Category Archives: Cheap Thrills

Interview Wardrobe Ideas for Spring 2010

I am dying for Spring to get here. So the other day, I visited one of my favorite bargain sites, Chadwicks.com, to see if they had any fun, inexpensive dresses to kick off the season. I ended up ordering four.

Many times, Chadwicks has really cheesy clothes, but every now and then I pick up something adorable that gets positive feedback and is well-made. I also never see anyone else wearing it. So I thought about you job hunters. With warm weather finally upon us, I know you’re itching for something new to put into the interview rotation. Chadwicks has several cute dresses I think are appropriate for at least an informational or initial meeting.

They’re also having a fabulous “Dress & Suit Event” and are offering 20 percent off dresses and suits until March 25. $4.99 ships everything. The promotion code is CHDRESSUP.

Check it out!
www.chadwicks.com

Photo: Chadwicks.com

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Unemployed? 20 Inexpensive Ways to Show Yourself Some Love on Valentine’s Day

I was thinking of what I could possibly write that relates the unemployed and struggling to Valentine’s Day. Then, it came to me: This is a perfect time to show yourself some love and affection. And who needs that more than you?

I came up with 20 ways you can give yourself a big hug this Sunday. They’re cheap and easy…just like me. Kidding! 🙂

  1. Hit up a matinée. Garry Marshall’s “Valentine’s Day” hits theaters today. Most of the Oscar-nominated films are out, too.
  2. Download a few new songs from iTunes.
  3. Treat yourself to a small piece of costume jewelry like earrings or a bracelet. Target’s got cute guilt-free options.
  4. Take time away from your computer to dive into that cheesy chick lit book that’s sitting on your bedside table.
  5. Head over to your neighborhood chocolatier and buy a couple of sinfully divine truffles or even just a mug of decadent hot chocolate. Yes, with whipped cream. Yes, with chocolate shavings. 
  6. Invite your closest friends over to share a nice bottle of wine. This is the time to splurge on that $25 or $30 bottle you’ve been eyeing.
  7. Go to church. For the faithful, nothing is more uplifting than some quiet time with God or an inspiring sermon from your favorite spiritual leader.
  8. Join the girls for brunch at a cute café with all-you-can-drink mimosas or Bloody Marys.
  9. Let yourself be lazy. Pile up on the couch with a blanket and watch hours of Lifetime or Hallmark Channel movies. Go ahead…no one’s watching!
  10. Visit your local bookstore and treat yourself to a gorgeous magazine you normally don’t read.
  11. Pick up some new lingerie. Again, Target has cute bras, panties and nighties. Loehmann’s also has a great selection.
  12. Manicure/Pedicure. Duh.
  13. A tube of lipstick or bottle of nail polish. I love bright colors from Chanel, MAC, Essie and OPI. Drugstore brands are great, too!
  14. Take a bubble bath. My favorite indulgence by far.
  15. Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers at the market. FTD doesn’t have to make a delivery to be cheered by a bright bunch of blooms.
  16. Get the kids out of the house for the afternoon.
  17. Bundle up and take a long stroll somewhere you can enjoy beautiful outdoor scenery. 
  18. Buy the best candle you can afford at a cute gift shop you normally don’t visit. Light it, take a deep breath and close your eyes.
  19. Did you cut out Starbucks when you lost your job. Not today you don’t!
  20. Have a hot afternoon of sex with your partner–it costs virtually nothing. That is, unless you forget protection!

What are you planning to do this Valentine’s Day?

Cheap Fast-Food Eats for 2010

I can’t lie–I love an Egg McMuffin. It’s my favorite fast-food breakfast next to the Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit. However, the chicken biscuit adds more pounds to my ass than an Egg McMuffin, so…

In today’s story by Bruce Horovitz for USA Today, Bruce announces that McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell are unveiling huge values for the New Year. This should be welcome news to all of us who are watching our wallets but still need to get out of the house for a quick treat.

When we were out of work, my UPiC (Unemployed Partner in Crime) Shelley and I used to walk to McDonald’s for a double cheeseburger meal. Sadly, it made our day.

McDonald’s is adding a dollar breakfast menu (yes, beloved McMuffin is on there!), Taco Bell unveils an 89-cent Beefy 5-Layer Burrito and Burger King adds a $1 chicken sandwich. These are just a few of the items coming to your local drive-thru in 2010.

http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2009-12-10-cheapeats10_ST_N.htm

5 Holiday Attire Ideas Even Scrooge Will Love

Just because you’re without a job or pinching pennies doesn’t mean you have to make like a Cratchit for the holidays!

I realize I am late to the party, but I also know lots of people have holiday events this weekend and next–including MPS. I still don’t know what (to quote my mother), “I’m gonna put on this body”, but it’s got to be something cheap or something I already have in my closet. So after thumbing through my wares, I’ve come up with five easy (read: not groundbreaking) style ideas that are sure to erase the bah-humbugs and have you eager to make out under the mistletoe and go buck-wild at your office  holiday party!

  1. Glam up a simple outfit with a silver or gold skinny belt. J.Crew has some sassy metallics for little $$$.
  2. Buy some inexpensive costume jewelry to bring back to life that little black dress or silky top you’ve been wearing to death. Was floored by the fun selection I saw the other day at Old Navy. Granted, these baubles may not last forever, but at least they’ll add a lil’ bling for the night.
  3. Don’t forget that jeans are okay. Last year, I wore dark jeans with a cropped green velvet Mandarin collar jacket bought years ago at Loehmann’s. I added some cute earrings, black heels, and it looked adorable. http://youlookfab.com/2008/12/04/casual-holiday-parties-on-a-budget-glam-up-your-jeans/
  4. Target. Target. Target. Their Limited Edition line is bursting at the seams with cuteness.
  5. Borrow from a friend. Act like you’re living back in the dorm or the sorority house. There’s nowhere better to shop than your BFF’s closet. Just be kind and dry clean before returning. 

