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Let’s face it: our country is having some…economic issues, to put it mildly! This recession is affecting everyone from the film industry to the blue-collar industry and every man, woman and child in between. You can’t run and you can’t hide, but what you can do is take control of your wallet and decide how to spend your dollars wisely!

In My Professional Opinion asked specialists (and blogger extraordinaires) in the field of hair care, health, fitness and fashion to collaborate on a budget-friendly beauty post and provide all of our readers with the secrets to achieving bombshell status on a very tight budget!

Today’s post is dedicated to our Pro cosmetic tips for highest impact in a recession, as well as the best fitness and diet tips to keep you looking beautiful inside!!! Because, of course, taking care of your health and wellness will keep you looking and feeling amazing not only during this economic slump, but for the rest of your life!

In My Professional Opinion - writer: Melissa Street says, “invest in makeup that has a dual purpose and clipping coupons is so drugstore chic!” Read on to discover how to look like a million bucks without going into debt!

Dual Purpose Products: try a tinted moisturizer that has an SPF like Laura Mercier. I realize it doesn’t come with a tiny price tag, but it is a moisturizer, SPF and foundation all–in-one! If you purchased those three items individually, you could be spending your entire beauty budget for the year! Cheek and lip stains are interchangeable! Try Tarte's Cheek Stain and you will discover a lovely sheer tint that is a great bang-for-your-buck and looks wonderful on your lips too!

Drugstore Diva: I am a gloss freak and carry about 5 different colors of gloss in my cosmetic bag on the daily! I am a firm believer in purchasing quality over quantity, but gloss, cheek and eye color is where you can save major bucks. Check out your local drugstore flyers for coupons on L’Oreal, Sally Hansen or other cosmetic lines. I have found many bargains such as buy one, get one free and buy one, get the second 50% off! I have posted before about drugstore mascara and have found that Covergirl and Max Factor are equivalent to more expensive lines.

Palettes: these are a Pro MUA’s bff and they should be yours too! Like Paris Hilton needs the tabloids, your face needs a great palette. I am a big believer in a quad palette for eyes (via MAC or Covergirl). I recently discovered Coastal Scents, which make several large color palettes for cheeks and eyes! Not only are these colors full of major pigment, Coastal Scents gives you like 88 colors for $21.95! BAM! Now that's a bargain!

Personal Fit Coach - writer: Jenn says, "instead of a gym membership or personal trainer, bank those dollars and workout at home." Read on to discover how to make fitness affordable and fun!

DVD: the right exercise DVD program can help you shape up faster and for less money than a gym membership. One University of Florida study found that over 15 months, home exercisers were more consistent and lost 10 extra pounds compared with gym goers. I've been working my DVD player and my body overtime to screen many workout DVDs. Of course, I'm addicted to the BeachBody programs that helped me to lose over 40 pounds, but I'm also a fan of quite a few others. Many of these programs require little equipment at all. I lost my first 30 pounds using only 3-5 pounds dumbbells.

In Home: in addition to workout DVDs, your home provides a wide variety of exercise options that are completely free. As the weather is getting nicer, now is a perfect time to give walking or running a try. Don’t want to go it alone? Check out to find a walking or running group near you. Do you have stairs in your house? Pop on some energizing music and climb up and down 100 times. You will get an amazing workout before you know it. Do you have a bike collecting dust in the garage? Break it out and go for some spring rides. Create intervals by covering both flat and hilly ground. Have kids? Borrow that jump rope for an excellent cardio workout. Have a dog? Take him for a run instead of just a walk or make sure it's a brisk walk and not just a stroll.

There are so many choices. A good idea is to mix things up so that you never get bored. There is a concept coined by trainer Tony Horton called "Muscle Confusion." The idea is to always keep your body guessing about what will come next. It will help you get in amazing shape and minimize the boredom factor.

One of the biggest excuses I hear is that people don't have enough time to fit in a workout! Try being as active as possible in your daily life, for instance: Park your car farther away at the supermarket. Take the stairs whenever you can. Pace your office or cube while you are on the phone. Jog in place during each commercial break while watching your favorite TV show. The possibilities are truly endless!

The Beauty Foodie – writer: Sara says, “beauty begins from within and everyone should be eating nutrient-rich foods even on a budget!” Read on to discover how to save on food without sacrificing nourishment.

Attention Please: pay attention to what’s in season at the supermarket to save on nutrient-rich fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only do they usually taste better, but they are usually less expensive too.

Farmer's Market Diva: local farmers market’s near your home is a great way to buy fruits and vegetables seasonally. Fruits and vegetables sold at these markets are very likely to have been grown within driving distance of your home. This usually guarantees that they are fresher, and because of the reduced transportation costs, they are usually less expensive. Many farmers’ markets also have organic vegetables available. If you live in a more rural area and have access to transportation, you could also check to see if there are any local farms that have farm stands.

Frozen is O.K.: if you cannot find fresh fruits and vegetables that fit your budget, you should consider purchasing frozen. Frozen fruits and vegetables are far better from a nutritional standpoint than many people realize, and can make a very nourishing alternative.

Must Haves: eggs are a source of high-quality protein and antioxidants. Bananas are a good source of potassium and fiber and a great source of vitamins C and B6. Potatoes are a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C. Whole wheat pasta can be stored for up to a year so buy it when it’s on sale. Buying a whole chicken is far more cost-effective than purchasing individual parts and lean ground beef is a low-fat source of protein and iron. Plus it’s quick and easy to cook. Beans have made their way into a diverse array of cuisines from zesty dips to elegant dinner salads. Virtually all types of beans are not only delicious, they’re nutrient powerhouses.

Fish: while you can’t beat the taste of fresh fish, canned tuna is an economical option. One or two cans will go a long way toward feeding four if you find the right recipes.

Moo: top round steak (London Broil) is another good-value cut: Like flank steak, it’s easy to prepare and you don’t waste purchase weight with having to trim fat. Leftovers can be used to make a tasty sandwich for lunch, or toss pieces in with veggies and whole grain rice or whole wheat noodles for an easy, quick stir-fry.

Eat Rice: brown rice costs a few cents more per pound but is healthier, nuttier, and has three times the fiber of white rice. It can be used in almost any recipe calling for white rice. Bulk-buying rice is an easy way to cut costs. It should be stored in a well-sealed container.

Dairy: yogurt is a great source of calcium and protein. Save by buying your yogurt in a large size container and dish out your own portions rather than buying in single-serving containers.
Quinoa provides more amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients than most other grains making it one of the most complete foods in nature!

Finally, add nutritionally packed delicious herbs and spices such as sage, oregano, ginger, turmeric, red peppers, thyme, cinnamon, marjoram, yellow curry and rosemary in your home cooked meals and reap the many rewards for your health and beauty.

We at In My Professional Opinion want to encourage all our readers to look at this time of money woes with a positive attitude. This is the time to simplify and get back to basics: good nutrition, healthy diet, and a great smile with a sassy gloss!!

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