Author Topic: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?  (Read 21824 times)

meyla

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #50 on: August 23, 2014, 09:17:10 AM »
I'm going to skip over the comments that are a little overly judgemental. I think the routine that works for some people doesn't work for others and that doesn't make one or the other bad or wrong. Whether it's too vain or too petty for you is somewhat inconsequential because it's not done for you. I was looking primarily for perspective from other people who may have similar routines but spend less/more to get an idea of where my spending stands.

I do need to get a new brush and try to take better care of it. The brush I have is 2 years old but I didn't learn about shampooing/Dr. Bronner's-ing it until very recently. I think that would make a big difference not only in it's longevity but also it's innate hygiene.

Actually, I love TJ Maxx and have never bought underwear there. Some of the ones I've been to don't have that section but I know a few do. I will have to check that out.

I talked to my SO about learning to cut hair and working on it together. He seemed very interested so we might try that out. I think I could learn to cut his and at least learn to trim mine between professional visits. Happy medium, right?

Thanks for the tips on the coffee. I was given an aeropress my first year of college, and I had forgotten all about it until now. I wonder where it is... That might be the way to go. I've been looking into a burr grinder but I can't get myself to bite the bullet on a nice one. I'm sure it's worth it but I am so indecisive.

eyesonthehorizon

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #51 on: August 23, 2014, 09:58:14 AM »
... OP, I know you said you were worried people would say this was crazy but maybe you secretly wanted that too?  If you came on here with a $600/yr hobby, people would say chacun a sa gout, but you don't seem to think of it as a hobby.  Your thread title might mean 'is it acceptable for me to spend this much' but it might also mean 'is this an acceptable amount of primping for a female or not enough?' You're covering up all the skin on your face and changing your hair color.  If that's your idea of a fun time I'm not going to judge, but it sounds like you just do it on auto. The hedonic adaptation of 'feeling pretty.'  ...
As usual, SHEEPSTACHE SPEAKS TRUTH. The vibe I got from your posts had a hint of "please tell me there's an alternative that I don't have to feel sloppy and frumpy about" - although that may just be me. The specific fact that you brought BC up as 'female' spending tells me you are getting way too many messages about femininity from corporate media that wants you to think you need these things. Maybe you, yourself want them too, but that is different - that would be a good reason. You've shown you've already deprogrammed from the scare-tactics about how only Redken will keep your hair from falling out, and for the record I think you were right about your flooring, especially if you think it's attractive.

Examine how happy the makeup and the lingerie make you.

I spend probably $50 every three years on lingerie and I shop at Victoria's Secret, not off-branded, because I'm too lazy to go find other things that fit; I have slightly more underwear than I can wear in a week but rarely have to replace anything before that three year timeframe, although my figure rarely changes and I haven't had kids, so your mileage may vary on that. Notably I hang dry all the bras and most the lacy stuff.

I extremely rarely buy makeup because all I bother wearing on an average day is a little mascara or eyeliner, if that; I average $30/year on makeup, mostly BareMinerals branded, using powder and eyeshadow on fancy occasions. Likewise I do extremely little with my hair and just run with the "classic" look - peasant buns are fashionable as all get out every 2.5 years - I suspect none of this would suit you, yourself at all, but it's a thought. Learning to DIY your hair would be a great experience even if you don't then decide to stick with it.

Examine how happy the Starbucks trips make you.

I admit I really love going to the coffee shop. I do it MAYBE once every six months, when I win a giftcard from work, but I make the most of it - I go in and I STAY there. I'm not picking up "a coffee", I'm taking a fancy expensive vacation for an hour or two. There's no guilt in that pleasure nor should there be if you're consciously choosing it.

The grinder is worth it. For daily coffee I make my own, with a plain unbranded french press and a Porlex Mini hand-grinder. Japanese-made, ceramic burrs and I got mine for $40. It takes no longer than heating the water, even on a fine grind, and you'll never have to pay someone to service it. Whether you use your espresso machine or aeropress, the magic comes in when you learn to use real cream and make your own syrups. Try boiling 2 cups of brown sugar in 1.5 cups water with ginger & cinnamon & molasses, or with cardamon, or with orange peels... Boil it down until it's a bit thick when it cools. Bottle it, and if you can make it last more than a week, move it to the fridge. With good single-origin coffee I rarely use all this stuff, but it's *so much fun* to have and I have infinitely more flavors than Starbucks can provide me.

