One Year Purchase Review: July 2015

I usually only include my own personal purchases in my one-year-later review, but this time I'm going to add household purchases as well since it was a high household-item spend month and most of that was at my instigation.


Victorinox 6" Chef's Knife - $37.50
This is still our best knife. Definitely worth it.

2 Rubber Yoga Mats - $150
My wife got one of these, then I was jealous so I had to get one too! $75 is pricey for a yoga mat if you're used to buying them for about $12, but I've always been creeped out by the random, smelly plastic foam they use to make them. So I felt good about the purchase of a natural rubber one from an anti-plastic perspective, and I also ended up really liking the dense-but-bouncy feel of natural rubber. We've gotten a ton of use out of these mats in the last year for yoga and other home exercises, and they're still going strong. WORTH IT

Chocolate Bag - $13.49
My wife and I are addicted to chocolate and we'd been keeping a rotating cast of candy bars in an increasingly battered Ziploc bag. I decided to stop buying Ziploc bags for plastic reasons, but this was our remaining holdout for a long time. Finally it fell apart and I got this cloth zipper bag printed with images of chocolates off of Etsy. We have been using it for a year now, I guess! It's still in great condition. WORTH IT

Wool Pillow - $75
Another Etsy purchase. We needed a new pillow and I was investigating eco-friendly, hypoallergenic options. This pillow turned out to be firmer than either my wife or I liked, so we ended up using it as a reading bolster instead of a regular head pillow, since, as it turns out, bedding is pretty hard to return. I like it, I just wouldn't have prioritized a bolster pillow. ULTIMATELY NOT WORTH IT BUT INFORMATIVE

Kapok Pillow - $61
This softer option is now my regular pillow. I'd call that a success. WORTH IT

Writing Desk - $424.99
I'd been saving up for this purchase for awhile as an upgrade from my Ikea table and, before that, an incredibly heavy, battered old desk from the Storeroom of Mom and Dad. The pluses of this desk are that it's simple, light in color and weight, easy to clean on and under, and has a single big tray-style drawer, which I'd really missed when I used a table as a desk (where to put my pens and stamps?) The minuses are that I'd expected it to be handmade wood because I bought it from a store that makes handmade wood furniture, but upon closer inspection I missed the part of the catalog where it explained that this particular item was outsourced from another company, which isn't quite as high quality as I expected. Still, it is a good desk. At the time I bought it, it was possibly disingenuous to call it a "household" expense, but in retrospect it totally works, because this is now my wife's desk. I don't have a desk since I prefer to work on the couch with my laptop. So this is our only desk. She still lets me keep my pens it. MAINLY WORTH IT

Winter Coat - $282.14
This nearly-three-hundo is the biggest casualty of my Color Revolution crazy. The previous year I'd gotten an expensive hemp winter coat: hemp canvas lined with hemp-based faux fur. It's super warm, snow-resistant, excellent for Boston winters, eco-friendly, attractive, and I loved it. The problem? It was red, a color I no longer wore due to the Color Revolution. The company was having an off-season, summer sale, so, even though the coat I loved was still in great shape, and even though it was mid July and I wouldn't use it for months, I went ahead and bought a new winter coat in blue. I would say that this coat is definitely worth $300 given the quality and the necessity of having a really warm coat in my climate, but the marginal benefit of having a blue instead of a red coat is not worth $300. I did end up selling my red coat for $100, but still. $182 for a college change is steep. With that said… I do love the blue color! TECHNICALLY NOT WORTH IT BUT STILL GLAD I DID IT, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN???

2 Water Bottles - $45.68
This is another purchase set that I went into knowing full well that it was kind of silly, yet I'm still glad I did it. I had a water bottle that I liked, but I had additional water bottle needs. I wanted a more leakproof bottle to carry when hiking or traveling, because the current one, with its easy straw, tended to leak when jostled. But I also wanted a second water bottle to keep at work so that I could drink throughout the day without needing to carry heavy water on my commute. I could have used the same bottle for both needs if I could have found the Perfect Bottle that was both leakproof and as easy to sip through a straw. But as I researched, it became more and more clear that those two desires were in opposition. So I ended up getting two new ones, for a total of three water bottles owned by one person (25oz stainless steel straw-based at home, 25oz glass straw-based at work, 18oz stainless steel leakproof for travel). Do you think that's excessive? I do. But I use them all. WORTH IT I GUESS

Goodwill Sweaters - $14.97
It's weird how much I shopped for winter last July. I haven't bought a single thing for winter this July. But at Goodwill, you can often find really nice stuff off-season, because there's less competition for it. Everyone's looking for sweaters in September. Most people ignore the section in July. I don't remember exactly which sweaters I got in this shop, but I'm pretty sure that they were all 100% wool, and at least one was cashmere. I definitely appreciated opening my off-season sweater box to find some brand new things last fall. WORTH IT

Lands End Cardigan - $41.25
This was actually a summer sweater--lightweight cotton. I liked it, but I mainly got it because I was so excited by a similar one that I'd gotten for $5 at Goodwill that I felt (for some reason) that I needed more than one. It was just splitting my wears. I only wore this once, but it was to the hospital, and I have kind of bad memories associated with it, so I ended up donating it and keeping the one I'd originally gotten from Goodwill. NOT WORTH IT

Total Spend: $1,146.02 ($761.98 household, $383.04 personal)
Total Worth It: $747.63 (65%)
Lessons Learned
  • If you've proved you use something a lot, a fancy-schmancy upgrade can be worth it.
  • Read the fine print in catalogs.
  • Although I know intellectually that it's not worth it to buy all new things just for a change of color, I don't emotionally know it: I'm GLAD I have the new color, GLAD.
  • Shopping off season in Goodwill (or other stores) can be a good way to score a deal.
  • Sometimes when you have multiple use cases for a particular type of item, two specifically tailored to the situation can be better than trying to find the perfect versatile one (that doesn't exist).
  • If you like something, it's enough to just like it; you don't need to get another to prove it. That's setting yourself up for splitting your wears.


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