As part her recent remarks at a conference in the Philippines, personal finance guru and television host Suze Orman, came down against a sacred cow of the fashion and beauty world — nail salons and even nail polish more generally.
"Women in particular spend a lot of money on pedicures and manicures. If you just simply buffed your nails, you wouldn't have to get a manicure more than once a month, because the only reason you go back to get manicures all the time is because your nail polish is chipped. And I'm an extremely wealthy woman and you don't see me ever having nail polish on, because it's such a waste of time and money."
Orman's is a message we should pay more attention to. Beauty advertising doesn't just sell us products, it sells false needs. You never need to get a manicure, but sometimes it can feel that way. A manicure is just a briefly pretty set of fingertips that costs money (and yes, time that you could instead be spending on petting your cat and working on personal non-nail related projects). Money which, for most of us, doesn't grow on those proverbial trees.
It's worth cutting back on some luxuries (for sure, any and all that you're paying for on credit) to, as Orman and common sense dictate, get your financial house in order and start building a savings and retirement account.
The "but" — pretty things and small extravances don't make a life worth living, but they often make it a little sweeter and more fun. Getting your nails painted can be a relaxing, gratifying way of doing something only for yourself, and it doesn't have to cost very much if you go only occassionally. There's a place by my apartment in Brooklyn where getting your nails done with some great Essie color costs only $7 (and then once you spend $100, you get $10 off your next service…it's such a good deal I suspect it's some kind of money laundering front). Granted, beauty services in New York City are less expensive (due to market crowding) than in other parts of the country — still, no matter where you are, you can probably get a manicure somewhere for $20, which is what they should cost.
But as Orman suggests later in her remarks, often we spend money on beauty and cosmetics for all the wrong reasons. And blindly acquiescing to various social pressures and an ad-fueled beauty standard is a surefire way to spoil a perfectly good manicure.
Don't spend money you don't have, to impress people you don't even know or like. Understand that who you are in life to yourself is far more important than showing people what you have.