recent purchases and thoughts on money

March 7, 2012 |  Category:   happy purchases life rambling

I don’t often talk about shopping or things I buy on the blog. Other than the fact that I don’t want to focus on “stuff” here, the last time I talked money and shopping, the comments took on a life of its own and quickly veered toward the ridiculous till I had to shut the comments down. Long time readers may know this incident as “Paralegal-gate”. Truth is, bloggers often get judged on things they buy, the money they spend, the price point of products they post, or the perceived priorities that they place on their spending. I see it all the time. Even if it’s not said outright, you can bet somebody out there is thinking something. But we’re all human. I’m sure we’ve all had envious (and maybe judgemental if we’re being honest) thoughts of one kind or another, so shopping or products I covet rarely ever become blog posts (for all you know, I am a hoarder of expensive shoes and I have a closet full of Rachel Comeys and Jimmy Choos, ha! Nooooo).


After we came back home from our trip, I took a walk around the city by myself a few days later after my morning meeting. It was 60 degrees and the weather was glorious. I had been really good about not spending money after putting myself on a spending freeze for a while, but I bought a few things while walking around and it felt nice. Sometimes I think about what life was like pre-kids when Mark and I didn’t have 2 extra little people to support and I wonder what we did with our money. We ate out a lot more, that’s for sure. I booked things like facials and frequent haircuts. We went out at night, we traveled, maybe not necessarily more, but to farther places overseas. I definitely did a lot more walking around, popping into stores and shopping, just like I did last week which seems like a treat these days when it does happen. Without any responsibilities, spending money came with no regrets, but we weren’t thinking about the future either.
Certain things like healthcare costs and college tuition for the girls can still keep me up at night, but while our strict budget have loosened since I started this blog (thankfully we are at a different place income wise than where we were 4 years ago), we’re still careful with our money and our overall spending habits haven’t changed much from the time when every single penny counted. Those years taught me how to economize and make savings a priority even when we were broke when we first became parents (we collected loose change and dollar bills in a jar and put that in our savings once a month for 2 years when that was all we could save). These are lessons that I’m grateful for because those are life adjustments in priorities we still choose to live by. While I would love to eat out more, get pedicures, treat ourselves to daily lattes and pastries, or buy nice cosmetics and candles, these are things, for example, that we’ve decided we can live without in our daily lives. And we don’t really miss them. We’d rather spend our money differently like our yearly summer trips to the West Coast, which really only have been a recent thing, or save as much as we can for some sense of security. This is what’s important to us, but for some people, those pedicures, lipsticks and lattes might be necessary splurges and is important for them. Only we can decide what is right for each of us.

Mark and I are definitely not “young people” anymore. As much as I would like to think otherwise, our feet are planted firmly in adulthood, but I also think we’re at an age where we really should enjoy the payoffs of hard work – with no regrets. It’s been interesting to see the arc of the last 10 years. 10 years of so much change and addition to our lives and so many shifted priorities. Sometimes it scares me to think that these are considered our prime earning years. We have a good, fairly modest life and we’ve made enough money to support that life so far with some frugal planning and hard work, but sometimes I think, “this is it??” (still waiting for that genius million dollar idea to pop into my head…) “But how will we ever retire? How will the girls go to college?”. Like any normal person, I sometimes do envy the vacations that other people take, the apartments they live in, the perceived lifestyle that they may have, but then I think to myself…what would we do if we had more money? What would I spend it on, what would change? Would our problems go away? Other than feeling more secure and maybe having more freedom to do things, which admittedly is huge, I’m thinking maybe not as much as I may think. You’ll always have more and make more money than some people and you’ll always have less and make less than others. It’s what you do with your particular situation that matters. I’d like to think that we have just what we need right now.*

Because you’ll ask, here’s the stuff I bought: Orla Kiely for Uniqlo scarf ($12 bucks!); enamel bracelet from J Crew; ceramic berry basket from Anthropologie; Striped shirt from the sale rack at Madewell.

