My Weekend Money Diary #3: Busting My Clothing Budget

Money Diary #3: Labor Day Edition

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.

Who’s the lucky duck who had a FOUR-day weekend instead of the usual three for Labor Day? ME. So today’s money diary is double the weekend days and double the fun. Because I actually bought clothes this time and clothes = fun.

Usually for the long weekend my husband and I travel to visit family, but since we had our wedding a few months ago (where we saw everyone) we decided to skip the trip this year. Plus, we’re doing our honeymoon to New Zealand at the end of the year, and I’m fully anticipating tossing money around on that trip like there’s no tomorrow. I’m all about skipping the smaller trips in favor of the epic ones, so a quiet, New York City weekend felt right.

Friday – A Day in Dumbo

A day off on a weekday means sleeping in until whenever you feel like it. I had breakfast at home: coffee and toast with an egg on top. $0

A day off on a weekday also means the possibilities are endless. How I decide what we do in the city is usually based on how many people/tourists will be where I want to go. That’s why I hardly ever shop in person anymore, because I like to shop in peace. So on Fridays when I don’t work I love to take advantage of the timing by doing something touristy. We originally planned on going to a museum, but the weather was totally wrong for it: perfectly clear and sunny with a hint of coolness that says fall’s about to be up in your face. Better to save a museum visit for a crappy day. So instead we plan to walk around Dumbo. In case you’re not familiar with Dumbo, it’s the very first neighborhood you hit once you cross over the Brooklyn Bridge. It has that old school, industrial feel with warehouses and factories that have turned into expensive apartments, trendy shops and restaurants.

Dumbo, Brooklyn

First up is lunch. There’s an archway under the Manhattan Bridge where they have events and food vendors. I don’t want to spend a ton of money on a full lunch so I grab a snack: tuna onigiri. $4

Then we hit up my favorite vintage shop in the city, Front General Store. They have an amazing selection of true vintage denim, T-shirts and leather jacketsbasically any kind of Americana. I love to browse here because it’s wonderfully curated (like, no 70’s polyester dresses), but I haven’t been in the mindset to actually buy anything yet. $0

Front General Store

We walk to Powerhouse Arena bookstore because my husband is a huge bookworm. I browse a couple fashion books for fun, but I never buy books because I’d rather wait to get them at the library. $0

A couple posts back I suggested using a planner to track your spending, and I tried and failed to order the one I mentioned because the Spring website was acting crazy. Then I went to the actual Shinola website to order the planner but got deterred by the $2.95 shipping charge, because who likes paying for shipping? Well, we discovered there’s a brand-new Shinola store in a converted factory right in Dumbo! They had the exact planner I was looking for, and while I was checking it out, a saleslady came up and asked me if I wanted to monogram it. “How much does that cost?” I asked, because I’m very classy like that. “It’s free,” she replies. Oh, did you say my favorite word, ‘free’? I couldn’t have handed over the planner fast enough. $28.31

Getting My Shinola Runwell Planner Monogrammed

My husband makes avocado baos for dinner. It’s a recipe he copied from one of our favorite restaurants, Talde. You guys, it’s super easy, and you should try it, too. You use steamed buns, panko-fried avocado slices, cucumber, cilantro, and a little bit of hoisin sauce or sriracha mayo. $3.23 (half of grocery store ingredients)

I accidentally deleted the pics I took so here’s one from the restaurant:

Talde Avocado Bao
Talde avocado bao. Credit: @taldebrooklyn

Friday Total: $35.54

Saturday – Sewing Is My Life

Breakfast is coffee and Honey Nut Cheerios. $0

It’s raining out and I have to get cracking on one of my 2017 goals, so most of my day is spent prepping things for my sewing project. Today is ironing, pinning and cutting out all the pieces, which are honestly my least-favorite parts of sewing. Next weekend, the actual sewing! $0

Sewing Pattern and Muslin

For lunch I ate some leftover pesto pasta from the fridge, plus a banana. $0

My husband asks me if I want some wine for the week. Our budget looks good, so I say sure, why not? $16.33

For dinner my husband makes peanut-soy sesame noodles using the cilantro from the previous night’s dinner. $0

Saturday Total: $16.33

Sunday – Where I Succumb to Labor Day Sales

First thing I do when I wake up is check social media and e-mail. Breakfast is coffee in bed and later an English muffin with butter and jam. $0

I check out The Real Real for like, the 10th time this week. There’s a pair of black sandals I’ve been looking at for the past few weeks now, and they’re on the list as a staple missing from my wardrobe. I keep checking to see if someone bought them and if there’s a sale. Finally, they’re 50% off so I add them to the cart. I also see a plaid shirt I like that’s so tempting to buy. It’s only $45 and also on my list. But it’s a size too big, and I’ve been burned by thinking I can get away with “oversized” clothes too many times. I just buy the sandals. $74.45

At this point I’m very well aware that I have only about $75 left to spend on clothes to meet my goals this year.

