Spending is out, and saving is definitely in right now. While I do acknowledge that there are some things that you just shouldn't skimp on (like a laptop, a good quality hair dryer, and a Met membership), there are a lot of beauty, fashion, and art areas where you can cut corners and save some cash. Below are a few of my live-well-on-a-budget tips. When all else fails, listen to your inner Suze Orman.
1.) Get a Knockout Knockoff: We all pass by those vendors that sell knockoff bags on the street, but right now is a perfect time to actually get yourself one. You don't want just any knockoff though, you want the best. When buying knockoffs remember: the smaller the better (huge fake bags are totally obv), less is more where hardware is concerned (all that cheap metal only detracts from the beauty of your bag), go for a muted color (brights just don't have the same appeal in pleather), and just say no to LV and Prado. Insider Tip: The small imitation Goyard totes on 21st or 20th street ( I can't remember which) between 6th and 7th Avenue (closer to 6th) are amazing. I even scored an elusive white one there!
2.) Mix High and Low: There's nothing like the sparkle of a real diamond, but a real fake can be pretty eye-catching as well. When you mix real jewelry with either costume jewelry or imitations, it is nearly impossible to distinguish the cheap from the expensive. Once again make sure to go small and simple (you don't want an over-designed piece that's a dead give away), wear it with confidence (no one will know the difference), and remember my rule of thumb: for every two fakes you wear you must simultaneously sport one piece of genuine bling. Insider Tip: Pearls are one of the easiest jewelry items to fake. Also, check out emitations.com to satisfy your diamond craving for under $50.
3.) Pick Photos Over Prints: If you want to collect and display art in your home but only have a limited budget, check out photo galleries and antique shops for reasonably priced unique photographs instead of buying posters, prints, or repros of famous paintings. Not only will repros make your house look like a college dorm room, but they also don't have the potential to appreciate in value like a photo could. Find photos whose subjects and themes interest you, and always trust your instincts when choosing a piece. Often the first work you gravitate towards is the one that deserves a second look. Insider Tip: Check out the antique store between 19th and 20th street on 9th Avenue for vintage black and white travel photos. If you want to save even more money, take your own photographs and have them developed in sepia tones, ready to be hung on your wall and admired.
4.) Get a Library Card: This may sound obvious, but using your local library can save you a bundle on book purchases throughout the year and will also save you a lot of space in your home. Plus, recycling books is good for the environment. My rule is not to buy any book that I can find at the Public Library. Instead of heading to your local Borders or Barnes & Noble for vacation reads, go to the recent acquisitions section of your local library, and check out the hot new offerings in fiction and non-fiction. Libraries often have the best selection of cookbooks, fashion, and art publications available. If you know there's a book that you're interested in reading but your branch doesn't have it, ask the librarian if they can order it for you from another branch. Insider Tip: Try renting movies at your local library for free instead of ponying up the $5 for Blockbuster. Also, if you have books that you no longer want to keep, you can sell them to the Strand for some extra cash (if they're still in good condition).
photo credit ring: http://www.emitations.com photo credit woman shopping for Goyard knockoffs: Photo by: Hiroko Massuike for the New York Times. Appeared in the December 13, 2007 article "Carried Away with Imitation Luxury," by Ruth La Ferla. photo credit NY Public Library: http://www.wikimedia.org
photo credit dollar: http://www.faniq.com