Epilate for Smoother Skin While Saving Money

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Epilate? What is that? When I tell people that I use an epilator, most give me a questioning look. I’m surprised at how many women have not heard of this amazing device. Since we are still in the middle of summer, epilating can be a useful option for those hoping to maintain a smooth, bikini-ready body.

An epilator is a small, mechanical item that uses a series of tiny, rotating tweezers to grasp multiple hairs from their roots. It is also known as an electric tweezer. Epilating is similar to waxing, in that hairs are pulled out from the roots to provide for longer-lasting results (around 2-4 weeks) without needing to shave. Similarly to waxing, it can be painful, but the temporary pain is worth the results!

If you’ve ever waxed, you know the smooth feeling that results from it, contrasting to surface removal techniques such as shaving or using hair removal creams. The hairs take longer to grow back and when they do grow back, they are typically finer and softer than before. Epilators are not just built for your legs; they commonly have several attachments that can be used for more sensitive or difficult to reach areas (such as armpits and bikini). Epilating is also different from waxing in that it is better for the skin, since waxing tends to remove epithelial cells in the process.

In addition to providing smoother skin, epilating can also be a good choice if you’re looking to save money. The average cost of an epilator is around $40 (and simply needs to be recharged for the next use), while the average cost of one waxing session varies but runs about $20-$100 for a full bikini and around the same price for full legs. That usually doesn’t include the cost of tip and also does not include the cost of gas to drive to the salon. Let’s say that you spend $50 per month (a very modest estimate, considering that would be around one body part and waxing also tends to be needed more than once a month) on waxing. You would be spending $600 per year on waxing, compared to the $40 that you spent on an epilator. Shaving cream and razors also add up. Let’s say that you buy a cheaper set of disposable razors at 10 for $10 and use a new razor two times per week, so 104 razors per year or $104 per year. You will also need to purchase shaving cream, which costs about $3 a can, which lasts about one month (so $36 a year). Combined with the cost of razors, that is $140 a year, though most women purchase higher quality razors for more than that. Laser hair removal, though more permanent, comes with a hefty price tag (a couple thousand dollars) and requires at least 6 sessions for best results.

You can use an epilator on many areas of the body and in the long run, it can save you time since waxing requires a visit to the salon along with an appointment and shaving must be done every couple of days in order to maintain a smooth appearance (according to an article listed at the bottom of this post, the average woman spends about 72 days shaving over the course of a lifetime). Epilating can be done on your own time, or even while multi-tasking (you can watch TV or read a magazine while epilating).

http://www.braun.com/global/female-grooming/adviser/6-reasons.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/11/average-time-spent-shaving-legs_n_3063127.html

Image credit and more info: http://beautysaloon.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/proper-use-of-epilator/

 

Crash Pad Living

ImageOnce again, I am WAY overdue for a blog post. It has been several months! As you may know, I took a job as a flight attendant a little less than a year ago, and have been on the job now for about 6 months. I started flying internationally in December and you may have noticed my blog posts coming to a long hiatus. I do not bring my laptop with me on my layovers, which has hindered my abilities to post, and I have still been busy forming new friendships, finding a permanent apartment (which this post will cover), and exploring my new home of Miami. I am going to try to get back into the habit of updating this more often, though not daily like in the past. I have many new adventures to summarize, so there should be plenty of good material coming up soon!

For my first post back, I would like to talk about my life in what is called a “crash pad.” If you are not familiar with the flight attendant lifestyle (and yes, I say lifestyle, because it is more than just a career switch), you may have never heard of this term before. I hadn’t. Flight attendants are constantly on the go and do not get to spend much time at their residence, due to laying over in other cities. Many also commute to work (ex. a flight attendant may be based in NYC but live permanently in Boston) due to ease of air travel from flight benefits. For this reason, they may need a space to sleep in their base city, but do not want to commit to a full-time lease. Or they are a new flight attendant hoping to save some money during their first few months of the job and are still getting time to learn the area of their new base city or are hoping to quickly transfer to a new base if they did not receive their first choice. For this reason, cheap, temporary living is ideal. Hence, the concept of a “crash pad,” or a place just to crash between flights. When I received Miami (my first choice) as a base, I wanted to make a more permanent move down there. I wanted an apartment with my own room. There was a group of about 11 of us heading to Miami from my class, and another girl and I decided that we wanted a 2-bedroom apartment. However, never really exploring the city before and having limited time (and money) to find an apartment made our search difficult. Many of our classmates were hoping for a crash pad and there were a few crash pads that were commonly recommended to us. Well, we decided that would do that for about a month of two until we found a better place. Four of us joined a one-bedroom crash pad right next to the employee parking lot for the Miami International Airport. Yes, one bedroom. Due to the coming and going of flight attendants, a crash pad typically has many flight attendants or pilots crammed into a small space, since they are rarely all present at the same time. The point is just to “crash.” We had a large couch, a queen-size bed, and several air mattresses for when the four of us happened to be at the apartment at the same time. This was rare. The other three flight attendants commuted and caught flights home after their work shifts. Many times, I was the only one at the apartment. The other perk of a crash pad is saving money. We each paid $300 a month, which included all utilities, use of a pool, and a small fitness center. The one-bedroom by itself would have been $1200 (which is still somewhat high for Miami, but we paid the price of convenience of proximity to the airport). Before I knew it, I had been in the place until the end of January (after moving in at the end of September). Not my original plan. The other girl decided that she did not want to move down here permanently after learning how easy it was to commute and how much money could be saved. I still wanted to live in Miami, so I waited it out at the crash pad until a girl from my class who was based in NYC transferred down. In February, we moved to a 2-bedroom apartment about 25 minutes south of the airport. I have found that I am much less stressed now that I have my own room and can locate all of my belongings. At the crash pad, we had limited space and my things were mostly stowed away in my trunk or in piles in the closet at the apartment. Also, when there were more than 2 of us there at a time, sleeping arrangements became difficult and/or awkward. We tended to have preferences (I liked the bed, though one girl really preferred the couch and another would only sleep on her air mattress), so it worked for the most part, though it became stressful when one girl was trying to go to sleep (usually me…) and a couple of the others were preparing themselves for a night out. It definitely became a learning experience and I began to appreciate things in life that we take for granted, such as having our own room to retreat to when needed!

