Sunday, November 29, 2009

Welcome Back...And Welcome Home

The Diva is back. And certainly still living on a dime.

While I haven't been as active in my Diva-endeavors these past few months, the deals have never stopped finding me. I like to think of it as karma, a reciprocation of The Golden Rule--and probably a little (or lot of) effort on my part mixed in. That Diva-on-a-Dime-mentality--originally taught to me by my savvy-but-certainly-never-cheap mother--doesn't simply disappear. It's not a yo-yo diet or fad. It's a way of life, a mentality. And for me, it started with learning the art of The Price Adjustment at The Gap, and that markdowns always happened on Wednesdays.

Three Diva Deals for the price of one
My favorite deal these days--and one I will certainly rank among my Diva All-Time Top Ten--is the price I negotiated on my new digs (I'm nearly settled...Must do a bit more organizing, then comes the decorating and couch-hunting).

And when I reeled-and-dealed my way to a rent price that's only $25/month more than what I used to pay (and that was with a roommate, in a 4-floor walk-up, in a not-as-great-as-where-I-live-now area of town), more deals discovered me.

1. A sophisticated Back Back studio (Did I mention outdoor living space and steps from the Charles River?) at over $250/mo. less than the original asking price. Yep, it's called putting in an offer lower than the asking price... If it's not September (when 1/3 of Boston--the students--move in), there's a good chance a landlord will be willing to bargain with you. Don't try bargaining with a management company, however. I tried. Hard. With my old building. They wouldn't budge in the slightest.

2. A dozen wine glasses. For free. And sparkling clean. One investment (or Christmas gift I was going to request) was a set of nice wine glasses-- some for red, some for white, and perhaps some champagne flutes. But, last week, while my friend Phil and I popped open a bottle of bubbly, preparing to toast to my new place, I asked him to grab 2 glasses from my crate of bubble-wrapped dishes (note, bubble wrap was free too--I reused wrapping that was used in a shipment at the boutique I've recently picked up some hours at), he answered, "Why?" "Well, so, um, we can drink this," I said. He stared at me, saying, "You have wine glasses right here." I jumped for joy--they had been left by the previous tenant (I am guessing...) and the cleaner who was at my apartment earlier had washed them.

3. A $50 clock radio/ipod player for $30. CVS had marked the price under the display wrong. When it rang up at $50, I inquired, then spoke with the manager, who effortlessly offered to give me the price I thought it was. An unexpected--and stellar--purchase and deal.

There are many more stories and deals to come, but for tonight the Diva must get her beauty sleep.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Beat the humidity with an ice cold margarita on the cheap.

As Tori Spelling said on NBC's The Today Show this morning, "It's Hump Day!" After explaining to Kathy Lee that Hump Day can mean more than just the obvious, I started pondering on what the perfect summer Hump Day drink would be-- and where a Diva-on-a-dime could find the best deal on that drink.

Here's what I found:

Drink: Margarita
Why? On a humid afternoon like today, there's no better way to cool off (well, unless you have access to a pool or boat). Plus, the salt will help to replenish your overheated body.
Where? Masa Restaurant (439 Tremont St., South End).
Deal: $5 each, all of July.
Pair with: July's $24.95 three-course summer menu. And if you'd prefer sangria, Masa is offering $5 pitchers all July as well.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dinner in under 10 minutes and $3

This, I am quick to admit: I may be a Diva-of-many-trades, but a domestic Diva I am not. Until, that is, I found a hidden treasure at Trader Joe's (899 Boylston St., Back Bay).

A bag of frozen mushroom risotto may not sound appealing, but, as I enjoyed my dinner, I was utterly convinced this wasn't what I heated up on my stove top four minutes prior, and rather, something I'd enjoyed in Italy two years ago.

It gets better, too: One bag of Trader Joe's brand mushroom risotto was $2.79, with three servings, 140 calories per serving. This "domestic" Diva had two dinners out of this find. There's a few other varieties of risotto, too, if mushrooms don't float your boat.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Everything (makeup) is a dollar

Why Nordstrom's latest makeover to one brand may save you tons on your makeover-- or makeup-- needs.

Nordstrom has recently bought the makeup line ELF (eyes-lips-face) and has plans to repackage the the product with their own name and label. As a result, makeup with ELF packaging is getting the boot, and most of the items are available for $1 on ELF's web site.

For orders over $15, enter CAROLINA to save $7.50. For Divas who spend over $75, free shipping is included.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Got the Tuesday blues?

I've got just the remedy: Sushi, tequila, and salsa dancin'.

Beginning tonight, and EVERY TUESDAY through August 24, Sushi-Teq (510 Atlantic Ave., Theatre District) will have complimentary tequila tastings (one of its 69 varieties) and free salsa dancing lessons. It's from 6-8 PM. And did I mention there's outdoor (and waterfront) seating?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A few words of wine-buying wisdom...

...From some of Shoestring's finest bargainistas

Eat & Drink: Bargain Booze Buying Basics
Tue, Jun 2, 2009 1:59 PM
Shoestring Magazine

From perfectly timing your purchases to working it at your local wine shop, take this guide to the bank with our tips for buying — and saving on — all your adult beverages this summer.

read more

Monday, June 1, 2009

What's in store this week

Say hello to June with some stellar deals this week that won't break your bank account.

1. $10 Wine Crash Course: Summer Sippers in Wine. Need I explain more? Tuesday, June 2, 7PM at the Wine Gallery (375 Boylston St., Brookline).