And for comparison's sake, I'm 27, just paid off the last of my loans at the same 5.5% as yours (down from 60k), and even with my practically-palatial apartment my total spend is about $1100 a month, often less, and don't split expenses with a spouse. You can work wonders for yourself; be proud of what you're doing with your 40% savings rate and see if you can inch it on up. I've gotten to 66%. Keep it up!!

greenmimama

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #52 on: August 23, 2014, 11:32:48 AM »
I wear make up also, but after reading a book about how little difference their is between the $200 bottle (I never bought that anyways) and the $5 bottle, basically their is no difference. So get to Rite Aid or Walgreens, next time you run out of something and use their frequent buyer cards and sales and you can cut that number wayyyyyy down.

You can return make up, no one thinks you can, but they will give you money back, so you aren't even losing anything, so try out different things until you find what works for you, if you really work the rebates and stuff you can get free make up quite often.

rocklebock

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #53 on: August 23, 2014, 12:00:36 PM »
Okay I wasn't going to jump in because I'm a tomboy and all of this confuses me but my puzzlement over the underwear is too extreme.  What are y'all doing to your undies?  I have the target/hanes stuff and it lasts for years.

Oh, thank god, I thought I was the only one. I am dying of curiosity to know how people are wearing out their underwear so fast. I finally just tossed out some from Target that I'd had for 10 years. I get most of mine from American Apparel and it lasts 2-3 years. Once a year I buy about $30 worth, and rotate out the worn-out stuff.

One thing I will say is that when I was in my 20s, I didn't wear makeup aside from lipstick and eyeliner, because I had nice skin and didn't need it. Now I'm in my late 30s, I regret it because all the accumulated sun damage is catching up to me. So at least wear sunscreen.

lizzzi

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #54 on: August 23, 2014, 12:31:19 PM »
I would try jockey.com for your knickers. Get them when they are on sale. I found a great sale one time on two colors that were apparently not popular. But one of those colors was an everyday basic for me, so I stocked up on it. Score! And no, I'm not going to divulge to the group what color all my economical knickers are. (But they're very flattering on me, thanks.) They go in the washer just fine, and as I'm Mustachian, I never put them or any of my other clothes in the dryer.

SummerLovin

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #55 on: August 23, 2014, 12:47:29 PM »
Ultimately it's about making the best choices and prioritizing what's best for you. If you can cut back in one area to be able to "splurge" in another I consider that a win. I can share what I use to keep costs down, while still looking/feeling good.
I rarely wear make up, maybe once a month for special occasions. I do have sensitive skin so I use Neutrogena mineral powder, mascara, eyeliner, lip balm.  Usually lasts for 2 years. I bought 2x of these Kabuki brushes http://www.amazon.com/Real-Techniques-Expert-Face-Brush/dp/B007O7AZBG/ref=sr_1_3?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=undefined&sr=1-3&keywords=kabuki+brush
I drilled small hole through the handles to accommodate a rope so that I can hang them dry after washing with Dr. Bronners (peppermint for me) 1 to use while the other dries.

+1 on Victoria's Secret coupons, but I only buy the bras since they last longer than other brands.  ( hand wash and dry) For underwear I buy Hanes Comfort Soft Waistband Stretch Cotton Hipster Panties, 3-Pack- I throw them in the washer and dryer and they've lasted 3 years so far no issues.  Probably last longer if hand washed and hung dry.
Hair- I color my own ~$6 every month and go to Hair Masters for ~$18 (with tip) every 6-8 weeks.

Coffee- I've been through several attempts before I finally knocked down the Starbucks habit from daily down to 1x per month by buying a refurbished espresso machine that uses capsules and lets me select the cup size.  I had a different espresso machine but it was a pain to use and clean up. I also have a regular coffee maker but I end up wasting coffee since I'm the only one that drinks it, so I'd end up back at Starbucks.
I also use a french press when I travel, which is easy to use, but I don't think you need to buy a $100 burr grinder.  A basic $20 Krups grinder will work just fine, and it can be used to grind spices as well and is easy to clean.   Multipurpose is Mustachian!