La Garçonne, one of my favorite online stores, is offering 20% off all sale items. As I’m browsing I see a pair of jeans that I could stock up on for 40% off. Amazing deal…but I don’t need them right now so I pass. But then I find a Comme des Garçons striped T-shirt that’s just my speed. I don’t have any striped knit tees, and they’re such classic. The shirt is final sale. But that’s OK because I have an Amex card that will reimburse me if it doesn’t work out. I also know I’m going to go over the $1,000 shopping budget this year. But that’s OK, because I’m going to solve that problem later. Add to cart, purchase, knowingly blow the budget. $120.20

I’ve been so busy lately so I’ve slacked on keeping up with the household supplies. We have no more cleaning supplies for the kitchen countertops or the stove and those are looking pretty grungy. Since we can’t wait to order them, my husband goes out to pick up some supplies. $5.83 (my half of the cost)

For dinner, my husband decide it’s date night so we’re eating out. Since we have a reservation at a restaurant next weekend we check the budget to see if we can swing a night out tonight. We have the money, but we’ll watch the budget every few days. I get the splurgy omakase, but I never ever splurge on sushi, so today I’m following the age-old mantra: everything in moderation. $44.10 (my half of dinner)

Omakase Sushi

My husband and I make a list of groceries I need to pick up from Trader Joe’s tomorrow.

Sunday Total: $244.58

Monday – Reclaiming My Clothing Budget

I’m in a rush this morning because last night I told myself I’d go to Trader Joe’s by 10am. No time for a real breakfast so I just drink coffee. $0

At Trader Joe’s I pick up frozen chicken mushroom stirfry, peanuts, penne pasta, two bags of pita chips, coffee, olive oil, garlic, grated parmesan cheese, nectarines, bananas, plus two salad kits for lunch for the week. $21.75 (my half of the groceries)

Ugh, when I get back from food shopping my husband asks me where the eggs and jam are. He’s met with a blank stare. Those weren’t on my list. Because I forgot to add them. So my husband goes out to the expensive grocery stores in my neighborhood and drops $26.82 on just a handful of ingredients: 2 jars of tomato sauce, Tate’s cookies, shallots, eggs, apples, jam, and blueberries. Sigh. $13.41 (my half of the groceries)

For lunch I eat a Thai sweet chili veggie burger from Trader Joe’s and add on some scallions and cilantro I found in the fridge. Plus a nectarine I picked up from that earlier food run. $0

Trader Joe's veggie burger and nectarine

Remember how I said I was going to solve that overspending problem? Well, I pulled out a handful of clothes in my closet that I’m planning on selling and spent an hour taking pictures of everything. I should make a few hundred dollars to reclaim my budget and get it back under $1,000 no problem. I’ll report back on the results! $0, but potential ka-ching.

Clothes I Need to Purge

My husband is in the fall mood, so he buys canned pumpkin to bake pumpkin bread. This will serve as breakfast for the week so my husband won’t have to buy it out. $0.99

Pumpkin bread

For dinner my husband makes pasta with ground beef, peppers and marinara sauce. He makes a big enough of a batch so we both have leftovers for lunch the next day. YAY. $0

Monday Total: $36.15

Total Weekend Spending: $332.60

The Luxe Strategist's Money Diary: The Labor Day Edition

Frugal Fail

I could have saved us some money by doing all of our grocery shopping from Trader Joe’s. If my husband and I had planned and communicated better we wouldn’t have had to pick up more expensive groceries from our neighborhood mom and pop shop. I made a list but I forgot to write everything down. Next time I’ll have to show him the list first and make sure I have it all, because it kind of kills me to overpay on groceries.

Frugal Wins

1. If you want to buy something and it’s over budget, saying ‘no’ to the purchase isn’t your only option.

Think of other things you can do:

  • Is there another budget category you can cut? So if spending money on drinks is not a priority for you, consider reducing your budget to make room for the categories you DO care about.
  • Is there an alternative you can buy instead? Like a cheaper version or one that’s used?
  • Can you sell some of your existing stuff to make the money to buy it? (This is one I do a lot.)

I’m not saying you should justify overspending, but just know that there are other options if you really want something that’s over budget.

2. Make big dinners so you have leftovers ready to go for work lunches.

3. The no-fail way to save money? Make stuff.

When I’m focused on creating something, like a sewing project, not spending money is effortless. Have you ever noticed that when you’re super busy at work you don’t spend money? And how those spending sprees happen when you’re bored? So if you’re looking for a hack to save money, work on a project or find a hobby.

