Practical Budgeting: Spring 2021 Skincare Favorites

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on

Hi guys! If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know that I recently posted some of my skincare favorites. Even though I live on a fairly structured budget, I enjoy and indulge in some high-end skincare products. I know, I know – I can hear it now….. Those products are expensive! How can you be smart with money but spend it like that? And you’re right, they can be expensive. But, what if I told you that you can indulge like this too – wisely. It’s all about how you approach it…

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Let me first start by saying this: I did not start purchasing high-end products until after all of my consumer debt was paid off. This is step number one. I don’t believe that anyone should be telling you what you HAVE to do with your money because, after all, it’s your money. But I will make ample recommendations based on what I’ve experienced and what I’ve done myself. So, I highly recommend that you take this same approach and first pay your consumer debt while focusing on things that you need – those four walls of food, shelter, utilities, and transportation. When you’re intentional and focused about where your money is going, you’ll be surprised at how fast that debt gets paid off. Once your consumer debt is paid in full, you can start getting more of those ‘wants’.

Now, don’t go spending left and right just because you can either. You have to remain intentional and focused even after your debt is paid. This will help to keep you from getting into debt again. To explain this further, let me talk a little bit about where I like to shop for skincare products. The three stores I primarily shop at are: Target, Ulta Beauty, and Sephora. For the most part, you can find drugstore products at Target and Ulta and high-end products at Ulta and Sephora. If I’m getting a drugstore product, I’ll just buy it out of my regular Spending budget. I allocate 20% of my net income for this category: groceries, clothes, shoes, toiletries, household products, gas, etc. I treat high-end products differently though. They. are. not. cheap. So, I set a separate budget specifically for these, and I do this a few different ways. The most common way is through my tax refund. I set aside a portion of my tax refund at the beginning of the year and ‘draw’ from that when I want to buy high-end products, up to a certain amount, throughout the year. Or if I want to do something else with my refund (invest it, use it as spending money on a vacation, pay extra on my utility bills or the mortgage balance, etc.), I’ll take the money out of my Spending budget and save up for my skincare products that way. Sort of a budget within a budget if you want to think of it that way.

So, how much do I spend on high-end products?

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on

I get my high-end products at Sephora for the most part. If Ulta is having a good sale or coupon, like their 20% off any item or 20% off your purchase that doesn’t exclude high-end products and the item is available there, I’ll get them there. But for the most part, Sephora’s product range is better especially if I want to try something new. So, I call my ‘high-end budget’ my ‘Sephora budget’.

Sephora has a rewards program called the Beauty Insider where, at minimum, you can get 10% off your purchase during their seasonal Very Important Beauty (VIB) or holiday bonus sales that happen throughout the year. This is a tiered rewards program based on your spending. During the sales, you can get 10%, 15%, or 20% off your purchase based on your rewards level. You also earn points for every dollar spent that can now be exchanged for money off of a future purchase as well. (Ulta also has a tiered rewards program called Ultamate Rewards. With this, you also earn points for every purchase that convert to money off a future purchase. Your rewards level will determine how many points you earn. Ulta also almost always has a coupon available that you could use on purchases for drugstore products.) I want to continue spending wisely, even with this, and to save as much as possible. So, I typically shop at Sephora only three times a year – during the VIB sales. The average I plan for is no more than $175 at each sale or no more than $525 per year.

Let me break it down and show you a practical way of saving for this.

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If I’m not planning to set aside $525 from my tax refund, I’ll set it aside throughout the year – same as how I cash flow birthday and Christmas gifts every year. To get to $525, I need to set aside $43.75 per month. Since I get paid biweekly or 26 times a year, I can take it a step further and set aside about $20.20 per paycheck. Again, this is out of my Spending budget. I am not adjusting how I pay my bills or take care of my savings, investing, or additional principal to the mortgage to do this. I am setting aside $20 from the money that I’ve already set aside for general spending.

Now, if you’ve already started looking at the prices on Sephora’s website, you know that $175 is not gonna get you a whole lot if you’re buying full-size products. But remember that the $175 is the amount after the VIB sale’s coupon code has been applied, and it is the maximum amount that I’m allowing myself to spend. There have been times that I’ve spent less, but I budget for the max. Spending more than $350 a year makes me a VIB level member (their middle tier). So, I get 15% off my purchase. Also, I’m not always buying full-size products. I’m usually buying a travel size (typically around $25) if it’s something I’ve never tried before and want to see how it works on my skin. By the time I’ve tested it for a while and ready for the full size, it’s about time for the next sale. I get one or two full size products during the sale, and I’m done. Another thing that’s important to note is that I’m primarily getting my ‘actives’ – those serums and concentrates with active ingredients to nourish, protect, hydrate, and rejuvenate my skin – during a sale, whether I’m shopping at Sephora or using a coupon at Ulta. Actives are usually the most expensive skincare items but do not need to be used every day. A lot of skincare products remain stable for 6 to even 12 months or more, so you can really stretch their use over time so that you don’t need to restock them as often. So, in other words, I use my Sephora products about once or twice a week and use my drugstore products everyday. This way, I’m able to use good quality skincare (don’t be fooled, some drugstore products are AMAZING too) without spending thousands of dollars. And you don’t have limit it to skincare! I’ve gotten great $25 gift sets and hand and foot masks from Sephora that only cost $5. I like to get even these during the VIB sale though because my 15% off is for my entire purchase. I’ll save any way I can.

OK! Now that you’ve seen how I budget for these items, let’s get into my skincare favorites!

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on




Sephora’s Spring VIB sale runs from April 9-19, 2021. So, now is a great time to become a rewards member if you aren’t already and get at least 10% off your purchase beginning April 15th.

I hope this was a good, practical example of a simple way to use the structure and discipline of a budget to get some more expensive things that you may want. There is freedom in budgeting. Having a budget doesn’t mean saying ‘no’. It means saying ‘yes’ in a way that keeps you on track to reach your short and long-term financial goals at the same time. These are just a few of the things I say ‘yes’ to in my budget. I don’t purchase them all the time, but I don’t feel bad when I do either. Plan for the things you want and remind yourself of your ‘why’ to keep yourself on track.

What are some things you’d like to give yourself permission to say ‘yes’ to? Let me know in the comments!