2. Join Groupon. You're e-mailed a different offer in the Boston-area each day and, if the minimum amount of people required for this deal sign up, you all receive the discounted rate; if not enough people sign up, the deal is null-and-void (the special offers rely on a group rate-- hence groupon-- and differ depending on what the offer entails). Some recent offers have included steeply discounted mani/pedis at a Newbury salon, tennis lessons at a local country club, and a massage at over 50% off.

3. Take a blissfully free yoga class. lululemon (Prudential Center, Back Bay) and The SportsClub/LA (4 Avery St., Theatre District) have partnered up to offer a yoga class for attendees to "experience the sweetness, strength, and power connected to backbending." Thursday, June 4, 6:30-8PM. To join, e-mail or call 617-375-8537; mention the plug in lululemon's May 28th e-newsletter.

4. $1 oysters/half-priced apps/$2.50 drafts in the North End. Mondays through Fridays/Mondays through Fridays 4-7PM/anytime, respectively, at The Living Room (101 Atlantic Ave., North End).

5. If you're a Bank of America, see fine art for free this weekend. Bank of America's Museums on Us program gives cardholders free general admission to over 100 museums nationwide on the first weekend of each month. Saturday, June 6 through Sunday, June 7 (closes at 7PM) at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts (465 Huntington Ave., Fenway/Kenmore). Bring a photo ID and any Bank of America card.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Stay in shape on a Dime

Because, hey, before you know it we'll be gym-rats again!

The ever-anticipated Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, and for those of us Divas in the Northeast it means three key things:

1. We can finally wear white without worrying about that fashion-faux-pas, which was ingrained into our minds long ago.
2. Our tanlines are no longer non-existent.
3. It's "summer."

My point here is this: Take advantage of the next few months of beautiful weather and consider taking your workout routine outside. As a frequenter to the gym for as long as I can remember, I never thought I'd be one to say, "I'll be 'freezing' my gym membership this week." But I just said it, and I am. Because I realized two MAJOR benefits of doing so: I'll get fresh air after a long day in the office and save a pretty penny each month.

If you're locked into a gym membership, inquire about "freezing" it-- some gyms will charge you a small fee per month to keep it "frozen," while others may not even allow it. Because of the state of the economy, however, plenty of gyms in the area are offering promos to those "freezing"-- not canceling-- memberships (such as no-charge "freezing" for X-number of months).

Once you've "frozen" that membership, warm-up outside with one of these no- or low- cost exercises:

1. Running. Burns 600 to 700 calories/hr. There's plenty of routes in the area to conquer head-on, including the Charles' River Esplanade or down Beacon St., retracing the Boston Marathoners' route. Look up other local routes at

2. Walking. Burns about 250 calories/hr., depending on your pace. Make it as simple as walking, instead of other transportation, or go for a power-walk along one of the routes.

3. Swimming. Burns 500 to 600 calories/hr. The Mirabella (North End) Pool (Commercial St., North End). $10 for the entire summer. Enough said.

4. Tennis. Free outdoor courts throughout the city (Patience not included! Courts can be busy and waits can be long, especially on weekends). There are two courts on the Common, one in the South End's Southwest Corridor, two on the Esplanade close to North Station, and several at North End park on Commercial St.; check out a complete list of court locations (and which ones are lit) here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

To another Diva...

...and fellow Hands-of-Gold cousin. Thanks for finding this stellar article.

Yes, I Look Fabulous, but Inside I’m Saving
Published: May 19, 2009
Hard times are summoning a distinctly Hollywood response: maintaining a fabulous facade on the cheap while paring expenses behind the scenes.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Making Monday MAGNIFICENT!

Let's face it: No matter how we swing it, Mondays just aren't fun. But, discovering a handful of Diva-worthy deals each Monday, may make this dreaded day of the week a lil' more bearable. Here's the debut of "Magnificent Mondays: Five On-a-Dime Deals to get you through the Week."

1. The White Sale at National Jean Company (34 Langley Rd., Newton Centre) begins on Thursday, May 21st through Monday, May 25th. All whites 30% off; Entire store 25%.

2. Every Wednesday, from 5:30 to 7pm, enjoy "snacking time" at Sensing Restaurant & Bar (Fairmont Battery Wharf, 3 Battery Wharf, North End). The restaurant's signature small bites--infused with French techniques and global flavors-- are just $.99 per item.

3. Snacks aren't enough? Stop by Teatro (177 Tremont St., Theatre District) for its classic piattini menu, just $3 after 8pm.

4. JetBlue's Summer Sale kicked off today, with select one-way flights from $29 to $129. Travel must be booked by May 21st and take place between June 2nd and September 9th.

5. Cool off with $1 oysters Monday through Friday at The Living Room (101 Atlantic Ave., North End).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fine Wine on a Tight Budget

Because our palates are better well-off than our wallets...

At the Boston Wine School (BWS) (1354 Commonwealth Ave., Alston/Brighton) this Wednesday, May 20, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, join the Boston Young Professionals Association (BYPA) for its newest program, Fine Wine on a Tight Budget.

BWS's Wine Extraordinaire and Teacher, Jonathon Alsop, says of the program:
Tired of people talking themselves into a recession? Do something about it! We'll taste all my favorite wines around the $10 mark, bottles that taste consistently more expensive than they really are.

About the best economic news I've heard in a while is that we're living in a golden age of cheap wine. I say we can sip our way out of our economic slide, and here's how.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Savvy at its finest

craigslist has gotten quite a bad rep lately; but if used correctly, it can be quite a savvy tool for a frugal Diva.

