Color of Money Live

Oct 04, 2012

Join The Washington Post nationally syndicated personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary Thurs. Oct. 4 at noon ET. Her guest will be Andrea Pomerantz Lustig, author of "How to Look Expensive: A Beauty Editor's Secrets to Getting Gorgeous without Breaking the Bank." Lustig is a contributing editor at Glamour. Her book was the Color of Money Book Club selection for September. During the chat, Singletary will also be available to answer your personal finance questions.

The growing burden on caregivers

Birthdays and benefits: A nudge on Social Security

This week’s eletter

Michelle's column on Lustig's book

I'm so glad you all could join me today. I love the topic today looking great for less.

Andrea Pomerantz Lustig, author of "How to Look Expensive: A Beauty Editor's Secrets to Getting Gorgeous without Breaking the Bank" is joining me live.

Andrea is ready to take your questions about looking expensive on the cheap.

So let's get started.


Michelle, thanks for having me. I'm looking forward to answering reader questions so bring them on! 

Hi Michelle! The business: Bag, Borrow & Steal lets you rent a "luxury" purse/tote for a certain amount of time, rather than going to the store and buying it. Is this really worth doing in your opinion? I have never used this service personally, but I have been curious. I prefer to buy a few terrific pieces and just rotate them through my wardrobe.

I think renting a bag only make sense for a special evening event where you need something specific to go with a dress.  Otherwise, rather then getting caught up in labels and spending money on renting, I'd prefer to purchase a some thing classic and simple that doesn't cost a fortune and that will look good with many outfits.  I've seen great leather totes at Joe Fresh for $30 and less that would work just fine during the day.  If you go for less expensive, keep it simple with less embelishments and it will look more expensive. Hope this helps.

I agree with Andrea. She gave a great tip.

As for renting bags, etc. I don't generally like thet concept of renting stuff -- leasing a car, renting furniture, computers, etc.

I go to a lot of events and have a simple bag I picked up somewhere. Yes, others have great bags that get lots of compliments but frankly I don't really care.

I wanted to share another perspective on why it's important to look good. While I know that what's inside is the most important part of me, I am realistic enough to understand that how I look outside affects what people think of me. As an independent consultant, I have to project a professional, confident image. Given my druthers, I wouldn't wear any makeup. However, I read about multiple studies that show that people perceive women who don't wear makeup in a negative light. I know it's not everyone, and I know it's not right, but it's reality. As a result, I make sure I put on a little makeup before business meetings, especially with men (who have been shown to perceive women with no makeup, or with too much makeup as less competent than women who wear modest makeup.) For me it's all about marketing myself.

I agree with everything you say here.  It does make a difference. I remember when first dating my husband and he told me he hated makeup.  But  I was always noticing that the times he complimented me that I looked great, I was always wearing makeup.     I was speaking to a high-powered business woman this morning who said for her, it was all about how makeup made her feel, that the confidence it gave her internally helped her feel more confident in business. 

Hi, Michelle. Twenty years ago I paid cash for a small new car. Great investment; warranty and no trouble for years! It runs well, but it's time to get a safer upgrade. Another new one with cash? Or a slightly used one? I don't want to buy someone else's problems, and it'll be tough to find what I want that's only about a year old. But I don't necessarily need the depreciation of a new one. But if I keep it 20 years again, does that matter?

You are in a great position it seems. You can buy with cash new or slightly used. So look around for both. My husband and I decided to buy new cars for just the reason you mentioned wanting one. You wanted what you wanted and you had the cash for it. On the other hand, we also have decided in the past we didn't really care if the car wasn't exactly the color we wanted or had all the accessories we wanted. Each time this issue comes up (which isnt' often since we keep our cars until for ever) we examine our finances, how much we want to spend given other obligations and either buy used or new.


The great thing is you have a choice.

