Toward Mustachianism and originally Mr. Money Mustache wrote about the topic of “self-haircuts.” So this is my lady take on this topic, since a self-lady-haircut I think is universally, totally out of the question regardless of financial goals.
When I first started saving money to pay off loans about 18 months ago, I was satisfied with gaining solid ground on loans but making little spending compromises to offset what I thought was extreme saving. My lifestyle at that point already included bringing bag lunch to work, painting my own nails, and cheap hobbies like running. So I thought I deserved “little rewards.” Somewhere during the last 18 months, a new hair salon color service habit sprouted. I figured it’s only $85 every 4 months, and makes me feel good. Then I realized two things:
If you are digging out from under a debt burden, you should be finding every efficiency possible and constantly improving because you only stand to lose otherwise. I thought about the engineering designs I work on at work. Anything that does not contribute to the work is pure payload, sucking efficiency out of the system. So if I function like a debt-eliminating machine, I would want to do so in as lean a way as possible. Costs associated with ideas like “rewards” and “feeling good” are still payload and will wear, not calibrate, my debt-blasting parts. And there was nothing the hair salon ladies were putting on my head that was worth the $340/year payload.
Since then I have come to learn that just a few purchases of that magnitude within a month can cause your monthly debt paydown to swing from an exhilarating, wind-beneath-your-wings $2300 to an underwhelming $1500 case of the dry-heaves. Because you start losing steam once you start slipping. When you have loan goals, $85 is just too much to part with in any given month for a single casual non-need.
2) Streamlining does not mean cutting out fun
If it did, it would be the personal finance version of the Atkins diet: gross, and totally unsustainable. Financial payload is just cost, not the fun associated with it. The idea is to streamline cost while retaining or even maximizing fun. Fortunately rocking some hair color is equally fun whether you pay someone a 1700% markup for the labor or do it at home, especially if you do it at beer’o’clock. So I could be flexible in determining how to pursue this interest in harmony with my overarching goal of not spending extra money on silly things.
Consistent with my general outlook, I went ahead and gave myself the hair-do at the optimal intersection of sillyosity and not getting fired: the ombre. It is a casual look that cleverly hides mistakes. And I did it for under $5, in my bathroom during the time it took to watch an episode of the Mindy Project on this laptop. Straight bleach, true story. And it looks nice! So it pays off, or at least costs only $5, to amuse yourself as long as you study many, many Youtube videos in advance.
Hair color service is one of the most marked up and ridiculously priced of all of the outrageously expensive salon services for ladies, behind massage and ahead of bikini wax, leg wax, armpit wax(?!), upper lip wax, eyebrow wax, hair cut, and mani/pedis. So many ways they have invented to wax and paint you! All priced based on the premise that you can’t do these services to yourself. I disagree with all except the haircut and maybe the massage. But the only one you really need to function in society is the haircut. So I have checked hair color off the “streamline to-do list” and I will see what else I can streamline. To my debt-blasting ladies out there: don’t let beauty “routines” weigh you down with payload. Get wacky for cheap!