The story of the craigslist killer is no new news to us in Boston-- and I certainly don't recommend using this site to advertise or seek out such dodgy "services" as "massaging," or even more legit ones as cleaning, moving, etc. But what I do recommend using this site for is getting rid of excess clutter in your digs, whether it be un-used gift certificates, useless furniture tucked away in corners, and other odds-and-ends that aren't as marketable on sites like EBay. (Note: Items such as "like-new" jewelry and designer clothes can be marketable on EBay. Because I have no experience selling on EBay, I hesitate to give any advice regarding it; however, I can and will, in a few short graphs, give advice on EBay bidding).

Just a few weeks ago, I sold four $25 gift certificates to Red Lobster, which had been laying around my apartment for months. I cut the buyer a break, offering all four for $75 (a $100 value), and they were sold within hours. Here are a few points to keep in mind when posting your item and negotiating a transaction:

1. Don't disclose any personal contact information on the post.
2. When arranging to exchange the item, be sure to bring a friend, meet during daylight hours, and meet in a public place.
3. Trust your gut instinct. If something tells you not to do business with this person, then don't.
4. Make a separate account for craigslist transactions; that way, your personal address, nor identity, is never in jeopardy.

Become a Yurman-ista on Ebay
Although this Diva doesn't sell on EBay, she does bid on-- and often win-- items on the bidding site. I've won two David Yurman bracelets on the web site (one brand new and one just worn several times) and saved close to $600 total. Sure, I may not have gotten the glass of champagne, individual attention, and heaps of David Yurman-branded packaging when purchasing my bracelets, but the money saved was well worth it.

When bidding on EBay, remember:

1. If the bid isn't over for a few more days, mark it as an item that you're "watching," but don't start bidding until time starts running out.
2. Take note of when the bid is going to end (remember to check what time zone it's referring to!) and plan to be near a computer at that time or have your BlackBerry or iPhone close by.
3. A "max bid" doesn't mean you're safe-- they can help you, but you're not in the clear until the bid has ended.
4. Set a limit that you want to spend and don't exceed it-- the same item will most likely be posted by another seller sometime soon.

Good Luck and Be Frugal!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Three's the lucky number

Now Divas can wine and dine in style at least twice a week-- Introducing Felt's Recessionista Menu, which debuts tomorrow.

Every Wednesday starting at 6pm, Felt (533 Washington St., Downtown Crossing) will feature this menu for Recessionistas (aka, Divas on a Dime):

$3 appetizers/$3 entrees/$3 desserts

The launch party's tomorrow night, and each week features as new theme. Taken from the event's facebook page, here are the following three themes:
May 13 :: BEAUTIFUL. Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? You of course! But who can’t use a little consultation every now & again? Tonight we’re featuring complimentary hair & skin consultations for all by Daryl Christopher Wellness Salon & Day Spa. One lucky lady will even be picked to enjoy an on-site makeover. We also have famed fashion photographer, Stuart Smith on-site providing instructions on how to look fabulous in photos—and who doesn’t want to look picture perfect every snapshot?

May 20 :: HOLLYWOOD. Put on your oh-so-chic oversized sunglasses, the bright lights of Hollywood are coming to FELT tonight. Our glamour girl guests will have the chance to audition to become the next reporter on NESN’s Dirty Water TV & sign-up for the 2009 Miss Boston competition. Each starlet will receive an exclusive pass to the FELT nightclub for Social Club Saturdays. Oh, and we haven’t even mentioned the Sex & the City, 90210 & Gossip Girl trivia that we planned…yes, that’s right—you know who’s the star tonight.

May 27 :: DANCE. This season, Dancing with the Stars made us want to shimmy, shake, dip & dance with that guy from The Sex & City movie. We didn't get him but we do have the professionals from Studio 665 coming tonight to show you a move or two. Complimentary dance lessons, fun dance music and no Bruno to judge? What more could you ask for? Except for maybe the free Smartwater for all those who choose to bust a move.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sail Boston on a dime

Experience the elite world of international sailing for free, and learn the sport for as little as $99.

The Volvo Ocean Race, a nine-month sailing race around the world, happens once every three years. And the only U.S. stopover in the ongoing 2008/2009 race is Boston, in the Seaport District's Fan Pier (28 Northern Ave., Seaport District).

For the next three weeks-- until May 16-- Divas can visit stopover, known as PUMA City. There are events every day or night, several bars, a dance floor, and a crowd comprised of Boston's young, trendy, and hip up-and-coming; rugged-yet-elite international sailors; and avid sailing fans. The best news yet: Admission to PUMA City and all of its events is free.

Tomorrow, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. is PUMA City Happy Hour. For a list of all the events, visit Volvo Ocean Race at Fan Pier Boston's Facebook page.

When the ocean racers leave Fan Pier in mid-May and head for Galway, head to the Charles River Esplanade (Back Bay) for sailing that you can afford.

Learn to sail at Community Boating (21 David G. Mugar Way, Back Bay), with 30-Day Intro to Sailing and Kayaking for just $99, which includes boat usage, and instruction and classes. To join for the entire year, which includes boat usage, classes and instruction, guest privileges, and discounts on events and merchandise, pay $240. Visit the link above for more information.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jet outta here for $29

Leave it to JetBlue to bring us a great sample sale when we least expect it-- and Divas they are by calling it a sample sale!

For TODAY only, the airline is offering one-way flights from Boston starting at $29! (Beware of this catch: Your flight back to Boston may cost more, since this "sample" sale applies to departing from a select few airports.) Flights must be taken between May 5 and June 10.