Do you think it's really necessary for women -- or men -- to spend much at all to look good? I like looking natural and sort of resent that people say I have to wear makeup or have any beauty routine. I don't like heels or all the stuff you are "supposed" to wear to fancy events.

I think you can find great alternatives to expensive products at the drugstore and Target, I suggest many great options in my book. You can even find great, effective skincare at the drugstore at affordable prices.  I think you can stay true to your natural look without spending a fortune and look more polished.  It doens't have to cost a lot.  

Due to an unexpected huge home repair plus medical bills over the summer, my credit card debt shot up to $10k. I want to get rid of that ASAP. I have 4 months of living expenses in savings which I regularly contribute to, but need to rebuild my "life happens" fund now. I plan to leave the 401k contributions the same. Other debt includes my mortgage, student loan, and car loan. I'm cutting back on other basic expenses, but feel like I'm hardly putting a dent in that $10k. With that 4 month cushion, should I take a break from savings to chip away at the credit card or something else? Thanks!

I would definitely take a break from savings to attack that credit card debt if you feel fairly secure in your job.

And you didn't ask but I'll throw this in too. After you attack the credit card debt, go after the student loans and car loan aggressively. I'm saying stay in the pay off the debt mode before going back to building up your savings. You have a great cushion so attack those monkeys on your back.

Cannot wait to read the book! Being a professional woman can be expensive! Between the outfits, regular haircuts, nails, brows, makeup, gym...I know many of these can be DIY or discount, but what are your most frequent to-dos where the splurge really does pay off, so to speak?

The book shows you how to be your own pro and get professional results at home, but it also shows you how to get a good deal at a salon and where to save and where to splurge.  I think haircolor remains a worth-it splurge but there are ways to work your hair so you don't have to go as often so it will cost less.  As for cut, if you are trying to save, get a more minimalistic cut.  The book has 5 $500 celebrity haircuts you can take to an inexpensive salon.  Also, professional hair tools can be worth the investment--if you want pro results at home you need pro tools.  But I find that Remmington makes amazing inexpensive heat appliances that work as well as some of the more costly ones.  Otherwise, I do believe in splurging on your must-have product, the skincare product or makeup item that makes you feel like a million bucks each time you use it.  

Please share some of your ideas. I am especially interested in a casual look.

I love a bronzy smoky eye for a natural, casual look. Pair it with rosy blush and a nude lipstick that lifts you and doesn't make you look dead (many nudes do!) and mascara, and that's all you need.   Wear makeup that matches the colors found in your skin and the flecks of your irises for a more natural, casual look.   Some of my favorite inexpensive places to shop for makeup are Target (The Sonia Kashuk line, she's an amazing makeup artist and her product are very universal and work for many skintones), and sephora's private label sephora collection. Really affordable great products.  I also like Nyx cosmetics, Milani, L'oreal and NYC Color.  All offer professional quality products at drugstore prices. 

I've read some of the economic news stories recently saying that the investing train is passing by those who save. The thing is, I have felt like this for a few years, but don't know where to start on investing or how much of my money to invest. I've been really lucky (and hardworking) in the last years to be able to save so that I have about 12 months of net salery in savings. It seems rediculous to let it sit there, though. I have a chance to invest with my parent's investment people, but that would drop me down to about 3 months in savings, which makes me nervous. I don't have friends who invest, and I don't really want to strike out on my own. So, how does one start? Thanks!

Really good question. Depending on your career and how well paid you are and your monthly household expenses, I wouldn't see your year's worth of living expenses as investing money. That's your emergency fund and life happens fun. Don't touch that money especially if it would be hard to replace your current salary or get a job soon should you lose your job.

And don't worry about that money not earning much. It's not suppose to be there for growth but for protection.

Instead, now that you have a great cushhion start saving and investing beyond that pot.  I think it would be worth it for you to hire a fee-only financial planner to help you create an investing plan. That person could look at all your holdings, your insurance needs, your future plans and risk tolerance and help you decide how to invest with as little worry as possible.

