Posted by Kara | Filed under Kara
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!