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Stop Counting My Coins

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Mar. 12 2018, Published 1:36 a.m. ET

I came across an Instagram post the other day with the disclaimer: “Controversial post alert!” Any time I see that, I know it’s about to be some BS. So of course, I continued reading further. It went on to say the best way to save on nail care is not doing them at all.

The message stated society tells us we should keep our nails up to be more attractive. Instead of following society’s standards, we should think of true value over old habits. There were also a few passive-aggressive lines saying if you’re “the type” who would die over not getting your nails done, that’s ok too.

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Another day, another crusade from the personal finance community. For the record, I go to the nail salon monthly. I guess I’m one of those who would die if I don’t get them done. (Not really, but the assumptions humor me.) What’s the real reason behind why strangers tell each other how not to spend money?

Here are a few reasons I can think of:

Everyone Has Different Priorities

That Instagram post is another example of people trying to count your coins for you. It also shows how others advocate cutting out “unnecessary” purchases based on their personal preference. I’ve been guilty of looking at others’ spending habits and thinking they’re wasteful. The more I think about personal finance though, the more I feel there’s not enough emphasis on that key word: PERSONAL.

Why do we feel the need to speak on all the things we don’t buy to convince others they shouldn’t buy it either? I don’t go to the gym, so why would I write a whole blog post on the reasons you shouldn’t pay for a gym membership? Maybe that’s not a priority for me, but it could be for someone else. Why not let that person live? And without the semi-shady addition of comments like: “Well if you would just die without your gym membership, then it’s ok to keep it.”

Pampering Yourself is Considered “Extra”

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I’ve noticed personal care items seem to be an important expense to trim from a budget. I joined a Facebook financial group a few years ago where members would write posts boasting about how much money they saved by getting press-on nails from the beauty supply instead of going to the salon. Good for you sis, but that’s not my calling. The way my patience is set up, I can’t be bothered with fighting to keep press-on nails attached throughout the day.

The consensus seems to be that if a woman dares to splurge on something as frivolous as nails, clothes, or hair, her priorities aren’t straight. But who determines that? With all the responsibilities many women have today, including school, work, and family, why is getting a mani/pedi deemed non-essential?

They Think You’re Insecure

What really irked me about that Instagram post was the implication that getting manicures is due to deep-seated insecurity. It’s true that a lot of our spending habits have psychological undertones, but some theories are a stretch. I’m a chronic nail picker, so I don’t think my nails look attractive when they’re barely nubs. Does it make me insecure because I find an alternative in getting fun colored gel or acrylic to cover those nubs? Maybe, but who in the world doesn’t turn to an outside source to aid them in dealing with an insecurity? I’ll wait.

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Society does uphold a certain image of attractiveness. However, indulging in some beauty practices deemed acceptable by society doesn’t make you a slave. Life is rough, and we have to find small pleasures where we can. If getting a manicure is one of them, I think that’s a mild issue at best.

When It’s All Said and Done…

It sounds cliché, but the opinions of others really don’t matter. Until the day that social media personality is paying your bills, their thoughts on (non)essential purchases are nothing more than white noise. My observation on the personal finance/debt free community is that it can be quite holier-than-thou. Most people start off on the right foot by taking steps to become financially independent. But their enslavement to debt turns into enslavement to paying off debt.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be enslaved to either one. Yes paying off debt is important to me. I’m not going to max out my credit card at the nail salon. I also won’t live on bread and water so I can boast on how insanely frugal I am.

I’ll keep getting my monthly manicures, and not because it’s worth dying for. It makes me happy and that means more to me than a few extra dollars in the bank.

K. Wright was inspired to venture into blogging in 2008 after reading websites like MissJia.com and Necole Bitchie. (Both sites no longer up and running, may they rest in peace!) Fast forward to today, K. shares her thoughts on personal finance from the perspective of a millennial woman of color. Read more of what she has to say at Money The Wright Way.

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