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Stressed? Relax—and find a spa to fit your budget

Consumer Reports News: April 20, 2009 04:56 PM

A day at the spa is a great way to unwind and de-stress, but a pricey spa package can easily break your budget. When I want to unwind or erase the stress of a long week, I go for a deep-tissue massage. But a massage can run $100 to $150 a pop, and add on a facial and a manicure plus tip, and you could leave the spa having spent upwards of $500. Who can afford to relax with prices like that? If you’re desperate for a spa fix, but not up for shelling out hundreds, here are some tips to help you relax—on the cheap:

Ask about specials. Call up spas and ask about off-season deals or whether certain days or times are cheaper than others. Or if you’ve never been to the spa, ask about specials for new clients. And don’t be afraid to admit up front that you’re looking for a deal.

Search the Web. Sites like,, and post special deals., for services in New York City and Los Angeles, is another great site for finding deals. On Lifebooker, you can filter by price range, neighborhood, and even the time range for your treatment. I found a perfect deal—an hour-long Swedish massage, originally priced at $70, for only $56. And I booked the appointment online in a matter of minutes.

Try chain massage stores. The decor usually isn’t fancy, but the savings can be big. Massage Envy, for example, has more than 500 storefront locations nationwide and employs only certified therapists performing Swedish, deep-tissue, trigger-point, reflexology, and hot-stone massages. I found a location conveniently located near my home, and my first massage is only $49.

Go to school. Cosmetology and massage therapy schools can also save you a bundle. Most schools offer a student spa/salon or clinic where treatments are done under the supervision of instructors. Search the Web sites of the American Association of Cosmetology Schools or the American Massage Therapy Association.

Consider Costco. The discount warehouse sells two $50 SpaFinder gift certificates for $79.99, a 20 percent savings. Use them for treatments (including discounted ones) at any spa in the SpaFinder network.

Buy in bulk. You might be able to purchase a series of treatments—say, six for the price of five—to be used within a specified amount of time. Some spas offer a frequent-user card and the 10th visit is free.

Ginger Skinner

Get more simple steps for beating stress, and take a look at ShopSmart for more ways to save on beauty and personal care.

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