You can start your search for a planner at

The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors

My husband and I have 8 year old twins and are caring for my elderly mother in our home. His parents also need help but we don't have the space. The physical, emotional and financial toll is overwhelming. And more and mjore people are going to ber in our position as the recession continues to wipe out savings and cause job and housing losses. We have family and friends in Canada and throughout Europe who receive a lot more help than we do in dealng with this issue. It is not a pretty picture.

Here is the link.  

I feel your pain and stress. There's a link attached to your question and my answer with my column from yesterday about caregiving. I'm helping my husband take care of his  elderly father in our home. In the article I list some links that can help you. One is for a section on AARP's site with resources. I've found it's very important to build up a network of professionals and friends to help. Get family involved as much as you can or that they are willing to do.

And you are right. This issue of caregiving and the burden it's having on the caregivers is going to get worse if more resources and training isn't devoted to helping us take care of the people we love when they can't.

No offense but doesn't your magazine sort of encourage women to have a certain look, which often means spending more money than they should on hair, makeup, etc. Even with your tips, it''s still pressure to spend to compete or look as good as others.

I think you can opt out if you want but the truth is beauty does matter and it's a tool you can have in your arsenal to give you confidence while you go out and accomplish the important things in life.  In my book, I encourage women to be themselves. The makeup chapter is called 'You Only Better Makeup'.  It's not about conforming to a certain look but looking and feeling your best.

So if you feel you need to wear makeup, etc. where should you go, how much should you spend and how much time do you have to spend in the morning to look good?

I think I just answered this in a previous question.  At the places I suggested you can find makeup under $10 for most products.  I also think you can edit down what you need to the things you actually use.  Less is more on your face and in your makeup bag and leaves more in your wallet!  You can look great in five minute with a quick sweep of a shadow stick, liner, mascara, bb cream, tinted blush and lip balm or lip stick or crayon.  If you use cream products and sticks, you don't even need to invest in brushes because your fingers are your tools.

I spend extra for two things: a great haircut and an awesome brow-waxer. I've had a tough time finding cheap haircut or waxing options and I'm reluctant to mess up the haircut or eyebrows I have in an experiment. Am I just rationalizing?

What I suggest is just getting the brow wax less often.  You can probably maintain the line yourself at home and get away with at least every other month if not more.  As for the great haircut, it's hard to let go of a stylist you love.  Ask him to adjust your cut a bit so it will last longer--he may be able to give you a just as good cut that will last an extra month.   BTW, if you go t the Un-i-k salons and have to go back before three weeks, they give you a touch-up for less money than the cost of the full servie.  Ask your salon if they can do something like that for you. 

Hi Michelle. I keep our life happens fund, emergency fund, car savings fund, in one large savings account. But based on your email today, I'm wondering if that's a good idea. Should I be more gutsy and do stocks? If so, how does one get started in that? I've never done stocks before and haven't a clue. Thanks.

I'm not sure what I said made you think you should risk your emergency money, life happens fund, car savings etc. I hope I didn't suggest you should invest that money. You shouldn't. That's money you might need in five years or left so it's okay to leave it in a savings account.

What I hope I said and was clear that if you have met your goal for those pots (3 to 12 months in emergency funds, $1,000 to perhaps $3,000 in Life Happens Fund (for car repairs, etc.), whatever you think you want to spend for car when that's needed)  then you can take any extra money and begin investing those funds.

As for how to invest I can't say what's best for all. But I like mutual funds. And I like dollar cost averaging meaning every month I put money in various mutual funds for college savings for my kids, my retirement, etc.

I'm really tired of paying nearly $100 for a haircut (including tip) in the DC area. I would love to find a place where I could pay for just a cut and skip the blow out. If I'm not going out for a fancy evening, I really don't need all this time spent on my hair. Are you aware of any place like this?

