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It Only Hurts A Little

A few months ago, my full-time client decided that my job was so crucial to the company that they should hire someone permanently to do it. Someone in California. I’m in Texas, and that’s a heck of a commute for anyone, so overnight, we lost half of our monthly income.

It’s not personal, it’s business aside: Look really hard at your freelance contracts, and make sure you have a severance clause written in for full-time freelance work. Learn from my mistakes, people.

I’m still out of work, like everyone seems to be right now, and so as a family we’ve had to cut costs every single place we can. Places like my bangs. Trust me, that picture hurst me as much as it hurts you, but it had to be done.

And my hair looks *totally* cute now. That’s kind of the point of this post…a lot of things I was afraid to trim off the budget turned out to be things I don’t really even miss, now that they’re gone. And so, here are five nearly painless places I probably should have cut my budget back a long time ago.

Legal disclaimer aside: Neither Babble, nor this blogger, endorse the *trimming* of one’s own bangs. Some things in life should just be left to the professionals.


  • Color your own hair. 1 of 5
    Color your own hair.

    You can't show up to interviews with three inch Madonna roots, so you're going to need to keep up with your hair. However, getting rid of those roots costs a lot of money (my hair runs me $300 for cut, color and highlights at the salon), which is what you're trying to save. CROSSROADS.

    However, one of those box color kits that comes with a coordinated highlight bleach is $16.95 at the drug store, and a frosting kit (cap, hook, brush and drap) runs you $3.99 at the beauty supply store.

    It takes a little time and a decent grasp of high school geometry (or college drunken billards) but at an 94.4% savings, it's worth every penny saved.

    Pro tip: Warn your six year old before you begin, especially if she's hopped up on codeine cough syrup and prone to walking in on you.

  • Give yourself a manicure. 2 of 5
    Give yourself a manicure.

    My mechanical engineering instructor used to lean over my drafting table with his button-down short sleeve dress shirt in my face and his coffee-and-cigarette breath sucking the oxygen from the air and he'd say to me, "Shannon, no one is going to take you seriously as a professional with *those* nails.

    And he was right. Hypocrisy, thy name is Tic Tac, but he had a point.

    Since $20 a pop for a mani is $40 more than I can blow every month right now, I've started maintaining my nails at home with some cuticle oil, a buffer and a few coats of polish. And for some super! fun! parent-child time!, I've started letting my daughter help me. Results are mixed, but at least I have awesome blueberry scented nails now.

    Pro-tip: This look is especially good if you're interviewing to be part of the late 90's grunge movement.

  • Stop eating out so much. 3 of 5
    Stop eating out so much.

    Take out food is easy, it's fast, it's brainless and it's expensive. Drive-through burgers for a family of four ($25 + tax) will cost you more than a homemade chicken parmesan w/salad ($20 + tax).

    And it'll make you feel worse. Being out of work when you don't want to be feels bad enough. Cooking at home not only saves you money, it's kind of fun, if you're into that sort of thing.

    Pro-tip: Candlelit hamburger dinners are actually kind of fun sometimes. Everything in moderation, folks.

  • Walk more. 4 of 5
    Walk more.

    When I was a kid, we walked 12 miles uphill to school in the snow both ways when gas only cost $0.65/gallon. Now gas is $3.50/gallon in Texas, which I believe is one of the signs of the zombie apocalypse.

    So I'm walking more. I walk to the store when I can, and make my kids bike to the store for me when I can't. When I have to drive, I'm consolidating my trips; making bi-weekly grocery runs and staying local otherwise.

    The kids like it, the dogs like it, and after two years working at a desk, but butt kind of likes it, too. My wallet likes it because I'm only filling my gas tank about once a month now.

    Pro-tip: Walking around the mall drowning your sorrows in new boots is counter-productive. Fun, but ill-advised.

  • Cut your expenses. 5 of 5
    Cut your expenses.

    Bills are a b@#tch. Cut them. Losing half my income overnight made me stick back and seriously reevaluate my monthly expenses. I traded in my $idon'twanttoadmithowhigh movie and sports channel subscription for a sensible $9/mo Netflix streaming account. And I changed cable/internet providers while I was at it, to one with a lower monthly cost and a nice sign-up bonus.

    I also took an axe to my cell phone plan, now that I'm not using it for work, and programmed the thermostats, finally.

    Pro tip: Saving $25 here and there might not seem like a big difference, but think of how much blueberry scented nail polish remover you can buy with $25.

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