This is a guest post from my BFF Jana at Daily Money Shot. DMS is a personal finance blog discussing money, family, relationships, pop culture, and everything in-between. Go visit Jana’s site and show her some love! You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.
I remember the first time I tried to apply makeup myself. I was about 10 years old. I remember standing in my room (or the bathroom. That part is a bit fuzzy), layering on eye shadow and blush and bright red lipstick. I thought I looked spectacular when I was finished. However, my family? Did not agree with me. Because the end result actually had me looking more like the Joker than anything remotely resembling a preteen girl trying to put on makeup. My father was horrified, my mother was embarrassed, and I’m pretty sure my sister just laughed. I burst into tears and ran back to my room.
Clearly, I was not the cosmetic savant I thought I was.
Over the years, I’ve gotten significantly better at applying makeup. I’m nowhere near expert level but I do well enough to get by. I can pick out colors that look good together, I can apply it without ending up looking like a drag queen or like I’m getting ready to troll the streets, and I’ve even taught my little sister (not the one who laughed; she can fend for herself) how to apply it! It’s pretty amazing how far I’ve come since that fateful day 25 years ago.
But I didn’t get to this point without lots and lots of practice. Or without learning a few things. And once I really starting thinking about it, I realized that there was just as much to learning how to properly apply makeup as there is to learning how to manage your money. Like:
- Knowing what works for you. Many a makeup expert has told me that anyone can wear any color as long as you know how to apply it properly (and mix it with complementary colors). I don’t disagree with them. But you will never see me wearing bright yellow eye shadow. Why? Because it doesn’t work for me. Even if I blended it perfectly, yellow just isn’t my color. From trying and experimenting with assorted brands and color combinations, I now know what works for me and what looks good. So that’s what I use.
- Money application: Money works the same way. You need to know what works for you. Is it using credit cards for everything? The envelope system? Automatic payments? Through trial and error, you’ll learn what the best method is for you when it comes to managing your money. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. You need to know what works for you and run with that. Knowing what works for you is the best way to insure that your finances will look their best.
- Having the right tools. Those little brushes and applicators that come with your palettes? They’re great to start with. But in my experience, having better brushes and applicators not only makes the cosmetics easier to apply, but they last longer both on my face and in the container. I’ve also been told that having the proper tools extends the life of the makeup. And you know what? It’s totally true. It doesn’t matter if I’m using a drugstore brand or MAC; having quality brushes makes a huge difference. The best part? You don’t need 75 different brushes. Five of the right kind is just as effective.
- Money application: Having the proper tools for your money makes all the difference when it comes to taking good care of your finances. There are really only a few tools you need to manage your money: a budget, a bill paying system, debit/credit card and/or cash, a list of all your important documents (and one central place where they’re all housed), and an emergency fund. That’s it. You can have more if you want but these basic tools are enough to keep your finances in check.
- Asking the experts. When I first started wearing makeup, I had no idea what I was doing. My mom is not a huge cosmetics person so she never really taught me what to do. I had to learn on my own. And to learn, I had to ask people who knew what they were doing. When I would go to a makeup counter or store, I would sit down with the people who work there and ask them to show me what to do. I would have them go over with me exactly how to apply the colors and the really good ones wrote cheat sheets for me to take home (I have the memory of a goldfish and forget as soon as I left the store). However, had I not taken the initiative to learn, I’d still walk around looking worse than a clown. I took what I learned home, practiced it and now when I put on my makeup, I look pretty damn awesome.
- Money application. I don’t necessarily believe that an expert has to be a big name personal finance person. All the big name experts have great ideas and gimmicks but in my opinion, they’re not the end all and be all of personal finance. Bloggers, friends, and family members can all provide that same information (and quite frankly, sometimes provide better information and education), as long as you’re willing to ask and to accept the information that you’re given. Once you have that information, take it with you and apply it to your situation. But you have to ask. No one is just going to teach it to you.
I’m sure there are more ways to draw parallels between the two but instead, I’ll just sum it up with this: whether it’s makeup or money, without practice, attention, and learning the right techniques, you’ll just be a mess.
But now that I think about it, there’s probably a reality show in there somewhere…