Tag: Goals

Late to the Game

“Besides, just because they wore frills and makeup didn’t mean they weren’t dangerous…”
― Brandon Sanderson, The Hero of Ages

As written, I didn’t really get serious about my beauty game until my early-mid 20s and as a result I have been “late” on an awful lot of things. Not just trends or products, but whole processes. A few of these, in no particular order, include:

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Blow drying my hair. I did this growing up…but grudgingly and not very well. In fact, I have memories of an increasingly frustrated X. trying to teach me this skill, like the amazing surrogate big sister she was, when we were about 12 years old, before giving up in disgust. It wasn’t until university that I really learned how to use a round brush and I still don’t really have my mane together in the way I’d like. I missed out on a decade of practice and it shows!

Lipstick, as I’ve written about, didn’t show up permanently on my face until my early 20s.

Hand lotion. I have a strange dislike of feeling like my hands and fingers are slick in any way and so have endured years of dry cuticles, cracked winter skin, and general discomfort. The years I have missed on this are ridiculous to think about, but I didn’t start using hand cream until a couple of years ago when I was given a travel sized tube of Neal’s Yard Remedies. I use it regularly, but still have a bit of lingering squeamishness when I first apply it. But then it sinks into my sink and makes me feel better, so all is forgiven.

Body lotion has been a similar journey. I had eczema growing up (and it occasionally still puts in an appearance) so I was used to slathering treatments on my skin, but daily care and nurturing rather eluded me until I moved to London three and half years ago. I suspect that the aggressive winter heating required in an urban setting is to blame. But last year I picked up a massive bottle of Kiehl’s Creme de Corps and have never looked back. I use it every day, without fail.

Powder. This is one of the oldest beauty items known to man, but I didn’t start using it until a couple of years ago, and it’s still not something I reach for every day. As a kid it always struck me as something old fashioned and tricky to use–it’s astonishingly easy to look cakey and sloppy, at least for a newb like me. Investing in higher quality products in adulthood has finally awoken me to its usefulness but in spite of this revelation, I’m still learning how to use powder properly.

Have you ever been “late” to a product or trend, beauty or otherwise, that you later came to love? If so, what? Heck, I’ve only gotten onboard with audiobooks in the last year or so! 

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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? 

Style Isn’t Shallow

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”
― Gore Vidal

What do we talk about when we talk about style?

I deliberately chose the theme of “Style” for this month over fashion or beauty because, even though the terms are often used interchangeably, I don’t believe they are perfectly synonymous. When I talk about style, and this is the framework I want to use in discussing it this month, I am talking about the series of choices we make everyday in how we choose to physically present ourselves in public. The manifestations of these choices are what we wear and buy. Sometimes these choices are informed by trends, sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes these choices are intentional, sometimes they are reflexive. But whether you look like you just stepped out of the pages of Vogue, or have built your wardrobe entirely thanks to Goodwill, style is fundamentally personal and individual.

In a very real way, whether we are conscious about it or not (and goodness knows I haven’t always been), the myriad of day to day decisions about what we choose to put on our faces and bodies or in our homes are markers of how we are choosing to spend our resources, attention, and time. Not only that, our physical personal presentations encompass a lot of broad notions, including gender identity, political and social values, and consumerism in general with all its attendant issues.

I think that people who turn their noses up at style and fashion often betray a reverse snobbery that’s dismissive of the very real concerns and issues of consumer culture, an ignorance of how deeply impactful fashion and style are in almost everyone’s day to day lives (regardless of race, income, or any number of factors), and often a casual misogyny against seemingly “shallow” women or prejudice against gender nonconforming men.

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Style–the everyday choices we make–is not shallow. It’s the physical manifestation of both unique identity, and an awful lot of human realities. Hopefully, by framing it in this active way, we’ll find some interesting aspects of style to talk about this month. I’m opening up my closet and bathroom shelf for scrutiny, and hoping to gain a bit of insight into my own choices and habits, as well as learning more about yours in the comments.

 

Your turn, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this month’s topic and on this post. Let me know what the term “style” means to you, and if you agree with my definition or not. Who meets your definition of a stylish person, and how you define your own sense of style?

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