2009 on a (Chic) Dime

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    Social: Cynthia “Cid” Kamuf, CFP®, Independent Contractor of Money Concepts International, Inc., says you don’t have to forgo after-work meet-ups or weekend rendezvous to save money. Instead, she says, consider an economical approach by splitting the bill with another “savvy senorita,” as she calls her female clients. “After seeing that my check this past weekend at a popular Thai restaurant was twice as much as my three companions, I had to chastise myself for choosing the sushi over the Thai noodle dishes that everyone else got,” she says. “And honestly, two of them even split theirs, since the portions were so large. I have a list of things I could have spent that extra $15 on.” Many restaurants have lunch portions available for popular dinner-time entrees. You just have to ask. Your check and your waistline will be slimmer. Another tip: Order water so that you can pocket the two bucks you’d otherwise shell out.


    0208GIBBERMAN.gif Fashion: You don’t have to shop at ritzy department stores to find an off-the-runway look, Kamuf says. She says while it’s OK to splurge every now and then, discount stores are the way to go. “With all the sales going on in this market, there are some great deals at department stores,” she says. “But really, I believe you can find a great top at a discount store that you’ll get tons of compliments on and wear often.” That $600 jacket you were drooling over isn’t always worth it. Six hundred dollars can go a long way toward rent, utilities, car payments and food, if your budget comes up short, she says. And even if the income is there this month, it might not be the next. Also, consider skimping on accessories if you overspend on an outfit, she advises. “Wear ‘designer-inspired’ sunglasses. No one will know the difference!” she says. Also, check the weekly sales circulars to get the inside scoop on sales.


    Health: Face it, gals, how many of us are really using that monthly gym membership debited from our checking account each month? Here’s a quick solution: Start walking more. In mild weather, going for a daily stroll is a great way to keep healthy and financially sound. It’s free and eco-friendly. Or why not slash that $30 plus per month expense and dig into the back of your entertainment center for an old workout tape or DVD. Billy Blanks is eagerly waiting to get you in killer shape. For those DVD-less, your local library is a great resource. Check out your local PBS station for yoga or fitness programs around 5:30 or 6 a.m. daily. Early to bed, early to rise makes a girl healthy…you know the rest.


    Career: Your work commute could be unnecessarily cutting into your daily budget, Kamuf says. Be like the big-city suburbanites and use mass transit to scuttle to and from the office, she advises. “Besides being green, you could save up to $175 a month in downtown parking, not to mention other car expenses such as gas, oil, tune-ups,” she says. “And, oh yeah, owning an additional car, if you’re a multi-car family.” If driving is a necessity, she suggests considering switching to one of those outlying parking lots for as little as $25 per month and reaping the mental health benefits of an eight-block walk to clear your head before clocking in. Also, those pricey lunch-time meals might be cutting into your budget. Ditch the fast-food lunch run and brown bag it. You might get more work done than you imagined and get to duck out early.


    Beauty: The best beauty secret doesn’t come in a bottle, Kamuf says. “Instead, stop smoking and tanning,” she says. “You’ll save tens to hundreds of dollars a month now and maybe your life later. Plus, think of all the money you’ll save on skin care in the future.” In the great debate regarding name-brand and generic cosmetics, Kamuf says, generics aren’t a bad way to go. Many drugstores feature the top product lists from your favorite fashion magazines. And you won’t be tempted to buy a new pair of shoes or that trendy top on the way to the cosmetic counter.


    The bottom line: It’s always important to have a budget, Kamuf says.


    “Right now it just needs to be leaner for many because no one knows just how secure their particular situation is,” she says. “A job loss, a divorce, an accident, health issues, et cetera can always derail a financial plan. But in today’s market, resources we’ve taken for granted may not be available.”


    In need of some financial advice? An appointment with an expert like Kamuf may mean the end of financial woes. Following a cash flow analysis, experts like her can develop a program to meet your individual situation.


    “You’d be amazed at what you find out about yourself by writing down everything you spend in a 30-day period,” she says. “Together we review those dollars coming in and going out, along with individual goals, and figure out a program uniquely designed to fit [the client’s] lifestyle.”


    Kamuf also hosts monthly “Savvy Senorita” sessions to give local ladies a free after-work educational opportunity at Havana Martini Club. Go to the Money Concepts Web site to learn more.


    Photographer: Amy Storer-Scalia
    Models: Cynthia “Cid” Kamuf, CFP®, Independent Contractor of Money Concepts International, Inc.