Do you know how much time your stuff costs?

time and money cost of stuff

Have you ever considered how many hours a week (or month) you have to work to cover your rent or car payment?  Any idea how many cubicle hours you had to put into acquiring the last purse you bought or the shoes you’re wearing?

Here’s some easy math (because that’s the only math I can do).  Let’s say you make 100K per year.  That’s $8,333 per month, $2083 per week, and approximately $52 per hour based on a 40 hour work week (less if you include unpaid overtime and commute time).
stuff costs time

So if you’re making $50 an hour and your car payment is $400 a month, your car is costing you one full day of work per month, not to mention gas, maintenance and insurance (so let’s say, 2 full days).  That might sound reasonable for your car, but what about the purse you bought?  Or the shoes, the massage and the cute, dry-clean only sweater from J Crew?  Was that worth the 2 or 3 days of work?

It might be.

I’m not suggesting you should feel bad about your purchases, I just want you to feel something about them before you make them.  To me, a pair of Lululemon leggings is well worth an hour of work based on my rate, because I wear them constantly, they make me happy, and I’m always dressed appropriately for a hike or a workout.  Some women focus on wearing outfits that transition from day to night, I focus on outfits that transition from work to yoga mat.

It’s all a matter of priorities.

But when I look at this equation, I’m less inclined to order wine with dinner (2 glasses can easily equate to half an hour of work) or a new pair of jeans (<— because #torturetowear)

jeans are prison for your legs

The point is to think about your purchases in the context of how much of your life you need to invest in the process of acquiring them, and then in some cases, the cost to maintain it once you’ve bought it.  It’s an interesting exercise to consider the next time you’re cruising the Banana Republic website for (yet another) pair of ill-fitting dress pants (does anyone else think BR’s pants have gone downhill in the past few years?).

I love thinking about purchasing in the context of time.  It’s a handy framework that forces me to evaluate how important each thing I bring into my life actually is.  That way, I can clearly define whether or not something is a “hell yes”, a “hell no” or maybe a “hell, not right now at the current per hour rate I’m making”.

Consider this another handy tool in your “live your best life” toolbox, particularly if you’re feeling short on time or money to do the things you truly want to do in life.
Now over to you.  Have you ever given thought to the time invested in the things you’ve bought?  This became painfully clear to me when I started giving a bunch of stuff away.  I realized how hard it was to sell my things and in some cases, even give them away.  I had a $120 juicer that I literally couldn’t give away to my friends.  That was just over an hour of work invested into the purchase price, and nobody wanted it?  That was an eye-opener, for sure!

Smart Spending Strategies for Makeup + Hair Care Products

tips for saving on hair and makeup products

As an aspiring minimalist, my make up drawer is a total #fail, but truth be told, I don’t care.  When it comes to fitness and beauty products, I’m a-okay on thoughtfully spending money on looking and feeling my best, because that has a positive impact on my life in a lot of ways.

I’ll get into fitness-related savings in another post, but today, I want to share some ideas on saving on your cosmetics.  These are my general guidelines around buying beauty products.  If you have other ideas to add to this, I’d love to hear about it!

Tips for saving a bundle on hair and beauty products (my personal weakness). Click To Tweet

Drugstore brands provide better value than high-end brands.

Personally, I think makeup looks best when it’s appropriately matched to your skin tone and applied well, regardless of how expensive it is.  As someone who has been a long-standing fan of Mac lipsticks (which are $23 a tube), I can appreciate higher quality at a higher price, but keep in mind this simple fact….

A $23 lipstick has to look and perform 100% better than an $11.50 lipstick to justify the 100% increase in price.  
Now, while I like Mac lipstick, I don’t think it performs 120% better than my Revlon color stay that was only $7.99.    That said, you might think a certain foundation, lip plumper or eyeshadow is 150% better than every other brand on the market and if that’s the case, stick with it!  This is about understanding the value of what you’re investing in and appreciating how it benefits you. It’s not about getting the cheapest brand available.
Money saving makeup tips

Overall, you’re going to get a better bang for your buck in a drugstore and as cosmetics only continue to improve,  I’m inclined to always start there before going to pricier brands.

Bonus Tip: Got a high-end brand you love but it’s super pricey?  Check out this “dupe” list to see if you can get a less expensive alternative!

Cosmetic Subscription Boxes Aren’t Worth the Investment.  

Personally, I have only tried the FitFabFun box and Ipsy, but I can unequivocally say that unless you have a very high level of control over the products you get shipped, it’s probably not worth the money.  For even though you get a high volume of product in many cases, generally 50% or less of it will be items you will actually wear.  I have a drawer full of cosmetic samples that I probably won’t wear because the color is meant for someone with a very different skin tone than me.  In the case of FitFabFun, I continued to get things like weird scarves and beach blankets that I would never use and would end up in a donation pile.  $49 is a great price for a box full of beauty and lifestyle products, but only if it’s stuff you can actually put to use.  If it’s not, it’s just more clutter.

