Our physical appearance is a deeply ingrained part of our confidence and this is reinforced by what we see in the media, how we are treated when we look good and even in our career advancement and earnings potential. It is no wonder we are enticed into spending significant amounts of money at hair salons, beauticians, dermatologists, the gym, exercise classes, personal trainers and, in the last few decades, the plastic surgeon’s office.
The beauty and health industry is a booming billion dollar cash cow creating a new wave of billionaires on a regular basis. Few have not heard about the likes of Kylie Jenner, the youngest self made “beauty” billionaire, or the inspiring story of Sarah Blakely, the revolutionary creator of the life saving “spanx”.
It is estimated that our “regular” beauty services, haircuts, colour, blow dries, professional tooth whitening, eyelash extensions, nails, facials, waxing and makeup can cost between £14,000 to £20,000 per year. A small house deposit or even potentially our long term financial security. £14,000 invested each year at 5% for 20 years would give a tidy lump sum of close to half a million pounds!
I apologise if this sounds a lot like the “latte” argument, “give up you daily latte and you can be a millionaire”, which many financial pundits are terming sexist and derogatory to women, the likely gender this is targeted at. It isn’t meant to be judgemental as I am a strong proponent of spending money on what is important to you.
Beauty expenditure is complicated because it is not only driven by a small amount of daily gratification and it comes down to more than just some frivolous want. It is how society judges us and is a significant driver of the need to present our “best self” and feel half acceptable. Research has proven that our physical appearance is a big factor in career advancement and earnings potential. Oftentimes much of our beauty spend is to make us feel more confident and able to face the world.
So what is a girl to do?
While there is no one size fits all in terms of health and beauty spend, it is important that we understand our motivations behind it, the benefit we derive from it and differentiate how much of it may simply have become an emotional crutch or even be an unconscious unnecessary expenditure.
We can do this by taking the following steps:
Understanding our health and beauty spend
If looking good is something you value for yourself in that it enables you to express your personal “brand” and creativity and is an extension of your personality, it is meaningful to you and should then be included in your conscious spending plan.
Living true to ourselves and within our values means we should be taking care of ourselves holistically and that means taking care of our financial stability and financial future as well.
It is important though to be mindful that our spending is about us and living true to our values. It is not on us to spend our money to meet someone else objectives or measurement criteria.
Analyze our health and beauty spend
While spending on our values is worthwhile and meaningful there is no place in our spending that escapes lifestyle creep or unconscious wastefulness. Take the time to take a good look at your beauty expenditure over a period of time, for example the last 3 to 6 months, and make sure nothing unnecessary has slipped in unconsciously.
I was shocked at what I found. Years of trying every anti ageing.miracle, the elusive beauty elixirs, the next best exercise trend and the ultimate longevity vitamins had led me down the path of spending unnecessary amounts on a bunch of stuff that was definitely not adding value to my life (or even achieving the objective!)
This is not an opportunity to get judgemental and beat ourselves up about what we spend
There is no shame in spending on what is important to you, the things that makes you feel good and add value to your life. That is what life is about after all and that is our purpose in creating financial stability.
In addition, we women, and I conceded this is a big generalisation, do seem to take care of ourselves andour physical and mental health to some extent more so than men. I suspect this is an unconscious survival instinct on some level as we need to be fit and healthy to thrive and take care of those who need us. As the so called weaker sex I think we have a much more developed sense of how to navigate the constantly evolving world we live in and make sure we are able to adapt to it. This instinctual adaptability and the consequential expenditure should not however be to the detriment of our financial health.