How did your weekend go? Any frugal fails or wins?

Image: Unsplash

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  • Wow, I didn’t know Amex had return protection. That seems like a great benefit!

    My frugal win for the weekend is batch cooking for the week and only eating out once. Now I’m craving some sushi, though!

    • Yeah, it’s a favorite CC benefit! I added a link above for more info. I’ll have to write a more detailed post about all the kinds of stuff that Amex has let me returned.

      Nice job on the batch cooking! I’ve strayed away from that myself because I used to have to cook 4-5 things to make my lunches and I felt like my time could be better utilized elsewhere. So now I settle on salad kits that are healthy and require less time to put it together.

      Omakase is a nice experience once in a while, but 99% of the time, I’m all about the cheap crispy salmon rolls!

  • I love your honesty! Sometimes the budget gets blown to bits and sometimes your uber frugal. It will all work out. We bought a new mattress this weekend (Endy) – talk about blowing the budget! I’m really hoping it ends up being worth it!

    • Thanks, Britt. Yeah, nobody’s perfect when it comes to their budgets (well, at least anyone I know), but that doesn’t mean you can’t recover or make adjustments.

      Ooh, a new mattress is so worth it! I hate those one-time household costs, though. I used to spent like, $20 monthly on household supplies, but then I moved in with my husband and all those one-time costs really sucked!

  • ‘They had the exact planner I was looking for, and while I was checking it out, a saleslady came up and asked me if I wanted to monogram it. “How much does that cost?” I asked, because I’m very classy like that. “It’s free,” she replies. Oh, did you say my favorite word, ‘free’? I couldn’t have handed over the planner fast enough.’

    Haha, yes you are very classy!! This is no shame in asking what stuff cost especially when the worker suggests add-ons. Hopefully you love your monogram planner so far!!

    That avocado baos looks good especially with sriracha mayo, need to make one myself!!

    • If the monogramming cost $2 it would have been too expensive for me, hehe. I always get self-conscious about asking about prices so I usually won’t buy said item unless I see the price listed right there.

      Yeah, make the baos!

  • If I ever make it to NY, I want to check out that vintage store. Love denim.
    And sewing, those are my absolute least favorite parts too. I made a shirt once with a 1-way print. Didn’t realize until after I was done with the shirt that the print on one half of the panel was upside down. Woops. Guess I should pay more attention to my projects. 😉

    • You should! I’m extremely picky about vintage stores (most are way too costume-y) and this gets my seal of approval.

      I think so many people don’t realize how much prep there is in sewing. And how much of it is ironing. Sewing the pieces is fun and all, but all the prep stuff is what MAKES the end product. To minimize mistakes I always make a mockup with muslin and I label the top, bottom, back and front, so I can be doubly sure I won’t mess up the final product.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • What luck with your planner! I never heard of an avocado bao. Is that like the Asian version of avocado toast?! Omg! I can’t wait for your eBay cleanse, you’ll probably make hundreds back easily!

    • I know re: planner. I was in ‘forgot password’ purgatory where I kept clicking forgot password on the website and I never for the actual email. Ugh!

      To make the avocado that goes into the bao you basically slice up the avocado, dip it in egg and then panko crumbs. It makes it so crispy and tasty! And it’s an interesting filling for bao rather than the usual meat stuff.

      Yeah, I can’t wait to sell stuff either! The clothes have been taking up space for way too long now.

  • Sarah @tortoise_happy

    Frugal fail- We got take out on Monday! Right at the beginning of the week, but we’ve pulled it back since. We were at a wedding on Friday and needed to stay away from home, but got free parking to compensate a minor problem with the room, and that more than paid for the takeout we took on the Monday. Finances are tough because you need to know what your plans are AND you need to be able to adapt because we’re not robots and sometimes the plan doesn’t quite work.

    • Paying for parking is the absolute worst! I’ll take paying for takeout over parking any day of the week. Hear, hear on being able to adapt your budget–it’s not a fixed thing! My husband and I actually updated our budget a few weeks ago because our rent changed, and that little $50 change has a domino effect.

  • Pia

    “Free” is a great, great word. I love Free.

    Also super duper agree with making big dinners. You not only live frugally by saving money on buying expensive lunches, but you are actually also lessening your bill for gas for the stove, water for the washing up etc when you do that as you don’t need to clean your kitchen twice if you cook 2 meals at the same time as 1 meal. We only cook for half the week and have leftovers the other half of the week. Saves time too!

    • I love the eco-friendliness of making big meals. It makes sooo much sense to do it that way!

  • Oh man, I’m reading this just before dinner and I’m really wanting to try out that avocado baos but I’d have to run to the grocery store! I’m definitely trying this next week when it’ll fit into my grocery budget!!