Boston's Divas can jet to NYC, Charlotte, Richmond, Buffalo, and a few other spots for $29; San Fran for $59; Bermuda or Chicago for $69; Long Beach for $79; Denver for $89; and
Vegas or Seattle for $99.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The marathon of all sales

This SALE explains why, on Sunday, Bodega employees were unloading a U-Haul truck in front of the store.

Monday was one of Boston's most-celebrated holidays, Patriot's Day, which many know as Marathon Monday. And if you're a Diva whose been inspired by the recent athletic feats of the Boston Marathon runners, a new pair of stylish, street-chic sneakers may be just what you need.

Swing by-- or run over to-- the Bodega (6 Clearway St., Back Bay) for the store's Annual Footwear Sale, through this Friday. Today, kicks are 50% off; tomorrow and Friday, 70% off; and from 4-6pm on Friday, each pair will cost you a 10-spot.

Even if you're not feeling a new pair of sneakers, a trip to the store itself-- which is disguised as a "Bodega," a neighborhood corner store,vthat customers must enter a secret door to discover the trendy urban atmosphere-- is worth the adventure.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A perfect Match

"Ladies Night" may sound terribly cheesy-- but at Back Bay's Match, it's far from that.

It's now almost a week later and I still can't stop bragging about the $30 filet I had for, um, $5 at Match (94 Massachusetts Ave.; Back Bay). And Liz's stellar salmon-- a $26 value-- for (you guessed it) $5. The catch: You must be a "lady" (I'm going to take it up a notch and say, Diva).

Every Thursday, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Divas can get any entree on the menu (there are about 7 choices) for $5. Beware, the dining room packs up fast, and don't go there in search for a Div-o. I felt bad for the couple that was there, unaware of the night's theme. It's a rip-roaring girls night, an all-girls high school cafeteria spruced up with atmosphere: dimmed lights, candles, and a blazing fire. But, it was exactly what Liz and I wanted: Good food and wine, great conversation, and a $40 discount on our check. (And the final price of the meal and 3 glasses of vino cost less than this discount!)

Why not wander over to the end of Newbury tomorrow night?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bella Divas at Bella Sante

This sure does rival spa week... FREE facials and massages. What more could a Diva ask for?

The following was published in yesterday's Stuff Boston magazine. You can bet that this Diva will be there.
With bare-leg season just around the corner, we’re definitely in the market
for a new fitness routine. And of course, we’re never not in the market for free
facials and cocktails, so we cleared our calendars when we heard that the
Movement Center of Boston (38 Newbury Street, Back Bay) is teaming
up with Bella Sante Spa for a “Beauty from Within” fitness and beauty event.
Tomorrow night from 7 to 9 p.m., enjoy mini facials and massages as well as
demonstrations of Gyrotonic (the new fitness craze that incorporates movement
principles from yoga, dance, gymnastics, swimming, and tai-chi) from the pros.
Plus, Burton’s Grill will be providing complimentary cocktails and gluten-free
bites for guests — hey, nothing wrong with a little indulgence if it gets you to
the gym, right? The event is free but RSVP only, so make sure you e-mail before you head over.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Get pampered in homerun-quality style

Say hello to
baseball season with a Spring-opening spa treatment— for a bleacher seat price.

This Diva may not be baseball’s biggest fan, but I am a Bostonian and do share an appreciatio
n for the game and the tradition surrounding America’s favorite pastime. And in honor of the Sox’s Opening Day at Fenway today— postponed from yesterday due to monsoon-like
rain— here’s how any Diva can
hit home-run beauty for a fraction of the price.

There’s no better way to open a season with a refreshing facial or a relaxing rubdown. So while the Sox play their season-opener, say hello to Spring by scheduling an appointment during Spa Week, April 13-19, in most major cities throughout the nation. All participating spas are offering a selection of treatments, including facials, waxing, massages, peels, and a selection more for $50. That’s not too much to ask for Newbury St.-styled pampering. Spots are filling up, so quick schedule soon— or your chance at a deal like this will be gone like Big Pappi's homerun hit out of Fenway.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I'm sorry, so sorry...

"Where'd the DIVA go?," my loyal reader and fellow Hands of Gold (HOGs) cousin Nicki asked me the other day. You may be (and I hope you are!) wondering the same...

I'll be back soon. Check out the site next week, and follow me on twitter. A lil' overhaul is in progress.

And while my (blog's) makeover is in the works, I'd love to hear your comments, thoughts, gripes, suggestions, and any other feedback you may have.

Post it as a comment to this post or e-mail me at

Bon Soir!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wine and dine, on a dime

Boston's Winter Restaurant Week presents the perfect opportunity for a fine dine, on a dime. Week Two (out of two) began today and goes through Friday.

The wine at Bin 26 Enoteca (26 Charles St., Beacon Hill) certainly isn't $26/bottle-- as it is at Ivy Restaurant (49 Temple Place, Downtown Crossing)-- but during Boston's Winter Restaurant Week, a steal like such is easy to find at this enoteca (according to Bin 26's web site, "En-oh-TECK-a, a common term used mostly in Italy, refers to a place where one can find simple foods to accompany the wines served there").

3 courses, $33.09/person, for dinner at most of Boston's finest restaurants. This steal sure did swing at Bin 26. I started with a calamari salad (usually $13), the monkfish with almond butter (usually $26), and fresh handmade sorbet (usually $8). My $33 meal was not only a $47 value, but a delectable and satisfying high-quality meal with a close friend. The atmosphere was relaxing and intimate, and diners are surrounded with wine-corked walls and unique bottles; the bathroom's ceiling is decorated with upside down wine glasses, and the walls following there, paper-mached with bottle labels.

