by Dana George | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on Nov. 13, 2019
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With some simple tips, you can turn your beauty spending into solid savings -- both you and your bank balance will be in good shape in 10 years time.
Looking good means something different to each of us. For one person, it's having a beach-ready body, while for another it's gorgeous hair. Someone else might think beauty is all about having perfect skin. One thing we all have in common is that we're inundated with images of how we're "supposed" to look. We can't flip through a magazine, drive by a billboard, or turn on our televisions without being confronted by airbrushed ideals of the perfect human specimen.
Spoiler alert: There is no perfect human specimen. It's an artificial image, designed to make us feel bad. The genius of making us feel bad about the way we look is that it spurs us to spend money to alter ourselves, to do whatever we need to do in order to fit in.
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The desire to fit in is nothing new. Since the early days of mankind, human beings have sought to be part of a group, to be accepted and protected. Our first attempt at fitting in was in the playground. It was then that we noticed the differences between ourselves and other children. For me, it was a girl named Becky whose mother dressed her in the latest fashions (including white boots!) and pulled her hair back with matching hair bows. Becky was confident and popular, and although I couldn't be her, I wanted to be like her. My no-nonsense mother was not about to waste money on non-essentials like hair bows (or white boots), so I knew I would never look like Becky. Still, I could mimic the way she talked and hope she accepted me.
That deep desire to be accepted sticks with us, which works out well for the beauty industry. Americans spent $16.5 billion on plastic surgery in 2018 alone. Whether we're having our noses reshaped, faces lifted, or liposuction, there appears to be nothing we won't do.
According to a 2017 Groupon survey, women who routinely spent money on their appearance spent an average of $3,756 per year, or $313 per month. The men who routinely invested in their appearance spent $2,928 each year, or $244 per month.
This spending included everything from skin care and makeup to gym memberships, shaving products, hair maintenance, and supplements.
We buy creams and serums, makeup that promises flawless complexions, and perfumes to make us desirable. We buy so much, in fact, that today's global beauty industry does $532 billion in business annually. The U.S. is responsible for 20% of those sales, or $106.4 billion. Projections for growth vary, but most analysts agree that global sales will exceed $800 billion by 2025.
Men's products represent a rapidly growing sector of the beauty industry, with sales expected to hit $166 billion by 2022, according to Allied Market Research.
What if you were to save $100 each month by tweaking your beauty habits and invest the money in your future instead? Adding $100 each month to an investment that earns 9% (1% less than the annual average return of the S&P 500 since 1926) would give you $19,208 in 10 years. In 20 years, you would have $64,445. All because you cut back on your beauty spending.
Cutting back is rarely fun, but here are some easy ways you might save enough to allow compound interest to work its magic:
Taking care of ourselves involves far more than spending money to fit someone else's idea of beauty. It includes taking care of our health, physically, emotionally, and financially.
Many people are missing out on guaranteed returns as their money languishes in a big bank savings account earning next to no interest. The Ascent's picks of the best online savings accounts can earn you more than 8x the national average savings account rate.
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