My Weekend Money Diary #14: Conversations with Friends

Money Diary #14: Spring Friends and Movies

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.


This is from the previous weekend, but I decided to change up the order of the posts, just to keep things interesting. Today’s theme: making plans to update our apartment, trying to be frugal with friends, and is a 3-hour movie and Game of Thrones too much for one day?

*Affiliate links below*


Planning Purchases

The last Avengers movie is here! In the city you can’t just roll up to a big movie at the last minute and expect tickets to be available, so I go online to buy tickets ahead of time. Saturday is sold out, so Sunday afternoon it is. $43.50 for three tickets.

I’ve been lobbying to my husband that shorter swim trunks are the way to go, and a 40% off sale on Solid and Striped shorts might be what I need to convince him to switch.

My husband’s son sees me browsing and asks why I’m looking at swim suits when it’s not even warm enough to use them yet.

Me, not wasting a teachable moment: “Young Grasshopper, that’s how you find deals–not waiting until you actually ‘need’ things to buy them.”

I do not tell him that you need mental energy to find deals. He’ll figure that out on his own. Back to the shorts: while I like the styles, I’m not convinced by the shiny fabrics and there are hardly any reviews online, so I let them go. I look on J. Crew and Bonobos for similar styles, but they only offer trendy printed options.

I also bought a West Elm sofa pillow (for half off) a few weeks ago, and it’s still sitting there unopened, because I haven’t found a pillow insert to put inside of it.

I go onto Amazon because it’s easy, but my brain never associates stuff from Amazon as “quality.” I bought one Pillowflex one from there for $22 before, and it’s just OK. I actually thought that was expensive for Amazon, and maybe I’d be better off buying one from Crate and Barrel or something. I just want to buy the pillow and never have to research it ever again. I’m too overwhelmed with options right now, so I’m still pillow-less.

I’m in the mood to spruce up our apartment, which feels right since we really took our time buying things for it. Right now I’m looking for a towel holder to put near the bathroom sink. I’m still on Amazon and add three options to my list to compare and contrast later. The thing that I want is so simple…and yet, so hard to find. I measure the wall in the bathroom just to make sure whatever I buy will fit.

It’s 7:30 pm and there’s an “urgent request” in my work inbox. I consider pointing out that I bet no one else would be moving this project forward on a Friday night and couldn’t it wait until Monday? But I choose not to fight it and just do the work.

My husband dishes out pasta with meat sauce for dinner. He also bought me a pint of Ben & Jerry’s the Tonight Dough earlier in the week, so that’s my dessert. We are trying to cut down on sweets, but so far we are failing miserably, since I eat dessert almost every day.

Back onto the home improvement front, what’s the easiest way to change the look of your rental?


From Guiry’s

Painting can be a pain, but I’m 90% sure our landlord won’t make us change the colors back if we move. I researched colors last week, wrote down the names, and add the seven paint sample bottles into my cart. Last time I decided to paint a room, I only used those free paint cards as a test and the actual color ended up being different from what I expected. Am I gonna get played again? Not today. $32.40

Before bed, I open up Conversations with Friends on the iPad. I read Sally Rooney’s other book, Normal People, in about two days. So far I find the characters of this book to be unlikable, but maybe that will improve.



Meeting Up with Out-of-Town Friends

A cup of stove-top coffee for breakfast. I don’t really buy coffee out anymore. If my husband didn’t make it every day, then I’d quit caffeine, because I’m far too lazy to make it myself.

A close friend recently lost a family member, and I’m not sure what to say. I decide to keep a distance and mail a card. If they want to talk about it, it’s their choice to reach out. But any old card from Trader Joe’s won’t do. It has to be just the right message. I find a simple yet elegant one from Etsy. $7.66

I spend an hour adding transactions to You Need a Budget and planning for more purchases through the end of the month. April was a trial month, since I only truly started budgeting halfway through. Then I get to start a fresh budget in May.

We are meeting some out-of-town friends for lunch today in Manhattan. No time for breakfast, so I scarf down half a granola bar and put a water bottle in my bag. I expect us to be out and about for hours and I hate buying water if I don’t need to.

I made a huge The Real Real order a few weeks ago, and I’m returning about 90% of it, so we stop by UPS to drop off the package on the way.