Choose your restaurants carefully, however. At some digs, such as KO Prime (90 Trement St., Beacon Hill) and Top of the Hub (Top of the Prudential Center, Back Bay), it's an obvious bargain; but for, let's say, sushi, or for tapas-- at Toro (1704 Washington St., South End) or example-- going with the usual menu may be a wiser (and more FRUGAL!) option.


Yes, that's right. Diva on a Dime is on Twitter.

Follow the Diva (thedivaonadime) and stay up-to-the-minute with breaking fashionista finds. Being saavy in the city just got a whole lot better. Get the Diva's tweets!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Dime-worthy updates from the Pru

La Frugal Fashionista and the Value Vixen report on a Back Bay European chain store that's come and gone, Boston's ever-awaited Restaurant Week, and a crucial fashion find in the heart of Downtown Crossing.

Goodbye MNG, Hello Restaurant Week.

Boston Restaurant Week, Winter 2009

Nanette has come to town...

Disclaimer: Our technology was a lil' shaky on these posts, and the sound not truly Diva-worthy. These kinks will be worked out soon, my recessionistas!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Celebrate FRUGALITY on your birthday

You may not want to celebrate turning a year older, but celebrating the onset of some bargains and freebies is always a reason to parrr-tay.

I came across this Smart Money article-- written by a fellow college alum and Diva-- which tastefully sums up some of the best birthday-treats-for-your-buck. Below, a round-up of some of the best bargains.

And remember, Kelli Grant said,
When it comes to these programs, use common sense. Only sign up for programs with retailers that you know and like. And read the fine print carefully — if you don't want spam or other marketing materials to be sent to you, there should be a way to opt out.

Rewards Program. Birthday Bonus.

Borders Rewards. You'll get two coupons emailed to you on your birthday: one for 15% off the regular price of one item, and one for a free dessert at the store cafe.

Cold Stone Creamery Birthday Club.  Join the club online and get a free creation (the company's term for ice cream with mixed-in extras). You'll be emailed the coupon on your birthday.

DSW Reward Your Style. You'll get a coupon for $5 off your next purchase.

Hollywood Video. Get a coupon for a free rental on your birthday. No coupon? Just tell a store representative that you're celebrating. Club W. Get a coupon for $10 off your next order. The coupon will be emailed to you around your birthday.

In case you didn't notice, the Diva was on vacation...

But I'll be back later tonight... And after some fellow Divas came in town on a Dime (Bolt Bus, from Manhattan, starting at a buck) to help celebrate my birthday, I'm ashamed to admit we weren't too frugal.

That vacation from affordability is over... and I'm back in action, more frugal of a recessionista than ever!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Maybe today's your lucky day...

A Diva on a Dime may not be able to afford to purchase one-- or all-- of these gift cards, but she certainly can afford to win one.

Check out Glamour's 70th Anniversary Giftcard Sweepstakes, and enter to win one of 16 giftcards and certificates, including JetBlue,, and American Express (over $10,000 in prizes!).

Dust up a little and make room for Spring

We've moved the clocks forward; now it's time to move our some aspects of our lives forward. 

One thing I’ve always loved about living in the Northeast is the shared appreciation everyone has for beautiful weather. After growing up with Buffalo, NY, and doing college in Ithaca, NY— and being a Diva all along— Boston is, well, warm. No. It’s the tropics. But Bostonians and Buffalonians, and every Nor’easterner in between (and North and South and further West), exude this joy when it warms up a bit.

This weekend, it felt like spring had arrived (did I mention it’s now a wintry-mix of slush outside right now?), which had this Diva thinking about the spring cleaning she’d be taking on. 

And I don’t just mean about in the literal sense— because our apartment certainly needs love in that category, too— but in the figurative sense: How can I further simplify aspects of my life? What is going to make me more happy? How can I further stretch a dollar, better budget my funds, and improve my on-a-dime habits— while being fabulous, of course? And what am I going to do for the good of others?

Everything is new and fresh in spring; it’s a time that allows for a new beginning. So, take a few minutes out of your day to ponder over those questions, start thinking about your “New Season’s Resolutions.” While you work on your figurative spring cleaning, here’s a little help with the literal side of things:

1. Get rid of the clothes you never wear. Face it, if you didn't wear that three-year-old sweater all Winter, you're NEVER going to wear it. Try Second Time Around (176 Newbury St., Back Bay)-- they'll give you a cut of the profits. 

2. Can't resell it? Can you DONATE it? Especially in the state of our current economy, a lot of us Divas are a lot luckier than we realize. Before you trash anything-- canned food you're sick of staring at, a pair of jeans that-- let's face it-- will never fit again, and even gently-read magazines-- think if they could, instead be donated to a local charity, cause, or even Diva. Here are JUST A FEW ideas: Big Brother Big Sister Foundation (good for used clothes and other "clutter"), Some food donation options, Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (for Divas with dollars, monetary donations), and an all-encompassing donation resource list for Boston-area

3. "Spring clean" your life and try something new. I'm giving Flamenco dancing a whirl (watching it, that is).  Every Sunday in March and April, at 7 pm and 9pm, Barlola (160 Commonwealth Ave., Back Bay) hosts Flamenco nights. Best part yet: The show is FREE. 

4. Get away. Doesn't matter where, when, or with who. A weekend in the country, your favorite city, or even a relative's couch always helps to clear the mind. 

The Bolt Bus can bolt you from South Station to NYC in a little more than 4 hours-- and in much more style than the ill-fated Fung-Wah. Wi-Fi, outlets (necessary not only for computers, but Blackberry chargers, too!), and an occasional hottie traveling (maybe NYU law student?)-- what more can a Diva ask for? Oh, yeah, seats starting at $1. 

