Of the few non-essentials I choose to spend my money on, tattoos are probably my favourite! I’m a sucker for a long-lasting purchase, and changing up my looks is honestly a great form of self-care.
I think it’s obvious that tattoos are a purchase you should really think about before diving in. Truthfully, I wish I had been a little more prepared when I got my first tattoo, which is why I wanted to share a some things to keep in mind while you’re saving up for your first!
Research tattoo shops
This is a basic, but essential first step. Simply search online for tattoo shops near you, and start there. I like to read the reviews for each potential shop I find. The more reviews that are available to read, the more credible the shop.
Of course, it also doesn’t hurt to ask some of your fellow tattoo-lovers to help you out with choosing a shop! The first time I got a tattoo I had a friend of mine who was familiar with both the process of getting tattooed and the city in which I was looking to get it done in, help me out. She came with me to the appointment and helped me check out their website too. I felt better knowing I wasn’t going into it alone. Your body is irreplaceable and you want to make sure you’re treating it well!
Keep in mind that all shops will have multiple artists! Usually you can take a look at the work of each individual artist and determine who might be the best artist for the tattoo you want. Once you’ve done this, you should reach out to them and check their upcoming appointment availability.
Ask what the shop’s minimum is
Every tattoo shop has a minimum cost. Regardless of size or intricacy, there is a baseline price that any client must pay. In my experience $80 is a pretty common minimum price. On top of this, I would recommend asking for an estimate from the shop/artist before booking your appointment!
The last time I got a tattoo, I actually visited the shop beforehand for a consultation appointment. I met with the artist, told her what I wanted, and she was able to estimate both the cost and length of time it would take. I left the shop that day with an appointment booked and tons of excitement for my new tattoo!
Where do you want your tattoo placed?
Certain body parts allow for easier fading of tattoos, as well as different pain levels. If you can afford the odd touch up in the near future, then it is likely more plausible for you to get a tattoo on a spot like your finger where they tend to fade quicker. Regardless, there are still ways to ensure your tattoo is long-lasting and protected.
Places like your rib cage, fingers, head, and feet, tend to be more painful when getting tattooed. If it is your first time getting a tattoo, you’ll want to ensure you make it through the appointment. In my experience, your arms and wrists are great starter spots for tattoos as far as pain goes!
Be specific about your design
You’ll want to go into this process with a clear idea of your design in mind. Even if it is something simple, make sure you know all the details!
You can also consider commissioning an artist to design it for you, depending on what you’re looking for. This would be an extra cost, but it is a great way to achieve the specificity and uniqueness of your tattoo.
Are there any additional costs?
The answer is yes. Not only are you paying for the tattoo, but for the time and work the artist puts into it. You’ll want to budget for an appropriate tip, among other things such as aftercare supplies and transportation. This is a purchase that’s going to last you a while and you should do it right. If getting the highest possible quality means taking a train ride downtown, keep this in mind.
Luckily, aftercare supplies are not crazy expensive. The artist may recommend products to you or the shop itself might sell specialized tattoo aftercare supplies. However, in my experience, it is not necessary to purchase anything more than something to moisturize with and something to clean with.
I recommend an unscented lotion or Vitamin E oil for moisture and an unscented, antibacterial soap for cleaning. You may not need both of these things depending on the size of your tattoo, so make sure you chat with the tattoo artist before making any decisions!
Is a tattoo worth the money?
For me, tattoos are an investment. In Bridget’s article My Body Is The Most Expensive Thing I Own, she writes about her body being a luxury. It is something she invests time and money in; it is not an expense but a necessary place she puts her money through food and fitness. For me, tattoos work similarly. Being someone who struggles with my relationship to food and disordered eating, I find it hard to use my money in a way that positively affects my body image after years of convincing myself how to do the opposite.
By decorating my body with art, words, and little pieces of who I am, I am investing in my own well-being. I am explicitly deciding to use my money in ways I know will make me feel good in the long run! This consideration is definitely a personal one, but I think it’s important. Even if your answer is simply “yes, because I want one.”
Saving up in your tattoo fund
Now, I know what you’re thinking. These things are surely important to keep in mind, but how should I actually save for this purchase?
For me, any non-essential purchases come from money made through side gigs. Babysitting is my steadiest side-gig. I like to set aside 10 or 20 dollars a week from it and keep it tucked away for fun purchases such as a tattoo. To keep yourself on track with achieving a savings goal, you can set up a High-Interest Savings Accounts.
EQ Bank currently offers a 2.30% interest on their Savings Plus Account. Plus, there is no minimum balance and unlimited transactions which is ideal. This is a great place to put your tattoo fund!
Even on a limited budget, it’s possible to save money. And if you’re saving your money you want to make the most of it.
The bottom line: tattoos are a fun purchase and that is totally justifiable!
I’m a starving student and the opportunity for these kinds of purchases don’t appear in my tight, unpredictable budget very often. If you’re like me and “fun” spending isn’t in your vocabulary, I get it. It can be hard to justify a purchase such as a tattoo. But, if you consider these 4 things diligently while saving to get inked, I promise you’ll be ready and it’ll be worth it!