Wardrobe Tips from Sophia Loren

By Melissa Tosetti

Years ago I picked up a copy of Women & Beauty by Sophia Loren.  I remember being incredibly surprised at the practicality of her advice.  I felt like I was reading something my mom or one of my aunts would write, not something written by one of the most glamorous women on the planet.

Earlier this week I was flipping through it and was again surprised at her down to earth advice.  For example, she writes:

I used to buy clothes on impulse.  Something in a store would catch my fancy.  I would try it on and if I iked it, home it went.  But so very many times these purchases would turn out to be mistakes.  They would hang in my closet, never worn, and reproach me every time I looked at them. 

My new approach begins with planning... the main thing is to avoid going into a store wtih no idea of what you want.  This can spell diaster and this is how you fill your closet with clothes you never wear. 

Before you go into a store you must also examine what you already have.  It is simply wasteful to buy all new clothes every season; even if you have the money, and certainly not many people have, it means you haven't discovered what really is the best look for you.  When you buy the right clothes, you should find that you can wear them for many seasons.

The book is now out of print, but if you can find a used copy, it's a worthy investment!  In addition to advice on building a wardrobe, she also discusses skin and hair care as well as the value of a healthy diet and exercise. 

Do Ahead Meals
By Melissa Tosetti
Growing up across the street from my grandparents had a lot of perks - my grandmother's cooking being at the top of the list. On any given day, there would be something delicious in her refrigerator, ready to be warmed up and enjoyed.
Making a large batch of stew, pasta or Portuguese beans and eating it throughout the week is one of the many savvy lessons I learned from my grandmother.  It's a habit I continue to this day.  In fact, there's a pot of lentils in my refrigerator right now that I've been eating in various forms all week.
I can easily eat the same thing for several days in a row.  My husband Paul, not-so-much.  He prefers more variety.  Because of that, we got in the habit of doubling what we cook on a regular basis so he has plenty of choices when time is tight.
One of my favorite blogs is Stone Soup by Jules Clancy where she focuses on how to prepare quick and easy healthy meals.  The other day she posted a great piece on The 3 Golden Rules of Do Ahead Meals.  It was her post that got me thinking about the habit of do ahead meals that my grandmother instilled in me. 
This weekend, take a few tips from Jules' article and make one or two extra meals.  Then, see just how much time and money you save throughout the week. 

Savvy Celebrities

By Melissa Tosetti

Open up a newspaper on any given day and there will be an article about an actor, athlete or musician who earned millions of dollars, and lost everything by overspending. Their stories demonstrate that no matter how much money you make, it's impossible to be financially successful if more money is going out the door than is coming in.

So, it was refreshing to stumble across this article featuring six financially responsible celebrities: Zooey Deschanal Never Pays Late Fees and 5 Other Smart Money Lessons From Celebrities.

From Kristen Bell to Mindy Kaling, read about their savvy money habits and pick up a few tips.


Taking Care...
By Melissa Tosetti
A key component to savvy living is to appreciate and take care of what you already own.  If your goal is to purchase a new car, while you work to achieve it, keep the car you already own clean and ensure it receives proper maintenance. 

The same goes for your house.  You may not love where you're living, but keeping your home clean and well maintained will help you like it a little more while you work to purchase a new home.
Taking care of what you have applies to all things in your life - your clothes, appliances, computer, gadgets and furniture.  Care for and appreciate what you already have and set goals to achieve what you want. 

While it's important to set goals, don't fall into the trap of living for tomorrow.  Taking care of what you already own will help you appreciate today. 

Keep It Simple

The Pantry Challenge

The 4th of July is over and the next major BBQ holiday is more than six weeks away.  Now is a perfect time for a Pantry Challenge!
By taking on the Pantry Challenge, you see how long you can eat using only the food you already have on hand - with the exception of purchasing fresh products like milk, eggs and produce. 
The Pantry Challenge was started as a way to encourage you to rotate through everything in your pantry and freezer within a three month period. The food in your kitchen should be consumed. Often, we get into the mode that a well stocked pantry needs to be static. If you see something sitting there for three months, either eat it or donate it to a shelter and don’t buy it again.

