We’ve done a lot of things over the last few months to save money: switching from Verizon to Cricket, cutting back to 20 channel basic cable, economizing at the grocery store, dropping our Y membership. However, there’s one expense that I took on a few years ago that I just haven’t been willing to budge on: Professional Hair Care. Every 5-6 weeks, I pay my hairdresser Angie $85 plus tip to get my hair colored and cut.
You might think that a professionally hair care is a discretionary budget item that I am easily costs me $1000 a year. I suppose it is. After all, I could dye my hair myself, as I used to do. I could find a cheaper source of cuts, like getting a friend to cut my hair (done that), cutting my hair myself (that too), going to a bargain haircutter (yep), or get my hair done by student beauticians. I could space my haircuts out more frequently.
I could do a lot of things that would cut that $1000 a year I spend on professional hair care down to something more manageable, but I don’t and at least for now, I won’t.
A History of My Hair
I have always had very straight hair, and that made it pretty easy to take care of…if you use that term very loosely. Until this decade, I pretty much had the same hair habits I’d been rocking since, oh, 1994. I’d let my hair grow long, then twice a year or so have my Mom cut it down to about shoulder length.
Long, short. Long, short. No real style, just straight hair that stayed relatively neat and manageable at different lengths, air dried in warm weather and quickly blow dried when it was cool.
The only problem was that it started going gray in my early 20s, and got progressively grayer as time went on. For a short while I tried dying my locks, but found it inconvenient and a bit irritating to my skin. So, when Little Bit came along, I was only to happy to drop the dye and go on my merry gray way.
I did start paying $45 every 6-8 weeks to get a shorter cut, because little kids love to grab on to hair. But I didn’t worry too much about the grays.
Oh, it got a little irritating that Jon’s hair was still youthfully dark while mine turned whiter. He’s 8 years older than I am, but he didn’t look it.
Finally, the day came when someone at Dollar Tree asked me if my daughter was my granddaughter.
I should have expected it. I was 42 when Little Bit was born, and yes, chronologically could have been a young grandma instead of an old mom.I’d always thought of myself as a low maintenance, non makeup wearing kinda girl, but being called “Grandma” as I chased my toddler through the aisles offended my pride and vanity more than I thought possible.
So I called up my lovely wonderful mother in law, who dyes her own hair, to help me. Welcome back, Miss Clairol.
Only this time, instead of a little skin irritation to go with my now youthfully golden brown hair, I had an allergic reaction. My skin turned red and swelled up wherever the dye had hit, and it took a week before the itchiness faded to normal.
I looked great, though. No one was going to accuse me of looking like a grandmother. I figured the satisfaction with my appearance was worth the aggravation, plus would improve my chances with the job hunt I planned after my MBA was finished.
We switched dyes next time, and my reaction was even worse. I started worrying about what would happen next time, fearing an emergency room visit if it happened again. Home dye was no longer an option.
I went to my hairdresser, and started getting a professional dye job. Angie uses a low-allergen dye, and now I don’t have to fear the swelling and rash to not look like I’m 60.
It’s About Choices
Our quest to save money is about a lot of things: being financially independent, paying down mortgages, not accumulating any more debt, saving for college and retirement. Most of all, our quest to save money is about providing us with choices, both now and in the future, that improve our quality of life.
We choose to eat most of our meals at home. We choose to have fewer channels and less sexy cell phones. We choose to buy less stuff.
But we also choose to take beach vacations, to have a comfortable home on a wooded lot with plenty of privacy, and to have at least one parent stay home with Little Bit. These may not be the most money-maximizing choices, but they improve our quality of life tremendously.
And that’s what we’re working for. A better quality of life. Part of that includes feeling good about myself.
I choose to have professional hair care. Maybe not the trendiest, most expensive salon care, but professional care nonetheless for a service that could be performed much cheaper at home.
I’ve tried home hair care, and for me, it’s just not worth the hassle and it’s definitely not worth the allergic reaction. I’ve tried allowing my hair to gray, and it made me feel…old.
Sometimes I wish I had the confidence to rock my gray streaks, as I did when our daughter was young. Going from a professional cut and dye to just the cut would save at least $400 a year, even if I didn’t reduce the frequency of Angie’s services.
But $400 a year to not feel old? I’m not saying hair dye is the fountain of youth, but there’s a lot of benefit not being called grandma when my only child still has all but one of her baby teeth.
Professional hair care is a spending choice I’m willing to make. All things considered, $400 a year seems pretty cheap.
What are the things that you just aren’t willing to cut out of your budget, even though it might make sense in a strictly financial sense?