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Want to know a secret?
I’ve never had a professional massage. I totally get why they’re appealing, but they’re just not my jam.
Manicures, on the other hand? Heck, yeah. My tombstone will read, “How do my nails look?”
I’m not gonna lie, getting my nails done every two weeks or so costs a pretty penny (or 6,000, to be exact), but it’s the one luxury I budget for even if it means using cheap body wash or mascara.
For all other spa-type treatments, though, I’m strictly a DIY gal.
Here are some of my favorite ways to indulge myself easily right in the comfort of my own home — without spending a fortune.
14 Ways to Get Your DIY Spa Day On
1. Everything you’ve heard about coconut oil is true. Skip the expensive body lotion and deep conditioner and use this low-cost alternative instead.
Cost: An entire jar of coconut oil costs about $6 and will last for months.
2. Apply an avocado or egg mask to your hair at the beginning of your spa routine, then wrap your head in a warm towel. Let it work its magic for at least 20 minutes while you give yourself a lip scrub.
Cost: One egg will set you back 10 cents, and an avocado is between $1 and $1.50.
3. Korean sheet masks make your skin look amazing, but they can be awfully pricy. I picked up a handful at my local dollar store for a buck each and discovered they work just as well as the expensive brands. If you buy in bulk, you can save even more pennies.
Cost: Sheet masks can be found online or in dollar stores for as little as — you guessed it — $1.
4. Speaking of masks, if you use Lush cosmetics or know someone who does, hang onto those little black pots and bottles the products come in. You’ll score a free face mask when you turn in five clean empties. That’s a savings of at least $11.95!
Cost: The cost of the five products (To be fair, Lush products can be pretty pricy – but they smell so gooood.)
5. Clear up blemishes and reduce fine lines with a container of plain, generic-brand yogurt! Whether you use it alone or jazz it up with extras like a dash of honey or oatmeal, your pores will thank you.
Cost: A small container of plain yogurt can cost anywhere from 60 cents to $1.
6. After rinsing off the mask, I like to give myself a five-minute face massage. It’s surprisingly relaxing. Cost: Totally free!
7. If you’ve got a few dollars a month to spare, sign up for a Sephora Play! subscription. You’ll get a box delivered right to your door filled with deluxe product samples and a bonus fragrance.
Cost: $10 per month
8. This homemade eucalyptus sugar scrub is both energizing and effective. You can make a batch to slough off dry, dead skin, leaving behind a tingly clean that smells luxurious.
Cost: Less than $1 worth of sugar, coconut oil and salt, plus around $10 for eucalyptus essential oil.
9. For a change of pace, I like to mix things up and exfoliate my skin with this three-ingredient coffee body scrub that you can make with the (free!) used coffee grounds left over from your morning brew. It reportedly also reduces the appearance of cellulite. (Don’t tell me if that’s just an old wives’ tale — I don’t want to know.)
Cost: Free, if you’re a coffee drinker.
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10. Sometimes my skin just isn’t up for a harsh scrub down. That’s when I whip together this gentle scrub that rinses off easily with warm water. (I’ve tried it without wheat germ, and it still works great.)
Cost: About $7 for the oat bran, $7 for the essential oil and $5 for the almond oil – and you can use all of these for other purposes too.
11. If you plan to shave during your spa time, try dry brushing first to prevent ingrown hairs and razor-burn bumps.
Cost: A good dry brush costs around $10.
12. If I’m going to sport beautiful nails, the rest of my hand better keep up appearances, too. This lemon-sugar hand scrub is so easy to make and smells amazing. After you rinse it off, slather on some hand lotion and take a minute to admire your, er, handiwork.
Cost: A lemon costs about 50 cents, and you probably already have sugar and oil in your pantry.
13. Do you know why every spa scene in a movie or on TV depicts someone with cucumber slices on their eyes? Because they work! You can use the leftovers for cucumber-infused water to really amp up that luxe “I’m in a spa” feeling.
Cost: About $1 for a cucumber.
