On Money

Or, “Why I Try to Keep in Mind that Cosmetics are Mostly a Frivolous Expense.”

For reasons various and sundry, which I shan’t go into here, it has taken me a LONG time to reach a point in my life where I feel halfway stable financially. I’m finally starting to feel like I’m getting there, and that’s part of why I’m getting interested in  makeup again after a years-long hiatus. For several years there, I just couldn’t justify spending the money on it.

So I’m keenly aware that makeup (and cosmetic products in general, except maybe skincare stuff, and even that to some extent) is pretty much an optional expense. Sure, if you have significant acne or a major scar or birthmark that you feel more comfortable covering up, that’s one thing. I’m talking about spending money on things like massive eyeshadow collections. Four different kinds of eyeshadow primer. Fourteen mascaras. Forty-seven lipsticks. A whole bag full of lip gloss. Two boxes of nail polish.

I do this myself, and I love it. I have no problem with it at all, as long as you can afford it. But a lot of people can’t. I couldn’t for years, and that made it pretty clear to me that makeup is not a life-or-death situation.

This also explains, in part, my focus on finding affordable alternatives to expensive products. I know how it feels to have $10, $15, $30 be your “fun” budget for the week or for the month, and how it feels to want to stretch that as far as possible without compromising on quality. I’m delighted to discover that there’s high-quality drugstore makeup out there these days–things that I would buy even though I can afford more expensive products now. But it’s one thing to buy drugstore makeup because it’s a fun, affordable alternative to high-end stuff. It can feel like another thing altogether to buy drugstore makeup because it’s the only thing you can afford.

What it comes down to is this: I always try to keep in mind how incredibly privileged I am to be able to do this. To be able to afford to buy makeup (and yarn, and fancy ingredients to make fancy food–more on that later, maybe, but my sociology degree wants you to go check this out in the meantime); to have the time to play around with it because I’m not, say, working two jobs, or trying to support children or aging parents or a spouse with a disability; to have Internet access and a computer via which to bloviate about this admittedly frivolous topic at length. I feel very, very lucky to be able to do this, and even more lucky to have you fabulous and clever people accompanying me on this journey.

So. That’s where I’m coming from on that.

ETA:

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Published in: on September 3, 2010 at 7:59 am  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I feel you. Last night when I got into bed, I was just so grateful that I have a comfy bed and a house to stay in. Nothing makes me feel happier than getting into a cozy bed, seriously. I wish everyone had that pleasure.

  2. I totally understand you. I come from a family which came across several financial crisis. My parents owned a small business and my father had several episodes of deep depression…
    I soon began to understand the value of money. There are times in which we can afford to buy things for fun, but there are times in which we can afford food, studies and mostly just that…

    That’s why I plan my orders per month and have every single thing calculated. I rarely cross my self-imposed limit, even when I know it’d not cause trouble to my parents, ’cause I know it’s not a life-or-death thing… it’s just make-up.

    Also, I’m a psychology student and it’s not a profession that gives you lots of money… (at least at Brazil. I have no idea how it works at the USA…)

    Knowing that is also the reason why I’m always donating samples or buying gifts to my friends. – I know most of us can’t afford to buy things on the interwebs, so, since I have this opportunity, I believe sharing is the right thing to do.

    It’s also the reason there’s no Dior nor MAC nor stuff like that at my bloggie: if I can get similar quality at a lower price, I will.

    Living in a 3rd world country, I know I’m less than 10% of the population. I’m very lucky and I’m very glad. I mean… I can even go to an University! A good one!
    I have food on my plate everyday. 3 times a day!

    I’m happy to read your post, ’cause I confess I sometimes come across people being very ungrateful for the things they’ve got and treating make-up as it was as important as food…

    • I’m so glad that you were able to relate to this! I know what you mean about being a student and not being in a very lucrative profession. I have a sociology degree and I work for a nonprofit organization–not a lot of money there! I mean, I do fine, but I certainly don’t make lawyer/doctor money.

      It’s easy to get swept up in the feeling of “oh, I love this, I must have it and I will DIE without it!” Well … no, you won’t! You’ll be just fine without it! I think that it’s very important when you feel like that to stop, take a step back, and consider how lucky you are, and whether you really need whatever it is you think you need.

      And I absolutely agree about skipping the high-end versions of things if you can get similar quality for less money. Sure, the Wet ‘n’ Wild eyeshadow might not look as pretty or as sophisticated in my drawer as the MAC one, but nobody sees the package but me! And if they look and wear exactly the same when I have them on … why pay more?

      And you’re so right about the importance of budgeting, and understanding that sometimes you’re flush (i.e., can spend more on “fun” things) and sometimes you’re not. We can’t all afford to buy whatever we want all the time, and that’s OK!


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