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BLOG: Do you spend more on your hair than your pension?

Written by: Juliet Schooling Latter
Everyone likes to be pampered whether it's with a massage or a hair cut. But by shaving money off the monthly beauty budget, your pension savings can really benefit in the long-term.

My colleague recently gave me a great little tip for saving money at the local hairdresser: call on the day and book a standby appointment. I paid half my usual price and got a perfectly nice haircut to boot. It got me thinking about how much we spend on our beauty routines. And how much we could potentially shave off (pun intended) that budget.

By our calculations, you could save up to £1,400 a year – or about £115 a month – depending on your current expenses and how much you’re willing to economise, of course. That money invested instead could become quite meaningful (more on this below).

First up, though, let me take you through our informal ‘benchmark’. Obviously, everyone’s costs will vary, but for the sake of illustration, we ran a few figures based on services I know many of my female friends use. We included a hair cut every two months at £60 a pop; a full head of highlights at £120, done three times a year; a leg wax at £40 once a month; a monthly manicure at £15 and eyebrows also at £15. This came to £1,560 a year, or £130 a month.

Then I thought about the kinds of extras some of us might also buy, such as an occasional massage, a spray tan at a salon and a few basic cosmetics – priced using the more expensive brands. Adding these brought the total beauty costs to £2,280 a year, or £190 a month.

I’m willing to bet many of us put a lot less than that into our pension every pay packet.

And while very few of us will want to forgo these niceties entirely, perhaps there are some small changes we can think about making.

Again asking my colleagues around the office, we put together a list of ideas for how we might cut costs. Suggestions included the standby haircut that took the price down to £30; getting highlights done just once a year professionally and then using an off-the-shelf touch up product; ditto with eyebrows – i.e. getting the shape put in once by an expert and then keeping it up at home; asking a friend to do your nails (and doing theirs in return!); and either waxing or shaving at home.

If you then also switched to cheaper make-up brands, did your own fake tanning, and even kept the massage but made it slightly less frequent, we worked out you could end up spending closer to £74 a month for an annual budget of just over £870. Hence our savings quoted at the start of this article.

If you took the extra £115 and invested it every month for 20 years, assuming an annualised total return of 5%, you could have an extra £46,858 in retirement. Even if you only managed to save and invest half this amount, it’s certainly worth considering.

For those who are interested, some funds I like for a long-term pension holding include Rathbone Global Opportunities for access to innovative companies around the world, Investec UK Alpha for a core UK equity fund and perhaps Charlemagne Magna Emerging Markets Dividend to add a bit of zest.

Juliet Schooling Latter is research director at Chelsea Financial Services

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