Living Without Lines

Yesterday I hit Day 120 of booze-free living. Things are beginning to gel. I’m beginning to see the not drinking as part of a bigger picture. Part of the overall goal that I have for my life now that I’m well under way in my sixth decade on this planet. (Which means I’m in my 50s, not 60s, just so there’s no confusion.)

What is my overall goal, you ask? Freedom.

Coloring BookTo be free means freedom from BigLaw. Freedom from the daily grind. Freedom from chowing down on my daily dose of cockroaches. Freedom to hike, and write, and read. Freedom to get up early and take afternoon naps. Freedom to color in my coloring book, and maybe eventually learn how to draw with my 150 colored pencils without using someone else’s lines.

This craving for freedom began in the aftermath of the death trifecta and has increased steadily since. In the past eighteen months, here’s what I’ve done to whittle down my spending and increase the value of my retirement account:

The “stopped buying stupid shit” category includes my most recent cost-cutting measure: I’ve stopped coloring my hair. That’s right ladies, I’m going gray. According to my Mint app, in 17 months I spent over $1700 at the fancypants hair salon. Having not had my hair colored or cut since December, I decided I had to do something. On Friday, after making inquiries of my frugal friends, I made an appointment at the antithesis of a fancypants salon.

The “salon” was in a sketchy part of town on the second floor of a strip center above a Mexican food-mart. The walls were plastered with peeling posters of men with “fade” haircuts. (Before Friday, I was unfamiliar with the term.) When I arrived, two gentlemen were in the process of getting their fade cuts. No women, other than the stylists, were present. I was not daunted. I asked the stylist to chop off about four inches, leaving my hair at shoulder length. She did as I asked, my back to the mirror as she blew my hair dry. When she turned the chair around, I beheld my sassy new hairdo reflected in the mirror. I must admit I was a bit relieved. The stylist charged me $25 for the shampoo, cut, and blow-dry. I also learned a couple of new Spanish words in the process. I felt $25 was highway robbery (and I was the robber), so I added a $10 tip. At a sixth of the cost of the fancypants salon (granted, color was included at fancypants), my hair looks fabulous.

Also included in the “stopped buying stupid shit” category, the (by far) biggest and stupidest item is booze. Do you realize that if you spend $300 a month on booze (not too hard to do with a few nice bottles of wine a week at home and booze with dinner out a couple of times a month) instead of investing that $300 at 7% annual ROI, in forty years (with the magic of compounding) you’ve blown $767,000?

Over three quarters of a million dollars. Literally pissed away.

Now that I’m no longer buying stupid shit and pissing money away, I’m well on track to living, and learning to color, without lines.

About UB Ella

UB Ella (f/k/a Unconfirmed Bachelorette) is a 50-something recovered lawyer who left the practice of law to embrace a full-time writing life. Never-married, child-free Ella resides in Austin, Texas and Ontario, Canada with her four bad cats.
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57 Responses to Living Without Lines

  1. Amy says:

    Congratulations on all that you have accomplished. I am working on many of the same things and it isn’t always easy.


  2. franhunne4u says:

    I had decided a long time ago, I never wanted to dye my hair. I had a great aunt and you could see her base line going white ever so often – she was all white at once, when she could not dye her hair any longer. By forgoing dyeing I will grey slowly, being able to get used to it. Another problem I see with dyeing is the difference in age between a wrinkled octogenarian face – and her jetblack hair. I do want my face to match up with my hair.
    So in my eyes you did the right thing by allowing yourself to go grey.


  3. You are one funny woman, in a good way.

    1. Putting your money into Vanguard accounts is quite smart. I did that about 30 years ago. It’s a great company, the best. Financial advisors are con men and women who rob you. Avoid them.

    2. Getting rid of cable is smart too. If you haven’t got an internet TV, buy one and subscribe to Netflix. I don’t know what it costs in the U.S., but in Mexico it’s about 7 bucks a month for everything.

    3. I am impressed that you know that being in your 50s means you’re in your sixth decade. I, alas, am in my eighth decade.

