Girly Envy

I work in an office full of women and the topics of shopping, hair styles and personal grooming are popular ones around the lunch table. Before having to put my family on a budget I was a big shopper and I often paid someone else to do my personal grooming for me. I frequented nail salons and as a previous blog post indicates, I spent a lot of money on my hair cut.

Personal appearance is an important part of our job due to our client base and role in the community as a social service agency. It is often our job to help our clients understand the importance of being neat, tidy and clean. We also frequent our local court house for two of our programs and this requires our wardrobes and personal appearances to be that one notch above normal office attire.

Since being on a budget, the only thing I pay someone else to do for me is to cut my hair. Every once in a while I will treat myself to a much needed back massage but only because it’s covered by my health insurance. I do buy good clothes, but I keep my wardrobe to the bare minimum.

This week we got into a conversation about the cost of personal grooming and how each of us finds the money to afford our habits. Many of the women attended salons regularly to have their nails, both hands and feet, done on a monthly basis. Several of them also had someone wax, thread or sugar their facial hair, legs and bikini lines ever couple of months.

When I asked how much they would spend on a monthly basis on personal grooming, none could give me an answer. Most didn’t really know and could only give me ball park figures in regards to their regular spending.

On my own time I decided to look at what it would cost me on a monthly basis to pay for someone to do my nails and personal grooming. I looked at spas as well as smaller nail salons and the cheapest I could find was around $20 for a basic manicure and $30 for a pedicure. This did not include anything fancy like shellac or gel, which tends to last longer, and I had to at about $10 to each if I wanted that luxury.

Waxing, sugaring and threading varied wildly and costs fluctuated between $15 for an upper lip to more than $40 for legs. Needles to say I would be putting out a significant amount of money on a monthly basis to keep up with my co-workers. Add on my hair cut every eight weeks and I would be looking at something like $200 or more per month.

This didn’t account for their shopping habits either. On two occasions over the past month several of the ladies went on lunch time shopping trips and they often talk about the new clothes they bought over the weekend. Since being on a budget I shop twice per year, spring and fall, unless there is a need for something and I can’t wait.

So part of me went into a bit of a pout and started feeling sorry for myself. I felt like that teenager complaining to her parents that they’re being to strict and not letting me do something. How come I couldn’t buy pretty clothes on a weekly basis? How come I couldn’t have shellac nails?

So I went into the lunch room this week and asked how they afford all of these extras. One woman talked about how she bounces money around from their credit cards and line of credit while she puts off bills until the next pay check comes in. Her philosophy was that her and her husband will catch up when her children are a bit older and she felt comfortable with their present finances.

Another woman had truly budgeted for her purchases and extras and her husband’s salary was ample enough for the life style she desired. She also stated that while she shops regularly, she makes a concerted effort to buy from the sale rack. While I still couldn’t afford this tactic, it seemed a bit more reasonable to me.

The other women were largely single and had few expenses, but many admitted that they didn’t have savings or investments because they didn’t have money left at the end of the month.

Where do I fall out after all of this? Well, I suppose I’m in the same position as before my little investigation. There’s no way I can afford to have my nails done regularly and my one, somewhat, frivolous expense will remain my hair cut. My personal grooming habits will have to be limited to the $7 box of wax strips from the drug store.

While my nails won’t have the pretty shellacked and salon look, they are neat and tidy, filed and cut. My upper lip is hair free and I will continue to inflict that pain on myself; I’m not sure having someone else do it will make it any more pleasant anyway! As for the clothes, I will continue to buy good quality, budget friendly items that will last.

I’d love to spoil myself, but I know it will lead to that panic at the end of the month as I scramble to figure out how I will pay for the necessities. These are just some of those short term, feel good, treats that I will have to do with out for long term gain. I can still pout a bit about it though right?


Happy frugal living!


avatarAuthor Bio ~ Kara (45 Posts)

Kara is a 32 year old mother of two little boys, balancing a career in social work with a crazy family life. After helping others all day she loves nothing more than to play with the kids, curl up with a good book or cook up a storm. Learning to balance a budget and live within her means is Kara’s next great adventure!

