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Self-Care Splurges — for $20 or Less!

Sisters share the pampering purchases that ease mind and body while being easy on the pocketbook.

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Leave it to Black women to come up with time-saving, stress-reducing, dollar-stretching, life-enriching ways to squeeze the juice out of a Jackson. When I’m on an early-morning flight and the person in the window seat insists on opening the shade, my beloved silk eye mask is the only way I’ll get any inflight zzz’s. Arriving rested and refreshed after the dozens of business trips I make each year is so much more valuable than the $15.99 I paid for it. I’ve learned that a small spend — if it’s a smart one — can have a really big effect on well-being. And so have these ladies, who told us the savviest ways they spend $20 or less.

“On Sundays, I buy four bunches of supermarket flowers and put them in the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen. Their beauty and scent make me happier all week.” —Julie Fortune

“I got lost in the mall while carrying heavy bags. Finally, I came across a massage area and impulsively dropped $20 on a session in one of those chairs you lean forward into. Best massage of my life!” —Nadine Ramphal

“I bought a small slow-cooker that simmers delicious meals while I’m at work. I live alone, and the mini model makes just enough for two dinners and two lunches.” —Jeanette Lewis

“What makes me feel good is saving my money! So I set up an automatic transfer of $20 from my checking to my savings account every two weeks.” —Donna Comrie

“I treat myself to a piece of costume jewelry that is cute or bold, but not too feminine. I love finding a great piece on sale!” —Nichole Burke

“I go to a movie (preferably a silly, mindless comedy), buy a bucket of popcorn and enjoy the rare opportunity to be off the grid for a couple of hours.” —Gillian Isabelle

“Anything that makes my long trips more comfortable is key. To relax lower back muscles, I buy extra-large, pain-relieving patches for around $8 each at the pharmacy. I may smell faintly like medicated balm, but I feel great!” —Jennifer Johnson

“Finding a houseplant that's been on my wish list for $20 or less always makes my day.” —Carol Lloyd

“The spa and salon I visit for facials will add on a blow-dry for only $15 extra. Not having to wrestle with my long, thick hair is definitely worth it!” —Dominique Peterkin

“I draw a bath with lavender-scented Epsom salts ($5); download a 30-minute meditation from a free app; and relax in the tub with a clay mask that costs about five bucks. Money well spent.” —Vanessa James

“I feel that the universe has blessed me in so many ways, it makes me happy to help others. Every month, I donate $20 to a different Go Fund Me page. I’m always touched by people’s stories.” —Claudine Arthurs

“Buying $12 gel insoles for my work shoes has really made a difference. My feet used to kill me by the end of my shift. No more. I’ve even started going for walks with a local group after work.” —Dorcas Jones

“I love getting regular facials but can’t justify the cost. Then a girlfriend turned me on to a $7 at-home facial peel with alpha hydroxy acid. I leave the product on for 10 minutes, then rinse. My skin is as smooth, soft and bright as if I’d had a professional treatment.” —Anne-Marie Brown


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