I'm not sure you need to skip the blow-out.  Two ideas for you:  Switch to a junior stylist at your same salon.  Tell your stylist you are having trouble with the cost and who can he recommend (and oversee during the cut!).  Or start asking around for a less expensive salon.  I think you can find great talent anywhere if you look and do your research.  Walk into a less costly salon and if you like the hair on one of the employees, ask who did it.   Don't be afraid to try to find something more affordable, even if you are attached to your stylist and there's no wiggle room in his price or an assistant he recommends.  

I thought I would *never* do my own hair color - but when I did - wow, it looked great. I was totally surprised. Now - really - it is a splurge that can be worth it (you can get dye everywhere) but the very inexpensive drugstore colors are great.

Awesome to hear! Can I ask what box you used?  

Do both. Walking and chewing gum? I have $1000 in my mouth and $100 in cash savings. I owe the dentist money. They saved a tooth. X-ray showed nothing, which saved ??? how much. Put your benefits at the front of the conversation. It would be easier if I had a dental plan. It could of been another grand or two worth of work.

I'm not sure I am following your flow but I think you are saying what I say. Save because you have to and if you don't if an emergency comes up you will have to resort to debt. But if you've saved just enough, stop and attack the debt. Or save a little and attack the debt big time.

So yes, walk and chew gum at the same time.

My husband and I have the opportunity to pay off a lot of little debts, which we are going to do. We are so excited!!!! It will not entirely eliminate our debts, but it will make a big difference in our lives. I want to build up more savings with the money we were paying to debts every month. Instead of writing a check to XYZ credit card on that date, should I just move the money from the checking account to the savings account on that day? Thank you.

First, its great that you have a chance to get rid of the debt.As I've said build up a little savings. Stop and go after the debt aggrresively. If you have some savings don't worry about building it up more while you still have the other debt that needs to be gotten off your back.

Ttake the money you were paying on the debt you are going to wipe out and put in toward the debt that's  left.

I don't really *like* wearing make up. I either feel like I don't see any difference or like I'm wearing a lot of make up. I'm heading to my late 30s though, and while sunscreen has helped my skin stay in pretty good shape, I worry that I look too bland. Even when I've gone to make up counters for brands that advertise to play up your natural looks, I wind up looking at myself afterwards like "who are you trying to fool?" Any advice?

One thing I can suggest is skipping foundation and just using concealer as needed with a little cream blush and eyemakeup/lip colors in soft natural shades. If you choose shades with a little shimmer, they will look more glowy and natural.  You want your makeup to look like it comes from within your skin not like it's sitting on top and the trick to getting that look is to use cream products and blend very well.  Play up your eyes with bronzy neutrals.  I love the Sonia Kashuk plummy bronze pencil because it gives definition without looking harsh and makeup-y.  I love Nars' Velvet Lip Gloss crayons, Hopi is a favorite shade I'm wearing today that looks totally natural but gives your lips a bit of life. I also love New Lover.  Nars Orgasm multiple stick is my go-to for a pretty glow to liven up bland-looking skin.  

Hi Michelle! Love your chats, been reading them for years. I have recently taken a new job that has the potential to pay me twice what I was making before. I took this job so I could finally pay off my student loans ($28,000 left after eight years of paying). I find myself stressing out about the job and the debt. What do you recommend so that I don't get defeated? I'm COMMITTED to getting this debt paid off in 2 years. I can't wait to write in and tell you that I did it!

First, thanks for the lovely words. I very much appreciate your faithfulness.

And congrats on the job!

Now, with this great opportunity I would keep living as if I made the old salary. In others words live way below your new means.

Take every single penny of the increase in pay -- minus the taxes of course -- and apply it to your debt. You might get rid of the debt in less than the two years.

Think about it. You are living okay on the old salary so keep living that way. When you finish the debt keep living below your means and build up a great savings. What I'm saying is always live below your means and you will in the future have the means -- cash -- to pay for the things you need and want.

You mentioned bb cream? What is that?