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  • Nora Good March 12, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    thanks for your refreshing blog, especially this post is so honest and I relate to every little think.

    thank you for putting it out there.

    hello from Berlin!

  • Carol March 13, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I wonder if the global crash of 2008 has also contributed to our awareness of what we’re spending now too. I over indulged pre-2008 and consequently found myself in a lot of debt which I’m slowly reducing even now. But when I look back, I can see that a lot of what I actually bought I really didn’t need. I wanted it, but I didn’t need it.

    As a consequence of that, I try to be more conscious in my consumption. I buy thrift clothing & items a lot more now. And I ask myself constantly ‘do I need to buy this’?

    But at the same time, I enjoy moments of sitting in a quiet cafe with a latte and a book and I try to avoid beating myself up for it. The only difference now, is that book was probably bought second hand from one of my favourite used book stores for £1.50.

    I’m not sure what my point is here lol.

    Ultimately, for us all to become a little more aware and conscious of what we buy and why we buy it? And when we do indulge in a little pleasure, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for it?

  • Roseann March 13, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    I really admire your honesty. My husband and I are just starting our marriage and our careers and we hope to start a family in the next 5 years or so, but there are a lot of financial hurdles before we can do so. We live in a very expensive city (San Francisco) and need to be able to afford a larger place before we can have kids. We both grew up in the country with a lot of space, and we want to be able to give that to our children. We already pinch a lot of pennies- we make our own coffee and tea, cook all our own dinners and eat the leftovers for lunch the next day, and mostly buy second hand clothing. Neither of us drive, which cuts down a lot of cost. But it is always a challenge, and a girl wants nice things, so I do think it is important to treat ourselves every now and then. Beautiful photos.

  • Alt-Mama March 24, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Fantastic post. It’s nice to read other adults’ perspectives on money. I’m 27, and my husband’s 36– we’re a creative couple who met in NYC when we both lived there, and now live in Austin, TX, where we moved when our son was six months old. This was largely a financial decision. Like you guys, our financial picture has loosened a lot since we first became parents– which feels very relieving– but I have no idea where college tuition (not to mention ongoing Montessori school’s etc.), health care expenses, and down payment type cash will come from. Yet we’re never destitute in the way money fears make me think we might become… It always works out. I remember stressing over money even as a single, salaried, corporate-by-day, hipster-by-night 22-year-old in Manhattan who bought dresses, shoes and dinners all the time… I wonder what the hell I was thinking– being worried over money then– but realize too that it’s clearly always possible to worry, but probably not very often necessary. That being said, I think the health care system in this country is disgusting and gives people good cause for financial concern (while plenty of other nations have clearly figured out how to create health care from taxes and still afford their citizens a perfectly progressive and comfortable standard of living), and I also wouldn’t mind at all if I inherited millions. Thus I play the lottery on occasion, which I realize is a completely stupid expenditure in and of itself. Ha. Whatever. Glad to see, anyway, that I’m not the only one thinking about this stuff.

  • Summer March 27, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    I rarely comment here, but I just want to say how much I love your honesty and writing (especially about “real” issues like money and being a parent). I’m turning 30 in just over a month, and I’ve been really trying to put on my adult pants lately (you mean, people have savings acoounts outside their retirement? Whaaa?). My friends are having a hard time coping with my 2 jobs/80 hr work weeks, and are like, “What are you going to spend that extra money on?!” I’m thinking, “Uh, probably a new ac unit in the next year…? I don’t know, life?”

    Anyway, I have the same thoughts about the 30’s – 40’s being the prime money making years. That horrifies me, because i’m nowhere close (although my 22 year-old self would think I’m banking!), and the idea that one day my bosses will be younger than me…..oh dear. I’d prefer not to think about it. I do think I definitely spend more the more I make. I’ve recently decided even though I haaad gradutated to Banana Republic, I should still probably keep my rear at Old Navy.

    I also find myself quoting Biggie Smalls “Mo’ money, mo’ problems” an uncomfortable amount of the time.

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