Monday, December 12, 2005

Girls, Give Yourself a Raise

My sister has two young children. She recently made the comment that there were two milestones with each of her children that made her feel like she got a raise. First was when they switched from drinking formula to milk; second was when they became potty trained. She no longer had to purchase expensive formula or diapers (she did not use cloth diapers). I realized that I, too have given myself a raise by eliminating some expenses over the past couple of years in my quest to simplify my life. I made the following changes, resulting in significant savings:

  • I quit having my hair highlighted. Annual cost savings: $1,120. I was a natural blonde in my youth. As my hair naturally darkened, I started highlighting my hair in salons when I was 19 (I lived in Texas at the time - it was pretty much a requirement). It became a vicious cycle to break because I always had to keep up with my 'roots.' Last year at 36 I decided to end the madness. I got a good colorist to match my natural color, and I got a couple of high-quality haircuts to eliminate those fried ends. I love the freedom!
  • I quit getting manicures and pedicures. Annual cost savings: $480. For a brief time (again, while living in Texas) I got sculptured nails. But I won't even address that expense. That fad ended for me after a couple of years. After that madness, I would frequent the inexpensive nail salons in those strip shopping centers for a monthly mani/pedi. Anytime my toenail polish would start to chip, I felt the need to head back into the salon. I loved the feeling of being pampered in such a girly way. But I realized two things: first, there's no reason my nails can't look nice and presentable without nailpolish and second, there's no reason I can't do it myself. I invested in a good manicure set, and now I do my own nails each week while watching my favorite show, Nova, on PBS. I actually enjoy doing my nails, I do a better job than the salons, and I get immediate gratification.
  • I quit buying department store cosmetics. Estimated annual cost savings: $200. I don't wear much makeup - just blush, eyeliner, mascara and lipstick. I use to be a victim of those cosmetics gift sets that are offered in the department store if you spend a certain amount of money. I would purchase things I didn't need just to get the gift set. Talk about consumerism at its finest. As a result, I had a drawer full of ugly lipsticks. I ended that madness by switching to drug store brands and naturally, I can't tell the difference in my cosmetics at all. I no longer purchase unnecessary items, and I can affordably replace my mascara every three months without taking out a second mortgage. .
  • I quit buying cheap clothes. Estimated annual cost savings: $800. I use to purchase several clothing items each season from stores like Old Navy and Target. I thought I was being thrifty by shopping there. They have cute styles, but of course the clothes don't last more than a year or two. As I entered my mid-30s, I realized that being trendy wasn't as important to me anymore. Now I favor classic styles and I only purchase very high quality items from stores like Brooks Brothers and Harold Powell. I shop much less often and merely maintain the clothing that I own. My winter work wardrobe consists of a few turtlenecks, a couple of cashmere sweaters, and three pairs of pants. Everything mixes and matches and I always feel great in my clothes. After the initial investment in clothing, I find I only need to buy underwear and socks on an ongoing basis.

The total estimated annual cost savings is $2,600. That's almost enough to fully-fund my IRA. I love raises!

1 comment:

change is a good thing said...

Great post! Isn't it amazing the things that we can cut out of our usual expenditures in order to save some money? I have noticed that after a short time of giving something up, I usually don't miss it. I use to go to Starbucks every morning, not anymore and you know, the lattes taste so much better when I only have them once in awhile. Maybe because they are a special treat. And I have to agree, I think my pedicures are just as nice, if not better than the ones I paid for.