I am very happy at my new apartment, but did save a lot of money in a crash pad and gained a few valuable lessons. And as mentioned in a previous post, I do recommend having roommates to save money. This takes it to another level, but is an option for anyone (even those not in aviation), hoping to save money for a few months!

Photo credit: http://www.theflyingpinto.com/2013/05/flight-attendant-crash-pads.html

Savings Month

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Since it’s the first day of a new month, I’d like to propose a challenge to you. Try to have a “savings month” or “no-spend month” during which you only purchase groceries, gas, medical-related items, and other basic necessities (along with paying bills and maintaining investments). Try to live frugally for the month. No new clothes. No new gadgets. No dining out. No costly entertainment. No pampering. It will be difficult in the beginning, for sure, but your bank account will thank you and you may realize just how much you can live without in a month’s time.

Liz Pulliam Weston, author of “Easy Money: How to Simplify Your Finances and Get What You Want Out of Life” estimates that a 30-day spending “crash diet” can save families about $400. And that’s just for one month! “If you do this, you have taught yourself what your (financial) weakness are, and you have already experienced the difference between a need and a want,” Weston states. The savings month can be a great way for you or your family to evaluate what you’re spending money on and which areas you can cutback on. Even if you believe that you are saving enough each month, it doesn’t hurt to try it out. There’s no such thing as having too much money saved up! It’s a great test of self-discipline and may help you to better appreciate what you already have. Be sure to inform your friends and family members of your savings month, so that they will understand your frugality and can support you with your goal.

Avoid Shopping While Hungry

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Grocery store visits while you’re hungry can lead to extra money and extra calories! According to a study earlier this year, scientists actually experimentally validated the idea that we purchase higher-calorie foods when we haven’t eaten for a bit (summarized here: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/06/us-shop-hungry-idUSBRE9450TF20130506). You are also more likely to make impulse purchases since you are looking for something to quickly fill your belly. The impulse purchases may also mean additional money that you didn’t plan on spending; it is estimated that we spend an extra 15-17% on our grocery bills when we shop while hungry.

If you are heading to the grocery store, try to eat a small, but filling, snack before you head out! You can also try chewing on gum to control feelings of hunger.

(image from shespeaks.com)

Save Money on Moving Costs

moving

I recently accepted a new job (which I’m currently in training for and is the reason that I’ve been neglecting my blog lately…) that requires me to relocate. I do not know where I’ll be based and I had a lease ending in North Carolina, so I had to come up with the best solution for moving my belongings. My family lives in New York and Florida, and I was not given much time to pack my things and move them to either location before heading to training, so I packed up everything that I owned and debated whether or not to pay for storage and eventually rent a U-haul to drive to my new location, or come up with other ideas for selling/donating my larger items. After carefully thinking through all of  my options, I decided that the cheapest and most convenient plan was to sell all of my large items (mattress, dresser, etc.) and attempt to fit all of my belongings into my car. I used Craigslist, which was actually quite successful, and donated many of my older clothes to the Good Will. Now that everything could successfully fit into my car, I had to think about either getting storage for it, leaving it with someone, or having my parents come to pick it up. Thankfully, my dad kindly offered to fly to North Carolina (using some of his Skymiles) and drive the car to New York for me, where I will reunite with it after training and drive it to my new location. What a great guy!

