Diva On A Budget - Living The Good Life When Your Fortune Isn't So Great

By Kate Luther on 28 March 2009 13 comments

I am a firm believer that a little self-indulgence makes for a happier, healthier you. This is especially true for women (no offense, guys), who are at a much higher risk of 'self-sacrifice' during stressful situations than men.

How so, Kate?

I'm glad you asked.

When stress strikes, both men and women produce three hormones - cortisol, epinephrine and oxytocin. The first two are produced in relatively equal amounts between genders. These hormones raise blood pressure and blood sugar levels, triggering the 'fight or flight' response. But it's that third hormone - oxytocin - where women have cornered the market.

Oxytocin essentially negates the effects of cortisol and epinephrine by stimulating emotions and promoting a woman's need to nurture. This is why most women react to stress by reaching out to others and nurturing their social circle, a phenomenon researchers are beginning to refer to as 'tend and befriend'.

Yet, while this might seem to be a much healthier way to deal with stress, the problem is that women often place the needs of those 'others' - be it family, children or friends - above their own, a result of our equating self-esteem with our ability to care for and protect the ones we love. The result is that self-sacrificing behavior I mentioned earlier and if left unchecked, it can be very detrimental.

This is I'm guessing, how the 'super woman' mentality was born and why as ridiculous as it might be, is still very alive today. We cook, we clean, raise kids and work a full-time job. We'll handle the carpooling, the soccer practices and the PTA. Of course we want some help. But don't you dare suggest that we need help or imply we can't do it ourselves.

So, with our biology lesson now out of the way, you can see why a little self-indulgence is so important for the sanity of the female population... we need to treat ourselves once in a while, no matter how small those 'treats' might be.

But alas... money's tight and your calendar is way overbooked. What's a super woman to do?

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to treat yourself like the diva you are without breaking your budget:

Make your own spa.

For me, self indulgence often meant a $25 pedicure twice a month and if you haven't painted your toes recently, then stop reading right now and get to painting... go ahead... we'll wait until you get back. See there's absolutely no better ego booster than pretty toes - seriously. And the foot massage that came with the pedi wasn't too shabby either. Unfortunately, there's typically 10 other things that I need to spend that $25 on and so the pedicure gets put on the backburner. But there's no need to pay money to a pro to get the pampering you deserve. In addition to painting those tootsies, you can make lavish and luscious spa treatments right in your own kitchen.

You can refresh dull, tired skin for example by combining 2 tablespoons avocado with 4 teaspoons of honey and 1 egg. Mix well, apply to your face and leave on for 20 to 30 minutes.

Or for a delicious skin smorgashbord, try this moisture and anti-oxidant rich recipe:

Mix the following (a food processor is probably your best bet):

1/2 honey dew melon (no rind)
2 slices of pineapple (no rind)
12 green grapes
1 peeled banana
1 peeled kiwi

This can be applied to your face and/or your body and is great for removing dead skin, moisturizing, soothing and protecting. Its literally an all-in-one mask for your skin.

Like a good body scrub? Here's one of the best:

2 cups of ground coffee
1/2 cup sugar or sea salt
3 teaspoons of scented massage oil

Mix together and scrub onto your skin using a circular motion to help improve circulation while removing those dead skin cells. The result is silky soft skin that smells delightful.

What about your locks?

To give hair a big shine boost, try a concoction of mashed banana, 3 drops of almond oil and the juice from two lemons diluted in a liter of water. Apply to dry hair and leave for 15 minutes before shampooing out.

If your hair is dull and dry, apply a mixture of 1/4 cup olive oil with 1 egg to dry hair. Cover with a shower cap and a warm towel (in that order). Then sit back and relax for an hour or so while your hair soaks up some moisture.

For these and more good-for-you spa recipes, check out these websites:




Save Up To Splurge

There's no reason that a diva can't throw a little money around without blowing her budget and fortunately... there's an easy way to do that. Follow the age-old advice of paying yourself first by setting aside even 10 bucks a paycheck - whatever you can afford will do and it doesn't even have to be the same amount each time.

Then when you've saved up enough, you can schedule that day at the salon, buy those $80 shoes or whatever it is that strikes your fancy.

Buy Smart

My sister-in-law is a fashionista when it comes to purses. And I'm not talking just any run-of-the-mill handbag... no, no, no. She likes the quality stuff - Coach, Gucci, you get the idea. Unfortunately, she - like the rest of our beloved family - have champagne taste and a coca-cola pocket book.

Ah, but that didn't stop sis - she's found some amazing purse bargains by shopping ebay and other discount outlets that carry those classy bags but at a fraction of the price. Some good sites to try? Besides ebay, check out ModaBell.com and IndulgenceHandbags.com.

Pull out your library card.

