One Year Purchase Review: March and April 2016

That sunglasses and beanie time of year

Back in my March 2016 month in review, I wrote, "March is an expensive month for me, historically; it's when I broke my frugal streak last year. I might say that I should plan for expensive Marches, since I seem to get "spring fever" and spend ahead for spring and summer in those months--and/or scoop up stuff on winter sales." This pattern has played out for me again this year!

I'm going to try something slightly different with the One Year Purchase Reviews from now on: I'll do the Purchase Review for last year at the beginning, instead of the end, of the month. That way, I can keep last year's observations in mind throughout the month, instead of simply confirming that, yup, it happened again!

So, this is going to be a One Year Purchase Review for both March and April 2016.

March 2016

Hiking pants - $85

I did the thing where you try a bunch and keep one, and I ended up with a pretty good pair! I wore them fairly regularly (at least, on weekends, since they're not work pants). They're not only good for hiking, but for rainy days, since the nylon material is more water-resistant and quick-drying than jeans. The only problem was they ended up being a little loose for me when I lost weight, so I recently bought another pair one size down, but I'm keeping both as my weight tends to fluctuate.

Merino relaxed-fit T-shirt - $80

This is a ton of money for a shirt, but it's basically my favorite shirt, the only merino top I've ever found that's a cute relaxed fit (the kind that would look good with skinny jeans). Most merino tops, being exercise tops, are quite fitted, but I hate the way they cling to my belly, and I prefer loose shirts for exercise anyway. This is my favorite shirt to run in, and it's also a great casual shirt. It's so rare to find an item that works as both (though I do tend to "save it" for running). I liked this shirt so much that when I saw it on sale for $35 a few months later, I bought a second, identical one.

Mint green merino fashion scarf - $40

It's so funny that this was exactly a year ago, because I bought two extremely similar scarves this very month. Enough, no more merino fashion scarves! Three is plenty. Yet, I love them all.

rX Sunglasses - $35

I can see that I had summer on my mind last year, too. These will be my sunglasses this year, too.

Art Supplies - $57

Wow, history really repeats itself. The last time I bought colored pencils was March 2016, and I did it again in March 2017. I also got some pen and ink supplies. I've used these!

Cashmere slouchy sweater - $46

I am wearing this as we speak. (This is the sweater that Practical Cranberry Nut Roll thinks looks like a sweatshirt, but I love it.)

Hemp/cotton T-shirt - $13

I can't believe I only bought this a year ago. I feel like I've had it forever. Maybe it's because I had it in black before that (this is a Color Revolution replacement purchase, it seems). Anyway, it's definitely a summer staple.

Hemp/cotton lightweight pullover hoodie - $14

I didn't end up wearing this much because I got a zip-front merino hoodie soon after, which ended up being a better choice for a lightweight summer cover-up. I've given this away.

Navy linen blazer - $32

I'd been saying to myself that I wanted a navy linen blazer, and not finding one for love or money, for so long that I snapped one up when I found it at Marshall's for only $30, but it was more shapeless than I would have liked, and I ended up wearing light cardigans instead of blazers for most of the summer. I gave it away after I found a better-fitting navy wool blazer at Goodwill for $20.

Overall March Thoughts

Total Spend: $402 (down from my initial estimate of $718 due to massive returns)
Total Approved: $356 (88%)
Total Regretted: $46 (12%)

I have to say that in spite of the amount I spent, and the fact that I got so many things that I couldn't use until the weather warmed up, I'm still remarkably positive about almost every one of my purchases. March's purchases include some of my very favorite items of clothing from the last year.

That said, what you don't see in these numbers is a LOT of returning that I did, so ecologically, I wasted a ton of resources in shipping and stuff.

April 2016

Here's the month I'm interested in, since if my March 2016 resembles my March 2017 so closely, perhaps the pitfalls here are the ones I'll be most prone to in the coming month.

Beanie - $7

Although I ended up replacing this beanie this year (with the same model in a youth size, because my head is so tiny), this was and is a good hat. My wife wears it now. Anyway, it was cheap so it's worth the few months of wear I got out of it. In cool months (which include April in Boston), I wear a beanie on a basically daily basis.