Remember when I said I don’t buy coffee out anymore? Today’s an exception. A new Vietnamese coffee place called Cafe Phin opened up on the Lower East Side. I adored the frozen coconut coffee we had in Ho Chi Minh City, and I’ve been dreaming of it ever since. We buy two coconut coffees and sit outside on a bench in the sun. It’s such a nice spring day. The coffees taste good, but decide we can make versions that are just as good at home. $10.89

An Choi in New York City
Cafe Phin coconut coffee

Down the street from Cafe Phin is Pilgrim, a high-end consignment shop with vintage Chanel bags in the window. I found a beautiful Dries Van Noten beaded dress, Junya Watanabe trench and a striped Sacai dress, all on sale. I try on the clothes just for fun, because they’re definitely the wrong size, and I’m definitely not bad-ass enough for Junya.

We start walking to the lunch spot but get distracted by Coming Soon, a homewares shop. I buy a Dusen Dusen hand towel for $21.78. Considering that I just bought a hand towel from Crate and Barrel I’m definitely feeling the guilt hard for buying another one that I definitely didn’t need. But at the same time, I’m trying to buy housewares that I look at and actually like.

I asked my Instagram friends for lunch recommendations the other day, and we chose Kopitiam, a Malaysian cafe in Chinatown. My husband and I both get Nasi Lemak and our friends get the Pan Mee. The total bill is $46 and I go up to pay for our half, but our friends insist on paying for us, which is so nice of them. I didn’t finish my meal, so I get it packed up to go.

We walk our friends back to the Beekman Hotel, where they’re staying, and we sit in the bar drinking and chatting. Hotel bars are insanely expensive and a crap value (a drink here costs $17), and I’m not there to get a buzz. Nothing we order costs more than $9. Again, our friends insist on paying the bill.

My husband heads home on the subway and I walk back to Chinatown to pick up some onigiri as a dinner snack. I always loved Yaya Tea on Chrystie Street and I order a Japanese onigiri with crab and a Yaya one with chicken and seaweed.

I’m annoyed with myself that I don’t have enough cash in my wallet and their credit card minimum is $10. So I begrudgingly add on a matcha bubble tea so I can charge the transaction. Their bubble tea seems to have gone downhill (it used to be made super fresh), but the onigiri is just as good. $10.34

Winding down for bedtime, I pick up Conversations with Friends and eat ice cream from a ramekin at the same time.



Avengers, Trip Planning and Game of Thrones

Four hours of my life are already spoken for today: three hours for the Avengers movie and an hour for the latest Game of Thrones episode.

Stove-top coffee in the morning, then as a lunch snack I add a runny egg to the leftover nasi lemak from Kopitiam yesterday.

My husband picks up some cheap produce nearby: blueberries, blackberries, kiwi, and asparagus. $5.97

Time to do heinous money stuff! I transfer money from savings into my husband’s Traditional IRA account at Vanguard. Then a few days later I’ll convert it to a Roth IRA for 2019.

I read you can save money by buying Italy train tickets in advance, so I go onto the Trenitalia site to check out prices from Milan to Florence. It’s over $100 for a two tickets, and the ride is only an hour and a half. Could I do better than that?

I shop around and find similar tickets are cheaper at their competitor, Italo. But my card keeps getting denied when I try to buy them. I call Barclays and they’re like, oh, we thought that was fraud. $62.18

I like to think about trips holistically, so I pull up both Europe trip planning spreadsheets in my Google docs. I look at the numbers again and assign credit card points to the categories. I want to spend no more than $2,000 out of pocket for each trip, and so far it’s looking good.

The Avengers movie starts at 1:45pm. Last time we went to a random movie 30 minutes ahead of time we had to sit in the front row. We plan to arrive at 1pm, and guess what? That was the right call, because there’s already dozens of people in line. I packed a water bottle and the other onigiri from last night as a snack.

I wait for a fight scene to peel the plastic off my onigiri, because I’ve gotten yelled at in the past for eating noisy food at the movies. My husband orders a beer and popcorn for him and his son. $14.16

I really don’t feel like it after sitting through a three-hour movie, but if I don’t find the will to go to Trader Joe’s for lunch supplies, then I’m going to end up buying lunch out for the week. It’s now or never.

While waiting in line, I fall for the classic merchandising tactic of placing impulse buys right by the checkout lines and add the chocolate covered berries to my basket. $19.44

For dinner my husband has made chicken with rice and asparagus. Asparagus is in season right now so it’s less expensive than it usually is. Gotta take advantage of the discounts!

Game of Thrones starts, and I’m sitting straight up, stressed out the entire time, demolishing my pint of ice cream.



How did your weekend go? Also, where can I get awesome pillow inserts?

Featured Image: Unsplash

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