One-Year Purchase Review: June 2015

It's time for my one-year purchase review for the items I purchased from my personal spending money budget in June 2015.

Minimalist Wallet - $11.79
On a minimalism kick, I got a "minimalist wallet" on Etsy--essentially a glorified rubber band to wrap around my cards and bills. It snapped after a few months, which was kind of a relief, since I missed using a regular wallet.

Worth it? No.

Coin purse - $5.31
Now that I was using the minimalist wallet, I didn't have anyplace for my coins, so I got a little zipper coin purse. I'm not sure what happened to this, but my current wallet has a little place for coins, so I don't need it anymore.

Worth it? No. I kind of feel like I should have known the "minimalist wallet" was a failure when I was getting a second thing to use with it. Two things are less minimalist than one thing.

Goodwill stuff - $9.98
I didn't write down what I got at Goodwill at this time.

Worth it? Even without knowing what I got, I'll say yes. I never really regret Goodwill purchases. Even if I "churn" them back to Goodwill in a month or two, the prices are so cheap that it's worth it for the entertainment factor. And sometimes I find gems!

Kindle Books (6) - $21.26
Four of these were Baby-sitters Club books. One was a friend's book. One was a Nero Wolfe mystery to read on the bus.

Worth it? Yes. I regret none of these.

Navy wool slacks - $58.47
These were a good idea and I wore them for about six months, but the fit was a little too frumpy and "mom"-ish, and I ended up replacing them with a more flattering slim-fit pair of slacks a few months back.

Worth it? I guess I'd say this was about half worth it.

Harry's razor and replacement cartridge starter set - $10
This is a mail-order razor service. I didn't really need a new razor, since my Gilette Mach 3 was working okay, and I guess it was mostly marketing that got me to switch over. Still, the price was low and I am still working my way through the starter set of cartridges a year later. I put myself on the longest-lag plan, three months between orders, but I had to cancel the second order because I'm using the razors so slowly.

Worth it? Since I'm still using this and happy with it, I'll say yes!

Travel toiletry bag - $70.51
This is an odd one because I knew at the time that $70 is a ridiculous amount to pay for a travel toiletry bag, especially since the one it was replacing I'd gotten for free from Sephora. But that one had always bugged me, which was why I was replacing it--it was ugly, plasticky and slimy-feeling, and not quite big enough to hold my toothbrush. Surfing Etsy for toiletry bags and dopp kits, I just fell in love with this expertly hand-made hemp bag dyed in a bright, happy shade of purple with a matching zipper. As many toiletry bags as I looked at, I just kept coming back to this one.

I have to say, a year later, this little bag has not let me down. It's been with me on several trips--none, admittedly, that major, but still--and it's just as bright-purple and new-looking as the day I bought it. It's deceptively roomy, and holds everything I need without being too bulky. It has a little handle which makes it convenient to carry to the bathroom and back. It's tough yet pretty, and it makes me happy every time I see it. It's everything I never knew I wanted in a toiletry bag.

Worth it? I have to say yes! It's just a pleasure to handle something which is well-made and perfect for its job, and I think that makes it worth the money, even though it's about seven times more than I ever thought I'd spend on a toiletry bag.

Garment District stuff - $33
I bought a jean jacket, an 80s-ish pink blazer, and a straw fedora at this secondhand store. Neither the jacket nor the blazer ended up making its way into my permanent wardrobe--I think I churned them over to Goodwill pretty quickly. I still have the hat, which looks pretty good on me and is a pretty good summer sun hat, although I don't wear it often now that I have a good pair of sunglasses.

Worth it? I'll say $9 of it was worth it (for the hat).

Backpack - $58.44
This was the culmination of an epic monthlong quest for the perfect backpack, of which I've omitted the other contenders because I returned them immediately. I had a perfectly good backpack, but since it didn't fit with my "color revolution" colors and it was a men's, I figured I could do better with a women's fit, a roomier bag, and an on-palette color. I ended up being sorely disappointed with the new bags I tried because the company had redesigned their straps and I no longer found them comfortable. I ended up snagging the women's version of the exact same bag I already had from last year's model.

Worth it? I'm not sure I'd say I needed to replace my old bag, but I do love the new bag and use it all the time, so I'll say it was worth it.

Heron towel - $8.95
While I was on vacation in Maine, I bought a hand towel with a great blue heron on it.

Worth it? Yes. I wasn't sure this would be a good purchase since I didn't, strictly, have a need it at the time, I just loved it. But it later proved itself a surprisingly good purchase! Everyone needs small towels from time to time, and I always reach for this one first.

Vacation T-shirt - $21
I got a T-shirt for a store I loved while I was on vacation. I didn't really need it, and I actually didn't even look that good in it, but my wife wears it now and it looks better on her.

Worth it? I guess I'll go with a no on this one, from the perspective of "was it worth it to me."

Hemp purse - $60
This is another item now owned by my wife! I used this purse for pretty much exactly one year. As you know, I just did a new "purse quest" this month and replaced it with one that's a little dressier and roomier and fits better with my current lifestyle. I kind of feel like I got this because I liked the style and the material, not because it was actually the "right" purse for me in terms of utility. I do still like it, though, so I'm happy that my wife can now get some use out of it.

Worth it? I often judge things on the metric of whether I still have/use them a year later, but the answer to this is only just barely no. So I'll say it was half worth it.

Total personal spend: $368.71
Total worth it: $268.38 (72%, not bad)
Total not worth it: $100.33 (28%)

Lessons Summary
  • If you need an additional item because your minimal item is too minimal, you're doing minimalism wrong.
  • Fit is the most important element of slacks.
  • Even if the price on a particular item seems outrageous for what it is, if you love it and the craftsmanship is excellent and it's a joy to handle and you can afford it, maybe it is worth it!
  • Similarly, if you fall in love with a particular utilitarian item, that is sometimes a good reason to get it, even if you are not sure you need it. You will always find a use for something utilitarian, and it's so hard to find ones you love.  
  • With that said, when shopping for an item for a particular purpose--such as a purse which needs to carry specific things--it's best to bear in mind the actual requirements of your life, in addition to style and general feeling of sparking-joy. A joy-sparking item that doesn't actually meet your needs is a recipe for a temporary solution.


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