Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tough Times, Tough Measures

I know the economy has affected us all, gone are the days of shopping over lunch and manicure Fridays. Sigh. However, as a working girl on a budget, it’s an interesting balance to still look good and watch your pennies. This is a great article about all the things you shouldn’t save money on. Some of the things on the list made me laugh, but when I got to thinking about how the economy has affected my wallet, there are some things that I have sacrificed and others that I would rather skip a meal for then go without.

What are things you can’t live without? What are things you pass on as a working girl?

Here is my list…and yes, I am posting it here for you to see. Since I have been a working girl on a budget and most of these have become more of a lifestyle change for me, I had to really think about what I have changed since the market crashed…

Can’t Live Without

Hair Cut/Color-With two stories of botched cuts and bad highlights, I will sacrifice just about anything for a good cut/color. Last year I tried dying my hair back to my natural color so I could save money. The result was beyond awful…a few months later when I went back to highlight, even my boss commented on how happy I was.

Gym/Yoga Membership-For some, this probably is in the do without, but over the course of the last 9 months I have learned to appreciate the importance of fitness in the workplace. It keeps both my stress levels from work and my waist intact. Tip: One of my girlfriends was able to negotiate her gym membership way down. Have you?

Groceries-You may laugh at this, but it’s something I take very seriously. No more care free meal planning or trips to Whole Pay Check Foods. Now I make a point of spending a little more at the store to get the most out of my grocery budget with things that I like and will last me awhile.

Maybe…I Try to Practice Self Control

Clothes-This is a tough one. Every girl makes sacrifices, and in this economy, this one has taken a nose dive. I have learned to control my impulse purchases, and focus more on essentials.

Shoes-I love shoes, but have learned to spend a little more on nicer shoes that will go farther than lots of shoes that hurt my feet. Am I getting old?

Magazines- I love a good gossip magazine, but my subscriptions went out the door about two years ago. However, that being said, there are a few business related magazines, that my father and I share subscriptions on.

Out the Door

Dry Cleaning-I made the choice to start wearing less of my dry clean only clothes when the market turned. As a result I found cute stuff in the back of my closet that I can wash anytime.

Manicures/Pedicures- I still love get mani/pedi’s but, with some practice, I have become pretty good at painting my own nails.

Lunches Out-When the economy started crashing, this was the first to go. When I really sat down to look at my spending habits this was a major chunk. Now I pack yummy lunches and can’t wait for noon to roll around.

Starbucks Habit-This working girl loves a Grande Chai Latte, but same as lunches, this is a luxury I can do without. I was able to kick a bad habit and save money. I also love Good Earth Tea, a little milk and honey, and I am good to go.

Happy Hour-Happy hour with co-workers/friends is such a fun way of getting together, but also a huge waste of money. There is always that one co-worker who slides out the door without paying, leaving the rest of us to pick up the tab. Tip: One of my friends makes a point of hosting happy hour at her place as a way of saving money. She is one smart cookie.

Parking-Whether it’s for work or personal reasons, when I am out, I refuse to pay for parking. Even if I have to walk a mile. Plus walking the little extra to my destination helps me burn a few more calories.

My list could go on forever, but I think these are the essentials…what are yours?


Shelley said...

Mani's and Pedi's were the first to go for me as well... then went the coffees and recently I have turned off the cable! I figure most shows are on the internet and if you have a DVD player you are set for entertainment. Cable went because I couldn't give up my gym membership or my parking space. best of luck!

Lawyer Working Girl said...

Like you, no matter the economy there are two things that I ABSOLUTELY will not give up: my standing hair appointment and eyebrow waxes. When I look good, I feel my best.

Luckily, I'm not a coffee drinker. I do bring my lunch almost everyday. Maybe every 2 weeks I will treat myself to lunch out.

I haven't given up my 2 magazine subscriptions that I pay for (I have one that I get for free through a rewards program and another magazine that I just randomly started getting for free). I LOVE magazines! My tip for magazines-renew when they offer 2 years for the price of one and always go online to look at the subscription price. I once got a renewal bill in the mail that was much higher than when I went online to renew.

I don't get regular manicures anyway, because I tend to chip my polish as soon as I walk out of the door. I save them for special occasions. I spread my pedicures out and do maintenance at home in between appointments.

Luckily, I live close to my office so I walk to work and don't have to pay for parking.

Clothes and shoes are my weakness. However, I STALK my favorite websites for sales. I rarely pay full price.

Bailey said...

If you have a job, and didn't lose it, I don't understand why you have to "cut down"?

Did you lose salary?

-Working Girl who isn't paid enough and could NEVER afford mani/pedis, lunches out and pretty much everything else on that list.

Anonymous said...

well, for me sha, the things i wont go without are:

1. my monthly internet connection

2. my monthly hairdo!

nice blog. Btw, i am a Medical doctor Working girl, lol

LaNeshe said...

Definitely have to prioritize. This is a good post.

lisa said...

My list of "out the door" items is pretty similar to yours. I do find that with some dry clean only items (silk blouses, wool sweaters) that handwashing with cold water and a gentle detergent does the trick. More tailored pieces (blazers, lined skirts and dresses, coats and jackets) get drycleaned, but depending on the item I can wear it a couple of times or a season before I have to dry clean it.

Pink Peacock Designs said...

I read your list and laughed because it is pretty much the same as mine! Although I am going on month 6 of not having my hair cut...

miss_kay said...

All of these are great. I have an issue with controlling spending on clothes, happy hour, but mostly lunches out. I need to work on the last two more.

And I agree with you, hair & cut is one of the few things I won’t sacrifice.

Mel-Rox said...

First let me just say that I am 10+ years in to my career, married, with a house, no children, three pets and a working spouse.

The only thing to go for me was my cleaning lady. :( I know, I know. I used to say that I would never get a cleaning lady. Especially since it's just my husband and I at home. But the problem is, we are NEVER home. One would think that a house could not get messy when you are never home. WRONG. She used to make my house glisten. I would do without everything else but her. Like getting my nails done, getting pedis, getting my hair done etc. When I started to look like hot trash from not taking care of myself I had to let her go. :(

The next things to go were anything I had a membership to that I didn't use or read or visit. The cable bill got cut because WHY did we need over 200 channels? Remember, we are never home.

We didn't cut our expenses really for the lack of funds, it was more to save and ensure that our rainy day fund was bigger and better for the what if, or just in case.

Heather Pranitis said...

Great post! And I agree with many of the items that I can do myself or wait on. However, the gym is my absolute favorite thing and will not be cut! I cut back at Starbucks from my latte's to green tea (1/2 the price). I cut out nails/pedicure altogther - I do myself at home.

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