5. And for the VERY literal: Some deals on cleaning supplies. 

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Definition: Recessionista

Noun. (plural recessionistas) 1. A person who is able to stick to a tight budget while still managing to dress stylishly. (Wiktionary)

Like a fabulous roommate and friend (and a fellow Diva herself), Asti came home on Friday with material for my blog.

"I've got a new word for you," she said. "RECESSIONISTA." I was hooked from the second the word rolled off her tongue-- and then, a little embarrassed that it hadn't yet been added to my vocabulary. It is now. And you Divas-- or recessionistas-- should give it a whirl, too. Above, Wiktionary's definition. Below, an example of its context.

From New York's Daily News, July 2008:
"Frugalness is the new black," said Kathryn Finney, author of "How to Be a Budget Fashionista." "People are looking at shopping and consumerism in completely different ways. I'm seeing people on Wall Street talking about getting their suits in Century 21. That would never have happened a few years ago. People are proud to be bargain hunters." (Frugal fashion: New Yorkers learn to look good for a lot less)
In the spirit of today's urban slang lesson, I took an article from London's Times Online, 50 ways to be a recessionista, and tiered it to la vie in Boston:

How to be a recessionista in Boston


Sunday brunch at the Aujourd'hui (200 Boylston St., Back Bay). DIY crepes, served on a tray with a napkin.
A day at Bella Sante (38 Newbury St., Back Bay). Perfect your pedicure technique on a mate.
The morning Starbucks run. A good ol' fashion brew from the kitchen. (Gives you a few minutes more of shut-eye each day!)
Afternoon tea at the Taj (15 Arlington St., Back Bay) A slug of rum in your Nestle's hot chocolate.
New shoes. New heels and soles for your old Jimmy Choos.
Redecorating your bedroom. Rearranging your bookshelves.
A romantic mini-break. A weekend’s worth of DVD box sets and takeaways.
A hot tub for the garden. An hour-long bath, while sipping a vodka tonic.
Buying into the military look. Changing the buttons on your winter coat.
A Friday blow-dry. A set of heated rollers stashed in your desk drawer.
Dressing up and eating out. Doing the housework in lingerie.
Vintage Dom Pérignon Sipping. $6.99 Prosecco from Trader Joes
(748 Memorial Dr., Cambridge; 1317 Beacon St., Brookline).
Paying for therapy. A bitch-session with your fellow Divas.
A weekly flower delivery from the florist. A trip to the 'burbs to pick your own.
Dry cleaning your statement blouse. Airing it in off the balcony.
The 7/8 trouser length. Chopping the bottoms off last season’s skinnies.
Upgrading to the new BlackBerry Bold. Going blackberry picking.
Shopping every weekend on Newbury Street. Swearing off shopping (unless, perhaps, there's a bargain to be found...).
Personal-training sessions at Sports Club/LA (4 Avery St., Chinatown). Letting rip on the dance floor at every opportunity.
New hairdo. New parting.
A weekly manicure. CVS’s long-lasting manicure.
eBay. craigslist free listings.
Having it all. Having to choose the one, utterly perfect thing you just have to have this month.
Investing in a new-season Gucci folk dress. Wearing a skinny jumper under a summer smock.
A new cashmere scarf. Joining a knitting group.
Big statement jewelry. Scouring a flea market for old costume jewelry.
Member’s clubs. Starting a book club.
Going away with friends. Having friends to stay.
Botox. Detox.

(Photo Credit: Recession illustration for the Style section of the New York Times.)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

There's value in who you know

The business card was invented for a reason.

A Diva on a Dime is a workin' gal... She knows how to work a room, work a bargain, and just work hard. And collecting business cards, well, that's her specialty. 

We've all been hearing it for as long as we can remember, "It's all about networking," "Who does your Daddy know?," "Have your friend call his uncle whose step-brother works at ______, and tell them I need_____." You get my drift.  

This is all true, of course-- but now, more than ever, it's crucial. And I'm not even talking about the job-search-who-you-know (but for you jobless Divas, this can apply), I am talking about the every-day-who-do-I-know-and-how-can-I-save-a dime-and-still-be-posh contact.

I've somehow become an expert at the business card swap. I'm not sure how or when it happened, but it did, and it's fun... Not to mention savvy. I've left a conference with Choos, gotten a leather business-card-holding-accessory in the mail, slated an interview hours before deadline at a bar in DC, and gotten my share of complimentary cocktails.  

Confidence is what it takes-- and, maybe, a glass of vino to break the ice. 
The point to this post is that, last night, I made a valuable contact-- and you can too. 

I was wining and dining at Haru (800 Boylston St., Back Bay) with a few of my fashionistas (A DIVA ON A DIME NOTE: Mention the 10% off banner in the Prudential Center EACH and EVERY time you frequent Haru and reap the benefits). Later, when I was on my way to the loo, I stopped at the hostess stand to make reservations for next week. I small-talked a bit with those behind the stand, introduced myself, and then preceded on with the conversation. I not only left the hostess stand with my favorite drink (Prosecco) saved in the computer system-- so the waiter next week could give me a complimentary birthday drink-- but also with the business card of the general manager who oversees all of the restaurants (in NYC, Boston, and Philly). Next time I'm in Manhattan, he said, contact him and will make sure that me and my "date" are taken care of. 