This process was quite stressful for me, especially as I didn’t know where I would be based. Convenience and affordability were very important to me, so I took plenty of time to research all of my options before the move. U-hauls can be pretty expensive, especially if you’re moving several states away, which I am going to have to do. Storage options weren’t too pricey, but try to consider alternatives such as storing your things with friends or family, or selling some of your items instead. While I will probably have to purchase my large items again, in the end it will be significantly cheaper than the cost of storage and a U-haul. I even made most of the money back on some of the items. If you’re moving, be sure to take plenty of time to plan, if you have it. Look into selling your things on Craigslist or eBay, or even to friends (my former roommate purchased my dresser and washer/dryer, for example). Don’t give up on selling items if you don’t get responses right away. I had to re-post my mattress and adjust the price a few times before I received enough inquiries. Also, when you’re packing up items, do not pay for boxes or storage bins if you can think of other ways to pack. I was able to take a lot of cardboard boxes from work and utilized a lot of my re-useable grocery bags for packing up some smaller items. Also, do not waste money on bubble wrap or other lining options for boxes. Find magazines, newspapers, or use some of your towels and clothing to protect breakable items.

Before a big move, attempt to save up as much as you can in your bank account. Consider having a savings month for the month before the move. Moving can be a huge expense if you’re not prepared for it!

(image credit: icezen.com)

Consider Living at Home or Getting Roommates

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For most people, housing is their biggest expense. While rent costs vary by region, you will almost always save money by living with others or living at home. According to the U.S. Housing Department and several other sources, Americans spend around 25-30% of their income on rent. With housing comprising such a high percentage of income, finding a way to cut back on housing costs should be one of the first ways that you look into saving money. While some people value a nice-looking or conveniently-located place or would rather live alone than deal with roommates or living at home, I personally would rather cutback on lodging in any way that I could (while I’m young and single) so that I could use that money for other things that I enjoy. And though living at home isn’t feasible for some who have moved away from their hometown, the savings do wonders for your bank account (even if putting up with relatives doesn’t sound that appealing — for some, no amount of savings could get them to live at home!).

When I first moved down to North Carolina and was researching places to live, I toyed around with the idea of renting a one-bedroom place for myself. I had arranged meetings with several potential roommates (from yes, Craigslist; I was new to the area and didn’t know anyone at all) and really liked a couple of them, but the one-bedroom place was absolutely gorgeous and within walking distance to my new job. However, it had a hefty price tag at $900 a month excluding utilities and it was unfurnished. Both of the places that I looked at with roommates were further away and were nice but not as beautiful as the other place, but were $400 per month including utilities. Estimating an extra $100 for utilities if I were to live by myself, that was a decision of $1000/month or $400/month. For a savings of $7200 a year, it was a no-brainer. Plus, because I was new to the area, I thought that having roommates would actually be a better choice, since they could potentially show me around and provide me with some companionship. I’m so grateful that I made that decision two years ago. Not only did I save $14,400 in two years (looking back on it, there’s no way that I could have afforded the one-bedroom place unless I completely removed any fun activities and travel from my life), I made several amazing friends (along with some cat companions that one of my roommates had!). Granted, I probably could have found other one-bedroom options cheaper than the $900/month apartment — that was just one place that I happened to stumble upon when I was visiting the area. None of my other options would have beaten $400 a month though. Even a savings of $100 a month on rent adds up to an extra $1200 per year. Another way that I cut down on housing expenses was by taking the smallest of the rooms, since the cost of the rooms in our 3-bedroom townhouse are pro-rated. The size difference of the room wasn’t substantial and I was able to save $300 per year, or $600 in total since I’ve been living down here. Again, it doesn’t sound like much, but those savings are more than enough to buy a ticket to somewhere within the U.S. or pay for a hotel and gas for a couple weekend getaways nearby!

Air Dry Hair When Possible

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Blow drying your hair frequently can lead to dry, damaged hair and can fade your hair color more quickly. Hair that is chemically treated is especially prone to hair dryer damage, since the health of the hair has already been compromised. While air drying may take longer, the benefits are definitely worth it if you can find the time. Air drying is easy as it requires no special tools or time. You can multitask while waiting for your hair to dry; I typically apply my makeup as my hair is drying, for example. If you are still somewhat pressed for time, consider air drying your hair for most of the time and then finishing it with a blow dryer. If you do continue to blow dry your hair, be sure to apply a thermal protective spray before using any heating tools and consider keeping the hair dryer on a cooler setting.

Air drying is also more environmentally friendly and can save you money on your electricity bill (especially if you use multiple tools such as a blow dryer, straightener, and/or curling iron). According to a poll (summarized here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2250701/How-time-really-spend-doing-hair-ladies-Answer-Ten-days-year.html), women spent about 15 minutes blow drying their hair each day and another 15 minutes styling the hair. For blow drying alone, that is 5475 minutes per year, or about 91 hours (3.8 days). In addition to saving money on electricity, you might also save money by making fewer visits to the salon by improving the health of your hair (less blow drying = fewer split ends = fewer trims).

I used to blow dry and straighten my hair every day when I was in high school, and the health of my hair definitely suffered from it. In college, I decided that I enjoyed having the extra 15-30 minutes of sleep or study time and typically resorted to air drying my hair on my way to class. Now, I usually shower at night and let my hair dry overnight in a satin head cap. Sometimes I end up with really nice waves in my hair when I wake up by doing it that way!