14. Treat your feet to a nice soak with whatever gentle bath wash you have on hand. Follow it up with a homemade foot scrub. Simply stir one part coconut oil into two parts sugar and scent with a few drops of essential oil. A dash of lemon juice adds extra oomph. To kick (ha!) things up a notch, slather on some lotion and cover your tootsies with thick socks while the moisturizer works its magic.
Cost: Peppermint essential oil costs about $9, or you can just use the eucalyptus oil you bought earlier. The rest of the ingredients are likely in your pantry.
10 Easy Ways to Spa-ify Your Surroundings
While planning your day of indulgence, don’t forget to design your own relaxation grotto. Give your bathroom a deep clean and then:
1. Splurge on a soft, thick towel.
2. Pick up some pretty containers from the dollar store to hold all the scrubs and potions you make.
3. Scour thrift shops for a fluffy bathrobe to wear while relaxing.
4. Get some inexpensive candles to create ambience during bath time — or make your own.
5. Set a plant or vase of flowers in the bathroom, because greenery makes everything better.
6. Cover your bathroom window with frosted contact paper to diffuse bright sunlight that might harsh your mellow.
7. Put a few sprigs of eucalyptus on the corner of the bathtub to create a clean, refreshing scent when you run the hot water.
8. Buy a bathtub overflow drain cover so you can fill the tub extra deep and soak all the way up to your chin.
9. Queue up this chill Spotify playlist.
10. Use the cucumber you bought for your eyes to make some cucumber-infused water to sip as you spa.
Want even more DIY spa ideas? Check out how to make your own sea salt spray, body lotion and more.
Disclosure: We don’t hesitate to pick pennies off the sidewalk when we spot them. But the affiliate links in this post help our earnings grow even quicker. Plus, it’s a lot cleaner than sidewalk money.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
When you’re trying to decide between a Roth IRA vs. 401(k), the personal finance gods often have an easy answer for you: Do both, they decree.
Well, that’s easy if you’re swimming in so much cash that you can go on a retirement savings binge — yet don’t earn enough to disqualify you from contributing to a Roth IRA.
In 2019, someone under age 50 would need to contribute $25,000 to reach the limits for both retirement accounts. Mere chump change, right?
We get it: Most of us don’t have the resources to max out both a Roth IRA and a 401(k).
So when you decide how to allocate your retirement dollars, you have to make tough choices.
What Is a Roth IRA?
A Roth IRA is a type of individual retirement account. That means you, Dear Reader, as an individual, open the account — whether it’s a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA — and decide how to allocate your investments.
What makes a Roth IRA unique compared with traditional IRAs and most 401(k)s is that you fund it with money you’ve already paid taxes on. That means that when you withdraw it, typically once you’ve reached age 59 ½ and have had the account for at least five years, the money is yours tax-free.
Another sweet feature of Roth IRAs: While you generally have to wait to access your earnings, your contributions are yours to take at any time. While we’d never recommend taking money out of a retirement account unless absolutely necessary — and no, a dream wedding or vacation doesn’t count — your Roth IRA contributions can be a source you tap in an emergency.
What Is a 401(k)?
A 401(k) is a retirement account that’s sponsored by an employer. You can’t open a 401(k) on your own.
Unlike a Roth IRA, a traditional 401(k) is tax-deferred. That means you invest part of your paycheck before you’ve paid taxes on it and then pay taxes when you withdraw money in retirement.
A growing number of companies are now offering a Roth 401(k) option, which shares most of the same rules as a traditional 401(k) but is funded like a Roth IRA, with money that’s already been taxed.
What makes a 401(k) — either kind — especially attractive is that many employers will match your contributions — in whole or in part — up to a certain percentage of your earnings.
Whatever the amount, it’s basically free money to pad your retirement savings.
Roth IRA vs. 401(k): The Ultimate Showdown
At this point, the Roth IRA vs. 401(k) question is probably sounding complicated, because they both have some pretty sweet features. Now let’s see how they compare across six categories.
1. Who’s Eligible?
While anyone can open a regular old investment account, not everyone can open a Roth IRA or 401(k). Here are the requirements.
You don’t need a traditional job to contribute to any type of IRA, but you do need taxable income. A salary, wages, tips, bonuses, and freelance and self-employment income all count. If you’re married but don’t work, your spouse can also set up a spousal Roth IRA for you.
