Is Financial Freedom A Mani-Pedi Away?

(This post was first published in July 2015, and updated May 2017 to reflect new information)

It’s mani-pedi season again! 

The average cost of a Mani-Pedi is $50, and the average frequency is twice a month. That is $100 a month on Mani-Pedis. Within a one mile radius of where I got my pedicure, there were four other nail shops. It is definitely a booming business!

What if you skipped one Mani-Pedi a month?

What difference would $50 a month make if you skipped one Mani-Pedi a month? Would it have any financial impact? To answer my own question, I quickly researched what someone could do with $50 a month, and came up with two viable options.

  • Option A: Save it in a high yield savings account like Capital One 360, with an annual interest rate of 0.75%
  • Option B: Invest in a low fee ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) that tracks the S&P 500, with an estimated long-term average return of 8%

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Option A

After 25 years of religiously skipping one Mani-Pedi a month and sticking $50 monthly into a high yield savings account at 0.75% annual interest, you could end up with $16,498! 

 Option B

After 25 years of religiously skipping one Mani-Pedi a month and investing $50 monthly in a low fee S&P 500 ETF with estimated annual return of 8%, you could end up with $45,742! 

 Wow!

$0 (do nothing) OR $16,498 (high yield savings account) OR $45,742 (S&P 500 ETF). Seems like a no-brainer, but let us take a closer look.

For $0, you risk nothing and gain nothing. For $16,498, you risk chipped nails and you sock away $50 monthly into a high yield savings account. Finally, for $45,742, you risk chipped nails AND face stock market risk that you can mitigate by investing for the long-term and diversifying.

 Can ANYONE really do this?!

As the information slowly sinks in, I’m hoping you have a ton of questions. Questions like “Is it even possible to invest $50 a month in a low fee ETF?” “Aren’t there account minimums?” “Don’t brokerage firms charge to invest your money?”

All great questions! I love ShareBuilder (now Capital One Investing) because they have no minimums and make it easy for new investors (or investors with small amounts) to invest via their ShareBuilder Investment Plans. You choose the investment (an S&P 500 ETF), the amount ($50), and frequency (monthly). They offer more than 7,000 investments to select from and each investment you select has a charge of $3.95 as of the time of writing this article.

Pulling it all together, if you opened a ShareBuilder Investment Plan account and started investing $50 a month in ONE investment (an ETF tracking the S&P 500), it would cost you $3.95 each month. After 25 years, your investment of $46 per month could grow to $42,083. It is a little less than $45,742, but it is still much more than $16,498!

In conclusion, skipping one Mani-Pedi a month may not get you all the way to Financial Freedom, but it would certainly help you on your financial journey.

A parting thought: besides a Mani-Pedi, what else can you skip to give yourself a financial boost?

Update: 

There are now a variety of investing apps that help you invest small amounts of money. Some examples are acorns, betterment, wealthfront, stash, and robinhood


Ramat Oyetunji
Passionate about achieving financial independence and eager to help others on their journey to financial independence.

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