Monday, September 19, 2011

Hello, joe

September 16, 2011
8:24 a.m.
7 pounds, 1 ounce
18¾ inches

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tightwad tuesday: pretty, cheap

Health and beauty is one of those areas where it's hard to give tightwad tips because everyone's personal care routine is just that: personal. We all have our preferences, proclivities and products that we stick with because they are what we have come to know and love.

Rather than trying to give advice about specific products or techniques, let me just offer a few general tips:
  • Be willing to experiment. About a year ago I realized I had been fighting a losing battle with my hair for about 30 years, trying to beat unruly frizz into smooth, silky submission. The result was that my hair was dry, damaged and definitely lackluster--in spite of my arsenal of curling and straightening irons, rollers, balms, serums, sprays, and deep treatments. I wondered for the first time whether working with the wave, rather than trying to straighten it, would improve the overall appearance of my hair and make it lower maintenance. So I did some online research, found a great website devoted to caring for wavy and curly hair, learned what worked on my hair and why, and started to try some new products, including a few homemade (and extremely thrifty) ones. The result? I now embrace my lovely, loose waves. My hair is much healthier, and I spend a lot less on fancy shampoos and other haircare products I no longer need.
  • Shop around. This may sound obvious, but I know I have a tendency to pick up my health and beauty products at the same place I buy groceries just because it's convenient. Is convenience really worth extra expense? Maybe, if you have a full-blown sibling scuffle going on in aisle three, but otherwise... being willing to go to another store to get what you need can be much more cost effective (even including the price of gasoline) if you buy enough to get you through several months to a year (depending on when those items expire). If you have go-to name brand products you just can't live without, compare the prices for those products at different retailers, including online. Keep track in a notebook. Be sure to evaluate cost per ounce in different sizes. Then, when your holy grail goes on sale, you know if you're getting a really good deal and can stock up accordingly.
  • Evaluate effectiveness of product vs. technique. This applies in particular to items like make-up and razors. If mastering a great technique for applying foundation and coverup means that inexpensive products give you a desirable result, then by all means ditch the designer brands and get your cosmetics at the drugstore. If, on the other hand, using cheap razors leaves you with painful bumps, it may be worthwhile to cut back in some other area and pay a bit extra for the 5-blade shaver and the anti-bump shave gel.
  • Simplify. Are you still using items that no longer work for you, or serve a function that could be filled by a multi-tasking product? I've been using lipstick for years but recently looked at how I wear it and realized I was always mixing it with lip gloss or lip balm to tone it down. I'd invariably wind up with several tubes that weren't completely used up by the time I forgot how long I'd had them in my makeup box. So, I switched to tinted lip balm, which is cheaper than lipstick, and much cheaper than lipstick and gloss together. Multi-taskers are great because you can buy fewer items (which means less packaging) and in bulk (which means lower cost per ounce)--and you use them up fast enough they don't have a chance to go bad. Some of my favorites include using olive or avocado oil as a moisturizer or deep conditioning treatment for hair, or an organic soap (such as Castile soap) that works well as a shampoo bar.
  • Ask around. Talk to people you know about what works for them. You might be surprised at the great cost-saving ideas you can get from the medicine cabinets of your family and friends.