How to Be a Diva on a Budget – Living Large for Less

How to be a diva on a budgetI’m all about being an independent woman and I shook my booty along with the rest of my friends when Destiny’s Child encouraged us all to buy our own diamonds and rings. But what’s a girl to do when the budget barely covers the rent, let alone bling?

Million Dollar Divas know that, as much as we’d love to rock a new outfit every weekend, it’s more fulfilling to have a fully stocked emergency fund and a growing investment account. Thankfully it is possible to be a rockin’ diva today, while making our savings grow for tomorrow.

Be a Bargain Bloodhound

If you want to live large on the cheap then you’re going to have to know how to spot a bargain. Sites like Scoopon and Groupon are awesome if you are looking to do a little splurging without spending a lot. Sign up to a couple of sites and wait for the deals to hit your inbox.

To avoid getting overwhelmed by a mountain of emails everyday, I suggest you set up a separate email address just for group deal sites. Then when you want to treat yourself to a massage or a night out, scroll through the recent emails and find a deal that suits you.

Of course, you’ll want to carefully check the Terms and Conditions on the deal to make sure that you’ll actually be able to use it before it expires. Diva’s hate wasting money on unused coupons even more than we hate six week old regrowth.

Ask for a Discount

If you’ve managed to find a beauty salon that does 15 minute pain free Brazilians or a hairdresser who knows how to cut your hair just how you like it, then you probably don’t want to shop around on group deal sites. Instead ask your salon if they offer a discount for buying a certain number of treatments up front. Or if you’ve sent a lot of friends their way, mention this and see if they can offer you a deal. Good businesses know the value of loyal customers and they’ll be more than willing to show their appreciation.

Get Event Tickets for Free

Got a penchant for the theatre? Or do you like getting down and dirty at music festivals? Perhaps you are a die hard fashionista?

If you can’t afford to pay to go to the events you want, then why not see if you can volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to attend events for free or for a massively discounted price.

You could work as an usher at shows and concerts. Or man the merch tent at a festival during the day and watch all your favourite bands at night. Or perhaps see if you can help set up for the annual fashion festival and later rub shoulders with the glitterati.

The key to getting a volunteer gig is getting organised and contacting the event coordinators early. Usually you don’t need experience, but when you contact them make sure your application stands out from the pack. Tell them exactly why you’d be a great fit for their festival and let your personality shine.

Stop Shopping, Start Hiring

One of life’s great mysteries is how a woman can have a wardrobe full of clothes, and yet still find nothing to wear (I hear NASA is working to solve this as we speak). And if you’ve just been invited to a fancy event and it’s very likely that Bradley Cooper will be attending then you’re going to be tempted to blow your rent money on a to-die-for stunner.

Stop! Unless you’re planning to wear that princess cut gown to the supermarket every single day then it’s not a good financial decision (and even then, no).

There are plenty of websites that allow you to hire designer frocks for a fraction of what it would cost to buy. Sure, it’s still not a cheap option for everyday wear, but if you need a dress that’s going to knock the socks off a certain blue-eyed dreamboat then hiring is a great option.

Nothing Looks as Good as Financial Independence Feels

Remember the most important thing is nothing is more fashionable than financial security. If you’re struggling under the weight of credit card debt or wondering how you’ll ever be able to afford to retire then you need to work on setting some goals and working towards those. Start by creating a budget and putting some money away in an emergency account. Wipe out all your consumer debt, and get a retirement savings plan in place. Then you can worry about where to score the hottest hair treatment at a fraction of the price.

Have you got any tips on living like a diva for less?

Photo credit: Money Swimsuit by Meshalo1/Etsy

This post was first published on 17 September 2013.

Paying for Health – Why Money Motivates Us

How money can motivate you to good healthI’ve just started going to the gym again. It’s been a few years since I had last ‘worked out’ (when dancing became my substitute exercise). But with a dance competition coming up in November, I decided I needed to add some extra activity into my week to get into my best shape.

I toyed with the idea of joining a regular gym and working out by myself. I’ve joined gyms in the past, and although I love it when I first start going, I’ve found my motivation wears off quite quickly and I don’t work as hard as I could when I am there. Then resentment sets in at spending money on something I’m not using, and suddenly going to the gym becomes a chore.

But then I saw an offer at a local fitness centre for four, half-hour fitness sessions a week in a small group. Sure it’s about three times more expensive than just joining a normal gym. But I’m convinced that it provides better value, and will keep me going back for more.

Let’s explore, shall we.

First, we all know if takes a lot of motivation to get out and head to the gym. And it’s winter here right now, so just leaving the house is hard enough, let alone going out to get sweaty and red.

But having a set appointment means I’m way more likely to go. I’ve even been getting up 6am to get there for my class, something that I’d never do to just ‘go to the gym’.

It also makes the decision to go that much easier. With a normal gym membership, you’re fitting in your sessions around the rest of the day. If things get a bit busy during the day, you may decide just to skip a session so you can get your work done.

With the group sessions, there’s no decision-making in terms of when to go. The sessions are locked in my diary, four days a week.

I also know that my absence will be noted, which is another factor; miss a few sessions at the gym and no one is going to notice. And once you’ve missed a few sessions, it’s a slippery-slope to going a week or more between workouts.

If you only make it to the gym only once in a week, suddenly that low membership fee isn’t so low. So the higher chance of going to the group training in many ways justifies the higher price.

Paying more for group or private training isn’t the only way to use money as a means of motivation.

I’ve also been a long-time user of fitness app Pact (previously GymPact). This app basically punishes you financially for missing a workout, and conversely rewards you if you meet your fitness goals.

You set your fitness goals in the app (ie, three gym sessions a week), and how much you are willing to wager for each session missed. You then ‘check-in’ with the app when you are actually at the gym, or you can integrate it with RunKeeper to record your outdoor sessions.

If you don’t complete all your sessions for the week, you pay a set amount. If you do make all your sessions for the week, you keep your money and get a share of the funds from those people who had to pay up.

Pact also allows you to set goals and wager on other health-related challenges, including eating a set amount of fruit and vegetables each week.

It’s not like you’re going to get rich using the app (payouts are generally $1 per week). But the fear of losing money is highly motivating – it’s an extra incentive to get out of bed and do some exercise.

Anyway, back to my new exercise regimen.

It’s been three weeks now and I’ve only missed one session (thanks to a minor cold). I’m finding it’s getting easier to get out of bed early, and I’m looking after my health better too (like eating well and drinking a lot more water). So the additional expense does seem to be paying dividends in other areas too. I’m hoping that once the financial motivation wears off, I’ll have put in place some great habits that will stick with me for years to come.

Are there any ways that you use money as a motivator? Would you spend more money on something if you knew it would make you more likely to achieve your goals? I’d love to know your thoughts.

Original image: Flickr/RossPollack