Pampering Yourself on Pennies
Smart Money
Julie Laviolette
Mar 19, 2019

Sometimes you just need a minute: rent is due, you argued with your roommate, your job is soooo stressful. You need a pamper fix, but money is tight and you just can’t afford to splurge right now. Here’s what you’re going to do – relax and try one of these ways (or all of them!) to take care of yourself without blowing your budget.

Cut-rate haircuts

Need a lift from a good haircut, mani-pedi, facial or massage? Check out high-end fashion institutes that offer cut-rate services from supervised students who need practice. They’ve gone through the training, and a supervisor will check their work and finesse it, if needed. Check out Aveda, Paul Mitchell, local massage schools and community college or technical training institutes that offer salon hours conducted by students.


If you don’t have the energy to get out of your chair, here’s a freebie that will literally take one minute: Try acupressure. Use your fingers to gently press on pressure points to loosen up tight muscles and help you chill. Here is an easy one -- press on the webbing between your thumb and index finger, which controls muscle tension and stress. Press and hold to unblock tight muscles and soothe away stress naturally.

A tricked-out bath

Elevate the lowly hot bath with a few add-ons. First, pick your favorite music to relax by – classical, New Age, show tunes? (We’re not judging, promise.) Find a soothing scent, like lavender or eucalyptus, and add a few drops of essential oil to the tub or light a scented candle. Feel like toasting yourself for setting up such a soothing scenario? Add a glass of wine. You deserve it.

Home spa day

You don’t have to hit up the department store or the pricey downtown salon for a relaxing spa treatment. Head to your kitchen for all the makings of a deliciously cool home spa day. Whip up face masks with egg whites or mashed avocadoes. Work warmed olive oil through your hair and wrap in a towel for 20 minutes to add some shine to those locks. Use a little sugar and vegetable oil to make a lip scrub that will give you a sweet pucker.


Use a free meditation app on your phone to start your day focused and refreshed. Even a brief 10-minute guided meditation will help rid your mind of needless anxieties and help your concentration and energy. Turn down the lights, wear comfy clothes and find a quiet spot to let your cares drift away.

Stretch it out

Sitting hunched over a laptop all day will turn anyone into a crab. Even if you do get to move around in your work, there are some muscle groups that are getting neglected and tight. Take a few minutes to do some gentle yoga stretches to loosen up your arms and hands from too much keyboarding, and your hips and back from sitting all day. Stretching will ease tense muscles and help clear your mind.

Homemade goods

After your home spa day, head back to the kitchen and bake up some fun. Baking is a way to express yourself, just like painting or writing, that will not only make you feel good, but will result in a yummy snack. It’s a win-win. Following a recipe has a therapeutic effect and the smell of ingredients like cinnamon, lemon and chocolate will make your kitchen feel happy. Bonus – when you share your goodies, that will make you feel happy too.

Product samples

If you’ve got a few dollars to spare, sign up for an inexpensive box of beauty samples to be delivered to your door each month. It’s a low-commitment way to try out new make-up and skin care without dropping a lot of coin. Department stores like Target offer a beauty box, as well as Sephora, Birchbox and BoxyCharm.

Use these low-cost ways to pamper yourself to help you relax without stressing your cash flow. Looking for more smart spending tips? Click here to sign up for our app waitlist!


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