How I Spent My Money: October 2017

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I know it’s almost December (!!!), but let’s ignore that for a moment so I can knock this How I Spent My Money blog post out.

Back in October, I took a trip to LA to watch my friends get married (!!!), got a bunch of money back for items I returned, and took care of some healthcare items I’d been procrastinating on all year.

The end result?

Me, hella happy and pretty healthy, and somehow under budget. 😎

Total spending: -$583

That’s a whole $321 under budget, which is great, but also a little misleading. Here’s why:

Travel: -$464

This is $284 over budget. Usually I review my Travel category last, but it seems prudent to cover it first this month, seeing as I used Travel as a catchall for a ton of expenses in October, because…

I took a 5-day trip Newport Beach to attend my friend’s wedding. During this time, I spent

  • $230 on eating out (including $62 at Red O, a Rick Bayless restaurant, and several hotel meals (the Hyatt Regency at Newport Beach does a solid breakfast and some damn good bar food (THOSE CRISPY KALE SPROUTS THOUGH)))
  • $30 on groceries (from Whole Foods, to eat in our hotel room)
  • $28 on getting my nails done (I went to the Nail Bar inside the Nordstrom at Fashion Island and had my nails done by Noni Farr – she was a total sweetheart and did a phenomenal job on my fingers and toes. I chose Deborah Lippmann’s Hot Child in the City, which is a gorgeous bright orange that verges on neon depending on the lighting. I opted for a polish change, which, for fingers and toes, cost me only $20 before tip, which is INSANE (which is why I tipped so high). I highly recommend making an appointment with Noni if you’re in Newport Beach and looking to get your nails done – she’s fantastic. (Caveat: I may be biased because we found out she and her husband have the same zodiac signs as me and my partner, which, she told me, means we are meant2be.))
  • and $12 on theater food when I went to watch Blade Runner 2049 (which was SO DANG GOOD)

I spent $13 at Lush (at Fashion Island) on a bath bomb (Thunder Snow) and bath melt (You’ve Been Mangoed), because my partner and I have a thing for taking baths at hotels. (We actually asked the front desk to change our room assignment after we arrived, because we thought we’d booked a room with a bathtub, but our assigned room only had a shower. They moved us to a different room without any fuss, and we got our baths, so all was well.)

I also spent $151 on transportation. This includes $50 on Lyft to get to SFO, and $36 to get home from SFO. Most of the other $65 was spent on tipping our hotel shuttle drivers and taking Lyft to and from places other than Fashion Island. My partner paid for a Lyft ride or two and more of the cash tips than I did, but we managed to use the heck out of the hotel shuttle service. We took the shuttle to and from Fashion Island almost every day, saving us at least $12 a day. We had considered renting a car, but we would’ve had to pay for gas and the Hyatt’s parking fees (at least $27/night). By my calculations, we saved at least $135 by not renting a car in LA (which is kind of a crazy sentence).

Going out: -$122

I spent $122 on going out (aside from during our trip), which puts me at $150 under budget.

My Going Out spending was lower than usual because many of those expenses went into the Travel category, I was treated to a belated birthday dinner, and my partner and I ate at home a bit more.

I spent

  • $118 on eating out with my partner (including $46 total on ramen, and $24 on a heavy breakfast at Lori’s Diner, to recuperate from having my blood drawn for like 5 seconds and then crying uncontrollably from sadness for the next half hour; this is just who I am and I thank my lucky stars my partner doesn’t run away from it)
  • $22 on groceries to consume with my partner
  • $66 on spending time with friends (including $7 on McDonald’s chicken tenders (shoutout to Sean B, who is also trash 🚮 and who sent me into my recent Macca’s spiral), $20 on dim sum with my azn coworkers, and $35 on Thor: Ragnarok tickets (100% worth it if for nothing but a delicious amount of Tom Hiddleston screen time))
  • and $10 on MoviePass, which I failed to use at all during the month of October (RIP)

(Now seems like a good time to include a GIF of Tom Hiddleston as Loki.

this is sad, sexy man who craves parental approval

It’s always a good time for Hiddles, amirite.)

I also decided to use my GA ticket for Niall Horan’s November 22nd show at the Masonic, so I sold my balcony ticket on Ticketmaster for $94, which also offset some of my expenses.

The main thing I want to take note of is that my partner and I only went out for non-vacation breakfast twice, which was a happy change for our wallets and our health.

Necessary: -$451

This is $271 over budget, which is fine because the majority of this went toward a new pair of contact lenses. (I wear RGP lenses (hard lenses), so I only ever have 1 pair at a time (and maybe a backup pair).)

I spent

  • $1 on AWS for my portfolio website
  • $78 on family stuff, including $64 at Lovejoy’s Tea Room, which is adorable and cozily mismatched (but which I didn’t love as much as I loved The White Hart in Pacific Grove)
  • $41 on Amazon for 2 SU:M37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Sticks (I ran out during our trip; this seems to periodically sell out/be discontinued because of ingredient availability so I hope these will last me a while)
  • $75 on an eye exam (for both glasses and contacts, so they had to dye my tears, etc.)
  • $200 on a new pair of contact lenses
  • $20 on Lyft to and from my blood test (because the last time I had my blood drawn, I almost passed out on the bus on the way back to work)
  • and $36 on lube from Good Vibrations (my partner and I like Sliquid’s Sassy)

As a side note: With those eyeball expenses, I maxed out my FSA for this year, since I’d only set aside $250.

