Frugal and Fabulous: Freebies and Looking Luxe on a Budget

March 21, 2016 | Desiree Swance 

It’s tough being a student. You’re young and you want to keep up with the latest trends. But you have about five dollars to your name.

Being broke can be frustrating and anxiety-inducing. But having limited funds can teach you how to take a different approach to money. When you have a small budget, you become more mindful of what you need versus what you want. You don’t need to load up your closet with tons of clothes or buy the most expensive outfit in the store to look good.

Here are just a few tips on how to look luxe for less and take advantage of all the freebies out there!


Accessories can inexpensively and instantly jazz up your outfit and make it look ten times more expensive than it actually is.


Finding inexpensive footwear suitable for winter can be tough. You need to find something that’s functional but also trendy. Finding a boot that’s a fun colour or that has a cool pattern can really dress up a plain outfit.  You
can definitely look for something vintage at the Salvation Army or another thrift store. It’s also important to wait for the sales! Like today, Call It Spring is having a 60 per cent off sale on all clearance items. I bought a pair of Bordeaux faux-fur, cozy boots with durable rubber soles for $28, regular $69.99.


A classy-looking necklace or pair of earrings can instantly dress up a t-shirt and jeans. You can find some great, vintage gems at thrift stores like Salvation Army and Goodwill. Another way to find jewellery for great deals is at consignment stores. People sell their lightly-used, luxe fashion items to the consignment store. The items are then sold at a fraction of the retail price. Some retail stores that also sell inexpensive jewellery are: Aldo Accessories, Forever 21, Charming Charlie, H&M, Icing by Claire’s and Adrene.


Clutches are a must-have when going out for drinks or to the club with the girls. purse.jpgTotes are a great and stylish way to carry your books around at school. And a bright-coloured handbag with luxe details like leather or suede can take your outfit from bland to bold.  Purses can be super expensive but it’s about knowing where tofind the good deals. My go-to place to look for purses when I can’t find any major sales is Urban Planet. It always has amazing deals on everything in their stores. I have a beautiful beige clutch with an over-
the-shoulder chain that I got from there for only $20. It’s also a good idea to check out sites like Kijiji and eBay for deals on big name brand handbags like Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton.

Wardrobe basics

Every girl should invest in wardrobe basics that will survive the short-lived trends and that can be adapted for any event. That way, you don’t have to spend so much when the trends change and can use these staples for multiple outfits.basics

Here is a list of wardrobe essentials every girl needs:

  • Black blazer
  • Pair of fun ballet flats (my go-to is bright red or leopard print)
  • Pair of classic knee-high boots
  • Jean jacket
  • Plain white and black t-shirts
  • Pair of black pumps
  • And the classic little black dress

Birthday freebies

What many people might not know, is that there are tons of stores out there that offer phenomenal discounts and freebies to their members on their birthdays. So for your next birthday, go on a little shopping trip to these stores:cupcake.jpg

  • Addition Elle (10 per cent off during your birthday month)
  • American Apparel (25 per cent off on your birthday)
  • American Eagle (15 per cent off during your birthday month)
  • Ardene ($5 off a purchase of $10 or more on your birthday)candles.jpg
  • Cleo (10 per cent off during your birthday week)
  • Dynamite (25 per cent off on your birthday)
  • La Senza (special surprise on your birthday)
  • Old Navy (special gift on your birthday)
  • Payless (25 per cent off shoes during your birthday month)
  • Penningtons (10 per cent off during your birthday week)
  • Ricki’s ($10 off during your birthday month)
  • RW & CO. (25 per cent off on your birthday)
  • Giant Tiger (free product on your birthday)
  • Sephora (special gift during the month of your birthday)
  • Shopper’s Drug Mart (bonus 8,000 Optimum Points when you spend $50 and free makeover/beauty consultation on your birthday)
  • The Body Shop ($10 off during your birthday month)
  • Yves Saint Laurent (free birthday gift)

To get the most out of your wardrobe, it’s important to evaluate your life. Many people often end up overspending on clothes because they buy the clothes that suit the lifestyle they wish they had instead of the life they currently lead. It is important to dress for success, but there’s no need to buy an expensive cocktail dress, for example, when you rarely attend formal events.

By following these easy tips, you’ll up your style game to fashion-forward! Never again will having a small budget cause you to feel any less than fabulous!


Desiree Swance is a public relations student and receptionist for the peer assisted learning program at Humber College.


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