Category: Goals

What I’m Not Going to Buy – Inspired by Kimberly Clark

“The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy.”
― Yves Saint-Laurent

Kimberly Clark is a YouTuber I mentioned in my March favorites post. A drag queen who vlogs on beauty, consumerism, and social issues, her content is frankly right up my street! She’s most notable for her “Anti-Haul” series where, in contrast to other glam influencers who show off their (often extravagant) mass purchases, she creates fun and enjoyable videos detailing what she is choosing not to buy–and why. Her style is quintessential drag, humorous and hyperbolic, but often intermixed with valuable thoughts on brands and consumer culture.

I really like her take on being honest and blunt about wanting, buying, and enjoying products that are fundamentally unnecessary, but also honestly evaluating (in her opinion) when certain products or brands cross the line into downright ridiculous. Her catch phrase, “I don’t need it and I’m not going to buy it,” could save us all a lot of buyers remorse–and not just on beauty and style products.

And so, following the exposé of my stash, and in the spirit of glitter, big hair, and smarter consumption, here’s a list of things I’m not going to buy:

Stila Magnificent Metals Glitter and Glow Liquid Eye Shadow. Something strange has happened lately and I’ve found myself drawn inexorably to metallic cosmetics as if I were some kind of earthbound magpie. These things are outrageously high on shine and ever since swatching them on my hand to test both their reflective might (strong) and staying power (fairly decent for something so glittery), I have coveted them fiercely. But I’m not going to buy them. I have two semi-metallic shades of cream eye shadow that are more muted but still plenty shimmery and can work for both work or going out depending on how I use them. They would be tons of fun, but–in the words of Kimberly Clark herself–I don’t need them so I’m going to buy them!

Bobbi Brown City Palette in London. I fell for this compact due to the combined powers of an intense navy shade and the illustrated case that pays homage to my favorite city on earth. But pretty as they both are, even I must admit those are insufficient reasons to splurge.

Anything by Tom Ford, with the exception of the eyeliner pen which is genuinely great in spite of the price. Because when your brand charges $50 for lipstick, $110 for bronzer, and $80 for blushes…I expect your products to not only make me eternally young, but to do my laundry, clean my house, and file my tax paperwork in the bargain. No one needs to spend that much money on on this stuff. Nobody.

Glossier Cloud Paint. Like the liquid eye shadow, I definitely want this and am intrigued to try it. I don’t entirely worship at the shrine of Glossier, some of their products are a bit overhyped or underwhelming…but the products of theirs that I do like, I buy in multiples. However I’m not going to be buying this product, at least not any time soon, because I have a lot of blushes already. I haven’t bought all of them, a good number I was very generously gifted to review by a magazine, but the fact remains that I have a drawer full already and simply don’t need more at the moment.

Any more highlighters. Sephora can tempt me with all the glow they can bring to bear, but I own a handful as it stands. I can look dewy, bronzed, or downright gilded if I want to already, so I will be sitting on my hands every time I’m tempted by something shiny until I’ve used up some of my existing stock.

Most limited edition anything (fully acknowledging that my own shopping ban cheat indulgence was precisely that). In almost all instances, the “limited edition” nature of these items is to meant to enable markups on already existing formulas and products. Moreoever, more than one brand has rolled out a “limited edition” product to outrageous hype, only to have it become a viral success–at which point it behooves the brand to add the item to their normal roster anyway (a great example of this is Becca’s Champagne Pop highlighter). Which means that all you paid for (normally at some kind of mark up) is the urgency. There are new product launches all the time and it is a rare item that will truly fill a gap in your stash and be worth the higher price tag.

New Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencils. Full disclosure, I love these. I own two and could gleefully own more, but I’m sitting on my hands in defiance of their recent release of new shades because…I have an obscene amount of lip products already. I’m not buying another stick until I’ve used up my existing ones. So help me god.

Anything Kylie Cosmetics. I fully admit to an irrational prejudice when it comes to this family in general, but that’s just not a direction I want to send my money.

 

Your turn, ducklings. What is one thing (or a list of things) you want but have made a decision not to buy–frivolous or otherwise? 

