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Live well on less

Butter up your favorite brands

Companies love hearing from loyal customers and will often send them coupons or free samples, reports Brock, who once scored several bottles of aftershave from his favored manufacturer. Pen an enthusiastic letter or e-mail to the customer service department of your favorite conditioner, snack food, or cleaning product; it could save you cash while you continue to enjoy name-brand products. “When my daughter was born, I figured out quickly that a certain brand of diapers fit her best,” says Jeannie Patro, 34, an editor from Milwaukee. But they also happened to be a more expensive name brand, so Jeannie went to the company’s Website and signed up for their online customer network. “They send me newsletters and coupons every few months, and if I combine them with a sale or double-coupon offer at my store, I can save 10 or 20 percent off the regular price,” she says.

Vacation in not-so-hot destinations

“We recently went to Minneapolis for a weekend and stayed at a luxe hotel with a great spa for $200 a night, which was a lot more affordable than a comparable place in Chicago or New York,” says Rae Meadows, 37, a novelist in Madison, WI. “I got a pedicure, my husband got a facial, and the treatments cost about 15 percent less than usual, so we even felt okay about ordering room service every morning.” Check Internet travel sites like Travelzoo and Expedia for discounted rates and package deals.

Take a chance on a student

Lawrence recommends contacting hairdressing or massage schools in your area to connect with stylists and bodyworkers in training. These students are required to practice on real-life clients, usually with supervision, before receiving professional certification, and services will cost you a fraction of the usual price. “I get my hair highlighted three or four times a year, and that can add up,” says Cari Dineen, 32, a REDBOOK staffer who lives in Westfield, NJ. “Luckily, I discovered a nearby beauty school where I pay a third of the cost of a regular salon. The students take a little longer, but surprisingly, their work is second to none — they want it to be perfect to impress their teachers!” Find a reputable beauty school near you at

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