99 Days at the 99¢ Store, WEEK TEN: My Hygiene Might Be Starting to Suffer

My food used to emerge pre-prepared from cellophane and go down the hatch in one fell swoop. Now I let the dishes stack up until the last possible moment and towards the end I wind up eating cereal out of Tupperware with a coffee spoon.
Publish date:
March 1, 2013
money, dollar stores

If I were stripped of all calendars and timekeeping devices, I would still know that this challenge has been going on for an extraordinary amount of time because of recent instances where I’ll wake from a dream – nay, nightmare – in a cold sweat about buying weed before the experiment is over. My subconscious is starting to cheat.

Outside of my dreams I’m not cheating, though. My style is increasingly cramped as I run out my favored brands of various toiletries, but I’m still very much on the wagon.

This week I finally ran out of my usual shampoo, a Brazilian Blowout inspired product. Though it’s been an eternity since I’ve actually gotten my hair shellacked with keratin, for some reason I have it in my head that using the sulfate-free sealing aftercare will somehow protecting my hair from compulsive flat ironing.

Nothing displayed in the 99¢ Store shampoo aisle was rousing nearly as much confidence until I came across a seven-ounce bottle of Finesse. I still remember the “hydrating silk proteins” from the Finesse commercials of my youth, proof that TV advertising’s stronghold can span decades. That familiarity was good enough for me.

Also, being stripped of my usual facial hygiene routine since running out of face wipes has left me with a Jane Austen style yearning. I’ve been using them for so long that I don’t really remember how to wash my face the old-fashioned way (the 99¢ variety have a tendency to scrub my face raw), so I’ve just been spreading that act of hygiene out more. Which is only a venial sin because I hardly wear makeup anymore, but heinous enough that I have a cluster of zits covering my jawline.

I realize how First World this complaint is when some parts of the world would find soap to be a luxury, but it feels pretty savage. Speaking of breakouts, I’ve also been dealing with those of the dog crate variety this week.

If you’re just joining us in the series, I have boxer-pit named Georgia whom I love dearly. A rescue pup of thirteen months old, I got her on the heels of my Great Twentysomething Breakup and through loving and caring for her at a time when I couldn’t do those things for myself she pulled me back onto solid ground. At age 3, she’s now a young lady, but I still crate her whenever I leave for any significant length of time because her separation anxiety has led to her eating an electrical cord and other potentially dangerous items in the past.

It’s a big crate and for some dogs with separation anxiety, the confinement of a crate is actually soothing. Georgia has always seemed content with the situation – she walks in on her own and she’s usually sleeping when I return. That is, until earlier this week when she busted out.

I didn’t think much of it at first, but then she busted out AGAIN the next time I crated her, so I took that as a sign that perhaps she was trying to tell me something. Since she tends to chew through her anxiety, I knew that if I was going to leave her out like a big girl, I needed to be well stocked on chew toys and bones. Luckily the 99¢ Store had some good options to expand my dog treat selection. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, my kitchen is not in such a good place. Because this experiment forces me to eat at home – a rather foreign concept just a few months ago – I have dishes like never before. My food used to emerge pre-prepared from cellophane and go down the hatch in one fell swoop. Now I let the dishes stack up until the last possible moment and towards the end I wind up eating cereal out of Tupperware with a coffee spoon.

Also, I will occasionally select lesser dirty items for just a quick rinse before use. I figure it keeps my immune system running strong, but I’m not exactly sure if that science checks out.

All in all, I did well on my spending this week: $54.53 went to the 99¢ Store – mostly for food, with dog-related items coming in at a distant second. My only non-99¢ discretionary purchases were a full tank of gas and quarters for machine laundry. This marks the first time in the experiment that I had to pay to launder my clothes.

Usually I’ve been able to work it into visits to my boyfriend’s place (or at my parents’ house over Christmas), but this week our schedules weren’t conducive to hangs long enough to wash and dry all my dirties, so I had to buck up and get some quarters.

At 71 days in, it’s just one short month before purchases are unencumbered by such agonizing rumination. Until then, I’ll have to strategically blueprint my means of distraction to ensure that weed buying and other extraneous spending are relegated to REM sleep.

There’s no time to start like the present, so my girlfriends and I scrambled to put together a 99¢ Store menu for dinner tonight and we’re going to have a blast (damn it!) cooking it up. Which, along with a brilliant reader suggestion, has inspired next week’s theme: The Best Recipes of the 99¢ Store.

It’s about to get très Rachael Ray up in here. Stay tuned.

Follow me every penny-pinching step of the way on Twitter @courtneykocak and Tumblr.