Thursday, January 5, 2017

December 2016 Month in Review


Before I dig into December, a few updates on previous months' shopping.

In October, I spent $30 to get two pairs of work pants hemmed. BEST THIRTY DOLLARS EVER SPENT. Seriously.

One pair was new-to-me (from ThredUp), but the other was a pair I'd had for a long time and just never wore. I was this close to passing them on. But I liked everything about them except the length; they're professional-looking but super-comfortable, a loose trouser cut in soft wool flannel, kind of like wearing pajamas to work and getting away with it. I was hesitant about hemming because I'd had some poor tailoring done in the past, and I didn't want to ruin something nice. But then I figured, if I'm not wearing them anyway, way do I have to to lose? Luckily, I found a good tailor, and they did just an amazing job. That wool-flannel pair I was about to pass on? They're now my favorite pants. One week, I wore them every single day.

Recently, I cleared out my pants drawer and set aside all the pairs that are no longer comfortable to me (because of my Very Important Health Problems). Literally the only work pants that remain in my rotation are those two pairs that I got hemmed. Go figure!

Next, you may remember that in November, I bought some backpacks. I am still super pleased with my 20-liter hiking backpack, and I've used it for a few short jaunts. I went ahead and returned the 46-liter luggage-style one, though, after doing a "packing test" where I managed to jam a week's worth of clothes into my 20-liter! (Thank you, packing cubes.) Clearly, I don't need more than twice the space for a typical trip. (I can't remember the last time I went anywhere for more than a week.) I do need a little more space for things like toiletries, binoculars, and so on--the 20-liter pack was fully jam-packed--but I can use my purse for overflow. MINIMALISM.

What I Bought This Month

I managed to stay in my $500 budget for the the first month in a long, long time! I spent $385 total. Here's how it broke down:

Vacation Stuff: $58
I got some things for a trip my wife and I were planning: some new packing cubes in the really useful slim sizes ($38), and a rain cover for my new backpack I got last month ($20). Unfortunately due to my recent health problems, we have postponed our trip. This also means we've lost money on plane tickets. Argh.

Clothes: $115 (including tailoring To Come)
You know my "New Years Resolution" to buy pants that work for me given my physical limitations?
Yeah, I went ahead and got those before the year's end. I bought a pair of jeans exactly like my favorite, relaxed-fitting jeans, only in a dark wash instead of light. (The company no longer makes this model, which is where used clothing sites like Poshmark come in REALLY handy.) They're perfect, as I knew they would be! These cost me $40 with shipping.

I also got a pair of used-in-good-condition navy pinstripe work pants on eBay. These are the same brand and size as my favorite, now-hemmed gray pants. They seem great too! They fit perfectly at the waist, are a "trouser" cut (so nice and loose but also look professional), and are made of high-quality fabric. They're too long, but I know how to solve that! These cost me $45 with shipping; add another $15 for the hemming I will definitely have done.

While I'm at it, let me go ahead and add $15 for hemming my yoga pants that I bought in October. I love these, wear them all the time, and them being shorter is the only thing I'd improve about them, so I'll drop these off, too, next time I go to the tailor.

These purchases feel so different from other shopping I've done. Buying them felt more like just doing a mildly boring errand, not like some illicit, exciting thing. I got exactly what I knew I wanted and needed; I knew exactly how they were going to fit into my wardrobe. There was no, "Aaaaaah I don't need this where am I going to put it???"

Work Stuff: $20
I bought a few things for the office (some paper plates for a holiday party, some kitchen stuff). I work in a massive not-for-profit bureaucracy and it's just easier to contribute this type of thing ourselves than try to requisition it.

I also upgraded from the plastic ID holder I was issued to a cloth one from Etsy. It's amazing how happy this tiny purchase makes me. I got it because the plastic one was falling apart, but I now feel like I should have upgraded a long time ago. When you handle something several times a day, it's just nice for it to be a material you like to touch (cotton) versus one you don't (slick vinyl-y plastic). The Etsy one is also smaller, exactly the size of my ID, so it doesn't get bent and crushed when I stuff it in my pocket. And it's cute! I got a pattern that coordinates with my lanyard and carabiner. Because I'm butch enough to own a carabiner, but femme enough to care about colors coordinating. (Did I mention it's a pink carabiner?)

e-books: $50
I usually only spent $5-$15 on e-books but this month I spent $50! What! I mostly bought early Baby-sitters Club books, which I hadn't gotten before because you can get them out of the library. But once you've gotten the same book out of the library three or four times, it's just easier to own your own, you know? This was a low-priority when I was overspending my budget routinely, but I felt that it was worth just buying them as long as I had wiggle room in my budget. I tend to read BSC books when I'm sick or hurt, so my health issues have had a lot to do with this, too.

Christmas Presents: $142
My wife and I mainly got charity for everyone on our list; we spent about $700 on Christmas-related charity donations (which I don't count against my personal budget).

I did record my presents for her against my personal budget. It amounted to $98 in clothes and stocking stuffers.

I also bought something for myself that turned into a Christmas present. I got a merino scarf in a navy blue that turned out to be a muted, heathered Soft Summer blue, not the crisp, saturated True Summer blue I was hoping for. It looked okay on me, but after I saw it on Practical Cranberry Nut Roll, I just had to give it to her. It BELONGED on her. I'm glad I did, because she's been wearing it a lot and using it as a face shield while biking. It found a good home.

What I Didn't Buy

While I remember them, let's honor some of the times I almost shopped but didn't! I almost...

  • Bought $75 worth of clothes on ThredUp, largely because I worried that the navy pants I'd already bought on eBay wasn't exactly the right style. At the last moment, I thought, "Let's just wait for that purchase to arrive before I think about replacing it." It turned out that the pants were perfect!
  • Bought some games I'd already played in the Steam Winter Sale. At the last moment, I realized I was falling prey to the lure of the "deal", and also thinking of my virtual game shelf the same way I used to think of my bookshelf or DVD collection: as a record of what I like for posterity, instead of a functional collection of items I intend to use in the near future. Posterity doesn't care what I like!
  • Threw a T-shirt in with my rain cover purchase, mainly because I like to buy lots of things at once. At the last moment I realized, "Hey, I don't need a $30 new T-shirt when $7 used T-shirts are abundant."

This is the first time I've recorded the "non-purchases," so I don't know how this stacks up against other times I "almost bought but didn't," but I feel pleased. I think I'm getting just a little better at not buying. Hooray for abandoning shopping carts!

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