Finding My Fashion Sense (a work in progress)

“Style is knowing what suits you, who you are, and what your assets are. It is also accepting it all.”
– Bianca Jagger

Lo these many years ago in my early 20s I decided to sit down and figure out what I actually liked and wanted to wear, as opposed to trying to follow trends or simply copy looks I liked on other people (which invariably never looked as good on me). It was a surprisingly frustrating exercise. It took a few years in all honesty, and I ended up going down a few blind fashion alleys, and frankly spending more money than I should have, along the way. But I was sick of owning clothes I didn’t wear because I’d bought them liking the idea of the pieces more than the pieces themselves…which was ultimately my personal breakthrough moment.

Liking and owning are not and need not be the same thing. I’d gotten them dangerously confused–something I think it’s very easy to do in our culture. Indeed, we’re kind of trained to. Just because I liked something didn’t mean that 1) I needed to own it or, 2) that it would necessarily suit me anyway. I didn’t really know what I liked, and as a result I was flailing–stylistically as well as financially or practically. Dividing aesthetic appreciation from my consumer urges helped get poorly planned or whim purchases off the menu; I then decided that I needed to figure out what my tastes actually were before buying more stuff.

I made a Pinterest board where I pinned fashion images that I liked, as opposed to items I wanted to buy.

Gradually, some noticeable themes started to emerge from the inspiration images I collected. What I learned over time is that I like masculine inspired tailoring in feminine clothing, neutral basics paired with colorful or standout accessories, high impact glam for special occasions, and a noticeably vintage vibe running throughout. Got it! If that’s how I buy, I know I’ll be pretty happy and get a lot of use out of my clothing. So it was and so it has remained.

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This image is my fashion totem: comfy jeans, impractically dramatic fur coat, excellent lipstick. Done. It me, kittens, at least in my fantasy life.

I’ve never read any good style advice that didn’t boil down to, “Know thyself,” but I think if we are honest, that’s more difficult than it appears at first blush. Lots of us go through multiple identities or personas in our life–high school cliques, groups of friends, career moves, family changes–which means that who we are is constantly shifting. Sometimes we deliberately decide to explore new facets of our personalities, which may prompt a change in aesthetics. Sometimes…we just feel bored or frustrated with ourselves and an easy way to feel different it to choose to look different (let’s share tragic haircut choices in the comments, shall we?). And sometimes, our tastes simply change. Mine have shifted several times over the last decade. And even though I’m pretty happy with my wardrobe now, I’m fairly sure it will evolve again at some point as my professional or lifestyle needs shift.

Committing to examining and developing your sense of style can be an exercise in radical honesty, it forces you to really define what you like but also why you gravitate towards it. You may encounter some uncomfortable truths. When I was first freelancing full time, I spent several months in full schlub mode and there was a period of time where I could spend whole days in my pajamas if I wanted to, which I often did. It ended up having a knock on effect on my health (it was easy not to exercise) and confidence (it was hard to feel competent with perpetually messy hair). When I woke to this cause-and-effect, I made a switch and deliberately discarded or repurposed my lazy loungewear so that wearing it simply wasn’t an option. A minor change, but one that has had long term positive benefits for both how I look and feel in the mirror.

Examining your style can also open up some positive doors or new facets of your personality you want to explore and bring to the fore. Stay tuned for the story of my love affair with lipstick next week! Once you discover what you like (what you really like), I find that a lot of the imposter syndrome, self consciousness, or indecision that often comes with getting dressed in the morning melts away. If you genuinely love what you own, whether it’s trunk fulls of designer labels, or well loved jeans and t-shirts, I think you are much less likely to be concerned with what other people’s opinions are on the subject of your presentation.

Get to know yourself. Like yourself. Dress the part. It’s a formula that works for me, even though the first element of it is constantly in a state of flux.

 

Your turn! Have you ever tried to define your own sense of style? What tools helped? Could you sum up your fashion sense in three words or an image like that of the Great and Good Katherine Hepburn? 

 

Style Month

“Fashion changes, but style endures.”
― Coco Chanel

Welcome to Style Month at SDS! Throughout April we’re going to be talking beauty, fashion, makeup, identity, psychology, marketing, and consumerism–because style is anything but a shallow concept.

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I’m hoping to shake things up with some new post formats, a bit of personal writing, and of course to continue to work towards being  smarter, savvier consumer overall. Even though we’re going to be talking about what’s often considered a frivolous topic (false), this very much falls under the yearly theme of: Less But Better when it comes to spending and consuming in general.

