series finished by the end of January, and this is the second-to-last part, so I better get cracking, eh?

This next segment is Looking Good.

The reality of life is that first impressions matter, and sometimes as a fantasy writer, I think they matter more.  Even though I look completely normal, when I (a somewhat normal looking, married, 26-year-old) tell someone that I write fantasy, they look at me like I have two heads.

There are certain events in life that we need to look good for.  Weddings, funerals . . . pitching to agents and editors . . . book signings . . .

Okay, I’m daydreaming now, but those things will happen one day!

Looking good may have some different meanings to different people.

To me, it means looking tidy.  Hair either styled or pulled back, sometimes make-up (really depends on the situation – I am NOT a make-up before I roll out of bed or am seen in public kind of gal.  I think it’s been several weeks since I last wore it), and no cat hair on the clothes.  That last item gets really tricky.

So what are the tricks that I use?

First off, since I don’t wear make-up often, I don’t have to spend a lot of money on it.

I can count on one hand the number of pedicures and/or manicures I’ve had in my life.  Also, if you’re a writer that religiously gets manicures – how do you keep them from chipping?  I use my fingernails for waaaay to much stuff to paint them.

I get my hair cut at a local beauty school.  I pay $6 + tip for each haircut, and I deliberately get styles that are easy to grow out, so I only cut my hair 2-3 times a year.  Guys, I know that you can’t get away with this.  However, look into getting your hair cut at a beauty school.  I’ve never had a terrible cut from one of them!

You can also get manicures and pedicures at beauty schools.  I’m a bit pickier with these, though, because they sometimes don’t have more than a bucket for you to put your feet in.  I’ll save up and treat myself to a REAL pedicure about once a year, sometimes twice.

The trick to saving money on clothing is finding a few essential pieces that you LOVE that will last a long time – and learning how to mend them.  Split seams (as long as they aren’t caused by weight gain) can be re-sewn.  You can re-hem the frayed ends of your jeans, or turn them into a skirt or shorts or capris (sorry this won’t work for you guys!).  You can find all sorts of ways to re-do old clothes on Pinterest.

Don’t buy new clothes.  I bet, no matter how podunk of a town you might be in, that you can find a decent thrift or consignment store nearby.  I found my Little Black Dress at a local consignment store.  It’s Banana Republic – I would have easily paid close to $100, if not more, if I’d bought it new at the mall.  I paid $32 for it, and it looked like it had only been worn once.  I call it my “Goddess Dress”, because I put it on and immediately feel like I rule the world.  Girls, you will know EXACTLY what I mean :D.

Above all, figure out what you can do with something besides throw it out.  Almost all of my husband’s old work shirts get turned into cleaning rags.  I’ve NEVER bought cleaning cloths, there’s just no reason to.

The key to saving money to keep yourself looking like a decent human being is the same as it is for saving money any other way – see if everything you’re paying for is really a necessity, or if it’s something you can do yourself, or do without.