One Year Purchase Review: November 2015

November 2015, a simpler time. I was about 2 months into my current job, and still gathering work clothes for winter. Little did I know, the winter ahead would be extremely mild, especially compared to the last one I'd experienced. Here's what I bought.

Misc winter gear - $98

This consisted of wool underwear, mittens, and glove liners.

Worth it? I'm going to go with overall "not worth it" on all of these. For the underwear, the amount of extra warmth and/or whatever other benefit you're supposed to get from wool underwear just didn't happen for me. I found the feel of it weird, and I prefer the cotton kind. The mittens were too large (I ended up giving them to my wife), and the glove liners tore after less than a year. The idea was better than the execution. I mean, I have mittens and glove liners now, just different ones.

Lessons Learned: Kind of contradictory ones. For the glove liners, it was a case of not investing in quality, but I wasn't sure I'd use glove liners (I'd never owned them before), so I'm not sure it would have made sense to do that yet. For the mittens, I did invest in quality by buying well-regarded boiled wool, and once I got them I convinced myself they were great because of their great reputation; it took almost a year of distance to realize I didn't like them as much as the $10 knit acrylic pair I subsequently got. Similarly, I wore the wool underwear even after I'd decided I didn't like them as much as my normal underwear, just because they were expensive and not returnable.

I don't think it was necessarily bad to try any of these things, they just didn't work out.

Pajamas - $14

Not worth it, I didn't keep any of these pajamas (I ended up getting different ones). The ones I got for $10 at Primark weren't even stitched properly.

Lessons Learned: Primark is cheap but boy is it cheap.

Work pants - $128

I still have the more expensive pair of these pants ($95), a light gray wool flannel pair. I'm wearing them now! I really love them. They're professional yet comfortable. I actually wear them much more often now than I did a year ago; they were too long, which looked sloppy, but I got them hemmed recently, and they're just perfect now!

The other pair, which were used, were very good until they ripped from me stepping on them all the time. My fault entirely.

Worth it? Judging solely by "have it now vs not", I'm going to say $95 worth it, $33 not.

Lessons Learned: Hem your work pants!

Software licenses - $100

These were for work tools; I bought them so that I could work from home while I was sick. It might be the kind of thing you could expense in a corporate workplace, but since I (a) work in government and (b) love working from home, I quietly took on the expense personally.

Worth It? I'm undecided since I probably could have found a free/open source way to do most of the things I wanted to do with this software. But I do still use these tools when I'm working from home, and I have worked from home more often due to pain. Definitely the ability to work from home is worth it, since I'd have to take sick days more often without that ability. So, I guess philosophically worth it.

Lessons Learned: None really. This was a rare one-off kind of thing.

T-shirts - $18

While I was sick, I got on a weird kick of shopping for casual T-shirts on eBay, most of which I didn't buy, but it was a good way to pass the time when I was super tired. I still have the amazing t-shirt with WPA-style, outdoors-themed art which I got on this kick ($10), and I viscerally remember the joy I got from purchasing the light purple men's Express T-shirt covered in skulls ($8), even though I didn't ultimately keep it.

Worth it? I'm going to actually say worth it for both.

Lessons Learned: Sadly I have to conclude that the main lesson here is "shopping brings me joy."

Jute bin - $18

Definitely not worth it, I don't even remember this.

Metallic sharpies - $7

Christmas-related, I think. Sure, fine.

The Sims 3 - $13

Ha ha! I only played this a couple of times since it only runs on my wife's computer, but probably still a good bang-for-buck considering the Steam sale price.

Ebooks - $2

Can't complain.


Total Spend: $408

Total Worth It: $245 (60%)

Total Not Worth It: $163 (40%)

Lesson Summary:
  • Invest in quality, or don't.
  • Hem your pants.
  • Go ahead with those small bursts of joy from deep-discount Steam games and eBay T-shirts in moderation.

Bonus! One Year "One Year Purchase Review" Review

I've done a full year of one-year purchase reviews! My earliest one is for November 2014. So as a bonus, I'll see if I still agree with my one-year-ago self.

Of the $657 I spent in November 2014, I wrote in November 2015 that $471 of it was money well spent. Let's see if I still agree with those "well spent" purchases.

Heavy merino long underwear bottoms - $82

Still going strong, still worth it! I actually appreciate these even more than ever since learning about the different weights of wool performance gear. Lightweight T-shirts are like 120-170 grams per meter square (g/m2). Midweight sport gear, like the equivalent of a fleece pullover, is like 220-250 g/m2. Most long underwear is around this range. These bottoms? 400 g/m2. That's the heaviest weight I've ever seen in any merino performance wear ever, and I stumbled into it without doing any research.

Winter boots - $200

These remain my go-to snow boots although I've since learned that I misread the size chart and that's why they fit so oddly. They're too big, even with thick socks. But they're so cozy and warm and waterproof and useful that I'm willing to stuff them with insoles and heel spacers and wear extra socks. Not a bad idea in cold weather anyway!

Mittens - $27

I've since replaced these in the Color Revolution but I got something very similar. How was I to predict the Color Revolution? I like mittens, so I'm going to go with "still a good idea."

Phone - $64

This phone served me well for a year and a half. I liked to brag about how cheaply I got it. But it was already a generation or two old when I bought it, so it rapidly became outdated and difficult to use apps on. I replaced it this year with a $200 phone that is 2 generations later and it was a surprisingly huge jump in quality. Still, phones are planned-obsolete so I don't think I can fault myself for not still owning a phone I got 2 years ago, especially since it was such a bargain then.

Smart lightbulb system - $90

I have to admit I still love this and I've even gotten another bulb for the system since then, although I feel ridiculous every time I spend money on this. It's soooo frivolous. And it's not as necessary now, since we've moved and our new bedroom gets more light in the morning. But when I lived in a dark bedroom, I think it was actually really good for me, especially in the winter. It sets a much nicer tone for the day to wake up gradually to light, vs. snapping awake to a shrill alarm in a night-dark room. (Also helpful? Vitamin D supplements!)

As much as I think spending on "internet of things" gadgets makes me a ridiculous, bloated, credulous fat cat, I have to admit I still think this was worth it!

The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up ebook - $8

Obvs yes.


Yeah, I still think all the same things are worth it.

I wrote in this first purchase review post in 2015, "I thought that this exercise would show a lot of dumb mistakes, but for the most part, I got things I needed and that I still use and no longer think about because they just work. I guess it's still hard to tell if I'm succumbing to lifestyle creep, or if I was (and am) on a 'buy it for life' kick that will ultimately save me money in the long run."

I'd have to say that, after a year, my spending shows no sign of abating (and is in fact more silly than ever), "lifestyle creep" seems like a more accurate answer. Which is depressing. But I still feel like most of my purchases aren't that ridiculous, or useless, or regrettable when I review them one by one! It just always adds up to a lot. Maybe I need to exercise more restraint and buy the same things, but over a longer timeframe? And not have any more color revolutions!


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