Like unto Money Month, I hope you guys will play along, comment, share your own posts and writing on similar topics, and signal boost other content worth sharing. If a book has changed your thoughts on style, share it! If you’ve developed a signature look, let me know how you found it! I hope to tick off a few more of my 101/1001 goals but mostly I’m looking forward to discussing an oddly personal topic in a hopefully broad and interactive way with the minion coterie. I really enjoyed my last month-long project and am hoping you guys enjoy this one just as much.

Budget and Ban Check In

“There are people who have money and people who are rich” 
– Coco Chanel

My second shopping ban is winding down and as promised, I thought it was a good time to do a budgeting check in as a follow up to my Money Month project. My basic household budget is still accurate, and by rigorously curtailing spending, we’ve been able to chip at some debt in small but steady ways. The hustle continues to pay off and I’m happy to say I’ve landed a new year-long contract that, well shepherded, should enable us to pay off debt a bit more aggressively than we are doing already. It will also allow us to do a bit more travelling, which we very much want to prioritize this year.

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In February I met my goal of not eating out for the entire month–with two exceptions where a meeting or event at work (which promised food) fell through at the last minute. In those instances, I ate at a cheap canteen for less than £5 each. To put it simply, I was shocked at how much savings this produced. I knew I was spending more than I wanted on food on the go, but sometimes it takes a moment of sharp relief to throw it into perspective. Ever since I’ve been recommitted to prepping my meals in advance and have almost entirely eschewed paying for coffee or tea.

As for my other short term goals, I wasn’t able to do my £40/week goal of grocery shopping for this month, but that’s simply due to disorganization on my part and I’ll be returning to this goal at some point.  I did meet my goal of no entertainment spending, however. Netflix and Amazon Prime have been getting a lot of use! We’ve also devised a simple but easily monitored plan to pay off a couple of credit cards quickly and are on track to do so. Regarding donating, I’ve set up a regular donation to my public broadcasting peeps and plan on adding other regular donations to the budget once my new contract kicks in. And I’ve been sticking to my monthly cash budget as an article of faith!

My shopping ban has been another fantastic reset for me. Over the 12 months, 6 of them have been spent consciously not buying new stuff and I think it has helped me get a sense of my retail therapy, impulse purchase, and casual spending habits. It’s forced me to shop my own closet (more on that next month!), and experiment with my makeup and accessories more rather than simply coveting an entire new outfit or piece when I’m bored or frustrated with my wardrobe. I’ll be lifting the ban on April 1st, but don’t expect to dive into a wave of shopping as a result. I’ve got a relatively short list of items I need (mostly work related) but other than that, I’m going to try to stick to what I have until I’ve used more pieces up.

Full disclosure I did make a cheat purchase (a limited edition highlighter from the Estée Lauder and Victoria Beckham collaboration, which I missed out on during it’s original launch), but I felt able to justify it by cutting other discretionary spending that didn’t fall under my ban. For instance, instead of replacing some skincare products when they ran out, I used other items in my bathroom cupboards that I’ve previously passed on in favor of other products or just plain forgot about. I’ve kept my eye on a few new makeup and beauty items over the past few months but by being forced to sit on my hands instead of snapping them up, I’ve been able to evaluate my own needs and desire for them a bit more judiciously. As a result, my shopping list has shrunk to just a couple of items for when my ban expires.

So all in all, instead of stuff, I’d like to focus my money attention for the next few months on continuing debt pay down, travel, and items for the apartment. Not a bad place to be!

Checking in on 101/1001

“I don’t focus on what I’m up against. I focus on my goals and I try to ignore the rest.”
– Venus Williams

Six months have now gone by, so it’s time to check in on where I’m at with my goal list. At a rate of nearly 2 a month, here’s what I’ve ticked off so far:
35. Move to a new (bigger) apartment
46. Keep a spending diary for a month
51. Do the Yoga With Adrienne 30-day Challenge  (Did a 31-day challenge instead!)
55. Blog twice a week for six months
59. Participate in  a protest in support of a cause I care about
65. Finish another “cult TV” show (Twin Peaks)
81. Find a way to collaborate with one of my creative agency contacts
82. Achieve 10,000 steps a day for a month
85. Drink 2 litres of water a day for a month
94. Go a month without biting my nails
97. Try starting a new feature on SDS (monthly faves)

