My Weekend Money Diary #8: Here West Elm, Take All My Money

My Weekend Money Diary #8: Here West Elm, Take All My Money

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.


Today’s money diary theme: Blogger meetups, a big couch purchase, and a Fidelity rant. Enjoy!


I’ve been walking around for over a week with an unopened tube of concealer in my bag. I accidentally ordered the wrong shade and was in Sephora two days ago, but somehow forgot to do the exchange. So today, after work on a Friday, I’m determined to make this a fruitful trip.

Only one problem: the Sephora display is out of the shade I need.

I do that gauche thing where instead of flagging down a salesperson for help, I pull open the overstock drawer underneath the display and start rooting around for the concealer myself. Nothing. I guess it’s another week of me carrying around this concealer until I finally come across a Sephora that has what I need. Third time’s the charm, right?

As I leave Sephora, I see there’s a new Madewell close by. Should I stop by? I browse, but don’t see anything.

My husband always gets home earlier than me, so when I arrive home, he has dinner waiting: penne pasta with turkey sausage and pesto.

And with zero contribution from me, he has also made a key lime pie! I ask him how many ingredients he had to buy to make the pie. Just condensed milk and a some limes, which he estimates cost $5. We used to buy Steve’s Key Lime Pie (the best!) from the fancy supermarket close by, which cost $17. When they raised the price to $20, we were done with that. A $5 homemade key lime pie feels like a great way to kick off the weekend.

Key Lime Pie
We are a very dessert-heavy household.

Friday Total: ~$5


Busy day today. The plan is:

  • Run
  • Meet up with other bloggers
  • West Elm

But first, I need a snack. I always try to eat something small before going for a run, so I grab a granola bar.

After the run, I don’t plan on eating since I have lunch plans with Gwen in the West Village. But when I open up the fridge, I see my husband has mashed up half an avocado for me, thinking I was going to eat that for breakfast. Since the avocado is mashed, it’s not going to last until tomorrow, so I feel like I have to eat it. Otherwise, I’ll feel immense guilt about wasting food. That’s $1.50 worth of avocado (luxury food central) right there! I think it stems from how I grew up. We never ever threw food away.

So even though it’s going to throw off my eating schedule for the rest of the day, I make avocado toast with fried egg on top.

I head to Sweetgreen in the West Village to meet Gwen. I get there first, so I browse the menu. Man, I’m not hungry after ruining my appetite with the toast. I’ve been to Sweetgreen before, and I know I won’t be able to finish one of their salads right now. Gwen is running late, so I cross the street toward Le Pain Quotidien to see if they have anything smaller.

OK, damn, why is everything on this (very basic) menu so expensive?

Basic egg plate = $14. Avocado toast = $12. Oh yeah, it’s because I’m in the West Village. It’s not far from where Carrie Bradshaw lived.

It’s 1pm, and I feel like I’ll regret it later if I don’t eat now. The cheapest, and most lunch-appropriate thing they have is a small bowl of gazpacho. $7.61

On to Fat Cat for Tanja from Our Next Life’s meetup! I’m so busy talking, it doesn’t even occur to me to buy drinks for myself. My husband, on the other hand, drops by later and spends $15 on two drinks.

Since we’re already in Manhattan for the meetup, we decided to tack on a West Elm trip instead of going a separate day. Heading into Manhattan on the weekends is a commitment, so you need to pack in your plans to make the trip worth it.

*Affiliate links below

We’ve been casually looking at couches for almost a year now. The couch saga has an end in sight.

When I moved in with my husband, we didn’t buy any new furniture, even though my husband’s stuff isn’t necessarily my style. Dropping thousands of dollars in one fell swoop made me sweat. I could live with furniture that wasn’t necessarily my style for a bit. So we made a list of priority buys to gradually replace on our own timeline. Things that would actually make a difference in the household. After two years of living together, the first thing we bought was this Simple Human trash can. You guys, the previous trash can didn’t even have a cover on it…It was a health hazard.

Next up, a big sectional since we spend 90% of our time in the living room. But I forget how expensive new couches were. Like, really expensive.

We don’t budget for furniture since we don’t really buy it on a recurring basis. But this year was the first time we filed taxes together, and we got about $4,000 back. Usually I invest any extra money I get, but we decided to earmark that money for the couch instead of throwing off our monthly budget.

We find the sectional we’ve been looking at online (The Urban Chaise), and plop down to test it out. The size is almost exactly perfect (we’re looking for just under 119 inches wide).

West Elfm Urban Sectional w/Chaise

“We’re gonna get it, right?” my husband asks.