9 Responses to “Girly Envy”

  1. I must admit that I have never had a pedicure or manicure – actually gave a gift certificate away for spa that I did not want to use. Had a few massages but not until my 50’s and covered under benefits. I get my hair done at a hairdressing school – need lots of time and patience but worth it for the price – and the teachers oversee it all. However, I do have naturally curly hair so easy to keep.

  2. Each person has her own priorities and her own level of smarts or common sense. There is certainly no reason to envy the person who uses credit or chooses not to save or plan for the future in order to spend a lot of unnecessary money on personal grooming and clothing.
    It’s much better to spend wisely and treat yourself occasionally.
    Personally, I have only had manicures and pedicures when I was given gift certificates. I am quite capable of pampering my own feet and doing my nails. When I can no longer comfortably reach my toes I’ll consider paying someone else to do my pedicures.

  3. avatar Samantha Says:
    May 26, 2014 at 8:12 am

    This makes me glad that I don’t work in an environment like that. I’m in engineering, where most of us lack fashion sense and it’s mostly guys so there is no “competition”. I figure that as long as I shower every day and my dress shirt doesn’t clash with my dress pants, that I’m ahead of the game. Personally, I wouldn’t dream of wasting money on a manicure, let alone a pedicure!!!

  4. I appreciate much of what the other posters here are saying, but I think it is a bit unfair to call a manicure or pedicure a “waste of money”. Not everyone sees these things as a priority but for those that do, it is not frivolous so long as it is part of the life budget line. As Gail says, you can have anything you want so long as you can afford it. I try and have my feet done 6-8 times a year – I feel better, my feet look better and it’s a nice time out for myself. I do ask for gift certificates to help offset the cost, but I have very dry and cracked feet so I look at it as treatment with the bonus of a bit of colour thrown in. I also bring my husband along about half the time – it is a nice opportunity for him to shut down the electronics, spend some quiet time together and it keeps his nails in good shape (which is half for me lol). He cuts his own hair so it is the only grooming he doesn;t do for himself.

    I also have my underarms waxed 6-8 times a year at $14 ea. I have skin issues with shaving so it is a better option. I also occasionally get massages that are partially covered through benefits or I sometimes go to a local massage school for $35. I don;t look at any of these services as “competition” or doing it to keep up with anyone – what do I care how my toes compare to my female coworkers or my friends? This is something for myself, and no one should feel shame about doing small things for themselves. Living a healthy financial life is living within your means and choosing where to spend your money. Just because that’s where I choose to spend my disposible income once bills, savings, and the like are covered does not not mean I am in finacial trouble or am irresponsible. Life is different for everyone.

    • avatar Pepgirl Says:
      May 26, 2014 at 2:47 pm

      Totally agree with you HVR. While I don’t do most of these things grooming things, the mani pedi is a lovely luxury. If it’s a gift card or money that has been put aside for it…no guilt felt about it.

  5. I think one of the keys to cutting down this kind of expense is not to judge other women when they opt out of waxing and nail polish etc. I think as long as you’re clean, further “grooming” isn’t really required. I shudder to think of someone being reprimanded (formally or subtly) at work for bushy eyebrows or chin hairs or grey roots.

  6. $12 every other month for a hair cut. But I’m a guy!! :)

  7. I work in the field at a utility with pretty much an all male crew. Usually the only other females I see are the admin. Out of close to 200 people in my field at work only 6 are female.

    I still indulge in the occasional pedicure. It is something I do to feel good about myself or for a special occasion. A manicure would be a waste, but that’s because I bite my nails.

    I happily pay for leg and bikini waxing, I much prefer waxing over shaving. I get a lot less stubble and razor burn and it looks nicer for longer. I swim a lot so having the bikini done is almost a must have.

    I did use waxing strips at home, but nothing compares to having it done by someone trained. Plus they can reach the parts I cannot easily.

    I pay $50-70 average a month for those things, more in the summer, less in the winter. I get my hair cut every few months when I start to get split ends. I do not go into debt to pay for these things, I am at a surplus every month, plus I still put a minimum of 10% of the income I count for budgeting towards savings and pay 33% to debt which includes extra debt payments.

    I have friends that go out and get everything done, and I have friends that don’t do anything. I don’t get jealous of the ones that get it all nor do I judge my friends that don’t.

  8. I forgot to say that I envy my friends who had financial help from parents for post secondary education and through school. It has allowed them a better start. But that is a different topic entirely.

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