And here are some longer term goals currently in progress:
28. Go a month without eating out once
30. Put $10 in savings for every goal accomplished
33. Pay off the remainder of our student loans
44. Go on a shopping hiatus for 3 months once a year (currently on 2 of 4)
49. Decorate a new apartment like a real, live grown up (a work very much in progress)
54. Pitch 4 writing projects a year as a bare minimum (3 of 15)
66. Listen to one new-to-me music album each week for a year
83. Go on one holiday a year with just friends (1 of 3!)
84. Deep clean once a season for duration of 1001 day timeline (2 of 15)
86. Vote in every election in my US state for duration of 1001 day timeline
91. Relearn how to knit
95. Listen to 20 audiobooks (6 of 20)

Brag your recent personal achievements in the comments and let me know how you’re getting on with some of your long term goals and priorities!

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Spending Diary Vol. 5

“A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart.”
– Jonathan Swift

In the interest of full and final disclosure, here is the last of my spending diary for the month of January this year. I gave myself a final food indulgence and ordered dinner on Tuesday as I committed to not eating out once during February, let’s see how that goes!

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This has been an amazingly useful project, so thanks again for playing along and holding me accountable. And thanks to everyone who commented and shared these posts, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by all the kind and thoughtful engagement from this series. As always, the Minion Coterie are the real MVPs around here.

Sunday
Renewed blog registration: 22.00
Delivery customs charge (for what, I’m not sure, but apparently I have a package incoming?): £14.27

Monday
Lunch: £4.10
Travel card renewal and top up: £43.00

Tuesday
Lunch: £16.50
Coffee for  pal having a bad day: £3.90
Dinner: £24.00
Groceries: £25.00

Total £152.77

The End of “Money Month”

“Being happy isn’t getting what you want, it’s wanting what you have.”
– Carrie Fisher

It’s the end of Money Month and so here’s a bit of an overall update for those who have been playing along. Writing about money and consumption has been a really helpful exercise for me in trying to consciously change or update my habits. In some cases I was surprised at the personal insights I explored, in others, I only confirmed my existing suspicions about my financial choices.

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image via Death to the Stock Photo

What have we done?

As a broad status report, our student loan debt is down from nearly $100k initially to less than $16k. Huzzah!

I’ve written a new household budget that I’ll be sticking to (and reporting back on periodically, as it ticks off a 101/1001 goal).

I kicked off another personal shopping ban, one month of three down!

I reinstated my monthly cash budget and stuck to it. In fact, I took it a step further and consolidated all the spare cash and coins in the house to start using our loose change instead of letting it accumulate. As a result, I didn’t once withdraw cash from an ATM this month.

I ticked off another 101/1001 goal by documenting my spending daily, and I learned quite a bit about my casual spending and how it adds up.

Where do we go from here?

Two more months of a personal spending freeze before another self evaluation.

In February I’m going to try and avoid eating out once to tick off another 101/1001 and save in the area where a lot of my discretionary money has gone.

In March I’m going to try and limit my grocery spending to £40 a week, which will require some more planning than usual.

No entertainment spending for two months as well. Instead of going to the theatre or movies etc., I’m going to put that money towards outstanding credit card balances.

Develop a family monthly credit card payment plan. Some months we’ve paid large payments, others just the minimum. I’d like to set monthly target as part of the larger goal to pay them off entirely in the foreseeable future. With our student loans in hand and a sustainable path forward on them, credit is the area of my financial life I want to tackle next.

Incorporate regular donations to causes I care about. Setting aside the personal if this month has taught me anything it’s that this is not a time in which to stay stay silent.

What I’ve learned:

I still believe I’m not bad with money, but what I’ve discovered I am is unregimented and that needs to change.

Specificity is everything. Limits or targets that I can monitor and track helps tremendously, while having a lofty or vague sort of goal is useless to me. I’m not a vision board girl, I’m a list girl!

Breaking down my financial goals into even smaller increments than I used to also helps me achieve larger aims. Sometimes even monthly goals are too vague for me or too easy to forget–or talk myself out of! Weekly goals, on the other hand, are a lot easier for me to keep at the top of my priority list. I’m amending a lot of my habits around this insight, not just financial ones.

What’s a financial goal you’ll be working on this year? How will you be tracking it?