“How can you afford all this crap?”

I frequently get asked this question, and as much as I’d like to say I’m just a good shopper it takes a lot of time and effort to not spend thousands of dollars on items whose sole purpose is to make me look and feel pretty. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’m far from being wealthy enough to just blow cash like it’s no big deal.

So what do I do?

  • Check the ads – drugstores constantly have BOGO sales and manufacturer coupons. Ulta’s ads include the deal of the month (like their liter sale).
  • Sign up for promotional emails – I know they take up tons of space in your inbox but it’s worth it, and really I only spend about five minutes a day managing the almost 100 promo emails that come in.
  • Sign up for rewards programsespecially the ones that give you actual money off of your purchases, like Ulta, Urban Decay and Walgreens. Some of these rewards programs also give you free products and/or extra discounts for your birthday.
  • Wait for sales – I only purchase shampoo, conditioner, hair masks, etc. twice a year, during Ulta’s liter sale. I can get really high-quality hair products for 1/2 to 1/3 of the normal price. Ulta has other great sales, like their upcoming 21 Days of Beauty, where they’ll offer big discounts on a few luxury products every day for 21 days.
  • Subscription boxes – this might sound odd since the subscription costs money, but it gives me a chance to try out inexpensive products I’ve never heard of or higher end stuff I’ve been interested in but haven’t purchased because I don’t want to spend the money for the full size unless I know I love it. This same principle applies to the “try it kits” a lot of brands have now. Sephora even curates their own; for example, if you’re in the market for a new mascara but don’t really know what you want, there’s a whole kit with different mascara minis from different brands, and it’s around the same price as one full sized mascara.
  • Social media – I follow all of my favorite brands on social media and am frequently rewarded with special discount codes and exclusive sales.
  • Free gifts – I know this sounds like a throwback to the days of makeup counters and getting sucked into buying a whole bunch of stuff just for the free gift, but that’s not really a thing anymore. I mean, it is, but not if you’re smart. I keep an eye out for when the things I need are the free gift. The last time I purchased a high-end foundation the free gift was a really nice brush, and since I don’t own many brushes I felt like it was a worthwhile free gift. I use a lot of Clinique skin care and the last time I placed an order the free gift was a set of skin care and makeup travel minis, including an eyeshadow quad and lipstick. It was a really nice set and since I was about to go on vacation it saved me from buying minis to toss in my carry on.

So now you know some of my secrets. If you have any other money saving ideas please share!

Edited to add: Wow, I don’t know how I could forget Ebates. If you’ve never heard of this site they give you real, human money back for online shopping. I have it installed in my browser and anytime I visit a site that has an Ebates agreement I get a little pop up to let me know what the cash back percentage is. They also have a few stores where you can save by shopping in a store. I’ve only been using it for a week and I already love it. I’m also kicking myself for not having signed up sooner. I could have saved so. Much. Money.

If you’d like to sign up, please (PLEASE) use my referral link.

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