Saturday, November 3, 2012

Creative Use of Spa Finder Gift Certificate

Earlier this fall I was given a generous gift certificate as a birthday gift -- $100 for Spa Finder.  The giftor hoped I would take a half-day and visit the fantastic destination spa Sundara, about 45 minutes north of Madison. Sadly, Sundara stopped accepting Spa Finder one week after I received the gift.  

In need of some TLC, I searched out local options.  While listed as taking the gift cards, the yoga studio I frequent indicate that sadly they do not take them.  All of the other day spas in the area have prices that make my frugal heart skip a beat: $70 for a 30-minute massage; $100 for a hair color treatment, that would need a touch-up every 4 to 6 six weeks with each session taking up to two hours.  My goodness!  Our nanny can give us about 18 hours a week, which is devoted to my legal practice.  As long as I am working it makes sound financial sense.  A little here and there extra is an indulgence, but to use the gift card was going to be expensive event.  Plus, it would be mean time away from my children.  Sure, I know I need that, but I am not really in a day spa phase of life.  What to do, what to do.

And then a moment of clarity struck....products!  Sure enough, the day spas sell lovely Aveda products and I could use my gift card for them.  I opted for the one up the road, located next to the most delightful French bakery.  With the kids in the double stroller we stopped at the spa first.  It is amazing how fast $100 can be spent on Aveda items, but I know have a great stash for weekly pampering at home.  Included are two bottles of a leave in conditioner that "adds" warmth (a.k.a. subtle way to cover the gray).  What a great alternative to the expensive (money and time) coloring options at a salon.

From there we headed next door and entered one of the most lovely places in all of Madison, La Baguette.  Any Francophil in Madison has probably already discovered this gem, if not, you must.  For $19.55 we purchased: a pain au chocolat; lemon tart; two pieces of quiche to go; and a cafe au lait.  The kids enjoyed a tasty snack, me another jolt of coffee (superb).  While not how most would envision of spa day, it was perfect for me.  Relaxing time with my children, sharing my love of France with them, and a bag of beauty treats to take home.  Total cost, less than $20.

The pampering did not stop there.   Dinner was focused around the quiche, along with reheated breakfast sausage from the morning and pancakes (Trader Joe's multi-grain mix to which I added fresh pumpkin).  A simple and easy way to end our day.

The moral of this post -- think outside the box if a gift card does not easily fit into your life.  What else might they sell that you could enjoy.  One day I will have more free time and an afternoon at the spa will be tempting.  I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to pay $50, free or not, to have my nails done.  Possibly, but so hard to wrap my frugal head around.


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