I read "The Simple Dollar," a personal finance blog, once in a while. Today the reader mailbag was filled with questions that followed this format: "I am doing X and feel happy with my choice, but my friend/relative/boyfriend's father tells me I should be doing Y." In a similar vein, a few weeks ago the author's readers tore him to shreds because they said his choice to purchase a new Prius instead of a low-mileage used car destroyed his credibility as a frugal blogger. Assuming that you have thought through your decisions, there is rarely a good reason to pay attention to the champions of Y. They probably don't have the same priorities that you do and they haven't done the research you've already done.
Just yesterday, one of my aunts complimented me on my hair. I said that I have been dyeing it for a few months now, and they asked how much it cost. They thought I was crazy I pay $100 every six weeks for a cut and a color touch-up (including tip). They of course do theirs at home. I've done that and I'd rather pay the money for someone else to do it -- dyeing my hair at home stains the shower curtain, the towels, and sometimes my pillowcase if I don't get it all rinsed out in the shower. It turns orange as it fades. The professional-quality dye lasts and makes my hair glossy and more manageable. I have gotten enough bad haircuts to avoid wanting to try a Supercuts-type place again, so I would still pay $40 for the haircut and tip. I'd have to buy the dye (probably about $20?) so I'd save a big $20 by doing it myself, assuming that the cheap store dye would last as long as the good kind. Personally, I'd rather have compliment-worthy hair and pay the extra money than have raggedy orange hair. I'm sure I'd blow it on something else (probably tissues, from crying about how ugly my hair was). My hair has always been one of my favorite things about my looks so I don't take chances on it.
I am a little concerned that the dye won't hold up as well now that I'm swimming again. The pool today was really heavily cholorinated. I washed my hair three times just to make sure I got it all out and conditioned it really well (I also spend the extra money to buy good shampoo and conditioner, by the way). Today was my longest swim so farthis year -- a total of 2250 yards, with 40 yards of nonstop crawl to simulate my half-mile swim in the triathlon. Even though I'm only swimming once a week, I think this is the part of the tri I feel most confident about. I haven't been out on a bike yet because it has been too cold here. I've been running enough that I'll probably be fine, but the run is always hard because it's the last thing, so I'm working my long runs up too just to increase my overall endurance.
I saw a man at the pool today who had an interesting solution for the lap-counting problem. He had two small plastic containers -- they looked like pudding or baby food containers. In them were some thick black rubber washers. I think he was transferring a washer from one container to the other every 50 yards (down and back). I thought this was clever, but I'd recommend that if you try this, you choose something that floats in case you drop it in the water. The lifeguards wouldn't be amused if you were using pennies or metal washers.