My husband gets up to go toward the cash register.
The sales guy is standing there, waiting for his commission to happen.
We’re right there in the store. So close!

But I say we should wait to buy it online. I just need a few more hours to let the idea settle into my brain. Over $2,000 on a couch!!!

It’s my first time buying a brand-new couch, so this is a big deal for me. I’ve always made do with secondhand furniture from Craigslist (like, $300 or less), or moving into apartments that were already furnished. I need to research options just one more time. When I get home, I pull up 20 tabs with couch options–they’re all just as expensive (Macy’s, Article, Wayfair, etc.), not as comfortable-looking, and don’t have the right specs. The West Elm couch is on sale for $500 off (so no coupons are valid, sadly) and I impulse-buy a flannel duvet cover for when the weather is cooler. $2,424.53

Also, I don’t forget to check cash back sites for extra points!

We somehow planned our day poorly, because when we get home we’re both so tired that we regretfully resort to ordering fancy pizza for dinner (the most joyless purchase ever). $27.76

Saturday Total: $2,474.90


My friends just got back from Paris, and I haven’t seen them forever. It’s time to meet up for brunch and catch up. Also, one of them says she needs help navigating the Fidelity website to invest her rollover IRA money. You know how I feel about money, so helping my friend invest is like getting showered with rainbow skittles.

No breakfast. I’m not ruining my appetite again like yesterday.

I take the subway to Williamsburg for brunch at Egg. The food options there are pretty basic (hence, the name), but it’s reasonably priced compared to other restaurants. Egg dishes are about $11, etc. I order the Country Biscuit with homemade fig jam and a side of hash browns. $18.12

I’ve been there a couple times already, but today we’re there earlier than usual. Early birds get the worm = mini beignets!

Mini beignets at Egg

My friends brought back some Margiela toiletries from their Paris hotel. Considering that you can only get these from a handful of hotels (and not for sale), this is yet another sign of true friendship. In case you’re curious, the first sign is listed here.

Margiela Replica Toiletries

They also tell me how they were approached by pickpockets three or four times! That has never happened to me, but now I feel like I should be extra vigilant when in Paris.

Later we’re walking around the neighborhood and see Muji. I have to go in.

When I mentioned that I was looking for a couch in my newsletter, some of you replied with your suggestions. Reyu (thanks!) recommended getting two body cushions from Muji. While I’m here, I gotta at least test them out.

Body cushions at Muji

Consensus: They’re like grown-up bean bags, and they mold to your body way better than ones filled with plastic beads, and do I have to get up now? Something to consider down the line, but not today.

We head back to my friend’s apartment to get that Fidelity account popping. Can I just tell you how awful these brokerage sites are? I watched my super bright friend log into her Fidelity account and not have a clue what to click on to actually invest. I have an equally poorly-designed Vanguard account, and even I had trouble figuring out what to click on on this Fidelity website. Now, I know brokerages have no incentive to fix their websites (after all, they probably want you to sign up for one of their advisors), but it’s absolutely rage-inducing how this prevents very smart people from investing. /end rant/

On the subway ride back I stop at Trader Joe’s for my weekly grocery run. My weekly lunch supplies are about $10 (salad kits, fruit and chips), and the other half is frozen dinners for nights off from cooking. $20.01

On the way home, I’m reminded it’s peony season, because a bodega I pass has them out in front for $9.98, but they’re already bloomed and won’t last for more than a couple days. Pass.

I have a beef with Google Express. Last time we placed an order it got cancelled immediately with no explanation. I had worked on that cart for like, 30 minutes, and would have to manually re-add everything. I e-mailed them and they offered us no explanation and a $5 coupon. Pretty sad customer service. But we need floss and stuff. This is the last time I use them, since their shipping is unpredictable and they don’t seem to care about retaining customers. Half of our order is PediaSure for my husband’s son, and the other half is household supplies and groceries. $92.23

My husband and I have been disagreeing about the flavor profile of fried chicken and beets: he thinks it’s a great combo, but I’m not so sure. But he rightfully ignores my dissent and whips up this amazing dish: fried chicken with roasted beets in a garlicky yogurt sauce and wilted ramps on top. Teddy Luxband: 1; Luxe: 0.

Fried Chicken with Beets

Sunday Total: $130.36

Weekend Total: $2,610.26

What did you do with your tax refund money?
Did you buy your furniture all at once, or did you do it piece meal like me?
Have you ever tried to invest by logging into a brokerage account, but noped out of there?

Feature Image: The Luxe Strategist

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