A bb cream is a beauty balm or blemish balm.  It's a new category of product that combines skincare ingredients with tinted coverage so that in one product with one step you get multiple benefits.  Unlike a tinted moisturizer which has only 5% pigment, a BB cream might have 20 to 30%, so the coverage is better but not heavy.  There are bb creams at all price levels.  On the high-end I like Dior BB cream and on the low end Maybelline makes a great one with SPF.  I have a round-up of the bb creams on my blog at

Given everything you've said. About how much a month or year is a good/fair/reasonable amont to spend on beauty stuff for men and women?

I think the answer isn't the same for everyone. It depends on what you can afford.  I believe you an always find a less expensive way to look great if your budget is tight.  You can probably spend less than $100 a year on makeup if you buy the right products at the drugstore of some of the other places I mentioned. You can get your haircut twice a year if you choose the right cut and save that way.  Hair color at a salon can be very costly, but if you stick closer to your own color and use a quality kit, you can do it for less than $100 a year.  Each of us has to prioritize what is most important to our own look  and then figure out how to get the look you want without breaking the bank.  


I don't spend much in the way of hair and beauty products and I do lots of TV. But I also don't have a problem with people spending more if they can afford it.

Just be financially reasonable.

I don't know how much brow-waxing costs, but the chatter should find out how much electrolysis costs. I had electrolysis done years ago on my eyebrows, upper lip and chin hairs. They don't grow back.

Yes, electrolysis can be a good investment as can laser hair removal, but only if you have the money to finance it up front. It could involve multiple costly appointments over years.   It doesn't work for everyone either.  Waxing is much less taxing! 

Okay I'm going to be silly. But why we need to wax anything?

It hurts. I do it cuz the makeup people when I do TV says it looks better but I avoid it most of the time.

Is it me?


Investing? Buy options in high priced stocks instead of buying the stocks themselves. Don't buy the band, just buy the concert ticket.

Mutual funds.

Like mutual funds. The right low-cost diversified mutual funds give you an opportunity to be in the market without as much risk as individual stocks.

Hi ~ I've was laid off and have been out of work for  seven months - finally have an interview for a consulting position that may last one year. I am 60 - people tell me don't look it but have a lotta grey in my long blonde brn hair. Quit highlighting but think I need to spend the $150 plus for the interview - what do you think????

It could be a smart investment to get the highlights.  But you don't have to.  I would try to find out a little bit more about the office environment before making the investment--how old are the other employees? Is it a young office culture?  Have you ever tried at home color? A permanent hair color will cover the grey and the John Freida Salon Selects really give multi-dimensional hair color that looks rich to your color hair.  Call the hotline of a few hair color companies and see what they suggest.  You may be able to do it yourself.   

I know about keeping it until you've adopted the tow truck guy, but what if you're talking an expensive car? I have a Mercedes wagon 1999 that I bought used. It's been wonderfully reliable but it is at 160,000 miles and has a few serious things wrong with it that will cost a good 3,000 bucks to fix. Is that worth it with such high mileage? It has been reliable but none of this is transmission work and I worry the transmission will go. Is it smart to be a one-car family?

Talk to the mechanic. Having 160,000 on that type of car isn't much and doesn't mean it's at the end of its life.

Besides think about it $3,000 vs. a new or even used car that could cost four or five times that.

And if your lifestyle permits you could get away with being a one car family. I couldn't but many do.

Sign and drive lease. Nothing down, $100 a month. If stranded, call cab. Bus is $3. GM went bust trying to get people to spend tens of thousands of dollars on cars.

As Dave Ramsey says, leasing is fleecing.

Don't lease. Bad deal in my opinion. When the lease is up you have to jump into a car loan or antoher lease so the payments never stop. But my way you pay cash for a car, save money every month like you have a car payment and when it comes time to get a car you have the cash.


How many/types of shoes do you suggest having? Are there brands you like to save/splurge on?