I recommend staying away from these subscriptions.  They just add to the clutter in your bathroom and the products are very hit or miss.  You would be better off taking the funds you would invest in the annual subscription and applying it to products that are perfect for you.

If you find something you love buy it in bulk.

One thing I don’t skimp on when it comes to beauty products is my shampoo.  I have some hair extensions in my hair (more on that in a moment) and I have to be really careful about using sulfate-free products or they won’t last.   Personally, I swear by Living Proof because it keeps your hair cleaner, longer so I can go 4 to 5 days without washing (with the help of a little dry shampoo as well).  Living Proof isn’t cheap, but because I only wash my hair 2 to 3 times a week, it’s still a good value, particularly when I buy it in bulk from Amazon.

Buy Hair Extensions on eBay.

I wear a few extensions in my hair for fullness as my hair is super fine.  If you’ve ever explored extensions, you know how crazy expensive they are!!  $130 a bundle (which is just a few strands) is not unusual and I find that they only last 3 to 6 months before they start looking pretty gnarly.  But then I discovered that you can buy them on eBay for less than half the price, AND free shipping!  I was a little apprehensive about the quality, but I bought two bundles for $60 and they look and feel amazing.  I’ll never pay full price for extensions again.

Bonus Tip: eBay is also a great place to find cosmetic brushes, eyeshadow palettes, and other makeup products that don’t expire.

Get your Retin-A online, from Mexico. 

If you want to save on Retin-A, I have heard from a number of people, that you can buy it in Mexico at a fraction of the cost.  I’m not going to link to anything here because I haven’t done it myself, so I don’t want to suggest anything I’m not personally familiar with, but I plan to and will report back when I do.  Meanwhile, the folks I know who have done this are trustworthy, so I have no qualms about giving it a try.  PS, you don’t need a prescription for it down there.

Got any strategies for saving on health and beauty products?  Please share them below!


A Minimalist Valentines Day: How to Celebrate Your Love Without Buying Crap <3

Minimal Valentines day

Here’s an interesting tidbit…the original Valentine’s Day tradition (which was actually the 15th of Feb) was inspired by the Romans who would get drunk and naked, kill a goat and/or dog and then throttle their love interest with the dead carcase before mating with them for the duration of the 3-day holiday (the love interest, not the carcas).

Warms your heart, right?

Minimal Valentines

But somewhere between the brutality of the dark ages and the last 20 years, the ritual turned from animal cruelty and sexual assault to trinket shopping and sugar-pushing. Now we feel kinda forced to demonstrate our affection for fear of being judged for not loving your partner enough. This year, the retail sector is expecting an $18.6 billion profit from the fake holiday, so they’re doing a great job of keeping that social pressure going.

Question – if your significant other didn’t recognize the holiday with some sort of tangible gift, card or event, would you consider that a reflection of their (less than stellar) love towards you?

For if you do, even just a little bit, then for at least this one day, the retail industry has more control over how you perceive your most intimate relationship than you do.

Just something to consider.

How to avoid buying crap nobody wants for Valentines Day this year. #minimalistloving Click To Tweet

Now clearly there are the romantic types that just want to enjoy indulging their partners, and I get that. Just like Christmas or Thanksgiving, it can be a fun ritual to celebrate (unless you’re single, in which case it can be miserable). But this year, I challenge you to think beyond giving flowers that have been jacked up 4x their regular price or going to a restaurant with an annoying prefix menu and think about how you can enjoy the modern-day meaning of the occasion without adding to that $18.6 million retail frenzy.

Here are a few ideas to inspire a special day of love without buying useless stuff…

  • My favorite – order takeout sushi and have a picnic on the living room floor. Got a fireplace? Even better. Got dogs? Watch they don’t steal your sashimi when you’re not looking.
  • Write your partner a letter or an email. Tell them exactly why you love and appreciate them. No one gets sick of hearing that stuff.
  • Do something for them that demonstrates care – cook a meal, make them coffee in bed, bake heart-shaped cookies.
  • Snuggle on the couch and watch your favorite shows with some chardonnay and a few homemade healthy truffles.
  • Give your SO a massage or do the bubble bath thing with candles.
  • Partake in adult activities, even if it’s a school night 😃

Probably the most important tip I can give you is to make your expressions of love and appreciation a daily ritual rather than waiting for an arbitrary day of the year with a dark and bizarre history to celebrate your relationship.

Love to all of you!