The Frugal Health Plan—Exercise


A Sunset Stroll

The frugal health plan is the one you create yourself, not the one the insurance companies sell, though that will be the topic of a future post. Today’s focus will be exercise, one of the cornerstones of a healthy life, and completely under your control 99% of the time. Even if you are bed-ridden you can likely still wiggle around, and that is better than nothing. But the vast majority of us can do much better than that. Exercise does not have to involve expensive equipment. It does take time, but not THAT much. It can take many forms.

Here are a few of the ways we can fit exercise into our daily lives:

Walking—try parking as far from where you are headed as possible. And if you are going to a big walkable city, take public transportation and walk when you get there. You will be doing yourself a favor when it comes to parking too! Or make walking in your neighborhood a daily ritual. Take a sunset walk. Bring the whole family or a friend for a stroll and a chat.

Dancing—this is great fun and great exercise. Many places have free music in the summer, and even if not, getting into a club is not expensive if you stick to water and dance your buns off. If you want to get fancy take salsa or ballroom lessons, but you can also just go and do whatever the music moves you to. I know one man who dances four nights a week and that is his whole program. A woman I know was newly divorced and miserable. She started to gain weight on the Ben and Jerry’s post breakup program, and that made her even more miserable. Then a friend DRAGGED her out dancing. She LOVED it. Soon she was out every night, lost 20 pounds, and met a new man. When you dance anything can happen.

Working Outside—gardening, raking leaves, digging in the dirt. You have to be careful to vary your movements for a full workout, but it still beats sitting by a mile.

Get in the Water—swimming is an amazing low impact full body workout. Just take a gander at the bodies of the Olympic swimmers to see what swimming can do for you. And if getting in the water isn’t for you, try paddling, sailing, or other boating adventures. Remember to put safety first and you will see a side of the outdoors you can’t see any other way. Near me is a Laguna with a huge nesting ground in the middle, accessible best by kayak. Is there something wonderful in your neck of the woods that you can only get to by boat?

Then again, if none of these ideas work for you there is always the gym. Exercise is one thing a frugalista should not mind investing in. Medical bills are much higher than even a gym membership. Not exercising is a known health risk. People who sit too much have a higher mortality rate than those who move. But there are also positive benefits to exercise besides not dying so soon. Many disorders, including depression respond well to exercise. Studies show that exercise is the best natural antidepressant. It’s good for both body and mind. So put on those sneakers and let’s rock!!


Gray and Gorgeous—Frugal and Green Hair Care for Boomers


Gray Hair is Fabulous!

Gray hair has always gotten a bad rap. Women especially are led to believe that they need to spend a good deal of time and money covering it up. I know I did, until I went out to check out a band one night at a local club and met an absolutely stunning fifty something woman with an amazing gray mane. I asked her about it and she said she stopped coloring five years ago and never looked back. This made me envious, and got me thinking. A quick trip to ask mr. google told me that gray is the new black—for hair. The great fashion capitals of the world are seeing a huge spike in women going natural. And they ROCK!!

Besides being more natural and probably healthier, going gray is certainly the frugal choice. Colored hair needs to be retouched every six weeks or so, and each visit may run up to a hundred dollars or more. The only reason for this expense is misplaced aesthetics.

I have started down the path and am thrilled with the results. If you would like to do the same follow these steps:

  • Assess they hair you have. What percentage is gray? How much is showing? Is the shade to your liking? All gray hair is not the same color. It comes in many shades of silver, pewter, and steel. If you still have plenty of your original color you will be “salt and pepper” at least for awhile. If you have very short hair it will be pretty easy to make the switch. Just go a little shorter and keep trimming often. But if you just colored and you have long hair you want to keep, you need an exit strategy.
  • Consult your hairdresser if you need an interim strategy. She might have some suggestions to ease the transition. Maybe lowlights for blending. This sort of things needs the attention of a professional.
  • Take very good care of your beautiful, frugal, natural hair. Gray hair tends to be drier and may have a different texture from your “first” hair. Without proper care it can be dull. Look for products specially formulated to keep your gray hair soft and shiny. A clarifying shampoo and deep conditioner should do the trick.
  • Re-think your hairstyle. Gray hair looks best when combined with a meticulous style. You may want to go for something shorter and edgier. If you want to keep it long get a real style, not back in a bun.

