A few months ago, I came across an article while I was on Pinterest about this woman who retired at the age of 28.
Not only that, but she had a net worth of about 2.2 million and still growing! She explained her ways of getting to financial freedom, and one of them was living well below her means. I’m talking sleeping on a mattress, second-hand clothes, never eating out living below her means…
She started this as well as other ways to earn her financial freedom at age 18 and gave herself 10 years to do so. I immediately thought to myself, “I can do that… I can be financially free in 10 years…” And so here I am, 22 years old with a long term goal of being financially free no later than age 35. (Because 32 is a weird number.)
Going back to living below one’s means, I decided to do this in all areas of my life; including my hair care. I feel like many people already know how expensive curly hair can be because it constantly needs to be maintained so as to not tangle and break it. However, I’ve come across a few hacks in my natural hair/financial freedom journey that I’d love to share with you!
Number 1: Don’t Become a Product Junkie
This was extremely hard for me at the beginning of my journey because I had been relaxed since I was 2 years old. I had no clue how to take care of my curls, and thought I could use the same routine that I did while I had straight hair. Eh, not quite. However, if I had paid more attention to what I was learning and done more research on the type of hair that I have (4C, low porosity, coarse), I would have known how to better care for my hair from the beginning and known what ingredients to look for that would work best for me. I ended up wasting a lot of time, product, and money just through experimenting for the first year and a half.
Number 2: Make Your Own Products
Now that I know exactly what my hair needs and I’ve learned how to listen to it, buying products isn’t that much of a struggle anymore. I remember having a conversation with my mother who is helping me in my financial independence journey, and she made a pretty good point:
“Why am I spending all this money on these products for African hair and they don’t have these things in Africa and their hair is still growing?”
I understand that Africa is not a country, but she was right: there were countries in Africa where hair was thriving just fine without the things that we were producing here in the US. The reason was because they weren’t using specific products, they were using specific ingredients. I know it doesn’t sound like that much of a difference, but I’m telling you, it is. For example, I know that my hair loves coconut oil, olive oil, and shea butter. Instead of getting products that are infused with these ingredients and overshadowed by perfumes, dyes, preservatives and so on, I just get the ingredient itself. I purchase my coconut and olive oil from the grocery store and I get my shea butter from Amazon. (You can get some here.) 100% pure, organic, and I know exactly what I’m putting in my hair.
What I personally like to do is take a bit of my shea butter and whip some coconut oil and rosemary essential oil in it if I’m feeling fancy. My hair is doing just fine.
Number 3: Find What Your Hair Likes and Stick With It
Not only will your hair not be able to keep up with all the new products and junk you keep putting in it, but it gets expensive very quickly to change up what you’re putting in your hair. What I usually like to do is give something 3 tries, and if it doesn’t work, it isn’t for me. One of the most valuable things you can have for your hair is patience, and expecting a product to magically transform your hair in one use is impractical. If it’s a new leave-in, try it for a few weeks. If it’s a holding spray, give it 3 chances. If it’s a deep conditioner, try it with and without heat. Make sure you keep all your receipts! If a product isn’t working, there’s no need to keep it and there’s no need to throw your money away.
Once you find the basics in your hair care (shampoo, conditioner, leave in, deep conditioner, oil, and cream/butter), stick with it. There’s no sense spending money when you don’t need to.
Number 4: Keep Things Simple
I see a ton of posts on social media of women who show off their natural hair care collection, and some of these photos are ridiculous. I mean, I know I’m not much one to talk after my shampoo and conditioner haul after I saw how cheap it was in my new residence, but I’m not about to have 7 different types of holding cream, 5 different types of gel and 8 different types of edge control.
The way I see it, I need to be controlling my savings account before I try to control my edges…
I know there’s this whole thing about black women needing to “keep their hair did” or whatever, but I honestly don’t think it takes all that. When you really think about it, isn’t the whole purpose of returning to our natural hair to embrace the curls that God gave us? Then why try so hard to straighten it out, slick it back, and lay it down? It doesn’t make sense to me to spend tons of money on product that isn’t used very often either. I believe that if you keep your hair care simple and to the point, not only will your hair be thankful to not have to acclimate to all the constant changes, but your wallet will also be grateful that you’re not constantly giving it whiplash because you saw a “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” sign.
Number 5: Just Because It’s On Sale Doesn’t Mean You Need It Now
A lot of the things that I’m writing are also to myself, and I’ve gotten much better at this. I used to live at Sally’s Beauty Supply and would whip out my debit card any time I saw any little red tag on a product I liked, heard about, wanted to try, etc.
Y’all, don’t do it.
