• Megan Maley

How to save $20k this year.


Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

This is more or less for females of the high-maintenance kind... although I readily fall into this category evidently because every single suggestion for savings I make below is one that I have personally implemented into my life in order to save money and pay down debt. I can't really say that I believe in total self-deprivation in the name of debt repayment... mainly because that's no way to live and I don't think it's sustainable (not to mention the detrimental mental health effects that can stem from taking your cost-cutting a bit too far... I'll write another post about the potential dark side of minimalism to address this...) So what follows are nine actual things I have done to reduce my spending on "girl things" (some of these are guy things, too... just sayin') that, when mathed out over the course of a year, save just over $20k. (And before anyone comments... yes I actually spent this money in the past. Nothing here is a fabrication to prove a point. And I'm 200% sure I'm not alone because these industries are thriving.)


1. Do your own nails. Previously I was spending $25 pedi + $15 mani = $40. Add $10 tip = $50 each trip. Every 2 weeks = 26 trips a year. $50 x 26 = $1300/year. You can save $1300 (possibly more if you routinely do gel or acrylic nails) if you choose to give yourself your own mani/pedi. This figure is based on you already owning what you need to do your own nails. It doesn't have to be complicated. A nail file, clippers, cuticle pusher, and a little cuticle oil won't set you back more than $10 and will provide you with a year's worth of clean-looking, simple manicured nails (which is arguably way more professional-looking than a busted manicure that needs professional attention). If you wanna go the nail-polish route, add an initial investment of quality base/top coats and one or two quality neutral colors that you won't mind using over and over. Total saved = $1300

2. Color your own hair. Previously I was taking a trip to the salon every 6 weeks (or 9 trips a year). The average cost per visit was $120 (root touch up, color refresher at every other visit and a trim/haircut) (tip included) = $1080 total salon cost. I have since switched to Madison Reed color which is delivered to my home every six weeks at $25 each time. $25 x 9 = $225 total. Add 4 haircuts a year at $60 each (tip included) = $465. Savings of $615. Madison Reed provides a subscription service that makes it cheaper and safer to color your hair at home. Obviously if you have fantasy hair or extra long locks or routinely color your hair more than 2-3 shades lighter than your natural hair color, this option may not work for you. But realistically, if you are rocking high-maintenance hair, there is probably no long-term DIY solution that is going to help you cut costs until you embrace your natural color or something close to it.

Total saved = $615

3. Going "No Poo". Switching away from traditional shampoos and conditioners that contain harsh ingredients like sulfates, detergents and silicone was one of the most interesting journeys I have ever taken but one of the most rewarding. One of the biggest benefits from that journey was re-setting my scalp to being accustomed to a once-a-week-wash. While I am now back to using a natural shampoo (free of harsh chemicals), I still only suds up 4 times a month, meaning that my shampoo and conditioner last me up to 6 months at a time. At $70 for both, twice a year, I spend around $140 a year on shampoo and conditioner and am able to purchase WAY better products. Previously, I was washing 3-5 times a week, spending around $30 a month on shampoo and conditioner, or $360 per year. A difference of $220 saved and my hair is WAY less maintenance, way healthier, and grows longer faster. Not to mention I'm able to invest in hair care that is much healthier for me.

Total saved = $220

4. Skip the spa. Do facials at home. (Assumption: You already own everything you need. If you don't, check out some natural facial recipes here and here that use kitchen ingredients). For me, this meant giving up my once-monthly trip to the spa for a massage and upgraded facial. With gratuity and everything, this cost me approximately $400 per visit. Skipping these services saves me about $4800 per year.

Total saved $4800

5. No new makeup/boujee skincare. $250/quarter = $1,000/year. (This is probably a conservative estimate). But I kept the estimate conservative because the assumption is that I'm still going to replace things that run out... I'm just going to be conservative about it. If I run out of a boujee face serum that cost me $100 but didn't do much in the way of results, I'm not going to feel compelled to replace it. Also, simply because a new makeup product is released, I'm not going to feel the need to rush out and get it to see if it's the best new thing for my face. I'm going to conservatively replace only the products that I know work well for my skin and makeup routine, and be very cautious about purchasing full sizes of new products.

Total saved = $1000

6. Eat out once per week (instead of multiple times). Previously, spent $200/week (average) eating out ($10,400). Now limit eating out to once per week and budget only $50 per trip. (New total = $2600). Difference of $7800. Some weeks this will be more, of course... some less. As a rule, we try to avoid alcohol when we are at dinner because it hikes the cost of the meal so quickly. Exceptions to this include happy hour specials where we can enjoy a beverage at a reasonable price, so long as they are within our budgeted meal dollars. A lot of times, we choose places that don't even serve alcohol to reduce the temptation to add to the total check.

Total saved = $7800

7. Coffee at home. Saves about $50/mo or $2600/year. Of course coffee has a cost that I'm not factoring in, here, but it's minor compared to nearly $3 for a big black coffee every day. The other surprising find that goes along with this point is that we recently tried store-brand coffee from one of the local supermarkets we visit, and we were very surprised to learn that it didn't suck. In fact, it was pretty good. And it was like $6 for a month's worth of coffee.

Total saved = $2600

8. The average american spends $1800/year on clothing, according to Bloomberg's article "The Death of Clothing" published Feb 5, 2018. Forgo completely. Use what you already own. Pare down your closet and build a capsule wardrobe. A carefully curated, simple closet will inspire more classic looks and probably make you a better-dressed human than you already are.

Total saved = $1800


9. Don't care a balance on your credit card from month to month. (i.e. don't ever pay interest. It's like overpaying for the aforementioned things that are already keeping your from having a boatload of extra money laying around). The average american has approximately $4700 worth of credit card debt. According to CreditCards.com, the average credit card's interest rate is 15%. Before compounding the balance with added interest, that's $705 worth of interest on the average balance over the course of a single year. Don't pay interest. Ever. It's so stupid.

Total saved = $705

Total saved: $20,840


Trust me when I tell you that NOBODY cares about whether or not you are wearing the latest, trendiest whatever and NOBODY cares whether or not you have box color in your hair or perfectly painted nails. Besides that, if you happen to have a bunch of folks around you who DO care about that kind of thing... maybe it's time to change up more than your spending.


In the words of The Minimalists, "You can't change the people around you, but you can change the people around you."


Be well, friends!