After a visit to a salon, I follow these steps:
• Let the paint dry. Meditate, breathe deeply or count to 1,000. The goal: Keep your mind active and your hands still. This Zen-like approach to nail polish will preserve a manicure. That's because nothing fades faster than smudged, nicked or dented nails.
• Wear a top coat: a glaze of clear polish will serve as an invisible barrier between your manicure and the world. Clear polish works like slipcovers on a sofa. It's all about preservation. So, beginning 24 hours after a salon visit, I apply clear polish every day.
• Cover up: I clean with gloves, since washing dishes, gardening and other daily activities can crack, scratch and chip our nails. For protection, wear appropriate gloves -- rubber, canvas or cotton -- while completing household chores.
A DIY manicure is also a money-saver. Groom and polish your own hands for less than 50 cents a session, compared to salon visits that typically cost between $10 to $25 per visit, plus tax and tip. Here's how I give myself a manicure:
• Pay attention. Professional manicurists have a variety of tricks for softening, filing and painting nails. Watch and learn.
• Buy the right tools. It's easier to create a salon finish if you have the right tools, including a nail clipper, a pumice stone, files and enamel. Don't forget the cotton swabs and nail polish remover. Those tools make it easier to tidy up whenever you paint outside the lines. There are also great painting kits that make it easy to apply a French manicure.
• Be patient. Painting nails is like meditating. Focus, breathe and concentrate on a small canvas of life. Don't be afraid of making mistakes; goofs can be removed or painted over.
Editor's Note: This excerpt--written by Sharon Harvey -- is from 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget, a Wise Bread book coming out Monday, May 18! It's the best of the personal finance blogosphere! In addition to the Wise Bread writers , 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget also features top finance bloggers JD Roth (Get Rich Slowly), Trent Hamm (The Simple Dollar), Leo Babauta (Zen Habits), and Sharon Harvey (The Frugal Duchess).