Gin1984

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #56 on: August 23, 2014, 01:31:33 PM »
I wear make up also, but after reading a book about how little difference their is between the $200 bottle (I never bought that anyways) and the $5 bottle, basically their is no difference. So get to Rite Aid or Walgreens, next time you run out of something and use their frequent buyer cards and sales and you can cut that number wayyyyyy down.

You can return make up, no one thinks you can, but they will give you money back, so you aren't even losing anything, so try out different things until you find what works for you, if you really work the rebates and stuff you can get free make up quite often.
I've tried drugstore makeup and I use bare essentials, there is a major difference.  Not for lipstick (there is some though) or mascara but for foundation, blush etc, I'll still with my good stuff.  I'd like to keep my face from breaking out thank you.

Latwell

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #57 on: August 23, 2014, 05:07:35 PM »
Do you hand wash your underwear? Consider doing this if you're not already, it will make them last a lot longer.

This goes for bras especially.

Davids

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #58 on: August 23, 2014, 05:10:15 PM »
I need to know more about your $75 lingerie and please be very descriptive.

MOD NOTE: inappropriate and not tolerated
« Last Edit: August 23, 2014, 07:13:51 PM by Russ »

Russ

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #59 on: August 23, 2014, 06:59:25 PM »
MOD NOTE: let's tone down the misogyny here mmmkay? that is, cut it the fuck out. any comments deemed inappropriate will earn the poster a 3-day ban. I hope you can see how comments like the above would make people hesitant to ask the community for advice, and that's not acceptable. Feel free to PM me with any questions.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2014, 07:20:59 PM by Russ »

arebelspy

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #60 on: August 23, 2014, 07:13:50 PM »
2nd Mod Note: One ban has already been issued.

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greenmimama

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #61 on: August 24, 2014, 08:52:04 AM »
I wear make up also, but after reading a book about how little difference their is between the $200 bottle (I never bought that anyways) and the $5 bottle, basically their is no difference. So get to Rite Aid or Walgreens, next time you run out of something and use their frequent buyer cards and sales and you can cut that number wayyyyyy down.

You can return make up, no one thinks you can, but they will give you money back, so you aren't even losing anything, so try out different things until you find what works for you, if you really work the rebates and stuff you can get free make up quite often.
I've tried drugstore makeup and I use bare essentials, there is a major difference.  Not for lipstick (there is some though) or mascara but for foundation, blush etc, I'll still with my good stuff.  I'd like to keep my face from breaking out thank you.

That is great that you found something that works for you, but what if never tried the cheaper stuff for years, then when you'd did, it was fine? I say it's still worth a try, especially since you can just return it.

+1 for jockey underwear, it lasts a long time, it isn't considered sexy like Lingerie but it is comfy and practical and they have quite a few styles so you can get a fit you like, they aren't all granny panties ;)

I hope the OP can take some of this advice and tailor it to what fits her, any updates OP?

sangria

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #62 on: August 24, 2014, 11:50:56 AM »
I'll be honest and say I deserve a lot of face punches. That said, when I'm arguing in court over multimillion dollar cases, I need there to be no distractions that could take away from my message, including the way I look.  So I spend money on good haircuts (no color) and manicures.  If you find a decent place it's not really that expensive compared to the various other things work pays for (training, meals, cell phone, electronics, etc).  So in my view what is acceptable at the accrual stage is whatever you need to succeed in your particular area without being excessive.  I am in a male dominated field and have also found it is much more important for women to be groomed, as unfair as that is. 

Must_Stash

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #63 on: August 24, 2014, 04:43:56 PM »
I don't see what female has to do with it, so I'll hazard an answer.

My wife and I both think hair coloring and makeup are silly expenses. The frequency of haircuts seems pretty extreme, but then I've got a wife who loves growing her hair out and then once every year or two getting it cut extremely short. The stylists usually love her too, because they rarely get to do stuff that extreme.

Pretty sure birth control is supposed to be free regardless of your insurance under ACA. Ours is.

On the lingerie, well, speaking as a guy it does nothing for me. YMMV.

I'd love to know your wife's stylist, then, because I follow the same pattern as your wife; its a good bet my stylist doesn't think I perceive the value of her work despite the tips (I do; its just that it's a rare treat for me.  I'd like to find a stylist who also considered my inconsistent visits and styles a rare treat!)