  • We went to the Washington State Fair for the first time on Labor Day. Free admission for military (yeah!). Tickets for rides $136.50. Water $12 (it was unusually hot for this area). Lunch $33. Parking $10. I don’t even remember what we spent the rest of the weekend…

    • Ooh, I love state fairs. When I lived in a small city I always loved going to those in the fall, complete with farm animals and fried dough! Ugh, I’m so nostalgic now. But whoa, those ride tickets seem really high! Did you go on the rides 50 times?

  • Aw man, I just took advantage of a Labor Day sale and sold some old stuff to pay for it too! Fun coincidence lol. But yes, thank you for giving us permission to remake our budgeting plans. Sometimes, it feels like we have to stick to every plan A we make or we feel like failures. Reading your blog is making taking care of my money fun + actual progress!

    • Budgets are living things that need to be adjusted from time to time! For example, our rent went up and we also now have free laundry in the basement, so yep, had to go adjust the budgets. But yeah, I feel like there are more options than just “don’t buy the thing.” If you reallllly want something, you’ll find a way to make it happen. And it doesn’t mean having to go into debt or wrecking your budget! Yay for money maintenance being fun!

  • GYM

    Okay so Teddy Luxband sounds like such a catch! He’s hilarious AND he cooks and bakes pumpkin bread?! What more could girl ask for? It’s good that you locked him down, lol!! For me, I don’t go shopping because the temptation is too great. My weakness is warehouse sales and outlet malls. The avocado bao looks delicious! The planner looks gorgeous…that’s great you got it personalized- I would ask “Is it free” as well, so classy right!

    • Teddy Luxband

      Hi, GYM…I try to stay impartial here on the LS blog so unfortunately I can’t disagree with anything you said above. My hands are tied…your complimentary words will have to go unchallenged. I can, however, send you a free, monogrammed pumpkin bread so you can quality test it for yourself. Cheers. — T-Lux

      • GYM

        Haha, sorry Luxe, I hesitated to write that comment because I had a feeling it would inflate Teddy Luxband’s ego, but had to! A free, monogrammed pumpkin bread? Sign me up! LOL

    • Oh man, you don’t know how big my husband’s head is right now. He loves the compliments 🙂 But yes, I’m incredibly lucky to have a husband who cooks and likes to invade his wife’s turf on Twitter. Good for you for staying strong on the sales!

  • I have to try out the avocado bao recipe…it sounds so good. It’s been a few years since I’ve last been to Talde…proably need to go soon! I wish we lived closer to a Trader Joe’s because it’s literally the best value for food shopping. The only Trader Joe’s that has a nice parking lot and is never crowded is the one in Staten Island, but it’s a trek. I didn’t get a chance to do any Labor Day shopping because of the move but also because sales really overwhelm me and based on my own history, the sale price has always clouded my judgement. Sounds like you got some necessities though! I definitely can’t wait to see the black sandals you picked up. No surprise but this was so fun to read.

    • I love Talde because I feel like their dishes are pretty creative! It’s not the usual Asian fusion stuff, so yeah, def go again. The Yuzu Guacamole with crispy rice is a favorite, too.

      I take the subway to go to Trader Joe’s, although it’s really not that far from me distance-wise. I’m limited to buying what I can carry myself, although we usually don’t have a huge list of things. This time I was annoyed because it was such a nice day and I wanted to walk around the neighborhood where TJ’s is in. Can’t do that when you have a big bag of groceries in your arms!

      Usually I don’t pay attention to seasonal sales, with very few exceptions. And yes, I definitely felt like I got some necessities. They should be here any day now. Furiously hitting refresh on that ‘track your package’ button.

  • I’m SO excited to see the completion of your sewing project! It makes me want to ship my sewing machine from back home!

    I’ll definitely have to check out Front General Store the next time I’m in the area 🙂 I have quite a few things pending eBay sales at the moment, hopefully I can get a decent return on them–replacing staples in my wardrobe would be so hard otherwise! I’ve never tried using the Return Protection on my Chase card, I should give a go the next time I get something I don’t like. I usually don’t try returning something for way too long while trying to decide if I *really* will find use for it. It pays to be decisive 😛

    • I think Front General Store would totally be up your alley. It’s owned by Japanese people and they have some cool, new things from Japan there, too. And of course, the merch is impeccable!

      So I’ve tried both Chase and Amex Return Protection and Amex is heads and shoulders above Chase! Chase made me do so much more work so that’s a watch out. Need to do a post about it sometime.

      Are you on Instagram? I like posting sewing stuff there. Sometimes I get so tempted to buy another sewing machine, but then I realize the one I have doesn’t get used enough…