This year I think for work if you have a great pair of nude pumps, you're set.  You can wear them with anything.  Buy nude patent for the most long-lasting wear.  A nude pump will elongate your leg and make you look taller and thinner and looks fresher with a black dress than black pumps, day or night.  I'm currently loving the Vince Camuto line of shoes. They are really good quality , they last, and are not too expensive...but they look really expensive! 

Put me firmly in the no-make-up club. I don't care how others perceive me if the cost is putting on make-up! First off, I'm allergic to many ingredients in make-up - even "hypoallergenic" - so it would be both difficult and costly to find stuff that doesn't make me break out in hives. Secondly, since I haven't worn the stuff since I discovered the problem - including on my wedding day - I really wouldn't know how to put it on! I think suffering through the inevitable horrible results of trial and error might be worse than letting people see my real face. FWIW, my husband says he hates make-up. And since he's never seen me with any on, I can only assume he really means it! To me, it just strikes me as yet another double standard in the business world. It's not bad enough that our fashion changes more often, much of our professional clothing doesn't have pockets, and our hair/nails/jewelry has to be more "put together"? And don't get me started on the "merits" of heels.

I hear you. And most of the time I have no makeup on. Totally hate heels.

Right now I only have a little lip gloss on and that's usually to keep my lips from getting cracked.

So wear your non-makeup face well.

You know yourself. You man loves you natuaral so all is good.

But I also appreciate people who want to wear makeup. At times I do like how it makes me look and feel.

Just with your own budget it is all about what's good and affordable for you.

How do you stop yourself from buying more makeup than you need. I always get stuff I think I will use but then don't. Or I go to the makeup counter or a presentation by someone selling makeup and get sucked into getting stuff that just sits on my sink. But I always think I'm going to use it. Just a watse of money. Help!

Firstly I'd suggest giving your makeup collection a good edit.  You're right--if you don't wear it is a big waste of money and space!  In the future, invest in one or two key pieces each season and tell the beauty associate upfront that that is what you are there for so she doesn't try to sell you everything.  As for trendy items, buy them at the drugstore so you won't feel bad throwing them out after the season or if you get less wear out of them.  If you have high-end items that you are not wearing or only used once, you can donate them.  Also, don't use cosmetic shopping as retail 'therapy'--stay out of the stores when you're in a blue mood.  You can also avoid the store altogether and just rebuy what you know you already love online.  And don't be afraid to ask for samples at the counter--many will put product in a little container for you to take home and really try before you buy (especially if it's high-end skincare!). 

You say we can use our fingers but beauty experts are always saying we need certain brushes, etc. When I travel I almost need a suitcase for my beauty products and I don't really have a lot. What brushes should we buy and by the way, how long should we keep them?

If you use powders and need brushes, the good news is you don't need as many as some makeup artists would have you think.  CVS sells a brand called Essence of Beauty that has a kit of 5 brushes that are great quality for $10.99.  A top celebrity makeup artist turned me on to them.  In my book, you need a foundation brush (I like duo-fiber ones, sonia kashuk at target's is great) or you can buy a foundation with a brush already built in (L'Oreal Visible Lift).  Then for your eyes you need an all purpose shadow brush that can be used on lids and in the crease, a liner brush that's stiff and flat or angled, a blush brush and powder brush. Back to Sonia Kashuk at Target. Her brushes are really inexpensive, gorgeous, amazing, genius. I don't know how she does it.  They also come in great limited edition sets for under $20 usually with a cute bag to travel with that can double as an evening bag. 

Beauty schools have students if you don't mind being practiced on.

My godmother often gets her hair done at beauty schools. Good tip and one often relayed. But still worth repeating.

Here is an easy way to start investing: Pick a mutual fund (Vanguard has lots of well-regarded choices), open it with whatever minimum is required, usually about $2,000, and set up an automatic $100 share purchase every month from your checking account. Voila, you are investing. Whenever you have a little unexpected cash like a tax refund, send that in too. If the fund performs well and with the regular monthly share purchases, in just a couple of years you could accumulate a tidy little sum.