Tieke

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #64 on: August 25, 2014, 03:16:15 AM »
Just to offer another thought on the underwear debate (there's a sentence starter I never thought I'd say), I have two words: LINGERIE BAGS!  Throw all your delicates in them (not just lingerie), hang them to dry instead of using a dryer, and they'll last forever. 
If you want them to last a couple of days longer than forever, make sure you've got the hooks done up on your bras so they don't catch on the other items.

The important thing is to get good quality lingerie bags so that you're not spending your money replacing them instead.  Not sure where you find them in other countries, but they're pretty readily available in lingerie shops here in NZ

happy

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #65 on: August 25, 2014, 04:27:55 AM »
OP I suspect you can spend less, but following on from sangria, it might depend on your work. Go for the least you can get away with without it jeopardising your job/earnings. That being said, you may be able to spend less than you think and its worth experimenting. I dressed down for a while but ended up  looking frumpy  and found  at work I was not able to communicate my role adequately.  So I went for a put together timeless classic look that cost more per piece but had a lot  fewer clothes.  I changed my hair style and can now do 3 month cuts instead of 6 weeks. I can't imagine how you spend that much on makeup - even wearing full makeup every day I didn't spend that much. Now I only wear makeup at work or for special occasions. I don't have"lingerie", rather I prefer to call it underwear and it usually lasts for years with the sort of care others have described. I tend to stick with brands I know will last - even now I have a bra that has broken down in a short time…but it wasn't my usual brand.

norabird

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #66 on: August 25, 2014, 09:49:33 AM »
What's acceptable for you is whatever works for you, you know? But I would definitely go somewhere else for your underwear--I have about a million because I hate doing laundry, so I never have to buy any and in fact am trying to weed out the uh...increasingly undesirable ones (thanks menstruation), but no way should you need to replace them so often. Gap often has pretty good underwear sales and I love the ones I have from there.

I also don't cut my hair often, but it's curly and so pretty forgiving in terms of cut until the split ends get out of control--with straight hair my understanding is that it's harder to let things go. Maybe try a new style though.

Bare minerals is probably worth it, though I had some that lasted a really long time (probably 4 years), maybe just because I wasn't using it daily? I wonder if you could use a lighter coating of the powder and stretch it out longer (I also like it more in a lighter layer).

I certainly think it's your choice how you want to spend on things though, and whether they are 'feminine' costs or not has no bearing on whether it's 'okay' for you to do so as long as you get value from the costs. Haircuts, underwear and mineral foundation are hardly extreme personal care expenses/practices.

partgypsy

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #67 on: August 25, 2014, 10:39:04 AM »
Some examples of my purchases. Are these reasonable or frivolous?:
$45 haircut every 6-8weeks

This seems higher than it needs to be.  Since reading MMM, I've stopped highlighting my hair (something I picked up in 2007 at the end of grad school).  I continue to go 4-5 months in-between hair cuts.  I take it from short chin-length to longer past shoulders before cutting it.  My stylist deliberately cuts it so it'll grow out well.  I also get mine cut up near my parents house in NH, where it's cheaper than Boston and I like the person who does it.  A short haircut is going to need more frequent cuts than a long one though.

$40 makeup every 3 months

Ok, this seems really high to me, but I rarely wear makeup.  I bought almost $100 of make up back in June (which I cringed about), but hadn't bought any for two years.  I'd look into cheaper makeup, wearing it less frequently and wearing less of it to reduce the costs.

$75 lingerie every 6 months

This also seems high to me.  Don't run your bras or nicer underwear through the dryer.  Try buying quality bras that will last longer.  I buy at Victoria's Secret's semi-annual sale.  You can get bras then for $10-20, which will last much longer than 6 months.  (6 months is way too short of a lifespan.  I have some from almost 15 years ago, which is excessive I admit.  I generally tend to wear my bras for at least 5 years or I feel they were poor quality.)  I then get cards for freebie panties from VS throughout the year (they stop if you don't buy anything for a while it turns out though). 

$25 BC per month (nuvaring - has been the best BC option of the 3 I've tried)

With everyone else, first I do not see this as a "female" spending.  It's a joint expense if you're in a monogamous relationship.  (When I was younger and very poor, this irritated me that I spent money on this every year and my then-bf didn't have to and didn't split it with me.)  It's also a totally reasonable and necessary expense.

