Self-Care For Poor Folks: When Taking Care Of Yourself Costs Money

You are entitled to spend money on making yourself feel good if you want to, full stop.

Hey, you, are you ready?

This week we are going to talk about the self-care stuff that costs money, some ways of dealing with that emotionally, and some strategies for getting what you want. I am also going to talk about my super not-so-secret techniques for getting a crapload of things and getting the most bang for my buck.

So, the first thing at this point that I like to recommend is to make a list of what makes you feel good. I am a lover of lists so here is an example of the stuff I like:

  • Makeup
  • Bath stuff
  • All-day-long thrifting and lunch adventures
  • Going out for a tasty meal
  • Haircare Items

Now, I want to encourage you to do a little list for yourself -- and, remember, we’re not really talking about necessities (stuff like underpants, bras, shoes, and pants). We’re talking the stuff above and beyond the things we need for survival.

Your list doesn’t have to be detailed. Mine is really just called "stuff that makes me squee."

Here is where stuff gets hard.

You don’t have to “deserve” a treat. You are not a dog. You are allowed to want a thing just because it makes you happy or it makes you feel good -- regardless of how poor you are or if that thing seems too fancy or if the thing costs a lot of money.

You are entitled to spend money on making yourself feel good if you want to, full stop.

There are a lot of people who cannot believe that poor people can or should have nice things. They say, "How come you have on nice shoes? See, that’s why you’re poor."

There are many reasons poor people have nice things. Where people work, where they live, how they are walking around in life -- and, frankly, their desires -- all influence why some poor people have really nice stuff.

All I really want to say about that is this: If someone is not trying to pay your bills, they need to stay out of your wallet. It is none of anybody’s business how you spend or what you spend on.

Now are you ready with your list o’ fanciness?

In my household, my partner does most of the budgeting. When I do want to spend money, I let him know that I would like some of what I call "mad money" in my PayPal or in cash.

At times, having my mad money coming out of our household budget really stresses me out, so I have a number of little side hustles. I have an Etsy store. Sometimes I do paid surveys or other get-paid-to-type-things-on-the-Internet stuff. I use affiliate links in my blogs.

I squirrel that money away for things I want.

Now, here is where you figure out what makes you most comfortable. For me, we have a rule that -- unless it is an emergency -- the money I earn doing my side hustles is for my self-care. Having someone (a partner or friend) in on this helps out a lot when you might be tempted (out of guilt or what I call poor-folks-freak-outs -- the idea of bills or emergencies) not to use your self-care money.

This part of things can be really difficult, and I encourage you to team work it out with partners/friends. Confide in someone to help you start putting together your method of getting mad money.

Once you figure out the how, I have some tools for you to manage that money so you don’t overspend by accident and so you have good firm parameters to work with.

First tip: Use a prepaid debit card for your mad money. I have a Greendot brand card and it does pretty much everything I need. Also I use it with my PayPal account for easy budgeting of my mad money.

Second tip: This is where an extra email address comes in super handy -- I suggest Gmail. Sign up for store newsletters. Regardless of what your thing is, a lot of big box stores and indie sellers do store newsletters. You want to get those discounts, sales and coupons.

In the U.S. specifically, there are times of year when things go on sale. If the things that make you feel good go on sale during specific times of year, you will want to save for those times. Also if you know you’re going to need new clothes or shoes, those huge sales can be the best opportunity to get them. My household usually makes a big Old Navy or Walmart order for staples -- like tees, underpants, jeans, that sort of thing -- during those times.

Look at us, we have plans.

Ready for getting the most bang for your buck?

Remember, this is just my method and we’re going to use make up/skin care as the example because I literally did this right before the 4th of July.

We’re going to use ULTA as an example and we’re going to work with an increment of 50$ +/-5 bucks. The reason I chose 50 (yes, I know it is a lot) is that on most of the websites I shop at, 50 clams gets you free U.S. shipping. Also, that is about what I spend quarterly on fancy things.

OK, so what I needed was some daytime moisturizer with SPF and the one I wanted was a Neutrogena one. It was not specifically on sale so, boom, I checked my sale and coupon emails.

Ulta often has buy-one-get-one-half-off sales, so I checked there. And then I went through a few other favorite brands for their sales.

This part takes time. I like to look at the time I take doing this as part of what makes it fun for me. Being that I only needed one thing, everything else was for funsies. You just have to take your time and stack those deals. This also works with drug stores, big box chain stores etc.

The keys are patience and keeping your upper limit of spending front and center. Keep in mind that if you feel overwhelmed or upset, you can always come back to it. Also, it is work-- but this is also fun once you start letting yourself relax.

If you need support, ask a friend or loved one. If you are someone who likes making plans, make them a month or two in advance.

A special word for folks who are unemployed or super broke: This part is probably extra hard on you. Take heart. If what you manage to put together is five bucks for a cup of special coffee, some pens, or a box of tea from the grocery store, you are doing it, too. Don’t let my example figures sway you.

Now, you have some tools -- and I encourage you to play around with these ideas until you find a method that works for you both financially and emotionally. It is hard -- you might have bouts of buyer’s remorse, and that is OK, too. You might not be able to use these tips right now, and that's also all right. If this part is too much for you, hang in there.

Next time, I want to talk about making a plan for self-care when things are harder than usual. And later on I will teach you the fine art of getting yourself free/cheap little shinies in the realms of makeup, bath stuff, and books.

We’re gonna talk about effective online thrifting, team work and other amazing stuff. Get ready!

Now, go forth and get your fancy on. And, as always, I encourage y’all to report back, help each other out, and generally stay awesome.