Landing this contact was never my intention, but rather my willingness to meet someone new and spark a conversation. And there's no doubt, I will be in touch when I'm in Manhattan in a few weeks... and I may save a few dimes (I sure hope more...). 
Have no fear and go for it Divas... What is there to lose? And you never really know who you may meet next (or who may meet you next). 

Monday, March 2, 2009

Introducing the Value Vixen...

Each week, our Value Vixen (see left) will provide us with a round-up of some of the hottest places online to find coupons, deals, values, bargains, price comparisons-- you name it...

The March deals on these coupon web sites sure are coming in like a lion.
Search over 20,000 retail stores, including Spiegel, Sephora, Neiman Marcus, and Apple for online coupon codes. Become a fan on facebook, sign up for the weekly newsletter, and add widgits to your mac. 

According to this site, the average CouponCabin shopper spends 88 seconds on this site and saves $16 per order. 

For the domesticated Vixen-- visit this site before hitting up the grocery store.

"Comparison Shopping Beyond Compare." Compare produce prices and reviews. Tech Vixens will sure find value here. 

A posh dinner... in your own apartment

$7. Not bad for a three-course meal from the ever-expensive Whole Foods. 

And how is this possible, you ask? Finding three more Divas, each with $7 to spare. 

With a little time, creativity, and $28, Asti, Caroline, Martha, and I enjoyed a stellar Sunday evening dinner last night. We even grabbed a free DVD rental on the way home. 

Although our dinner soiree was impromptu-- we met at the grocery store and decided our menu on the spot-- a Diva can be even more savvy with a planned menu. See what staples your local grocery spot has on sale this week and base the meal around that staple. Be creative-- see what ingredients you have laying around the house, what spices you'd like to work with, and what products in the kitchen may work well (if not better) as substitutes. 

Next Saturday night, instead of doing cocktails and dinner at a city hot spot-- and racking up your bill-- host a dinner party. If you feel less-than-Diva-like by asking friends for money as they walk through your door (after all, a Diva on a Dime is not cheap, just cost-conscious), then suggest each guest bring a bottle of vino (starting at $2.99 at Trader Joes, 748 Memorial Dr., Cambridge; 1317 Beacon St., Brookline) or some tapas to share. Or, make it more casual and invite them over to help cook (and break open the bubbly a little earlier).

Although our bank accounts may be struggling a bit, your social life doesn't have to come to a halt. Sometimes the most memorable times with fellow Divas are spent with a few bottles of wine, some warm nosh, and a cozy apartment. 

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday sales

"Go ahead and swipe your card-- Oh, wait, I'm mistaken, you owe NOTHING."

The cashier at Banana Republic Woman (2 Copley Place, Back Bay) broke that news to me this morning. "Not a bad way to start off my Saturday," I thought. 

At Banana Republic, all sale items are Take an Extra 20% Off; BR (and Gap and Old Navy) Cardholders Take an Extra 10% Off Everything from now through April 1; All full-priced pants, belts, and select sweaters are 30% off. 

The bracelet I "bought" was originally priced at $49, but on sale for $24.99. Apply to that BR's Take and Extra 20% Off Sale Items, my 10% Cardholder discount, and $20 in reward cards (another perk of a cardholder) and that puppy was free.

Needless to say, I was feelin' quite savvy this morning and ventured off through Copley Square and up Newbury St. to see what other deals I land. 

City Sports (480 Boylston, Back Bay) has 20% off all women's running apparel and up to 75% off winter coats. If you purchase something not already on sale, flash a gym membership and receive 10% your purchase (Don't be shy, either, with those small purchases. I flashed my card for a $3.25 can of tennis balls and am proud of it). 

French Connection (FCUK) (206 Newbury St., Back Bay) has 75% off. 

And my second best find of the day was Second Time Around's (176 Newbury St., Back Bay) Economic Stimulus sale at 80% off. Although it's a great deal for a buyer, if you're looking to sell back some old threads, remember they give you half of the price it's sold at, so you may not make bank like you thought. 

Friday, February 27, 2009

Somerville is never too far when it has wine on the cheap...

Get there, TOMORROW! 

Saturday, February 28, 2009
Noon - 6pm
Downtown Wine & Spirits
225 Elm St
Somerville, MA
Spring is coming and it’s time to clear out the Downtown Wine & Spirits stock at the Garage Sale! Co-sponsored by The Second Glass and Classic Wine Imports, Downtown’s Garage Sale will offer special discounts throughout the day, complete with tastings and some unbeatable prices.

Jeff and Dan, the resident wine gurus at Downtown, along with Classic Wine Imports will be pouring some rockin’ sweet vino from 12-6, all priced at $9.99 that you can try before you buy!

Go home with tons of wine you love! The Garage Sale also extends to the entire shop—buy any case (mixed too!) and get 20% off your purchase.

Like any garage sale, the stock is limited so make sure to head down to Downtown before the good stuff gets snatched up! (Facebook group)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Get outta town

A quick trip or week-long getaway doesn't have to break your bank.

After a friend read "Diva on a Dime," she introduced me to her friend's publication, Shoestring Magazine. An instant fan, I call myself. "Free Budget Living Advice, The Good Life for Less, Champagne Style on a Beer Budget." A frugal fashionista couldn't agree more. 

My point is this: The most recent issue's letter from Melissa-- the magazine's Stealfinder-in-Chief-- read: 
"No dollar amount can be assigned to a friendship, and these are among my most valuable. So, recession or not, we're splurging on a real vacation and spending the week off together, and it will be worth every penny."
Her words inspired me to start planning a getaway, and I stumbled across plenty of other worthwhile deals along the way. 

