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Save Money on Personal Assistants, Chefs and Stylists

Having a staff to tend to your personal life - a personal chef, trainer or assistant - is something we often associate with the wealthy and well-heeled. But the Internet has made it possible for everyday folks like us to simulate that personal service and attention, for a fraction of the price. Here's what I found:

Personal Chef
The average cost in the real world for your own gourmet guru can cost about $400 a week for 5 meals for a family of four. This includes buying food and preparing catered meals. But sites like PersonalChefToGo.com will deliver fancy meals to your doorstep, which you can later heat to serve. The caveat is that the food isn't actually made in your home, but hey - that means no mess to clean up afterward. For $75 you can get four dinner deliveries a week, serving two people; $155 covers a family of four. At MagicKitchen.com you can order meals for $10 a pop and at FamilyChef.com you can get 6 meals (serving two adults) for $139.
Personal Stylist
Hiring Rachel Zoe to shop for you would cost thousands of dollars per hour; even lesser stylists can cost hundreds of dollars per week. iStylista acts as a free online personal stylist. You log on and it requests your body shape, your favorite colors, your personal style and your budget. Then it delivers a selection of clothing found online - you can purchase if you like. There's also ShopStyle.com which sends you sale alerts based on items and brands you prefer - like a virtual personal discount shopper.
Personal Trainer
To train one on one, you can expect to pay $60 to $70 per hour on average, according to CostHelper.com. But if you want a personal trainer without an expensive hourly fee, try FitOrbit.com or MyHomePersonalTrainer.com. On the latter, which was a top pick on Good Housekeeping's list of fitness Web sites, a free basic account gets you access to a diet analyst, workout routines, video exercises, and a calorie tracker. Or for $40 a month, you can pick your own online personal trainer from FitOrbit.com's team, getting 24/7 access and a personalized meal plan.

If you're working out at home, you can also use a video trainer: Download fitness videos and run them on your laptop while you sweat. You can find videos you like on iTunes or YouTube; Gwyneth Paltrow's trainer, Tracy Anderson, also posts workout videos on her site, tracyandersonmethod.com.
Personal Assistant/Helper
To hire a personal assistant you're talking salary plus benefits, but for as little as $2-$3 per task you can use AskSunday.com's virtual assistants to schedule doctor's appointments, set up dinner reservations or give you a wake-up call - even if you are on a trip around the world.
Also check out Alice.com (like Alice from the Brady Bunch), which keeps track of and shops for home essentials - everything from groceries to toilet paper to toothpaste. Items ship for free directly from the manufacturer, offering a savings of up to 30%. Alice.com also has an iPhone app so you can tell it what you need when you're on the go.
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Photo courtesy: CulinaryInk's photostream on Flick