Happy holidays!

5 Easy Things You Can Do For Your Unemployed BFF

When I was in the thick of unemployment, I couldn’t afford to go out to eat or have beers with my friends. I was also stressed most of the time and pre-occupied with where my next buck was coming from. I kept hearing people ask, “I know she can’t afford to go out, but we miss seeing her” or “She won’t even let us buy her a glass of wine”. In addition to all that, I often didn’t shower or change out of my pajamas.

When at the mercy of the unemployment office, the jobless can get sensitive about taking money from others, no matter how well-intended. It’s called pride. Pride can also cause them to slowly feel disengaged from their circle of friends. So what can you, a gainfully employed person, do to show that out-of-work pal that she’s not out of luck or out of love?

  1. Invite him/her over for dinner – An invitation for a home-cooked meal is a low-key way to make your friend get dressed and leave the house without spending money. Also, my UPiC (Unemployed Partner-In-Crime) and I used to make dinner for each other. We got to eat well by sharing the expense, and we had something fun to socialize over
  2. Drop by with an inexpensive bottle of wine – They may not let you buy drinks while out at the local watering hole, but home is a different matter. And go cheap so they don’t feel like they owe you
  3. Grab her for a walk or jog – A good gab session coupled with exercise is a great way to socialize, boost endorphins, get out of the house and loosen stress 
  4. Give the gift of flowers – I’m not talking bouquetboflbs from 1-800 Flowers. I’m talking deli/grocery store blossoms. And before you think you’re too good for them, I once saw George Stephanopoulus darting across 14th Street in NYC carrying deli daisies (presumably for his fabulous wife Alexandra Wentworth). Brightly colored bouquets can help cheer up any job hunter or the job hunter’s cave (read: home)
  5. Just listen – No advice. No contacts. No “what I would do if I were you…” (even though I assume you will have gone through that exercise already). Just bend your ear for a while, offer a calming smile instead of tips and end your visit with a big hug or word of encouragement

How do I know these things work? Because my friends are awesome, and they helped make unemployment bearable for me!

Broke and Can’t Go Out Tonight? Settle In For LMN’s Pick-A-Flick

lmnIf you’re like me, money is tight and I can really only go out once or twice a week. In fact, most Friday nights, I stay home because I’m also exhausted!

On those evenings, I’ve been known to catch a Lifetime movie…or five. It’s pretty pathetic, but I know there are millions of you out there who – like me – have a secret love for crawling on the couch with a blanket, a Skinny Cow, a stack of trashy magazines and lounging while three or four Lifetime movies play out. 

I probably know more about these fine films than I should ever own up to. So when LMN started its Pick-A-Flick night, I was intrigued. Here’s how it works:

LMN will be letting its audience choose which movie the Network will air on Fridays at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Log onto myLifetime.com/flick where you’ll find a selection of five dramaramas, cheesy comedies and/or ridiculous romances. You can vote as many times as you like for your campy fave the week prior to that Friday.

This week,maid of honor your choices are “Maid of Honor,” perfect bride-to-be, a man and his psycho sister-in-law (from deceased wife) who wants him bad; “The Last Trimester,” baby murder; “Cries in the Dark,” lady cop’s sister gets killed; “A Teacher’s Crime,” teacher, student, dad, trouble; and “Double Cross,” sad wives and mystery. LMN’s even going to have themes. 

Maybe they’ll consider doing special “nights” starring our beloved Lifetime divas like  Ann Jillian, Tori Spelling, Cheryl Ladd, Lindsay Wagner along with Candace Cameron Bure, Kelli Martin and Tracey Gold (I could go on and on!).

For the record, I voted for “Maid of Honor”–Love me some Linda Purl…fingers crossed!

And, yes…I do have a life. It just starts on Saturday. 🙂

A Quick P.S. on Quality Over Quantity

glam_pleather_pantsI felt it important to add a little P.S. to my last post: You have to think about quality of fabrics and leather when purchasing anything new or purging what you have.

It’s said over and over again that we should invest in quality over quantity, but frankly, not all of us can afford a London Fog or Burberry trench, a pair of sleek Stuart Weitzman pumps or a two-ply cashmere sweater. That said, you can find good fabrics for less. You just have to be conscious of it when you shop. If you look through your closet, I’ll bet half the things you throw away are things you bought on a whim. 🙂

I’ve stopped picking up anything that may be cute-as-can-be but looks cheap up close or has potential for pilling, ragged hems and misshapen lines. Also, anything that has too much embellishment. This is very apparent in trendier pieces, so be judicious. It happens to me all the time at TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Forever 21 and even Loehmann’s. I get seduced by a bright color, print or a style, then I look up close and the material is god awful. I think I put back every top I pulled last visit to TJ Maxx. It happens often with polyester/rayon blend tops and acrylic sweaters. They’re cute on the shelf, but after a few wearings, they can look really bad. They don’t hold their shape and pill like mad.

Discounting quality can especially spell disaster when it comes to shoes and handbags. Make sure leather actually looks like leather and that heels are fashionable. Synthetic material (e.g., pleather, fake wooden or cork heels) is a dead giveaway every time. Quality shoes can be found at most off-price stores (Ross is a very rare bet) and at one of my recent faves, Nine West. Search online for good deals on bags. Believe me, Louis Vuitton and Jimmy Choo are not requirements for looking good.

So, be conscious of quality and keep it simple. If you have a bunch of cheap-looking fabric crap in your closet, get rid of it! No matter how cute the print or good the memory behind its purchase. This is imperative for job seekers or those just starting work. Your image is definitely important. Happy styling!