What hairspray taught me about saving money

When it comes to money, the internet can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. 

Flash sales? Worst enemy. 

Product research? Best friend. 

The other day as I was purchasing a bottle of hairspray (don’t judge, I live in Texas!), I was thinking about how much money I had spent on things that I didn't end up liking. I'm not talking about big things, but rather the “small” purchases. Like, hairspray. Or shampoo. Or _____ (you fill in the blank). 

The thing is, when I walk into a drugstore, I get distracted by pretty bottles and nice labels (and, frankly, anything shiny). And I buy things with the intent of “trying them out” to see if they work. Because this bottle of shampoo is going to be the one to FINALLY make my hair look like that. Yeah, we all know how that story ends.

So, back to the hairspray purchase, as I was about to purchase the most expensive bottle of hairspray I have ever owned, I didn’t have a single doubt in my mind that this would actually save me money. Why? Because Ifelt like I already knew what I was purchasing. 

I first read about this particular brand of hairspray on a beauty blog run by a hairstylist (shout-out to Kate over at The Small Things Blog!), but I quickly dismissed the thought of buying “salon-quality” hairspray. I’m very much a drugstore-quality hairspray kind of girl. 

Bottle-after-bottle of failed hair products later, I finally decided to do a little research, only to find that people love this hairspray. (I mean, LOVE.) So fast forward a year, and here I am asking, “Where have you been all my life?!” to my amazing new hairspray. (Which has replaced a total of three products, ultimately saving me counter space AND money.) 

So why I am telling you a silly story about hairspray of all things? 

Because when you’re strapped for cash, you have to REALLY look at where your money is going. And the beauty of the internet is that, odds are, anything you are considering trying has been tried before — and likely blogged, vlogged, tweeted, or pinned. And while hairspray may be completely inconsequential to you, I’d be willing to bet there’s something that you can save money on by doing a little research first. 

In fact, while it’s not surprising that consumers spend time researching big-ticket items, new research show that consumers are increasingly researching purchases of smaller, everyday items. PricewaterhouseCoopers reports that 73 percent of U.S. consumers research information about clothes, shoes, toys and health and beauty products before buying those items in stores. 

So the next time you see someone furiously Googling in the hairspray aisle – don’t judge! They’re probably just trying to save a buck. 

Now it’s your turn! What small purchases could you save money on by doing a little research. Is this something you do already? Share your thoughts by commenting on this post!

Jessica Horton is a former copywriter and community manager at MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
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