Spending less isn’t all that complicated. First, find expenses that are unnecessary, which isn’t difficult for most people. Next, trim or eliminate these expenditures, typically by finding cheaper alternatives or going without. As frugality has become the norm in the recession era, plenty of American consumers have scaled back spending by switching to cheaper generic store foods instead of pricier national brands, for instance, and repairing old cars rather than buying new ones. But what happens when the expenses targeted for trimming involve hairdressers, housecleaners, accountants, and other service providers with whom you’ve had business—and personal—relationships for years?
When your decision to spend less directly impacts people you know and like, then that certainly can be complicated. Yet, as painful and awkward as these moves may be, more and more Americans are cutting back by cutting ties with people they’ve done business with for eons.
During the heart of the recession circa 2009, many consumers stopped outsourcing chores such as landscaping and housekeeping. The trend continues today. A recent TIME/Money magazine survey showed an across-the-board increase in DIY activities such as home maintenance, yard work, auto repairs, and even haircutting.
Now, in a new poll conducted on behalf of USA Today, roughly one-quarter of respondents said they have dropped at least one service provider—hairdresser, accountant, fitness trainer, housekeeper, dog walker, landscaper, etc.—in order to save money.
Even though these relationships have been based on business, the breakups can be as awkward and stressful as a failed romance. For example:
New York City hairstylist Eva Scrivo says she knows women who “dodge and hide from former stylists” even ducking behind cars or sliding into stores if they see their ex-hairdresser on the street.
“They are afraid to run into them because they never explained why they left the relationship,” she says. “They feel bad because there isn’t closure.”
In small towns where everyone knows everyone, ending a relationship with a hairdresser or accountant is potentially even more awkward. But while breakups with service providers seem to be more common nowadays, it’s also easier to come up with an excuse as to why the relationship must end: Just blame the economy.