For the sand-savvy
Club Med
50% OFF 2nd Person on All-Inclusive Club Med Escapes
50% off 7-night stays in Mexico, the Caribbean, and U.S.

Bitter End Yacht Club
British Virgin Islands (BVI), this spring and summer, save up to $1680 for an Admiral's Package for two.

Guana Island
(877) 347-5675
Enjoy a BVI private island up to 20% off.

Long Bay Beach Resort
(877) 311-0556
Beach-front BVI with a 35% off rates, starting at $114 per night.

Ski Bunny at heart?
Up to 35% off at Jackson Hole hotels, plus buy 3 airline tickets and the 4th is free (through March 20). 

Live luxe for the weekend in your city or another
Luxury for less-- a lot less. Five-star hotels for much less. 
Hotel Commonwealth in Boston. The Waldorf and Algonquin in New York. And all Vegas Five-stars under $150. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Diva on a Dime is on Facebook!

Join the Facebook group... and tell your savvy sistas (and brothers). 

For a city dweller, life doesn't slow down when the economy does.

This blog proves that life can go on in a recession, that a city dweller can stay in her element AND live within her means. This blog is about living on the cheap and still being glam, about being savvy in the city. This blog is about being a Diva on a Dime.

Follow me as a I take on Boston-- and who knows what other cities-- as THE Frugal Fashionista.

C'mon, jump on the bandwagon and join the group!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Little Retail Therapy Never Hurts ...

... Especially at 60% off retail!

The Newbury LF Stores (353 Newbury St., Back Bay) kicked of its "Only Sale of the Season" over President's Day weekend, with 60%  or more off the entire Fall/Winter 2008 collection. 

I stopped in this evening with the expectation of finding a storefront over-picked by sale-hungry vultures. I assumed the only merchandise left would be the freakishly small and terribly huge sizes. Well, wrong I was. The selection is still vast and plentiful. Although those items on the cheap are Fall/Winter pieces, LF's clothes are from LA and-- if paired with the correct shoes, accessories, and get-up-- versatile in any season.

Time may be your best friend, however. As the sale progresses, LF tends to further mark down its items.

If your therapy doesn't include a retail option at the moment, LF WILL have  other sales...
When I hit jackpot at LF's "Only Sale of the Season" last year, it was partially due to my naivety in thinking this was the only sale the store would hold all year. It may sound that way, but the store holds another "Only Sale of the Season" near the middle of Summer, to make way for the Fall collection. 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

An Ivy More Affordable than Los Angeles'

Where else can you order a bottle of Prosecco for $26 (other than, perhaps, Italy)?

What Diva doesn't enjoy a swanky dinner on the town with friends and a bottle (or two...) of vino? Don't be so quick to nix that joy of life (and sanity!) off your list. At Boston's Ivy Restaurant (49 Temple Place, Downtown Crossing), ALL bottles of wine (unless noted) are $26. If you prefer just a glass, any 6 oz. serving is $9. Ivy also features three flights, based on region. Each includes four progressive (two whites, two reds) 2 oz. pours, at $13. 

Ivy offers a selection of over 50 carefully-chosen wines-- all bodies. The Pinot Gris, Albarino, and Prosecco are my personal favorites.

Ivy's atmosphere is enjoyable, too. Elegant with a casual and warm Italian-influenced twist. Located in Downtown Crossing, Ivy is a weeknight hot spot, very less-frequented on Friday and Saturday nights. (If you'd rather not bump elbows with the rest of those employed in Boston's Financial District, you'll have no trouble snagging a table one of these nights.)

At Ivy, "family style" means more than affordably-priced bottles of wine. Start with a Per la Tavola-- meant to be served communally and priced for two people-- of Fondue, salad, or a cheese selection. Continue with a rustic and flavorful Primi Piatti-- a small plate, meant to be served family style. (Ivy recommends ordering two per person in your party. One piatti, paired with a side, is more than enough. To give your pallet more variety, order 1.5 per person-- 3 for two people, 5 for three people, etc.)  Ivy's sides are served a la carte as well, and come in heaping portions.  

Per la Tavolas range from $10-$16; Primis, from $6-$17; and Sides, from $5-6. Paired with a bottle (or two...) at $26 and a group of friends to share a meal, gossip, and check with, a Diva can't go wrong at Ivy.

For theatre-bound Diva, the restaurant offers a $30 theatre menu option--complete with dinner, wine, and tiramisu-- from 5 to 8PM each night.

How to Become a Diva on a Dime

First Stop: Boston, Massachusetts. 

Recession. Depression. Tough Times. Searchin' for a Stimulus Solution.

However you put it, whatever you choose to call it, we are all struggling in some way these days-- cutting back, shacking up, budgeting your life away. If you're one of the lucky few who are still living the High Life, now may be the time to ask yourself, How can you be more of a Diva on a Dime? And, what can you do with the dough you save? Invest in a new idea, company, or your retirement. Support a cause, charity, or friend.

I'm sick of blaming my ill-fated luck and state of misery-- not to mention, most recently, my bronchitis and sinus infection-- on the economy. I'm also sick of racking up my credit card debt in order to commute to work, eat meals, live my live. And I'm also too stubborn to submit to a line-itemized budget and stop enjoying some of life's finest things-- food, friends, fashion, wine, jetsetting-- because my paycheck tells me I can't.

For a City Dweller, life doesn't stop when the economy slows down. This blog proves that life can go on in a recession, that a City Dweller can stay in her element AND live within her means. This blog is about being a Diva on a Dime. Follow me as a I take on Boston-- and who knows what other cities-- as THE Frugal Fashionista.