Lesson #7: Don’t Keep Anyone in Your Life Who Makes You Feel Worthless

This is pretty clear-cut, but it needs saying: you are a good person. You may make mistakes, you may fail, but those are never reasons to let anyone feel like you are less than human. You have value in humanity — we all do. If someone doesn’t honor that fact, lose them. It’ll hurt, regardless of your relationship to them, but you’ll be better for it in the long run.

Trust me.

Lesson #5: Splurge on Quality Products If You’ll Use Them

You’re getting two lessons in one day, folks! (I missed yesterday because I pulled a double at the theatre and passed out on the couch before writing up a post.)

Lesson #4 was finding a qualified dermatologist and putting your skin in their hands. This lesson ties in very closely to that, I think: if you find a beauty product you love and know you’ll use it repeatedly indefinitely, then it’s ok to splurge a bit. Am I saying I spend $500 on an eye cream? No. (Oh hell no!) But I will spend $27 on a foundation that’s in my shade exactly and helps treat acne that I’ll use every singe day for at least six months. Or $34 on the only conditioner I’ve ever used that was moisturizing without making my head look like a greasy mop (and I knew would last me, literally, a year and a half). Or $22 on the most enduring eye liner I’ve sampled.

While these prices aren’t outrageous to some of you, my lovely readers, they would have been to me ten years ago. But my more adult logic is this: when I was in my early twenties, I would go to the local drug store and buy a handful of products for $5-$10 each. None of them would work as well as I would hope for (the lipstick would bleed, the foundation would be blotchy, the shampoo would build up after one wash, etc.), so I would go back the next month and buy similar products in the same price range and repeat the whole scenario ad nauseam, wasting so. much. cash.

When I discovered both Birchbox and Sephora, my beauty buying habits changed immensely. Getting monthly samples for only $10 from Birchbox allowed me to try so many different things without investing in a product until I knew it worked. And Sephora… Well, their sampling and return policy is to die for wonderful, so I’m never afraid to buy merchandise knowing I can bring it back, no questions asked (like the Clarisonic brush that I despised!). The fear of spending $20-$30 on one thing dissipated as soon as I knew that the price met the legitimate quality. While I spend too much money on beauty stuff (true fact), it’s all stuff that I use regularly and can rely on to work, as opposed to those products that would linger on the shelf and get tossed after six months.


Lesson #4: Love Your Dermatologist

I’ve had horrible skin since I was 13 years old: oily and acne-prone, I’ve often joked with people how I feel like I have had mini-Mount Vesuviuses on my face for almost 20 years. I’ve run the gamut of product treatments, from the over the counter creams (that are often too abrasive) to a course of Accutane (aka isotretinoin), the most diehard prescription for acne available). Some have worked really well, while others have caused more trouble than original problem.

Through this all, I’ve learned the valuable lesson of loving my dermatologist. She has a degree in knowing skin, so I trust her when I’m having problems. She’s told me what I’ve been doing wrong (like using apricot pit facial scrubsouch!), explored various options to relieve my dermal dilemmas (like taking oral antibiotics), and been supportive when I wanted to hide under a mask for months on end. Plus, my doctor always gives me coupons, vouchers, and alternatives when it comes to paying for products. Oh — and samples! She loves samples! (And so do I !)

If you’re having any type of skin ailment — rosacea, hyper-pigmentation, acne, psoriasis, eczema, or some thing that’s simply bothering you — find a qualified, caring dermatologist,  schedule an appointment and make a new best friend.

Lesson #3: Pay Down Debt

Easier said than done, no?

When I graduated college, I was roughly $20,000 in debt because of three student loans, and, with a bachelor’s degree in English and theatre arts, not a huge prospect for paying that quickly. But when I got a real job, I made it a point to put extra money toward the smaller loans as often as possible, especially Christmas or birthday cash gifts or income I earned from picking up extra shifts — anything beyond my normal budget. I paid off two loans of the three quickly, only to take on additional car debt. But with the same game plan, I paid my car off 10 months in advance. (I actually was annoyed when the loan company sent me my title early because I knew I still owed them $6!)

Get a Financial Life by Beth Kobliner helped me understand how money works, especially for loans, credit cards, and mortgages. While I’m not debt free (one last lingering student loan and a mortgage), that book taught me why it’s important to throw extra money at each principle and in what order to pay down debt. I have a better sense of credit scores and why you shouldn’t carry a balance on a card. I’m not getting paid to endorse the book, but that doesn’t hinder me for extolling and recommending it to anyone and everyone with cash questions.

I know it’s not easy to talk about money (and this is my second day doing so!), but I honestly think that being comfortable with it aids in life happiness. If you can’t discuss one of the biggest factors that dictates your existence, then how can you make educated decisions about how to live day-to-day, let alone into the future?

So study up, friends, look at your budget and throw a few extra dollars whenever you can at that credit card balance or lingering loan.