Once upon a time, when I living on an Upper East Side couch for $1,000 a month and ate a steady diet of ramen, I remember thinking that by the time I turned 30 I’d have it all together. I’d be shopping for and cooking real adult meals. I’d have enough discretionary income to not worry about paying rent if I had a health crisis. But mostly, I’d make enough money to actually have a budget—and stick to it.
Seven years later, I have a Casper mattress (on an Ikea bed frame), pillows that aren’t couch cushions, and a savings account that I’m pretty good about not dipping into for the most part. I eat homemade chicken and broccoli…when my boyfriend cooks. But a budget? Eh. It’s not like I’m in debt or shop a ton. (Although, I’m a retail e-mail marketer’s dream—more on that below.) Rather, I love a plan on a whim. Mani date? I’m there. Brunch? We’re splitting a stack of pancakes for the table on top of an egg dish, round of mimosas, and, yeah, give me the latte. I don’t even want to admit how much I spent on Ubers alone the past month, because I honestly don’t even want to know.
This usually results in a hodgepodge of Venmo and credit card charges. The only thing you won’t find? Beauty products. Call it perks of the job.
A gel mani at the L.A. nail spot I’ve been dying to visit: $136
I started December out with a whirlwind trip to L.A. to visit the brilliant Shani Darden for a facial. (I told you being a beauty editor has its perks.) As a celebrity esthetician and Garnier ambassador, she’s worked on the faces on Emmy Rossum, Kelly Rowland, and so many more. After she worked her magic on my acne-prone skin using Garnier’s new charcoal peel-off mask, I had eight hours of free-time to futz around the city, so I did it the best way I knew how—booking a full day of treatments at all the L.A. hotspots I’d been dying to try, starting with Olive & June.
I’ve been following the nail salon’s Instagram for nearly half a decade. In my opinion, they just do nail art right: subtle, sophisticated, with just the right amount of kitsch. (Check out their Insta and you’ll see what I mean.) Initially I’d only signed up for the $40 Chrissy, a regular gel mani, and figured I’d get my usual moody blue or purple. But once I sat in the chair, I knew exactly what I wanted: a Betina Goldstein (my favorite nail artist at the moment; just look at these fingers!) inspired design on each of my cuticles. I ended up with a baby pink base and a delicate line of gold shimmer—plus nearly $100 extra added to the total cost. That said, it lasted a full two and a half weeks, so I’d say it was worth it.
A 60-minute massage at the swankiest L.A. massage bar: $96
Another beauty editor who’s really picky about her treatments recommended I book an appointment at The Now, and I’m so glad I did. The concept is similar to Drybar in that you’re not paying for the overhead of a bunch of different services—rather, the only thing they offer are massages. Correction: Great massages. The decor inside was very Instagrammy. You could buy palo santo and tarot cards at the shop, and when you walk back to the treatment area, each room was separated by a patterned curtain. I blissfully melted away the stress of traveling while an ocean sound-machine echoed crashing waves from above. Note to The Now: other cities are waiting. We need this.
The J.Crew sale that was too good to pass up: $251.30
I shop at approximately two places—J.Crew and Madewell—on the regular and never fail to click a sale email from either one. I’ve probably funded at least one junior copywriter’s salary at this point. This time, J.Crew was having a pre-Christmas sale and nearly everything was 50 percent off. Obviously I had to act. I came away with an extensive turtleneck haul—one striped ($17.25), one solid gray ($14.75), one emerald green ($39.75), and one ruffled ($22.50)—plus, a sweatshirt that says “Brooklyn” because I couldn’t resist ($24.75). That’s not all. I also bought a bracelet (because it was $6.49 and why not?), an $8.25 velvet hair bow (because I’m a sucker for red-carpet hair trends), and a bird-print maxi ($99) I was so excited to wear until I realized it was crazy low-cut. I still haven’t decided whether I should return it or wear it with one of my thousand turtlenecks. Knowing me, it’ll probably be neither and instead will sit in my closet until I sell it. Which brings me to…
The Ubers I took to and from selling my old clothes: $69.87
Errands are much better done with friends, mostly because I continue to put them off if I don’t have someone forcing me to do them. So this is why, season after season, I continue to spend almost how much I make in re-sales, so I can join my best friend at her local neighborhood consignment shop. I still got to take home $20 and ended up binging 90 Day Fiancé at her place the rest of the day. Not a bad Saturday.
The custom pet socks every fashion editor was getting, so I did too: $15.95
No shame: I’m one of those millennials who talks about my cat like he’s my child. In fact, most people do think he’s my kid because his name is Matthew. (I firmly believe pets are part of the family and deserve names that reflect that. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.) So when every fashion editor was getting sent these very ugly, incredibly fantastic customized socks with their dogs’ faces on them I obviously had to get a pair. Technically they were a belated Christmas gift for my boyfriend, but they were too small for him so now they’re mine. Matthew remains unimpressed.
The Gap jeans I bought because my favorite pair ripped: $90.93
Another sale email got me, but this time I had a valid reason. The cropped bootcut jeans I’ve been wearing religiously since our fashion team convinced me I could pull them off got a huge hole in the thigh. Tragic. Gap only had a pair six sizes too small left, so I pity bought two extra pairs on sale in the hopes that they’d be as cute. The jury’s still out.
A spur-of-the-moment mani and brunch date with an old co-worker: $83.71
When a former member of the Glam Fam texted me to get together (hi, Maureen!), it was a no-brainer about what we’d do: manis at the delightfully chic Tenoverten, followed by lemon ricotta pancakes and mimosas at Sarabeth’s. After my gels, I was aching to go back to my usual dark shade. I’ve been dying to try Essie’s new Booties on Broadway—the coolest winter navy—but they didn’t have it, so it was Midnight Cami instead, the perfect shade for the ball drop and back to work on the 2nd.
Lindsay Schallon is a senior beauty editor at Glamour