Frivolous: -$10

This is, ludicrously, $126 under budget.

In October, I received $22 from Forever21 returns, $21 from Sephora returns, and $240 in Cole Haan returns, for a total of $283 in returns.

I also received $24 cash back on my Cole Haan purchase.

In addition, I spent

  • $5 on Amazon for the Kindle versions of Cinder by Rebecca Soler and Imperial Woman by Pearl S. Buck
  • $17 at Urban Outfitters for a holographic fanny pack purchased solely for braving the floor at Niall’s concert (this post is so late that his concert has now passed, and I can safely say that this was a REALLY smart purchase)
  • $92 at UnderArmour for two pairs of training shorts (I get too hot when I run in full leggings) and a high impact sports bra (my first proper one! It’s a pain to get on, but my GOD does it feel better to have my boobs strapped down)
  • $25 on a donation to Everytown through ActBlue (which, actually, feels like it should go under Necessary, not Frivolous, but this is really discretionary spending, not a recurring donation, so I think Frivolous is the logically correct category for it)
  • and $178 on a Halloween costume (ouch).

For my Rachael from Blade Runner Halloween costume, I spent

  • $46 on a black blazer with exaggerated shoulders (Amazon; I had to alter it quite a lot to get the right look)
  • $17 on a black midi pencil skirt (Amazon; this fit shockingly well)
  • $18 on a black high-necked ruffled blouse (Amazon; I didn’t even wear it for this costume, though, and I will probably never wear it, and I forgot to return it, so I just totally wasted $18)
  • $8 on a blush palette (Amazon; I couldn’t find a single pan of true red blush with free shipping, so I bought a whole palette)
  • $16 on brow gel (Amazon; I couldn’t find a cheaper one that would ship in time; this one is quite nice to use though)
  • $5 on red lip gloss (Amazon; I bought NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss in Perfect Red, which is pretty opaque (and wonderfully shiny), but I wore it over a red lipstick for good measure)
  • $14 on a smokey eyeshadow palette (Amazon; I needed at least 2 shades of gray, plus a black, and this was the cheapest thing that would ship on time)
  • $8 on makeup brushes (Amazon; it was $8 for a set of 24 brushes, somehow; I needed proper brushes for this particular eyeshadow application)
  • $8 on fake eyelashes (Amazon; I bought a 4-pack of Ardell Demi Wispies because Cara from Talk Direction recommended the brand, and I can now concur that they are indeed super lightweight to wear)
  • $5 on eyelash glue (Amazon; another shoutout to Cara for vlogging her glue-to-falsies application or else it would’ve taken me much longer to figure out)
  • $7 on a hair donut set (Amazon; for bumper bangs)
  • $17 on red nail polish and base coat (Walgreen’s; the red turned out to be too dark a shade; I should have gone a little brighter)
  • and $9 on fabric glue and snakeskin-textured craft felt to trim the blazer (Beverly’s)

Without the Halloween costume, my spending was perfectly reasonable. With the Halloween costume, it’s… a little ridiculous. BUT I LOOKED SO GOOD.

That, plus the fact that researching and sourcing and crafting costumes/outfits brings me a HUGE amount of joy makes me not regret my overspending at all.

(Except for that $18 blouse. I don’t know what I was thinking. It’s too Victorian for the costume anyway, smh.)

Gifts: $0

This is, of course, under budget.

Retrospective

I’d set aside money for my October trip to LA, so it wasn’t exactly a surprise when it dominated my expenses for the month, but thanks to my imprecise budget calculations (I haven’t quite figured out how to track travel spending or seasonal expenses), it’s hard to tell just how “bad” my spending was.

Earlier I said that I spent $464 in October for this trip, but the grand total was something closer to $1100-$1200, when you add in the hotel (5 nights) and airfare (we got a good price with SouthWest, but goddamn do I hate their boarding process). That’s not… terrible, since we weren’t trying to spend as little as possible.

But writing this blog post made me realize that this post format might not make much sense. And maybe my budget doesn’t make much sense either. I’ve gone over budget many, many months in a row, and I know from my historical spending habits that November and December are going to be complete shitshows in terms of spending.

So maybe I need to reassess how I track my spending, and whether budgeting is useful to me, and if so, in what capacity.

I mean, I can tell you for sure that setting myself a budget doesn’t mean that I’ll stick to it, at ALL. The only thing that really works for me is to save first, so that the majority of my money is illiquid.

I guess maybe the real question I need to ask myself isn’t “How much am I spending each month?” but rather “How much am I spending each month on things that make me happy vs. things that don’t add to my happiness?” (Basically what Sarah from Yes And Yes is saying in this blog post.)

I think that’s how I’ll tally up November’s expenses, so… bear with me.

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