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Living Your Life at Half the Price, Part Four

Our money expert is back with ways to save on beauty, hair, and nail products and services.
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This is the fourth part of our seven-part article, "Living Your Life at Half the Price."

Beauty
Since I am approaching the age when I begin to look for ways to sustain my youth as long as possible, I have invested heavily in the beauty business. Not by buying stock in Revlon but by forking over my credit card for the creams and toners the media says I must have. What's wrong with fine lines anyway? Don't I look more sophisticated and wise with a few wrinkles here and there? I have decided that a few are okay as long as they stop there, which means I'm on the lookout for anti-aging skin products.

I always ask myself, "Do I really need to spend $60 on that face cream, $50 on eye cream, and still more on the fancy cleanser and tonic? Or am I really just paying to support Estee Lauder and Lancôme's humongous advertising budget?" When I look at the ingredients of the $60 Clinique face cream and compare it with the $30, less-advertised face cream at Walgreen's, it seems they contain pretty much the same ingredients and will perform the same way. So my next step is to buy one of each and put one on the right side of my face and the other on the left and track the effects. I''ll bet I won't be able to distinguish between the two.

In fact, consumer reports did just this and found what we all women have feared for decades … that the most expensive cream ($330) did not work as well as the $57 product. You can read about it here: http://www.webmd.com/content/article/130/117811.htm. So what did you savvy shopper do? She bypassed Nordstroms for her face cream purchase and headed over to … gulp… Walgreens to pick up some of the Oil of Olay line, which was the overall winner.

Hair
I have had long hair for more than 10 years and have spent a fortune maintaining it. One thing that I will not scrimp on is buying high-quality hair products. I once bought inexpensive, off-the-shelf shampoo and cream rinse at a local drug store and hated the way my hair looked. I sometimes try the free shampoos in hotel bathrooms and they never work well for me because my hair is so fine and sparse. This area, therefore, is one in which I'm willing to pay full price. We will all have all areas where we won't want to make changes, and that is fine. If we commit to saving in those areas where the price of the product doesn't make a difference, then we will have plenty of money left over.

I do save in other ways on my hair. Because I wear my hair in a simple style -- long and straight -- it kills me to spend $75 at a high-priced salon to have my hair cut. I have gone years with my husband cutting my hair straight across in five minutes during commercials, and I always marvel how a hairstylist can turn the process into a 45-minute, super-costly exercise to cut my 63 hairs. However, because I appear on TV a lot, I go to a salon once a year to tidy things up. To me, that's worth an annual outlay of 75 bucks.

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