    4. White hair looks great on me, and it will look great on you too.

    5. $25 seems like a pittance for a haircut?! Sounds like a fortune to me. I pay $2.30 for a really nice haircut. And jeez, a $10 tip on a $25 hairdo? That’s (excuse me) an example of stupid shit. Stop it right now.

    6. Stop counting booze-free days. Just live booze-free. It’s a wonderful liberation leading to clear heads and fatter wallets and a superior life.

    Onward and upward!


    • In Austin, $25 is cheap for a woman’s haircut, Felipe. A $10 tip was a bit stupid, agreed. I’ll consider it a signing bonus and stick with 20% on future visits. The stylist is from San Miguel Allende, by the way.

      I’m not counting; my Quit That! app is. I’ll keep reporting the days (or months, now) as folks following along might find some inspiration in it. I know I did when I read posts of people ahead of me.

      Clear heads, fatter wallets, and a superior life. Sounds like a motto for life.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. dripdrydiva says:

    I like the mantra, stop buying stupid shit. I am a sucker for buying that kind of stuff. Clothing is my biggest weakness. I have so many clothes that I can’t even fit them in my closet! I started recently selling my dresses off that I have only worn once or twice. It’s been nice getting a little bit of money back for them. It’s been hard but I am slowly weening myself buying clothes and trying to shop my actual closet instead.


  5. examinedlife619 says:

    Happy 120 days to you!!! I can’t wait for things to gel on a more regular basis.


  6. ainsobriety says:

    I tried to sop colouring my hair, but it was not pretty.
    I’m 43 and have been greying for a long time.
    I like my stylist, so I’m willing to pay the price.
    And I have long hair….
    Some day.


    • It’s taken me to nearly 52 to stop coloring. The first time I tried in my late 40s, I didn’t go through with it. For me, things really started shifting when I hit 50. Gray doesn’t seem something to be avoided any longer. It’s like I’ve gotten back to that feeling of teenage rebellion. But no perms this time!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Helen Smith says:

    love your post – made me smile, We obviously stopped drinking at the same time…. things are gelling for me too. Great, isn’t it? Your colouring is fabulous and, as for lines….. colour in, colour out, whatever floats your boat baby – you are now making the rules!!


  8. Oh wow, you go girl! Talk about being on a roll! Love the straight talk about frugality and, well, common sense. So glad you are following through with extricating yourself from “Big Law.” Life is too precious and short to suffer on purpose!
    I used to be brunette/auburn. As the gray came in, I went blond because the regrowth was less alarming. Finally, I just left the color grow out. Now my hair is white. I, too, pay $25 for a cut. And, to be honest, I’m liking my hair just fine!
    You are on the springboard to incredible! I have and will continue to look forward to your posts!
    Keep rollin’!!


  9. Stop buying stupid shit. This needs to be MY new mantra. I have a closet full of stupid shit that still have tags on them. Things I HAD to have because I was pretty sure I’d seen Jennifer Aniston wearing something similar once in a People magazine. And then I choose the old ratty t-shirt from college every day over these ridiculous purchases. Yep, totally agree with this post.


  10. Red Wine Lips says:

    Every time I go into my nearest bookshop I’ve been noticing the colouring books for adults…I’m becoming tempted!


  11. I’m much older than you. I colored/highlighted my hair once a year or so ago – it was just too much trouble keeping it looking OK. So I’ve got grey hair. Who cares. And gone back to the classic cut for my straight hair instead of trying to be trendy. Works. If you can find someone who give a good haircut for a reasonable price, you don’t need to get it cut that often. (saves time and money)
    Sounds like you’re being really sensible. Coloring books lead people to that (giggles)
    Cheers for you!


    • I am a huge fan of classic. I held out on the hair color and highlights for years. The first time I colored my hair, I was 40. As it grows out, I’m thinking exactly that–gray hair; big deal. In fact, I think I actually prefer the natural (i.e., classic) look. There are so many more interesting ways to spend time other than sitting in a stylist’s chair. Coloring books, for one!


