Essays & Confessions/Shopping Smart

5 Little Self-Care Expenses That Are Financial Self-Sabotage

By | Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Self-care seems to be all the rage these days. You can’t scroll through any of your social media feeds without being inundated by content and statuses and advertisements that dispel the importance of it. And it’s true! Taking care of ourselves is vital to our health, mental wellness, and lives. However, true self-care sometimes can get warped through the lens of social media. Our Instagram feeds tell us self-care comes in the form of a few lit candles, an acai bowl, and “treating ourselves” to fancy cocktails or a new lipstick. Sometimes, though, actual self-care lies in doing the basics. It means looking after ourselves, even if it’s not necessarily fun. It means being an adult, which, as we all know, isn’t always glamorous, no matter what filter you might be able to put on it.

In our never-ending quests to better ourselves and make sure we’re looking after our well-being, our financial health often takes the backseat. We spend big on goods and services to “feel better,” but sometimes it ends up being not only a waste of money, but also a waste of our time. It takes our control away from us and makes our happiness and contentment depend on an external rather than internal force. And that’s a dangerous road to go down.

Below is a list of five things that you might be spending on as a form of self-care, but are actually just forms of self-sabotage.  

1. Drinks after a bad day at work.

Happy Hour with the gals after a bad day might sound like a good idea, and sometimes it definitely can be! But if you’re constantly heading to the bar instead of coping in other ways, you’re not only hurting your finances, you are hurting your ability to cope in a healthy way. What may be more productive for you would be to exercise, read, or host your friends at your own home for dinner and/or sharing a bottle of wine. This is much more cost-effective and will help re-train your mind in regards to what you consider “blowing off steam.” Relaxing and unwinding doesn’t have to be expensive!

2. Beauty procedures you can easily do at home.

Beauty procedures like getting your nails done regularly add up. Manicures and pedicures can cost upwards of $25 a pop. Plus, the polish can chip pretty quickly, and then you’re back again, shelling out more cash. Instead, figure out what beauty processes you can easily do from home. Buy some nice nail polish, an emery board, some hand cream, and voila! You have your own at-home mani/pedi station that will cost you a fraction of the price.

3. A fancy membership to a gym you literally never go to.

You thought signing up for a nice gym would give you the incentive to start attending, but that wasn’t the case, was it? Instead, you ended up getting charged the monthly fee to basically never go. Before you make a commitment again, start small. Find a gym with a more affordable rate or lower commitment time and see how often you truly go. See if you’ll really invest your time in your fitness. Otherwise, you’re just wasting money.

4. Anything you purchase that you don’t need because you’re “treating yo’self.”

No. Stop that. Fun purchases are fine once in a while, but if you’re consistently trying to boost your spirits by buying a new $24 lipstick at Sephora, you might want to rethink your strategy. Instead, try and enjoy what you actually own in a new way. Chelsea once committed to a month-long challenge to wear everything in her closet in a new way/combination — she did not let herself buy anything. The idea was to make herself appreciate and get excitement from what she already owned instead of constantly seeking something shiny and new.   

5. High-end makeup or skincare just because of the brand, rather than what it actually does.

Expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better. While, yes, there are definitely some products from brands that are more high-end that work fantastically, you can almost always find a drugstore counterpart for a whole hell of a lot less money. Yes, the packaging is often cuter for what you can find at Sephora (hello, Drunk Elephant), but find what works for you, not just what a YouTube guru tells you is great. Make sure you’re using something because it actually works for you/you love it, not just because it’ll look good in your medicine cabinet.  


Self-care looks different to everyone, but one thing is for sure: it doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. It can be subtle. Quiet. Free. Sometimes it comes down to simply allowing what is to be and finding peace with the fact that we’re all doing the best we can at any given time.

Molly is an assistant digital strategist by day and a writer by night. She drinks way too much coffee and can be found on Twitter here.

Image via Unsplash

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