Or, if you don't have one, there's no time like the present. How does a library card give you diva status? Well, think about it... where else can you read the newest novels and bestsellers without paying a dime? But don't stop at the fiction section... your public library has books on just about every topic you can imagine so if you want to learn a foreign language, talk intelligently to your car mechanic or question your stock broker on their choice of mutual funds for your portfolio, you'll find plenty of resources to help you do it.

And let's face it... there's nothing sexier, nothing more diva-ish than knowing your stuff.

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Guest's picture

Spare change rolling around in purses, collected in jars or sitting on the dresser. Could spare change make a difference in our quality of life during these times? I think so. Spending to save makes sense to me. Gathering up loose change and spending it wisely could make a difference long term. If you found just ten dollars in spare change and bought compact florescent bulbs your savings could be long term. Or what if you spent that ten dollars on Forever Stamps now before the price goes up in May. Could just loose change make a diffrence?

Guest's picture

"champagne taste and a coca-cola pocket book." I've never heard it put that way before! Thanks for the pedicure idea. I haven't painted my toenails all winter, and I scored some free nailpolish at an event yesterday, so an at-home pedicure is definitely on my to-do list today.

Guest's picture

What a really cool post! I love all natural scrubs and washes. These will definitely go with my collection. The Woman's World mag for the week of Mar 30 has more spa treatments in it too( so anyone who was as excited as I was might want to check it out at their local library or give in to a $2 indulgence. Also another great site for a scrub and hair rinses is The Herbwife's kitchen.

Thanks again

Myscha Theriault's picture

Good one. I especially like the pocketbook recommendations. I just spent some time on the Indulgence site. I've been wanting to explore saving up for one good bag, but I had no idea where to for the bargain prices where I wouldn't get ripped off for a fake.

Guest's picture

Ebay has some great guide articles on how to spot fake merchandise on the site. There is a detailed on on Coach bags that shows how to spot fakes and what questions to ask or look for to tell if a bag is authentic. There are also some good deals on vintage designer bags. Coach has been around forever so some of the older leather goods go pretty cheap.

I also found some designer bags at the local Savers thrift store. They keep them in the glass cases up front. They had a Prada bag for $20 and a Tommy Hilfiger one the last time I was there.

We try to save up for vacations. We use Hotwire or Priceline to get a hotel. We usually can land a 4 star hotel for what a 2 star costs. Since we don't travel much it is a nice perk.

Guest's picture

What a great post.
Knowing is half the battle when it comes to saving money & fashion.
I've been cutting down on some of my more pampering duties as of late.
I haven't treated myself to a pedicure or a manicure in ages and have never been to a spa before. I look forward to trying out your "homemade spa" idea later tonight. What a wonderful jumpstart to my Sunday.

Kate Luther's picture

I knew I wasn't the only diva out there trying to keep a positive outlook in this dreary economy. And what could be more positive that some self-love?

Guest's picture
pam munro

FYI - for on-going hints on being chic even if broke - see my frugal blog - http://www.myfrugallife.com/blog_pamphyila.html -
where I, starving Hollywood actress/musician and artiste reveal how I try to remain chic even when habitually broke...I have never paid for facials (altho I recently got one as a freebie) & I also have very good, expensive looking skin! And my DIY hair streaking/color is good enough to baffle hairstylists who wonder if it is natural...Educate yourself and do it YOURSELF.

Guest's picture

Quality living can be had on a limited budget . . .

Nice post.

Guest's picture

As a sufferer of the Super Mom Syndrome (that's what I call it) even though the at home spa thing sounds good in theory, it may be worth the $25 to go out to the salon to get your treatments. When you have that "super nurturing" stress thing going, you will allow anything and everything to interrupt your spa time. If you go to the salon. You are committed to sitting there and doing nothing while they work on your various body parts.

Guest's picture

I'm allergic to Kiwi, (the go to the emergency room type of allergy). Is it necessary to find a substitute for it in the recipe, or ok to omit it all together?

Kate Luther's picture

Oh, wow - I guess I should have thought about allergies, especially when I have so many myself! :)

Mashed raspberries contain similar organic acids to tone and cleanse. Another alternative I found was lemon and cream cheese of all things!

Of course, if your skin is really sensitive, you may want to just leave it out altogether and just go for the moisturizing benefits.

Guest's picture

There are two things that are non-negotiable in my budget: Diet Coke and magazines. Everything else is pinched and scrimped to death. I didnt really pay attention to those coke reward points until i realized i could redeem them for magazine subscriptions! For every 120-200 points you redeem, you can choose from instyle, marie claire, lucky, etc! I love it! I buy 12 packs and you get 10 points for each pack, so for every 50 or so dollars i spend on drinks, i get a free sub!