5 Ways to be Cheap and Bougie at the Same Time

It's no secret I'm cheap.

I don't honestly know where it comes from.

I didn't grow up in a family of cheapskates. I mean, we didn't have a ton of extra, but my mom's a super hard worker and we always had everything we needed (and a lot of the things we wanted). Frugality wasn't necessarily a practice in our home, but the cost of living wasn't exactly a secret, either. My mom was always open with my sister and me, and didn't shield us from the reality of expenses. That being said, we still didn't shop at Goodwill. Know what I mean?

So, yeah. Cheap-o generation zero, right here. And though I'm cheap, I'm also a discerning consumer. I have expensive taste. I like to put my money to good use, toward well-made, tried-and-true, and good-for-me things, when possible. And through job changes (and their resulting income fluctuations), moves, adding two kids into the mix, debt payoff, and all the other strains and changes to finances around here, my frugality has afforded me the ability to still wear what I want, treat my skin the way I want, and eat (and drink) well.

Here are 5 SUPER simple, but maybe news-to-you ways to do all that, too, while keeping your money in your pocket.

1. Buy good brands... second-hand.

First of all, high quality stuff will outlast the 10, $5 shirts you can get for the same price from H&M. But that doesn't mean you have to go to Goodwill or the local thrift shop and scour the racks. And it's not limited to clothing and shoes, either!

Here's how I do it:

Whenever I think of a new piece of clothing, pair of shoes (or, heck, even makeup) I want... I head to Poshmark BEFORE I shop for it new.

This means you have to know exactly what you want going in. It's not like perusing the aisles of the store. To shop Poshmark (or other second hand sites like it), you have to rely on search results to show you what you're LOOKING FOR. So, you have to KNOW what you're looking for. Make sense?

I've found this is a more frugal practice when it comes to shopping, regardless of where. If you know what you want, you're less likely to get distracted, and, thus, less likely to over-spend.

Here are a handful of the very specific things I've wanted, and found, on Poshmark:

Teva flatform sandals $60 (I spent $15)

A leather K. Slade clutch $156 (I spent $20)

Black Puma tennis shoes $50 (I spent $15)

Victoria's Secret high-waist yoga pants $60 (I spent $25)

A Jolie Swim "Stevie" one-piece $57 (I spent $36)

Levi's 501 shorts $79 (I spent $35)

A designer bridesmaid dress for my sister's wedding $120 (I spent $30)

Imogene and Willie boyfriend jeans $230 (I spent $36)

Kiehl's daily facial oil $45 (I spent $11)

Tarte creaseless concealer $26 (I spent $12)

I could go on.

If you were to add these all up, the total price, if purchased new, would be $883

But, by shopping on Poshmark, I spent a total of $235.

That's a savings of $648.

2. Spend more (to spend less)

You may dish out more per ounce for a travel or sample size of a product that'll last you anywhere from one week to one month, but if you think in terms of budgeting, which happens weekly and monthly, it might make more sense to factor in your beauty spending that way, rather than spending big on a full-size product.

Go with me here. Lots of times, what stops me from spending money on myself is the initial outlay of cash. It's a "I don't care that the bottle will last me 6 months... I still can't afford $75 right now" type of thing. We live paycheck to paycheck.

So, what I've started doing is purchasing mini, travel, and sample sizes of the products I want. They don't last as long and I'm sure if I were to do the math on dollars per ounce, I'd be outranged. BUT, what matters to me more than that is how the expense works out within my week and month, and within my family's budget. So, it makes much more sense for me to shell out $12 for 4 samples of perfume than it does for me to spend $200 on a full-size bottle of that same perfume.

I don't do this every time. But if there's something I realllly want or need, and it's just not in the budget, I'll get a mini size. It usually lasts way longer than I think it will, and who knows... in that time, maybe I've been able to either save up for the real deal OR I've found something else I want to try when I run out!

