Friday, September 25, 2009

Exercises in lowering beauty costs

I decided to get my hair done at my local Aveda Institute instead of my usual hair salon to save some money. I have really been limiting hair salon visits to just going when I need a trim, but I would like to get my hair done a bit more frequently. So I am exploring lower cost options other than just doing it myself. This was my first experience in getting my hair done by a student in training rather than at a salon, and here is a brief summary of my experience:

  • I had a very short wait before my student/stylist introduced herself to me, served me tea and had a brief conversation about how I'd like my hair done. Her instructor also came over and introduced herself and basically explained that she was there to provide instruction to the student/stylist if necessary.
  • The student/stylist was very friendly but did not know how to do what I thought was pretty simple style request and needed ALOT of assistance from her instructor and even a fellow student. This may not be true for every student, but was my experience during my visit.
  • It took twice as long to get my hair done than it usually takes at my usual salon; but how was I to know I would get a newer, less experienced student? My wait at my usual salon is usually because my stylist is working with multiple clients, but this student literally took HOURS to do my hair with no other clients.
  • I did like the fact that the student explained each product she used on my hair and what products she had used on her own hair without prompting because I've had to specifically ask this in the past at other salons that I've been to.
  • The cost was $23 (plus tip) versus the $50+ per visit I usually pay to get my hair done.
The considerable cost difference makes it tempting to visit Aveda again, but I'm not completely abandoning my regular stylist anytime soon. I'll just continue to go when I need a trim only. I also don't know if I would feel comfortable getting chemical treatments like hair color done by a student. But I would like to try some of the Institute's spa services (manicure, massages, facials) at a future visit. Beauty shouldn't be a budget buster, but I think everyone feels better when they feel they look their best. Allowing a cosmetology student at a reputable school to do your hair is a lower cost option to try out as long as you're willing to be patient (and friendly) to the student doing your hair.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Has the art of letter writing died?

A recent coversation prompted me to remember writing letters during my childhood. During elementary school when one of my childhood friends moved away, the primary way we kept in touch for several years was through letter writing. I remember the excitement I'd feel when my parents would take me to this children's store called Zany Brainy (anybody else from the Philly area remember that store?), where I'd pick out stationary and stickers to decorate my letters before writing and mailing them. I'm sure those letters are still somewhere in my mother's house, maybe I'll look for them next time I'm home for a trip down memory lane. I even had international pen pals for brief period after a trip I took to Italy and Africa right before I started high school.

I'm sure children and adolescents no longer write letters, as social media, instant messaging and emailing are the accepted forms of communication for younger generations now, and though I love keeping in touch with friends and relatives through Facebook, Twitter, email, texting and staying in touch with professional acquaintences through Linked In; I miss simpler times, when I'd pull out my nicest stationary and compose my thoughts into a letter.

Though letter writing has more cost involved (stationary, pens, postage), it's a more personal way of communicating, and you know that a person took the time, to write you AND locate a Post Office or Mail Box to send you the letter. For this reason, though it's sporadic some years, I still try to remember to send my close friends birthday cards and have even sent Christmas cards, when most people I know have stopped doing this.

So, before you shoot off that thank you email or 'just checking in' Facebook message to a friend, write them a brief note instead and pretend you don't live in a world where social media and technology aren't such dominant forces in the way we communicate with each other.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Make packing lunch more fun

The one money-saving habit I've been able to consistently stick to since I started working a full time job after college three years ago was packing my lunch. I fall off the wagon occasionally when I have my spurts where I don't feel like cooking, but most days, unless I'm meeting someone for lunch, I pack my own. In an effort to make my lunches more interesting, I've decided to try packing bento-style lunches. A bento is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. But many Americans make bento-style meals and from the abundance of bento cookbooks for children I've found online, parents make bentos for their children to take for school lunch. I recently bought this bento container from Amazon and will start planning my meals before shopping (which I almost never do). Perhaps even creating a nicer presentation of my homecooked food will make it taste better? Well, I don't know about that, but the money savings makes up for the effort.

Images from here and here

Monday, September 14, 2009

Travel on my mind

I transferred $300 of my last pay check into my Travel Fund. I'm going to put as much money as I can into that fund in the upcoming months so I can pay for:
  • a 2010 birthday trip I've already discussed on this blog. I am 95% sure that I want to go to Spain for this trip;
  • a cruise with my family;
  • a weekend trip at some point in 2010 to New York City;
  • any other travel opportunities that pop up from now until the end of 2010.

I still need to fulfill my summer goal of getting a passport. I can't procrastinate much longer on this because both major trips I want to take in 2010 are international trips. It's a sad but true fact that I was much more well-traveled as a child and teen than I am now, and I plan to remedy that next year. Travel is a fun, but expensive hobby that takes time to plan, but is worth it to me.