While you can fund a traditional IRA no matter how much you earn, a Roth IRA has income limits. (We’ll get to the contribution limits next.)
For single people, or if you’re head of household or married filing separately:
If your income is under $122,000, you can contribute the maximum amount.
If your income is between $122,000 and $136,999, you can contribute an amount that becomes gradually less the higher your income.
If your income is $137,000 or higher, you’re not eligible.
If you’re married filing jointly:
If your combined income is under $193,000, you can contribute the maximum amount.
If your combined income is between $193,000 and $202,999, you can contribute an amount that becomes gradually less the higher your income.
If your income is $203,000 or higher, you’re not eligible.
To contribute to a 401(k), you have to work for an employer that offers a 401(k). However, your employer can exclude you from participating in its 401(k) for certain reasons, such as if you’re under 21 or have worked for the company for less than a year.
Unlike a Roth IRA, a 401(k) has no income limits.
2. How Much Can You Contribute?
Both a Roth IRA and a 401(k) have limits on how much you can contribute — but the limits are much higher for a 401(k).
The maximum contribution for 2019 is $6,000 if you’re under age 50, or $7,000 if you’re 50 or older. The limits are the same for traditional IRAs. Note that if you have both a Roth and traditional IRA, your total contributions to both accounts can’t be higher than $6,000, or $7,000 if you’re over 50.
You can contribute up to $19,000 to your 401(k) if you’re under 50, or $25,000 if you’re 50 or older.
Your employer can contribute up to $37,000 or 100% of your salary, whichever is less. But hold up, money bags: The most common employer match is 50% of your contributions up to 6% of your salary.
Your employer may also make you wait to access the money it’s putting in your account, which is known as vesting. The money you contribute will always be yours, but if you leave your job before the vesting period is up, you may not be able to take the money your employer matched with you.
3. How Do the Tax Breaks Compare?
Taxes are a major factor when you’re considering a Roth IRA vs. 401(k). Here are some key differences in how the accounts are taxed.
If you were hoping to beef up your tax refund, a Roth IRA will leave you disappointed. But remember: Once you withdraw that money at age 59 ½, as long as you’ve had the account for at least five years, it’s all yours tax-free.
Suppose you earn $50,000 and contribute $5,000 to a traditional 401(k). Your taxable income for the year is now $45,000. Because you get the tax break upfront with most 401(k)s, you’ll pay taxes when you withdraw your money.
Because you fund a Roth 401(k) with after-tax dollars, it won’t change your taxable income, but you can withdraw your money tax-free when you retire.
If you expect to pay taxes in a higher bracket once you reach age 59 ½ or if you think tax rates in general will increase, maxing out your Roth IRA is smart because you lock in a lower tax rate.
4. How Do You Invest?
A Roth IRA will give you more flexibility to choose your own investments, but a 401(k) gets points for convenience.
You can open a Roth IRA through a brokerage firm or a robo-advising service. You could set it up in person if you opt for a brokerage with a brick-and-mortar location or by applying online.
You can invest your Roth IRA money however you want — in mutual funds, individual stocks, bonds and annuities.
If you prefer to choose your own investments, you’ll want to open a brokerage account. Consult with a financial adviser if you aren’t sure what investments to choose. If you prefer a set-it-and-forget-it approach, you’ll probably prefer a robo-adviser, which uses super-smart software, instead of humans, to manage your investments.
You can set up automatic transfers from your bank to make investing more convenient.
If your employer offers a 401(k), you may have to sign up for it or you may be automatically enrolled. Most companies let you enroll when you’re hired, though some smaller companies will make you wait as much as a year.
Once you’ve signed up, you’ll have to decide how much to invest and what you want to invest in. Your investment options will be limited compared with your options for a Roth IRA, but you can usually choose from several categories of mutual funds.
You can change the amount you’re contributing and your investment allocations at any time.
Find lower-cost mutual fund options by checking the fee disclosure statement, which your 401(k) plan is required to send you every year.
5. When Can You Withdraw Your Money?
Your retirement accounts aren’t supposed to be a source of quick cash, so the rules around withdrawing money can get complicated.
In general, the [...]