I agree with the above. I spend less on these categories than you do. But then I wear contact lenses even though I could get by with glasses, and I'm sure other expenses I'm not even thinking about. Personally the way I view it, I try to save a certain percentage. If I can do that and meet my other needs, fine. If you can't save that amount or running into conflicts, that's when it is good to examine in microscope all your various spending and see how they align with goals and values. If you can save the amount you want, and this spending aligns with your values, then who are we to say it is too much?

ariapluscat

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #68 on: August 25, 2014, 10:44:47 AM »
Do you hand wash your underwear? Consider doing this if you're not already, it will make them last a lot longer.

+1. Also, I've found that quality brands will definitely last longer. I cringe at the thought of $40+ for a bra, but if it can outlast the others by a large margin than it is worth it.

You may consider slowly paring your make up down. What is the minimum level of makeup you really need to feel put together in the morning? Stop making it just your routine and question each product. Maybe you will eliminate or reduce some, maybe not, but its worth making a conscience decision about each one.

++ all of this
I'm on the itty bitty committee, but if you have 3+ bras and they're wearing out that quick, there's something wrong w the bra or how you're treating them.

Going through $40 worth of make up seems to be a bit fast to me. Are you over applying product or using high end brands? Overapplying is expensive and usually ends up cake-y. Try out elf cosmetics for some cheap decent quality make up and supplies. Similarly, you might be able to reduce your cost by stocking up when products are on sale. Eye shadow and the like doesn't really go bad the way foundation does.

I'd say with a short cut, you should go as often as you like. I feel like shorter hair takes more maintanence and changes are more noticeable, esp if going too long puts you into an awkward grow out stage.

ariapluscat

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #69 on: August 25, 2014, 10:51:22 AM »
Try washing the kabuki brush with shampoo and air dry it sideways with the bristles hanging off the counter. Don't dry it with the bristles facing up because gravity will pull the water down and swell the wood handle.

Once you buy a good make up (or painting) brush, you should be cleaning it regularly -at LEAST once a week- and never need to buy again. You can also use diluted dawn dish soap to clean your brush. Places sell make up brush cleaner that are just as effective. Like above, lay flat or bristled down to air dry after patting with a paper towel. If you're in a rush, blow with a hair dryer.

If re-buying brushes is a large part of your expense, you've been losing $$

Edit: If you haven't been washing your brushes and have concurrently been breaking out, it might be the brushes that were giving you acne not the cheap make up. if you want to save on the product, do a test run to see if you can use less expensive products now that you're washing your brushes. I'd also say that if you're having acne issues and wear foundation a lot, try giving your skin a breather day.  Best of luck!
« Last Edit: August 25, 2014, 10:56:13 AM by ariapluscat »

merula

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #70 on: August 25, 2014, 11:30:58 AM »
I realize I'm a little late to the party, and I think a lot of good points have already been made. I am also a big fan of Victoria's Secret and Bare Minerals, and BC isn't a frivolous female expense, it's a necessary medical expenditure.

That said, here's how I save on the categories you mentioned:

Haircut: I used to swear by our local Aveda Institute. I went there for years and got pro-quality cuts for $15, which is less than Cost Cutters/Great Clips/Fantastic Sams around here. BUT, a few years ago I stopped going because the less experienced students seemed to draw the weekend slots, and my schedule was no longer flexible enough to go during weekdays. I grew out my hair for nearly a year (straight hair, it wasn't that big of a deal but of course YMMV), and then splurged on a $50 cut from a stylist a friend recommended. That place has tiered pricing based on the stylists' experience and starts at $20. I'm thinking I'll try one of the cheaper stylists, since they're likely to be on the same level or slightly better than the about-to-graduate students at Aveda.

If nothing else, you could halve the cost by going every 8 weeks rather than every 4.

Makeup: I haven't bought any in months, because I'm trying to use up the stuff I already have. If you, like me, have a box of partially-used cosmetics, maybe try shopping from that the next time something runs out? There are recommendations that you throw things away after X months because of bacteria, but to be honest it sounds like marketing/liability-limiting hooey.