Jeans - $16

After a lot of rigmarole and sturm and drang earlier on trying to find good jeans, and returning them or Goodwilling them after only a few months at a time, I ended up finding a pair I loved on a discount site for only $16. A few months later, I bought the exact same pants in the next size down, but I keep both pairs for weight changes. Recently, I bought yet a third pair in another wash.

CVS pajamas - $24

Good thought - I did end up getting and using soft clothes like this later on - but of course, the shit I bought at CVS was not the best quality, nor did it look the best. As it turns out, I really value feeling like I look OK in my clothes, even when I'm wearing PJs at home. This was an attempt to be frugal gone wrong.

Suspenders - $13

I hate wearing belts, so I thought, hey, I'll be the cool weirdo wearing suspenders! It was an attempt to be dapper, I guess. What I didn't think about was that, if you wear suspenders, you really need to tuck in your shirt. The physics of it just didn't occur to me until I was trying to put them. I hate tucking in my shirt even more than wearing a belt. The real solution would be to buy pants that fit me.

Shorts - $30

A hopeful summer purchase, way too early! It was definitely not shorts weather in April, but I relate, because I'm looking at shorts again these days (despite the snow outside). I didn't end up wearing these too much. My wife looks better in them, so I might shuffle them off into her drawer this year.

Cuttoffs - $6

More shorts! I actually ended up wearing these more than the $30 pair.

Flannel popover shirt - $23

I made a mistake and got what I thought was a flannel button-down, but it was actually a popover shirt (where the buttons go halfway down). "Well, maybe I'll keep it anyway," I thought, liking the colors a lot, but turns out I just don't like popover shirts.

At least this was a shirt I could start wearing right away, since April was and is flannel weather.

Summer linen short-sleeve button-down - $19

This was from eBay, so it would have been a hassle to return, but it turned out to be the wrong colors for me. Darn unreliable monitors! For awhile, I had a plan to dye it, but I never did, and eventually gave it away.

Actually, even if it had been the right colors, I'm not sure how much I would have worn it. Similar to the linen blazer from March, the problem with this purchase was that it seemed to check off the boxes I had in my head for "thing I am looking for," yet by the time I found it, I didn't want it as much. That summer, I ended up wearing a lot of linen knit oversized T-shirts, and didn't return much to my previous summer "uniform" of a button-down over a tank top.

2 layering tanks - $31

I got a fair amount of use out of these, but a few months ago I started wearing T-shirts instead of tanks under my work sweaters to keep them less sweaty for more re-wears, so I don't wear these so much anymore.

Running belt - $30

I got this hoping it would enable me to run more and easier, and I have to say, it did. It's just a stretchy tube with seams sewn in to divide it into pockets, some of which are zippered and some open, so you can carry your keys and phone close to your body without having them bounce in your pockets, or having to come up with some sort of wristband system if your running pants don't have pockets. I wear it every time I run.

Lounge Bra - $42

This was custom made for me on Etsy. I really liked it at first, although I eventually began to feel that the fit could be better (or maybe it just stretched out or something). Still, it's a good thing to have, better something than nothing. I might replace it at some point if I can find anything remotely good.

Work Throw Blanket - $28

This was a post-winter clearance purchase, but I got it for summer, actually, because I remembered getting cold a lot in the air conditioning the previous year. I haven't used this that much as a blanket (I feel a little silly wrapping in a blanket at work), choosing to put on a sweater or a blazer when I'm cold instead, but I do sit on it as a cushion, so there's that.

Work Picnic Blanket - $16

This is more useful, actually. I used it a lot for eating my lunch outside last summer.

Work Flats - $44

I got these in the wake of my disappointment that a $150 pair I'd been saving up for didn't work (the foot shape was just totally different from mine, which sucked because they seemed like a super high quality and comfortable pair of they work for you). I still have these and they are fine, pretty handy to have in the office when it's summer and you wore sandals on your commute. I can imagine a more comfortable pair, but for now, these are acceptable.

Overall April Thoughts

Total Spend: $329
Total Approved : $119 (36%)
Total Regretted: $109 (33%)
Still Undecided: $101 (31%)

April was a much less successful month than March. There were a lot of small purchases, not really any majorly big ones (that I kept). It was a mix of hopeful summer purchases and right-now purchases, and some from each category succeeded, while others failed. Some of my attempts to cheap out worked great (Goodwill shorts, discount jeans), while others were mistakes (CVS pajamas).

I'm not sure I can draw any real lessons from this. Huh.


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