Before I knew it, I was spending hundreds of dollars on products I didn’t even need or use! And to make matters worse, I wasn’t very good about keeping receipts… Yeah, I know… But! Nowadays I only purchase what I need (that shampoo and conditioner haul is my last time, I gave my word) and nothing more. If I do decide to try something because I can feel my hair asking for something in particular, I make sure that I keep my receipt with me so that if I don’t like it I can still take it back for a refund.
Now, I do like to try to wait until what I want goes on sale or I have coupons for it. But my main problem was that I was constantly purchasing more of a product even when I didn’t need simply because it was on sale. Here’s the thing:
It isn’t the last sale the store will ever have,
and you don’t have to spend any money at all when you ignore the signs instead of trying to move money around your accounts.
Number 6: Opt for Protective Styles
I know that protective styling can aid in hair growth since it tucks away your ends, shields from the weather, and prevents HIHS. Besides these, I like to use protective styles to save money.
When my hair is tucked away, I have no need to use excess gel, conditioner, oils, and so on. Don’t get me wrong, you still have to take care of your hair when it’s in a protective style, but I personally see that I don’t have to use as much product when my hair is up.
Number 7: Learn How to do Your Hair Yourself
I’ve only been to a beauty salon once in my hair journey, and it was to big chop. That was it! I’ve always had this dream of staying in the shop and getting my hair done since that’s what you’re supposed to do as a black woman or whatever, but as a broke college kid who wants to be financially free no later than 35, it isn’t practical. Especially when I looked at the prices to just get some braids or something.
Needless to say, I ended up spending hours upon hours on YouTube learning how to do different hair styles myself. My mother didn’t know how to cornrow or do any of those pretty styles (she cooks instead), so I had to learn on my own. It took a lot of time, practice, and patience, but I have a few favorite styles under my belt that I can do myself thanks to the research that I did.
Number 8: Limit Your Hair Masks
I don’t know about you, but I used to do a TON of hair masks and prepoos when I first returned natural. I kept reading about all these benefits that each one does and yadda yadda yadda. But let’s be honest: you see these results from constant use which means constant manipulation which translates to breakage, frustration, and more money spent. I used to buy all the bananas, avocados, eggs, mayonnaise, honey and so on thinking that these things were going to grow my hair stronger and faster.
The only mask that helped me in my healthy hair journey was Bentonite Clay, and it quickly became a staple in my hair routine. This kind of ties into Number 4, but it really is easier to just keep things simple.
Number 9: “Cheap” Doesn’t Mean Worst, and “Expensive” Doesn’t Mean Best
My mother taught me this concept at a young age. We both tend to have more expensive tastes, but because she had a family to look after, my mom found out ways to get what she wanted for discounted prices. She always taught me that I didn’t always want the cheapest of a thing because it will break or get old very fast and I’ll have to buy a new one too soon. I throw money away replacing my cheap item over and over and over again.
On the other hand, just because something has a healthy price tag, doesn’t mean it’s the best. A lot of times, what you’re paying for is the brand name anyway. And what’s the point of paying for a name that breaks? Yeah, no. Instead, my mother taught me to buy good quality. Go for a product that isn’t going to break the bank, but isn’t going to break itself either.
In the same sense, when it comes to hair care, those really fancy name brands or salon brands aren’t what we need to keep in our bathrooms. I find that, a lot of times, a less expensive product will still give me the same or a very similar result of the pictures I was seeing on social media.
Number 10: Learn About What You’re Doing Before You Do It
My very first protective style I wanted to try on my new TWA was faux locs; mostly because I’m Jamaican American and I thought they’d look super cute on me. I watched one girl on YouTube achieve the style with Marley hair and they were gorgeous after she finished. If this woman can do it on her own hair, I can do it too, right?
I went out the next day to Sally’s Beauty Supply and purchased 2 Kanekalon jumbo braids by The Sassy Collection. I ran upstairs to my bathroom with the lighter and went to work.
I parted my hair into sections that were too big, wrapped the hair far too tightly, didn’t taper the ends of the hair, used too much hair at a time and ran out quickly, and couldn’t even burn the ends. I didn’t want to waste money, so I used rubber bands at the ends and tried to burn up the loc to make it stay. I burned all the way up the loc and into my hair…
They started to unravel in a few days, and I nearly cried at the money and time (3 days) I lost trying to get a style that I didn’t fully research. I now watch as many videos as I can about a style, product, method, etc. before even thinking about trying anything on my own head.
There were many mistakes I made in my journey (as I’m sure is the case for a lot of naturals), but a lot of them could have been avoided had I just paid more attention or researched what I was doing beforehand. This could have saved me literally hundreds of dollars that I could have either invested or put straight into savings… Does anyone else have any tips on how I can spend less while trying to keep my hair taken care of?