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Monday, May 4, 2015

Can Being Frugal Be Hazardous to Your Health?

I want to save a buck as much as anyone else these days.  And like everyone else, I leave no stone unturned when it comes to looking for spots to cut-back on.  Food and personal care products are two budget categories that I scrutinize heavily every month.  Jessica (my wife) and I happen to be somewhat at odds, albeit far less these days, on how much spending is justifiable when it comes to food and personal care items.  You see, Jessica is an Arbonnista, working for Arbonne International, a top-ten network marketing company.  Before I met Jessica, I never thought twice about going to a dollar store to buy things I needed.  I absolutely loved being able to get such steep discounts on shampoo, lotion, deodorant, shaving cream, sunblock, soda, and some foods.  I had been going cheap on food and personal care almost all of my life.



I learned to be cheap, i.e., frugal from my mother and father.  As an immigrant family, we were poor, and looking for discounts on everyday products we could not do without was essential for our financial survival.  We did the same with food, although the ingredients for Mexican food are relatively inexpensive, and my mother always cooked for us.  Fast food was not our thing.  Through college at UC Santa Barbara, I’d never miss an opportunity to help myself to my roommates’ food and their shampoo when I was in short supply, waiting for the loan to kick in.  Diet Coke was my favorite soft drink and it remained my drink of choice through my first marriage, and while I dated Jessica prior to marrying her.



Before we were even engaged, Jessica started dropping bombs on my lifestyle.  “You need to stop drinking Diet Coke.  It’s got aspartame.”  I’d take my toiletries to her place when I’d spend the weekend.  She’d give my stuff a dirty look, even though they were meant to make me look and smell clean.  I’d be like, “What’s this Arr-bone junk you got all over this bathroom?  Can a man get a little room for his things around here?”  It took Jessica two years to defeat my Diet Coke habit.  By 2011, a year into our marriage, I was soda pop free.  I didn’t like the change; primarily because it meant spending more money on orange juice.  Not just any orange juice.   No…Jessica had to have 100% real juice, not from concentrate.



After beating the Diet Coke out of me, Jessica got to work on her next project, changing my mindset on personal care products.  She started with my deodorant.  Again, to me deodorant was deodorant.  Before Jessica, I’d never once…the god-awful truth…even looked at the back of a deodorant stick.  Ingredients?  All I cared was that it stopped my perspiration and smelled good on me.  One day, Jessica, out of frustration from being ignored, you know, the usual, “yeah, yeah,” men give their wives, took the deodorant right out of my hand and turned it around.  She said, “Okay, Mr. Science Major, what does this say?”  She pointed at the word, “Aluminum.”  I smartly retorted, “It’s like 0% in concentration.”  No way she was going to take away such a dependable money saving product from me in favor of a more expensive, “Aluminum Free,” deodorant.  “Your skin is your body’s largest organ.  How long have you been exposing it to this crap?”  She pointed at the antiperspirant gel stick.  She had me there.


Jessica hates this sunblock!

If it weren’t enough, during years two and three of marriage, Jessica started attacking what I used to shampoo, block the sun, and even shave with!  For Pete’s sake, wasn’t anything of mine okay to use?  Apparently not.  The shampoo and shaving cream had parabens and phthalates, and her friend had breast cancer, and all of sudden she was possessed with keeping me cancer free even though I don’t have boobs.  It left me no choice.  I had to start doing my homework.  My science background wouldn’t permit me to take anyone’s word.
This is what I found:
There is currently no convincing evidence that Aluminum or parabens cause cancer, and in particular, breast cancer.
A small study found that in some women with breast cancer, parabens were found in the biopsied tumor.
Parabens are endocrine (hormone) disruptors that mimic estrogen and have been found in the urine of a demographically diverse sample of U.S. adults.
Adolescent and adult females had higher levels of methylparaben and propylparaben in their urine than did males of similar ages.


My take is simple.  If I were a woman, I would NOT be messing with parabens.  No way!  They used to think asbestos was perfectly safe to use and look what happened.  It’s not worth the risk.  Neither is the use of shampoos with sodium laureth sulfate, a chemical that “may” cause mutations that “could” lead to cancer.  http://www.livestrong.com/article/458074-does-sodium-laureth-sulfate-cause-cancer/
The evidence is all very suspect, I get that.  But a part of me, and perhaps it’s because I lost a dear friend to cancer (he was 35), wants to eliminate anything I could be doing to increase my odds of getting this indiscriminate disease.  I have children and for them I want to live a long life.  I also feel it is my responsibility to give them the healthiest possible upbringing I can.
I want to save money on food and personal care items, but not at the expense of my health or that of my loved ones.  So for this reason, I have joined Jessica’s health and wellness camp.  Yes, it means spending a premium on shampoo, sunblock, lotion, and deodorant, but I don’t care.  Until there is a definitive answer and the science is indisputable, I’m going to spend just a bit more in these two categories.  It’s a good thing my wife gets a discount!
What do you all think about this topic?  Is going frugal on food and personal care okay?

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