In addition to saving money, an added benefit of the Pantry Challenge is that it forces you to get creative. You’ll look at canned soup and dried pasta a little differently as you figure out how to make a meal from what you have on hand. Over the years I’ve received feedback from readers who have come up with new family favorites based on the need to get imaginative durng the challenge.

The longest any Savvy Life reader has gone without having to buy groceries (outside of milk, eggs and fresh produce) was three months!
Let me know how your Pantry Challenge goes. Drop me an email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Note: This challenge does not include the food in your emergency kit. You should always have enough non-perishable food and water set aside to sustain you and your family for 3 – 7 days. Keep your emergency food and water supply in a waterproof bin along with your other emergency items.


How Often Should You Dine Out?
By Melissa Tosetti
Our grandparents rarely, if ever, dined out. Our parents may have gone out to eat once or twice a month. Now, it's easy to eat just about every meal outside the home.  Unfortunately, the cost of those meals quickly add up and because of the frequency, dining out is no longer a treat.

One of the fastest ways to save A LOT of money is to cook more at home, but, that doesn't mean you can never go out to eat again.

Just how often can you give yourself permission to dine out? It really depends on your particular financial situation. With that in mind, if you have been able to create the habit of spending less than you make and are systematically paying off your debt, a rule of thumb might be to dine out just 1 - 2 times per week. That could entail going out to lunch on Wednesdays and a nice dinner out with friends on Saturday night.

Deciding in advance your "Money Rules" when it comes to dining out will ensure you spend within your means and that when you do go out, you can do so without guilt to spoil the experience.
What to Buy - 4th of July Holiday Sales
By Melissa Tosetti
As you know, planning and timing are key elements of  Living The Savvy Life.  You can save hundreds of dollars a year simply by timing your purchases around seasonal sales. 

In anticipation of the 4th of July, most grocery stores will have the following items on sale:
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonaise
  • Mustard
  • Relish
  • Hot Dogs
  • Hamburger
  • Hot Dog and Hamburger Buns
The discounts on these items are likely significant enough to stock up. The trick is knowing what is a good sale and picking up one or two extra items and knowing what is an extraordinary sale and stocking up enough to last you until the next anticipated holiday blow-out.

If your wardrobe is in need of an infusion, this weekend is also an excellent time to purchase:
  • Shorts
  • Tank Tops
  • Summer Shoes
There will be plenty of inventory and the sales will range from 20% - 40% off.

Just about everything "outdoors" will be on sale this weekend as well including:  
  • Lawn Mowers
  • Lawn Furniture
  • BBQ's
You'll be able to find items on sale from 20% - 40% off. 

Just remember to be picky and only purchase an item if you absolutely fall in love with it... no matter how good the sale.
Gift Giving Problem = Opportunity
By Melissa Tosetti
I’m working with a couple in Massachusetts that have a very common money issue – gift giving.
When I asked them to create a list of all the gifts they buy throughout the year, it came to 57!  That's an average of almost 5 a month!  They have a large family and between the holidays, birthdays and special events like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, they felt like they couldn't get ahead. 
With a new baby on the way and certain financial goals in mind, gift giving was getting in the way! However, the new baby gave them an extraordinary opportunity to remedy the situation. 
We devised a plan to have them contact their friends and family members and explain that they need to cut back on gift giving in order to be in a financially secure position for when the baby arrives.  
Instead of giving gifts to friends and adult family members, they plan to suggest a few get-togethers – allowing them to replace the exchange of knick knacks with the creation of memories. 
I’ve used this strategy myself and so have many of my clients. More often than not, family and friends have wanted to reduce their spending on gifts as well, but were hesitant to bring it up. 
In my case, I talked to my closest friends and asked if instead of exchanging Christmas presents, could we instead pool together and rent a cabin at Lake Tahoe over President's Day weekend.  That was 16 years ago and with just a few exceptions, has become an annual gathering.  Many of my very favorite memories were made on those trips, with more to come! 

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