I've done this not only with perfume, but also with facial oil, eyebrow gel, foundation, lipstick, hair products, and even loose leaf tea!

3. Upgrading to Safer Products: Think in terms of layers

Layered buying AND layered usage. Check it:

At this point, most of us know that a lot of the products on the market aren't exactly safe, whether they're labeled so or not. One of my missions over the past few years has been swapping out everything, from skincare products to household cleaners, to cleaner, more environmentally friendly, options. But upgrading can be a big expense. First, there's ditching your old products, which feels like a waste of money, and then there's stocking back up, which can cost a small fortune (especially if you do it all at once.)

That's why my advice is to, little by little, phase out what you're currently using, with a tiered approach. That's fancy language for: ditch the worst stuff, then upgrade the okay stuff as you run out. If you need help determining what's "BAD", what's "OKAY-ish" (my term), and what's "SAFE", check out the Environmental Working Group's guides. There's one for household cleaners, and even one for skincare, called Skin Deep. You just type what you're currently using into the search, and then see how it measures up, in terms of cancer-causing ingredients, toxicity, and allergens. Your product will either get a red, yellow, or green score (and I'm sure you can figure out what each one means!) Toss anything red, phase out anything yellow.

In terms of skincare, here's another way to do it. Think about what stays on your skin the longest. So, concealer. Foundation. Oils. Serums. Sunscreen. Moisturizer. Anything that's just going to sit on your skin and absorb, reallllly needs to be clean. After all, your skin is your biggest organ. I know it's a pain to spend more on the good stuff. But it's important, and it's totally doable, and without breaking the bank, if you take it slow.

In practice, for me, this means using a safe sunscreen stick (this one, to be exact) all over my face every day and safe tinted moisturizer (this one) because I know those two things are going to be on my face all day long. But, don't even get me started on my Double Extend mascara. Let's just say it ain't great. Baby steps. I may phase it out eventually, but (this could be flawed reasoning) I'm not as concerned about it right this second as I am about, say, my under-eye area. Plus, I'm basically an albino without mascara, so I plow throw the stuff. I'm not made of money and I've gotta make sure what I'm buying feels like it really COUNTS, ya know?

And as for household cleaner, I've switched almost all of our random all-purpose sprays over to good old fashioned white vinegar and water. It works and it's cheap.

4. Essential oils (seriously NEVER thought I'd say this and, NO, I'm not a YL rep!)

Think about the number of products you could DIY, and have them actually seem luxurious and also be effective, if you just kept a few oils on-hand.

Oils take DIY beauty to a completely different level, and I can tell you that I literally NEVER thought I'd be typing these words.

Even if you don't believe in their efficacy. Do it for the smells. Do it for the feeling that you've actually invested in yourself, rather than whipping up a few ingredients in the kitchen and slathering it on your body 'cause you're broke.

It'll make your homemade coffee scrub actually be able to compete against something you could have easily spent $15 on. Which is a win-win. Because your homemade stuff won't do what mine has in the past, and turn into just a catalyst for buying "the real thing" due to the vastly underwhelming experience of using it.

You do still have to make sure it's safe and not completely chemical, because, remember... your skin is your biggest organ.

That's why I do think it's in everyone's best interest to get their oils from a reputable source. I, personally, buy Plant Therapy oils from Amazon. But you do you, and try not to offend any oil slinging friends in the process (that ship has already sailed for me, I'm guessing.) Just don't get 'em in the candle section at Wal-Mart, mmmkay?

Just this month, I've made my own skin tightening serum for my post-baby stretch marks, which would have easily cost me up to (or over!) $100 for the good stuff. I spent around $75 on 5 different oils, which I'll be able to use in multiple, multiple ways, and will last me way longer than one bottle of serum. And now that I'm thinking about it, I might just add some to my vinegar cleaning spray. Maybe it'll smell better!

So there you have it. 5 ways to be cheap and bougie at the same time. Now, go forth and save!