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Living Your Life at Half the Price, Part Four

Our money expert is back with ways to save on beauty, hair, and nail products and services.

I also pay $150 every three months to highlight my hair. It's a lot of money, but my hair is like an accessory that I wear every day, so I want to make sure it looks nice. It is an important part of my overall style. If I wanted to save on this process, as I did as a college and grad school student, I could go to salons and serve as a hair model. It has nothing to do with looking like a model; it's about having hair for the stylists to hone their techniques on.

High-end salons like Vidal Sassoon want to train their hair stylists and colorists in their own methodology, so you still get an experienced person working on your hair. At the end of the session, they spend time looking at the results with the chief hair trainer to make sure they are keeping to that particular salon's standards (so they can charge other patrons really high prices). The stylists can take a while discussing your hair so be prepared to be patient. The downside is you can't just dash off once your hair's been cut and/or colored, but the upside is your money will still be in your wallet instead of the stylist's pocket. I have been a hair model at least 10 times and my hair always comes out looking great. True, instead of an hour, I have had to sit for three hours. But the $120 savings off a $150 bill was well worth the extra time.

Nails
For eight years, I had my nails professionally done with acrylic coating so they wouldn't crack. They were always long, perfectly shaped and French manicured. Then I went on a trip around the world for a year and had to break my habit because places I visited, such as India and Africa, didn't have nail salons. Trust me when I say it was really hard for me to have imperfect nails in the beginning. After going on this world tour and visiting more than 50 cities in 30 countries, many of which were poverty stricken Third World countries, I started to become conscious of how ridiculously caught up Americans are in beauty consumerism -- including myself.

I walked down squalid narrow cobblestone streets in India that were covered with garbage and cow dung. A family of six people was huddled into stucco-cave-like structures that they called home and they were barely able to scrape together enough food to put on their dirt floor for dinner. And I was worried about getting my nails done?

I had a little growing to do … and I am not talking about my nails. After my travels, I thought about resuming my salons visits but instead I decided to take guitar classes. I will never forget the teacher saying, "Uh, Honey, is this going to be a problem cutting your nails off?" I reluctantly said, "No, of course not, I am not that vain." That was three years ago and I am fully over the nail thing.

Since then, I have noticed that some of the most successful businesswomen do not have their nails professionally sculpted. At first I was surprised and then I understood that having French manicured acrylic nails does not define your style. People typically don't even notice whether or not you have them. Of course, it's important to you're your nails clean and trimmed but beyond that is just unnecessary adornment. Today I keep my nails short, shaped, and shiny and haven't looked back except to realize that I am saving $40 a month by not going to a salon.

About the Author:
Tiffany Bass Bukow "Ms.Money", has been teaching women, children, and families money skills for over a decade. She created the comprehensive financial education web site MsMoney.com to educate and empower people to take control of their personal finances. By doing so, she believes people will be able to pursue their dreams and live more fulfilling lives. Tiffany has appeared on TV, radio, magazines, books, and she blogs. Tiffany is married and has a 5 year-old.

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