Step two: It's not about beauty, it's about feeling good about yourself.
You cut everyone around you slack all the time—how about yourself? "Women have to ease up on themselves and carve out time," says Mandel. "It's about not expending too much extraneous energy. And that's free." In other words, if you need an extra 10 minutes in the morning to put on a little mascara, add it into your routine. Start small with these strategies:
Speaking of mascara, don't feel like you need to suddenly turn mornings into marathon makeup sessions. "Not everyone likes to wear a lot of makeup. I recommend that a woman augments her best feature," says Mandel. "I like a little lipstick because my words are my business card. I want what comes out of my mouth to have impact."
For others, you might want to dab a little concealer under the eyes, rub in some moisturizer, or swoosh on a little blush to give your face some color. "Let your best feature pop a little," adds Mandel. "It can make a big difference." Try it and see.
Dress Up Your Day
As for getting dressed, it doesn't take a lot of money or require you have to sacrifice comfort to look clean and polished. It also doesn't matter if you're a size 4 or a size 20. Nearly every woman has body issues to overcome.
For starters, says De Bease, forget what the label says. "Try the next size up." You'll be surprised at how good items can fit when you take a chance. And who cares if you put on a 16 instead of a 14—the only thing others will notice is how flattering your outfit is.
The next unconventional thing you should do is say goodbye to black. "Don't think that black is the universal great color. Adding color can totally change how you look and feel," says De Bease. She suggests holding different shades up to your face to see what works well with your skin tone and hair color. If you have a mostly dark wardrobe, add in some bright accessories to gradually colorize your look.
On that note, those little extra things we do—carrying a cute bag, wearing a hot looking pair of shoes, or treating ourselves to face-flattering shades—can help you update your look for less (take that economy!).
Feed Your Soul
When it comes to money woes, we need to remember that it's almost free to look good, says Mandel. "We forget about how we age ourselves or how we look haggard by not eating properly or moving. Take walk out in the sunlight with headphones, and you'll really be shedding stress and releasing seratonin," she suggests.
The bottom line is that women need to rediscover their beauty. Not necessarily the kind of beauty that turns heads in a singles bar, but the kind that provides motivation to get through your day with confidence. Says Mandel, "that kind of beauty is contagious."