Underwear: I used to be on the Victoria's Secret mailing list and get coupons for free panties and $10 off bras. I'd go in and end up getting 6 panties (1 free, plus their 5 for $25 deal) and more often than not a bra. This led to an overflowing underwear drawer. Probably 3 years ago, I decided to not buy any more until I actually needed to. I've got about 10 pair left, which is nearing the minimum given my current laundry habits. Granted, the ones I have are mostly weird styles/patterns, but I'm committed at this point, and I'll be more careful in future purchases. I also line dry all my clothes, which has led to pretty much everything lasting longer.

Birth Control: Mark your calendar for April 2018. That's when the Nuvaring patent expires and a generic will likely be available. 

You're saving an awesome amount of your pay, and I think you're brave to put this question out there. $600 annually (I'm excluding BC) isn't a trivial amount, but we all make value judgments with our money. I'm guessing that if you looked at the budgets of everyone who said "I can't believe you spend money on your appearance", you'd be able to find $50/month that they're spending on things you find worthless.

MrsPete

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Re: What is acceptable for a female mustachian?
« Reply #71 on: August 25, 2014, 06:57:31 PM »
Some examples of my purchases. Are these reasonable or frivolous?:
$45 haircut every 6-8weeks
$40 makeup every 3 months
$75 lingerie every 6 months
$25 BC per month (nuvaring - has been the best BC option of the 3 I've tried)
I think the haircut is pretty expensive, but I'll also add that I look and feel better when my hair looks good -- and a good cut makes that happen.  I'd suggest this method:  Get the expensive haircut, then go to a $10 walk-in place to "maintain the cut".  I do this, and I tend to do two "maintenance cuts" between each expensive cut. 

Another option:  Is part of that $45 cut a shampoo and style?  I always wash my hair and go straight to the haircut place, which saves $4 at the cheap places.  And the style can cost $10-20 -- outrageous for something that only lasts a few hours.  Either bring a ball cap and pop it on as soon as you've left the salon, or go straight home. 

Also, keep an eye out for coupons or discounts.  They're not uncommon.  For example, every time you go to -- is it Great Clips or Famous Hair?  I forget -- you'll get a $2 off your next haircut coupon at the bottom of your receipt.  Because they have an expiration date, I usually can't use them myself, but often I'll get a cut, and my husband will use the coupon for his next trim.  I got a good deal last Christmas:  I'm pretty sure this one was at Famous Hair.  They charge $12-14 for a plain cut, but last Christmas they offered a gift card that was good for four cuts.  Between us, we've already used up the card, and I agreed that this year I'll buy two.  I'm sure they'll be offered because the woman who cut my husband's hair last told him that they sold like hotcakes. 

The make-up sounds quite high to me -- and I use a special, rather expensive base make-up for a skin condition.  You can't be going through quantity in such a short time.  Do you just enjoy trying new colors and styles?  Or are you rough on it? 

Ideas: 
Set yourself a budget.  I'd think you could cut that down to $20 and still have plenty. 
Never, ever buy a make-up product that isn't on sale /doesn't have a coupon -- this is easy at CVS.
Go to the expensive department stores where you can "try before you buy".  I know I am AWFUL at choosing colors, and I'd rather have just 1-2 eye shadows and lipsticks THAT REALLY WORK than a dozen that aren't "quite right for me".

As for the lingere, I like having pretty things, but I don't know that I agree that expensive stuff lasts.  I tend to buy Victoria's Secrets stuff (get on their mailing list, and you'll get coupons a-plenty -- the best are "one free panty" coupons), and I know I've bought multiple pairs of the same line . . . only to find that one pair lasts and lasts, while another falls apart quickly.  It seems random, and I don't understand how this can be.

I always wait for a good sale on bras -- they're so expensive, and I take an unusual size.  I wash them on super-delicate in the washing machine and then dry them on a towel rack.  Panties don't seem to need the special care.  If yours are wearing out quickly and you don't want to mess with hand washing, you might try washing in a mesh bag in the washer. 

I've heard that the Gilliam-and-Something line at Target is made at the same place as Victoria's Secrets. 

As for birth control, I'm with the others here:  Skimp in other places, but not on birth control.  The cost of an unplanned baby would vastly overreach the most expensive birth control. 

Having said that, I used a diaphragm with much success, and a perk is that it's probably the cheapest option:  I used the same one for years and years and years.  If you haven't tried one, it wouldn't hurt to give it a shot.