I can't endorse any one investing company but in general you are right about how to start. Thanks.

I have heard good things about the Aveda Institute in DC (Chinatown I think). I know it might not be for everyone but students do the cuts and its VERY discounted. I think they can be as low as $18.

Beauty schools can be a great way to get an inexpensive cut and Aveda does a great job with their education and training, so this sounds like a great DC option.  Ask if the student stylist is supervised by an instructor/master stylist and also be sure to ask if you can have a say in your look as sometimes they expect you to be hair models and just go with the flow and let them do whatever it is they want! Scary! 

Part of the reason I love my job is there is no need to worry about makeup and, to a lesser extent, hair. I've worked my way from staff to very high senior staff and somewhere along the way I stopped straightening my hair (my nautral hair looks like a drowned poodle who put his snout in a socket) and wearing makeup. I just make sure I look as presentable as I naturally can - clean cut clothes and curls as put together as they can be. I'm also obese. And somehow I rose to the top anyway. One of the reasons I love my job - people actually look at the work you do during 9-5, not the work you do before you get to work to look good.

Thank you for sharing. Good testimony.

What do you do if you have to takepublic transportaitn to work? If I put on makeup in the morning, it melts off by the time I get to work because of walking to/from/taking metro. But it would be really unprofessional for me to put it on at work.

I would suggest adding a primer to your makeup before you put it on to help it stay or a powder foundation after your makeup to keep it in place.  If you layer powders over creams, they'll have longer staying power.  You can also brush on one of these powders once you get to work to refresh your makeup if it's faded. 

I just started using mascara because in the past I found it smudged and left me with black eyes. I now find that the waterproof ones stay on but some brands really clump and get all over my hands. Any recommendations? Also any recommendations for removers for waterproof mascara which is hard to get off? Suggestions on how to keep the eyelashes separated when using mascara?

I prefer what are called tubing mascaras.  L'Oreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes is great at the drugstore and Trish McEvoy is great at the high end.  These do not run at all--they just come off in little pieces when you use wash your face.  I take off my eye makeup btw with a product called eye scrub pads from Novartis at the drugstore.  Babyshampoo on a cotton ball can help take off water proof mascara too.  Rinse afterwards.

Every year, we get a family photo taken at one of the local studios. We also get individual photos of each of our children (three) taken, which we mail inside of holiday cards to our family members. I am not one for posting photos of my children online/Facebook/etc. With budgetary concerns in mind, what is the best way to get the photos and save money? I can take pictures on my own with the digital camera, but I am not yet skilled at using the timer and all to get the whole family in the shots. I take and share pictures of the children all the time.

I like the idea of professional family photos. So if you have it in your budget I wouldn't stress about spending the money. In fact, you just remined me that I need to get some updated family photos especially with my oldest going off to college next year.


If you can afford it invest in whole, natural, organic foods. Your diet will be the best predictor of your physical beauty. That and invest time in exercise for yourself. I've found those are the things that make me look and feel the best and are worth spending on. As far as beauty routines there is so much you can do with cheap grocery items (apple cider vinegar, yogurt masks, home waxing, etc). You just need to spend some time googling to figure out how to do these treatments yourself.

Good tips and advice. Thanks.

I'm so sorry that it's time to go. I'm so glad Andrea had a chance to join me. She's given me some great tips because I need to get some new brushes. The ones I have are like a decade old and very little brush hairs left :)

Thanks to all you joined me today. And keep coming back. If I didn't answer your question, you may see an answer in an upcoming column.

Take care and be financially safe.

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Michelle Singletary
Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column, "The Color of Money," which appears in The Post on Thursday and Sunday. Her award-winning column is also carried in more than 120 newspapers. In her spare time, Singletary is the director of a ministry she founded at her church, in which women and men volunteer to mentor others who are having financial challenges.

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