      • My grandmother had the most beautiful shiny silver hair – she was short and fat and looked like an elf with sparkling eyes. Mom colored her hair and it frequently looked green under certain lights and she got so mad if anyone said anything. Not a difficult choice. I vote for the silver. (There was a big thing on the news last night about popularity of adult coloring books…now if we can just get people to also return to the kindergarden rules of “take turns, share, don’t hit, and if you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all….and take naps.” May the coloring books seep their wisdom through the fingers and into brains.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. openlysober says:

    I like grey hair.
    I think your frugality is such a good idea. It sets you a bit more free doesn’t it. Thank you for your support and for keeping up with me. It makes a real difference. x x x


  13. leggypeggy says:

    Bravo! You really are going at top speed. I stopped buying stupid shit years ago—except for hair colour which costs me $9 a box. I have two boxes left and when those are gone? Who knows? I might stop that too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Peggy! You know, do-it-yourself is a frugal alternative. I wonder how much I would have saved doing it that way over the past ten years. But I am now enjoying letting my gray show. There is certain satisfaction in thumbing my nose at beauty standards.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. foguth says:

    Good job!
    I let my gray show, too. (Figure I’ve earned every strand.) And I have a ‘no maintenance’ haircut, which I love.
    Perhaps we are beginning a new trend 😉


  15. Geraldine says:

    Congrats on the sobriety milestone and going grey too. Both take a lot of guts. And yes, buying crap we don’t need or REALLY want, can really add up. 🙂


  16. Kim G says:

    Congratulations!!!! Buying stupid shit is one of America’s biggest problems. Virtually everyone I know feels that s/he has to live beyond his/her means. And it’s really a vicious, ridiculous treadmill. I also think it’s especially difficult for women, who generally face so much social pressure to have a vast wardrobe, expensive makeup, and dyed hair, all of it unnecessary. And to me, it’s a scandal that so many people of modest means spend $1,200 a year on cable. Cable!!! There’s tons of free stuff on broadcast and on YouTube, where I’ve recently discovered tons of 47 minute documentaries that I can watch for free without adverts. Personally, I’ve also rediscovered my local, public library. How great is that? They let you read books for free, and then they keep them on a shelf for you too! No clutter in your own house, and you can go back and reread them any time you want.

    I’ve also tried to become more frugal, and whenever I want something of a durable nature (tools, musical instruments, car stuff, furniture), Craiglist has become my first stop, eBay my second. There’s so much lightly-used stuff floating around in this country, all going for half price or less, it just doesn’t make sense to me to be paying a big premium for something new and virginal.

    Congratulations again. Best wishes for a more frugal, fulfilled life.

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we keep toying with the idea of dying our hair, but so far continue to go increasingly gray.


    • Thank you, Kim! It’s really neat how small changes begin to snowball. I have watched my monthly expenses decline rapidly and profoundly since I started spending (not spending!) more consciously. And once I stop working, it will be even easier to not buy clothes, makeup, etc. Which, I agree with you, is totally unnecessary. Having gotten rid of cable, I do still pay $8.65 a month for Netflix. Baby steps. Books are one of my weaknesses. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a book-buying ban, and I think it’s time I cracked down on myself. There’s a public library within walking distance of my home (about 1.5 miles each way), but it’s currently under renovation though December. I have plenty of books I haven’t read to tide me over. The book-buying ban hereby is instituted! If I want to read something not available in my library, I’ll have to walk for it.

      I like the idea of buying used stuff, when needed. Craigslist, Goodwill, etc. I have piles of stuff I could sell, once I make my way through it and do my decluttering. (Something else I’ve been pondering but haven’t done. The thought of it overwhelms me.) I need to figure out the best place to sell my gently-used items, safely. (Living along, while filled with perks, also has its challenges.)

      Thanks again for the encouragement, Kim. And remember, gray is the new black.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Great post! I am so excited to save a bunch of money.


  18. This is an amazing post! I love your boldness. Many congratulations on celebrating booze-free life. You go girl!


  19. I’m taking notes. I need to be more frugal. Like way more.


  20. Pingback: Late Bloomer | Unconfirmed Bachelorette

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