08/10/2015 12:06 EDT | Updated 08/10/2015 12:59 EDT

A Broke Girl's Guide To Looking Like A Million Bucks On A Budget

A misguided person once asked me how I managed to look like a relatively put-together human on a freelance writer and stylist salary. Subtle, I know.

I think this was his bone-headed way of asking me how I afford to have nice clothes, manicured nails and fresh blowouts on the peanuts he automatically assumed I made.

Condescending and insulting demeanor aside, he did have an itty-bitty point. I do pride myself on being a kept woman and no, I haven’t quite figured out how to grow a money tree…yet.

For the broke girl, it takes a little extra effort to stay well groomed while shelling out the least amount of money possible. I do make regular appointments at spas. I get my nails done, my hair blown out, my eyebrows shaped and my nether regions groomed and I do so on a surprisingly low budget.

And yes, it’s entirely possible.

This is how I kept up with the Kardashians on a Peg Bundy budget.

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DIY Face Masks

1. Book A Service At A Beauty School

Believe it or not, I’ve been more satisfied by a student-administered manicure then at a salon. Students learning their craft tend to be more attentive to the job they’re doing. It also helps that their instructors are hovering around ensuring no major screw-ups ensue. Beauty schools are incredible places to get pretty well any service done at a fraction of the cost. Twelve dollars for a shellac manicure? Yes, please.

2. Polish Change > Manicure

For the life of me, painting inside the lines isn’t a realistic goal when it comes to DIY manicures. Regular nail salon appointments can get pricey, especially if it becomes a bi-weekly habit. I discovered a little trick to maintaining salon-quality nails without having to slave over them myself or pay for a full manicure. I simply cut my own nails, give them a quick file and request a polish change. Polish changes typically include a mini cuticle cleaning and just enough TLC for about $10 to $12.

3. You’re Not Above Groupon-ing

Some beauty deals on Groupon are a crock. Lets be real. All that fine print and restrictions on these alleged "deals" make them virtually useless. However, I can attest to some great deals that have allowed me to afford laser hair removal, teeth whitening and regular blowouts at unheard of prices. The lesson here is to do a little research and read the fine print thoroughly.

4. Patience Is A Virtue

I wait a lot. The waiting game sucks and you can’t always have things when you want them but eventually, someone bends to your budget. I’m on the mailing lists for all my preferred salons and every now and then, they offer a discount on a service I need. Twenty five per cent off might not seem like a lot, but trust me when I say every cent counts.

5. Book The Junior Stylist

Okay, experience definitely counts for something but if you only require a minor trim, you don’t have to splurge on the master stylist at a pricey salon. I have long thick hair and the junior stylist I book has yet to butcher my locks -- far from it in fact. The same goes for blow-dries. Round brushing is one of the first skills you learn in hair school, so the junior stylist is more than capable of giving you killer volume on a budget.

6. DIY, Because It Doesn’t Take A Genius To Make A Body Scrub

I fall victim to fancy packaging too, but when money isn’t burning a hole in your wallet, you need to take a step back. The Four Seasons Spa doesn’t take IOU’s for that salt scrub treatment. Lucky for you, YouTube and HuffPost Style Canada regularly offers tips and tricks on how to make DIY body scrubs, hair masks and moisturizers you can put together with items you probably already own.

What are some of your best tips for looking good on a budget? Let us know in the comments below!

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