What happens when someone who’s “good at money” tracks their spending the old school way? With a pen and paper and not using an automated system like Mint?
Inspired by the Man Repeller and Refinery29 money diaries, I thought it’d be fun to see what happens when I track my spending for a weekend. Although I’m conscious about my overall spending, I’m at a point where I don’t feel the need to review purchases line by line. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for surprises.
I’ve been putting off a bunch of purchases because of traveling and because I sometimes take delayed gratification too far (took over a month to buy a backpack!). In this money diary edition: window shopping, quarterly haircuts and homemade luxe desserts.
Friday Night Soho Shopping Trip
First stop after work: Sephora to make a return. I bought this Clinique Chubby Stick two months ago, which is the perfect color, but I never reach for it, because lip pencils are too fussy for me. Lesson learned: don’t buy lip products that you can’t put on without a mirror. Tubes or tubs only. I thought I made the cut-off to get a full refund back to my credit card, but I’ve missed it by two days. I get a $19.50 merchandise credit.
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I take the subway down to Soho, because I still want a floor mirror for the apartment. I want to look at the CB2 arched floor mirror in person before I actually order it. Shipping furniture isn’t cheap, you know? I circle around the whole store and a salesperson tells me they don’t have any on the floor or in stock in the warehouse. I guess I should have checked inventory on the CB2 site before I made the trip, huh?
Muji has moved right next door, so I pop in just to browse. Man, Muji is good at merchandising. They have snacks right there when you come through the door. There’s a sign for free food samples, but no one’s manning the station, which is probably for the best, because I’m hungry and one free sample could be the gateway for me buying all the snacks. I see a toiletry bag you can get embroidered, so I mentally earmark that as a possible go-to gift in the future. There’s a downstairs floor to Muji, but I decide not to check it out, since I really don’t need any of this stuff.
Earlier in the day I was talking to Sophie, and she linked me to a Madewell sweatshirt I might like. While I’m in Soho, might as well check it out in person, right? The sweatshirt is ridiculously soft, but the line for the dressing room is four people deep. Also, the heather grey color isn’t the shade I’m looking for. YES, THERE’S A PERFECT HEATHER GREY COLOR. Moving on.
As I’m walking to the subway, I pass by Uniqlo. Should I? Yes! They have all their fall stuff out, and I’m pleasantly surprised by how good all of it is, especially for the price. Like, this fleece jacket, these pinstripe pants, and this cropped sweatshirt. I don’t like buying things the first time I see them in the store, so I leave empty-handed.
When I open the door to our apartment, I’m hit with a greasy yet delicious aroma: my husband made homemade chicken fingers. Chicken fingers are basically my favorite food, so I feel like this is a Friday night treat. We eat dinner while watching the finale to the Great British Baking Show. I never understood why my husband likes this show, but a few contestants are artistic and visionary, so all of a sudden I’m invested, too. Have you seen this bread handbag that Steven made? I’m intrigued by people who have ideas and are detail-oriented. In the spirit of the show, I tell my husband he wins the Technical Challenge for best chicken fingers. For dessert, I eat a bunch of mini Kit-Kats and do my best to not demolish the entire bag.
Friday Total: $0
Saturday: Online Shopping Frenzy
A few weeks ago we bought an espresso maker, inspired by the one we used in our Iceland Airbnb. So I’m drinking coffee again. Two cups of espresso and a homemade apple pancake for breakfast.
My husband says we’re out of paper towels. I say, OK, let me dial up Amazon to order them, and he says he needs them now because he wants to clean the kitchen. I tell him to use the rags I cut from an old T-shirt, but he says it’s not the same. He hits up our neighborhood grocery stores for a single roll. $2.79
I don’t like the idea of relying on paper towels all the time, but I also don’t think we’re ready to be totally zero waste just yet. I order paper towels from Amazon for future use. $34.83
I have 750 Chase Freedom points instead of the 3,750 I should have. A few days ago I sent Chase a secure message to ask what was up with that. I log in today and they confirm that yes, I now have the correct number points. Before I had less than 3,000 Chase Sapphire points total, and now I have 14,500 points! All because I made a few strategic purchases. Not bad for a card with no annual fee. It pays to complain to get the bonuses you’re entitled to. I make a mental note to buy more gift cards from Duane Reade on Monday so I can maximize the 5 points per dollar. Once October hits, the 5% category is department stores, wholesale clubs and Chase Pay, so I start researching ways to earn the points.
I get an e-mail that my Bloomingdale’s Loyallist $25 reward is here, which I earned by stocking up on Sunday Riley Good Genes a few months ago. The loyalty program is similar to Sephora’s or Madewell’s program where you can earn rewards after spending a certain amount. So far there have been several perks where you can get a $25 reward credit after spending $100. Gotta be careful about buying stuff I don’t need, though. I earmarked the $25 reward to buy a bathroom garbage can, because the pedal on ours has been broken for a month now. I’ve been waiting for the reward to arrive so I could pull the trigger. With tax, I pay $2.21 out of pocket.
My husband goes grocery shopping at Whole Foods, then comes home and says he wishes we could get all our groceries at one store. Instead, we have to shop at least three to get what we need. City-people problems! $42.62
Inspired by the Great British Baking Show, I spend a little more time making my lunch so it’s presented nicely. I even try to cut the egg into a perfect circle shape. And the avocado is some kind of super avocado, because half of it was sitting in the fridge from a week ago, and it hasn’t spoiled at all.
