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I’ve struggled with how much time, money and energy is appropriate for me to spend on my appearance. I want all areas of my life to reflect the things I hold most dear, and I don’t want anything superficial on the list. But here’s the honest truth, if I feel good about how I look each morning, I feel more energized and confident, making me better able to tackle the day and what really is important to me. I challenge myself to get ready and dressed in a way that inspires me to give the world my best.

My couture line looks a little different than Kate Middleton’s. Most things in my closet I’ve purchased for under $15. Part of me is straight-up cheap (it’s in my DNA), and part lives in the reality of a family budget (my husband is a prince but he didn’t come with the budget afforded Prince William). I’ve gone months without buying anything for myself and you know what? I can do it, but it’s not that fun. But if I spend wisely I can feel current-ish on just a few dollars.

At risk of sounding heavy on the superficial side, here are some of the ways I save my dollars while looking my best, so I can spend my money on things I value most (like food and my mortgage):

The essentials are free.

As my friend Annie says, “sleep, water and exercise” are her budget beauty tips. All three of those aren’t always easy to get (babies anyone?), but you usually don’t have to spend to have access to the most important things that make your body relaxed and rejuvenated, giving you a natural glow. And a smile does natural wonders for the face too.

Know your brands.

There are some things just worth the extra money. I spend more on shoes and coats because I need them to be quality and need only a few in my wardrobe. Makeup, I spend more on foundation, but my favorite mascara is from the drug store. In these cases, I spend more where I think there is a difference in quality.

Invest in staples, save on trends.

A good pair of jeans, a pair of black pants, and some great shoes and undergarments are places to spend your money. With these staples you can buy trendier accessories for less and feel current and in season. Because you don’t need them to last as long (they’ll be out of style sooner), you don’t need to spend as much. A shirt, a pair of earrings or even a new eye liner can give you a fresh look for under $5.

Buy second-hand.

I am a thrifter. These days (other than my staples) I buy almost exclusively thrift (unless I see something great on the 70% off rack). Find your favorite stores and hit them frequently (if they are good they are constantly getting new stuff) and on specials days. Many have designated colored tags half off on certain days of the week. This is where you really can get bang for your buck!

Splurge a bit.

I’m frugal. I admit it. So splurging is difficult for me. Splurging on myself? Almost impossible. And yet when I do something extravagant for myself I’m remembering the extravagant love God offers us daily. Remembering I am worth taking care of and investing in is something I want to do daily. And I can do it. On any budget.

Alexandra Kuykendall
As a mom to four girls, ages 11, 8, 4 and 2, Alexandra Kuykendall is offered daily doses of the ludicrous and sublime. She is the author of this year’s MOPS International theme book, The Artist’s Daughter, A Memoir and is the Mom and Leader Content Editor for the organization. This means she reads a lot and writes when she can. But don’t be fooled by long and fancy titles, most of Alex’s days are spent washing dishes, driving to and from different schools and trying to find a better solution to the laundry dilemma. You can connect with her at

What is your best beauty on a budget secret?