Follow these steps and you to will soon be one of the most stylish women on the block. Be authentic and go gray today! And to inspire you, a link to some truly fabulous gray haired ladies:

And another helpful link:


Frugal Beauty: How to get Gorgeous on Less Money then you Believe Possible

We humans are social creatures and part of that condition is the imposition of cultural standards of beauty. Every culture has and has had them, and it matters little whether you like it or not. These standards have an effect on both our outer life, such as who pays attention to us, who asks us out, or even whether we get hired. But they also have an effect on our inner lives, our self image, even our self worth. It may not be fair, but there it is.

Bathing Beauty

The challenge for the frugal among us is how to play the beauty game without going broke in the process. The very wealthy have always had greater access to the beauty techniques of the time. I doubt many of Cleopatra’s subjects ever were able to take the milk baths she was famous for. These days a woman could get depressed just looking at the cutting edge treatments available for everything from crow’s feet to fat ankles that we read about in glossy magazines such as New Beauty and Allure. But there is some good news here. Modern technology has made it possible to mass produce and market beauty fixes that would blow away anything available to our great beauties of yesteryear. And they are not that expensive.

The first think to consider when trying to get gorgeous is (sadly) the weight thing. It isn’t fair, I know, but it really is the first thing other people notice about us. And then there is the health issue. I don’t believe it is necessary, desirable, or even possible to diet down to a stick figure. Being OK with your real life body type is attractive too. But if you need a little help in that area, try Weight Watchers. This does cost money, but you could join for awhile and then see how you do on your own. Or join the inexpensive online program.

The next biggest deal in the beauty world is the face of course. Now we are getting into the realm of pure fun. There is a great deal of hype in this arena, and lots of opportunity to blow your hard won cash on things that don’t quite work. For the basic face cleanse and moisturize one of the lovliest women I know swears by any product that has salicylic acid, Stridex for instance, and Lubriderm lotion. Another good frugal choice is the Olay line. The cost is reasonable when compared to most alternatives. And you can find it at the supermarket.

There are also many wonderful DIY formulas for organic beauty products, made mostly with easy to find ingredients. The wonderful thing with these recipes is the control you have over what goes in them. I have just begun reading Sophie Uliano’s book Do It Gorgeously: How to Make Less Toxic, Less Expensive, and More Beautiful Products available at and I will report back with my findings after I test some of the recipes.

As for make-up, I go bare at home but feel a bit naked going out that way. Playing with make-up is a joy, but buying it is another story. Every woman should know her color type and follow it carefully when buying make-up as well as clothes. There are several good guides to color typing, the classic Color Yourself Beautiful by Carole Jackson among them. But my favorite is David Zyla’s The Color of Style The man is a genius, though his method does take work. Get some friends together and have a color party, because it is very hard to see your own coloring. Then go to the make-up counter at an upscale store and study. Ask questions. If they are offering a free makeover, take it. Buy a lipstick if you feel guilty, but take the rest of the knowledge you have gained straight down to the drugstore or Kmart, and buy the same shades there at much more reasonable prices. If you are at a loss when it comes to make-up application, go ahead and get a professional to do it. Once. Ask her to slow down and tell you exactly what she did. Take notes. Then practice, you’ll get the hang of it.

Our hair is the next piece of the puzzle. I recommend going just once to the most high-end stylist you can possibly afford. Get them to explain your face shape and color options, as well as analyze your texture and thickness. Tell them you want something easy and inexpensive to maintain. Get them to write down the name of the cut and other specifics, as well as the color formula they used. Then go back to a stylist that is more affordable with your notes. One thing I’ve learned is to not be too much of a bargain hunter when it comes to hair stylists. The chain discount shops give very uneven results. If you want to give it a try go ahead, just realize you may have to go through an uncomfortable “growing out” period. As for color, the least expensive is natural. There are many beautiful women opting for gray these days. If you feel good about this look go for it!

Finally there are the nails. It is fairly easy  to give yourself a home manicure or pedicure. You need a cuticle cream, a cuticle trimmer, and some polish or a buffer. It is good to put avocado oil on your cuticles every day, and to push them back whenever you shower. Pretty simple. But, the mani/pedi is generally the least expensive service at a salon, so if you want to splurge, this is a good place to do it.

These are the basics of looking good for less. I also recommend drawing a warm bath, adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil and soaking all your cares away. This is almost free and the relaxing effects are magical. Then sit back and have a cup of tea (or a glass of wine) with someone you love. It will make you feel years younger.

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