While my credit card is sitting by my bed, might as well knock out a couple more purchases I’ve been putting off. If you’re on my newsletter list, you know I’ve been looking for a backpack for over a month now. I wanted it for Iceland, but I couldn’t decide in time and didn’t want to rush it. So I used my half-broken bag. I texted my friends the link to the bag to get color opinions on Hellolulu’s Tate Backpack, and one friend says she just got a similar bag by Timbuk2. Whoa, it’s almost the same bag, but I stick with the original plan and decide on the black color–black’s always a classic. Shipping is $19.74 from Hong Kong, which I’m not a fan of, so I look for coupon codes. If you sign up for their newsletter you can get 10% off, so I subscribe using my junk e-mail address. $80.33
I still want a floor mirror, so I check the secondhand sites to see if I can find a gem. I’m dead-set on getting a brand-name mirror, even though West Elm and CB2 aren’t the best quality. If I buy a no-name $150 mirror, then I worry it will be difficult to sell later. There’s a CB2 one on Craigslist for $100, but it’s too narrow. Then I check Apartment Therapy marketplace and find some leads on a West Elm one and CB2, too, but one is $275 and a little more than what I’d spend on a secondhand West Elm piece. Finally I check The Real Real, as I’ve discovered they have some designer furniture gems. I find a Menu one that retails for $675, but is $297.50 on the site. Thinking I found a deal, I add the mirror to the cart and shipping comes out to $395. That’s more than the mirror itself. OMG, no. The mirror saga continues.
I hop onto the Uniqlo site to look at a couple of the items I saw in more detail. I like shopping Uniqlo online, because they have extended sizes and everything’s easier to find with just a few keyword searches. I buy a fleece jacket, pile-lined leggings for winter, and a pair of non-sloppy sweatpants, choosing the ‘in-person pickup’ method so I don’t have to pay shipping. $64.70
My husband makes mushroom lasagna and an apple salad for dinner, and there are plenty of leftovers I can bring as work lunches.
Sunday: Haircut in Williamsburg
As usual, keeping it simple for breakfast: a cup of coffee and a hard-boiled egg.
I head downstairs and throw two pairs of my raw denim jeans into the washer. Once again I’m reminded how nice it it to have a washer and dryer at home. Although the landlord recently texted us that the water bill has popped and asked us if we knew anything about that…
I go onto hotels.com and see if any of the Asia hotels I booked have cheaper rooms available. I’m in a cycle where if I see a room I like, I just book it, then cancel if I see something better. Since we’re traveling there at a popular time, I’m not taking any chances!
Since I just bought three things from Uniqlo, I go through my closet and make a mental note of clothes I could stand to get rid of. Someone on Instagram recently mentioned The Real Real’s consigning program, so I start researching blog post reviews. I had no idea that The Real Real gives you 50% of the selling price, which is actually better than the brick-and-mortar store I’ve used. And you don’t even have to deal with taking your own pictures, etc. I e-mail them a few questions I have about the process, and DM a girl from Instagram some questions about how she likes it.
I haven’t checked out my clothing spend in a while, so I log into the Mint account that my husband and I share. The annoying thing is that I can’t tally up how much I’ve spent since both our transactions are mixed in together. So I create tags for each of us and spend half an hour assigning each clothing purchase transaction from this year. All in all, I’ve spent $620 on clothes this year out of pocket, but that’s also because I sold about $330 worth of clothes. Not bad! If I sell even more stuff, that means I’ll have more money to refresh my wardrobe.
I have a hair appointment in Williamsburg today, and I take the subway over a little early so I can check out some secondhand and vintage shops. First stop is Crossroads where I got a The Row button-down a few months ago. I also find a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes for $48, but they aren’t in the best shape. Then I walk to Awoke Vintage, which is actually not as grossly priced as I expected. I rarely shop vintage in NYC, because I don’t mind digging around for thrift finds myself. I come across an adorable Woolrich seersucker short-sleeve button down for $35. I know it’s too big for me, but no harm in trying it on, right? I debate over whether to just buy it, because it’s still hard for me to pass up vintage even if it doesn’t fit, but I decide if I really want it I’ll come back later for it.
Now I’m on a wild goose chase for an ATM that doesn’t look sketchy as hell. The salon I’m going to doesn’t take tips on credit cards. I finally find an HSBC bank in the opposite direction.
Attached to Commune Salon (not the haircut place I’m going to) is a cute coffee shop called PPL. I order an iced matcha latte, because it’s 80 degrees and I’ve worked up a sweat looking for an ATM. $5
I like Room hair salon, because you don’t have to call to make an appointment–you just have to e-mail. I rotate between Commune, this place and now I’ve added Shizen to the menu. Whoever has the earliest appointment gets my money. $83.15
As I mentioned before, we can’t get all our groceries from one store, so my husband picks up a few produce items. $7.37
On the way home from Williamsburg, I stop at Trader Joe’s to pick up lunch supplies for the week, plus some sweets. I almost pick up two bags of the sesame caramel chocolates, but decide that’s too indulgent. A couple things to note: green tea mochi is sold out, and they aren’t selling the Southwest Chopped Salad anymore??? $30.12
We eat the lasagna leftovers for dinner–nothing fancy here!
I decided another bag of $2.99 chocolates was too indulgent earlier. But you know what I do NOT find indulgent? Spending almost $10 on ingredients and baking four molten lava cakes. Nope, not indulgent at all. $7.28
Sunday Total: $132.92
Weekend Total: $360.40
So cheap mirrors are too expensive, and nice mirrors are ridiculously expensive. Should I give up on buying a mirror?
Are you a fan of The Great British Baking Show?
Have you ever consigned anything on The Real Real?
How are you tracking on purchases so far?
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