When you’re thinking about how to allocate your money, remember the 3 E’s—essentials, endgame, and extras. You should be putting the majority of your take-home pay (65%) into Essentials, 30 % into your Endgame, and five percent into Extras. Manis fall into the extras category, of course. You were probably spending around $35 a week on a manicure—give or take. Now that nail salons are closed (or frequented much less), it’s time to figure out what to do with that extra cash. Here are some ideas:
Save, Save, Save
This is the boring but safe choice. It’s wise to set aside however much you were spending on manicures per week and transfer that amount from your checking into your savings account. This can go for money you were spending on coffee as well. Yes, yes, I am the queen of “go ahead, buy your latte,” but that doesn’t make as much sense now. Spending roughly $5 each day on a cup of Starbucks is about the same amount of money spent on a manicure a week. So, by bundling such items together, you’re saving a good chunk of change. Look to an online high-yield savings account for the best interest rate and enjoy seeing the amount slowly increase.
For many of us, having a manicure is part of how we present ourselves to the world and is an element of feeling professional and put-together. So, it’s time to DIY. Put your old manicure money into buying an at-home manicure kit (you can get these at most drugstores or online) and a few colors you like. You’re no longer limited to what your salon has in stock. Make this a fun way to practice some self-care, get creative. Watch YouTube videos on how to make cool patterns. And who knows, you could be really into it and stick with the DIY mani in the long run.
One way to think about your newfound manicure money is that you now have some additional funds to invest in something you’ve been eyeing but couldn’t afford. This could be actual stock, but it could also be that computer stand for your home desk you’ve been hoping to acquire. Invest in something that’s going to hold up in the long run—not just something satisfying in the moment. Don’t blow your money on more tie dye tracksuits. Really think about what’s been on your list. It may take more than one week’s worth of manicure money to afford whatever it is you’re coveting. Put that money into a sub-savings account and don’t touch it until you’ve reached your goal (you’ll be there before you know it.)
Help a Girl Out
These are hard times and if you’re doing fine without your mani money, give it to someone in need. There are plenty of organizations donating to healthcare workers. Or you can buy coronavirus merch in the name of helping restaurant employees. Maybe they’ll be worth something someday, and if not, at least a relic of this crazy time and knowing you did something to support. If you want to give something to someone but feel weird about it, Venmo $5 to them. These gestures can go a long way and can help further friendships with work wives or other colleagues. You can also reach out to mentors, family members, friends, and neighbors.
Now that we’re conducting meetings and interviews over Zoom, our hands are less visible. Instead of making sure nails look presentable for that big client meeting, refocus your attention and money to what is front-and-center: your face. Take that mani money and repurpose it. Perhaps you live in an apartment with very little natural light. Invest in some top notch but affordable lighting, like the Razer Kiyo. If you feel like people are talking over you or are having trouble hearing you on Zoom, buy some headphones and a mic and make yourself heard. Upping your setup at home is a good investment in your career at this point.
Because you’re probably no longer going to the nail salon every week, you have some extra money in your pocket. The best feeling, right? Put it to good use. That can mean different things for different people, but make sure to return to the 3 E’s. Don’t spend all your new manicure money on Extras. Even though you considered your manicure to be an Extra before Covid, try to shift some of that cash flow to the Essential and Endgame categories. You’ll be better set up for the future that way-hands down.
A version of this article was originally published on Forbes.