I had three massages in eight days. The circumstances were unusual and will likely never be repeated. But for a while I knew how the super-rich must feel: Really relaxed.
One of the three was my first-ever hot stone massage. I’d told my daughter that there should be Cold Stone massage, i.e., being rubbed with ice cream. She suggested that eating ice cream during a massage would combine the best of two very nice worlds.
The 60-minute sessions at Dynamic Chiropractic and The Vital Energy Center cost $35 apiece thanks to the magic of social buying. The other was slightly discounted ($97 for 90 minutes) because I bought a five-session package at New Seattle Massage.
Usually I try for an appointment every four weeks or so, but sometimes go for months without being rubbed the right way. However, the two social-buy deals were due to expire in early summer and I have to leave in a few weeks for a housesitting job in Alaska. And like my mom, I believe that waste is a sin.
Maybe it doesn’t sound frugal to spend $97, or even $35, on something non-essential. But the money comes out of the “treats” section of my budget. Some people do dinners out, shopping trips, basketball games, fine wine. I do bodywork.
A cost of doing business
Back when I was really broke and working some fairly physical jobs, I used to ignore the way my body felt. As physical and emotional stress built, pain would suffuse the shoulder I’d injured in a long-ago car accident. Lower-back spasms bent me at a 45-degree angle. My jaws clenched tighter than a Main Line matron’s.
Eventually I’d deteriorate to the point where I could no longer lift my arms – never a good thing, and particularly inconvenient for someone who, among other things, had to clean an apartment building each week.
At that time I was slowly sinking into credit card debt due to an ongoing divorce. I tried to put every cent I could against the balance, which was like trying to melt a glacier with an Aim ‘n’ Flame.
But if I couldn’t lift my arms, I couldn’t keep my jobs. So I’d reluctantly scrape $35 or $40 away from debt repayment and spring for an hour of bodywork at a local massage school or any place offering a coupon. The relief was so profound that I would wonder why I didn’t do it more often.
I guess I thought that debt trumped pain.
Table for one
Now I know better. Massage is preventive medicine. It increases circulation and helps reduce anxiety and pain. Practitioners have given me tips on stretching, basic body mechanics and improving my workstation.
For me, massage is the chance to let everything go. I stop thinking. I float. It’s kind of like meditation except that while I do it, a licensed professional is working out all the ugly spots in my muscles.
Afterwards I’m simultaneously relaxed and energized. Massage reminds me that I actually live in my body. To me, that beats the hell out of shopping sprees or courtside seats. Frugality means saving where I can so I can spend where I want – specifically, on a massage table.
If you’ve never had this, I urge you to give it a try. Those lucky enough to live in areas with massage schools may find excellent deals. If not, then find yourself a reputable business that hires licensed massage therapists and watch for coupons and social-buy deals.
And please: Do not ask for a “happy ending,” even as a joke. You’ll be insulting the practitioner, who would be justified in ending the session early and leaving you to, um, your own devices. Don’t expect to borrow any emollients, either.