How I Spent My Money: December 2017

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I know it’s February but I’m gonna do this anyway!!!

As I mentioned in November’s How I Spent My Money post, I’m going to see which of my expenses contributed to, maintained, or detracted from my happiness, in addition to going over my usual numbers.

This is my final installment of How I Spent My Money for 2017.

Total spending: -$658

This is $246 under budget, mostly thanks to the fact that I returned an expensive leather jacket. (Without it, I would be $262 over budget.)

Here’s the breakdown:

Going out: -$508

This is $236 over budget.

I spent $384 hanging out with my boyfriend, which is something like $150 over our usual spend, but which can easily be explained by The Holidays™.

I spent $128 on breakfasts (5 of them) and $146 on dinners (5 of them), which includes $80 on sushi, $18 on a mediocre chicken sandwich from The Melt, and $24 at Chevy’s (nO REGRETS!!! Their fajitas are at least 12x better than at the ~fancy~ Mexican place near my boyfriend’s apartment). That averages out to $25.60 per breakfast and $29.20 per dinner.

I vaguely regret spending so much money on food, especially given the fact that the only meals I remember eating are 1) the mediocre chicken sandwich and 2) Chevy’s, buuut I also try to tip on the higher end of 20-25% during the holiday season, so the cost-per-meal was slightly higher than average anyway.

Most of these meals were happiness-making at the time, so I’m gonna let this slide…


I spent $30 on our tickets to watch Call Me By Your Name, which was an enormous happiness-maker for both of us.

At some point during our Christmas shopping, I spent $22 on a hot toddy (while we were looking at kittens and puppies in the Macy’s windows) and lunch at Lemonade, as well as $12 on hot dogs for breakfast. None of these were particularly joyous purchases, although it was a novelty to drink and shop, and Lemonade is always delicious.

I also spent an additional $12 on ice cream at Salt & Straw, which was good, but definitely overrated. (Regret.)

On top of that, I spent $17 on D&D-related food acquisitions, $19 for brunch and boba with friends, $13 on a solo lunch downtown while I was doing interview prep studying, and $75 on Ticketmaster for a solo ticket to see Sam Smith in September.

I am sliiightly regretting that Sam Smith ticket because I’m not all that pumped about getting myself to and from the concert venue at night, by myself, but I also think hearing Sam Smith live would be a huge happiness-maker, considering how much I like live music and Sam Smith’s voice. We shall see.

Necessary: -$204

This is $24 over budget.

I spent $1 on AWS for my portfolio website, which I don’t have negative feelings about and which I don’t think I can easily optimize.

I also spent $9 on theater food (chicken tenders 4 lyfe) when I went to watch Call Me By Your Name by myself on the first night it was released in San Francisco. I put this under the Necessary category because after reading the book THREE TIMES in 2017, watching the film adaptation was necessary for my soul. I laughed, I cried, I left the theater singing under my breath because I was so grateful for my partner… I don’t regret spending this money at all.

I spent $17 on Lyft after my holiday party to get my partner and me back to his apartment, which I do not regret because it was a planned-for expense, what with it being late, and cold, and painful to walk after an evening in heels.

I spent $82 on skincare (and a bit of replacement makeup), which breaks down like so:

$20 at Jolse:

and $62 at Beautytap (formerly known as W2Beauty):

The cleansing wipes and tinted lip balm are replacement items, but all the other items are experimental purchases. I have a fuckton of nighttime products now (I have multiple bottles of the Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule sitting around, too), so I shouldn’t be buying any more for… probably the rest of this year. Regret levels are TBD.

In terms of family expenses, I spent $25 on tickets to watch Call Me By Your Name with my mom (yes I watched it 3 times in one month; my mom enjoyed it), $12 on theater food with my mom, $16 on post-movie fresh-pressed juice, $14 on my mom’s ticket for Lady Bird (I used MoviePass for myself), and $22 at Macy’s for our annual Christmas ornaments.

I don’t regret any of this spending, especially not the money spent to watch Lady Bird, which was SO GOOD and so ordinary. My mom and I both loved it, and it was a really special experience to watch it together.

Finally, I spent $6 on a croissant and tea at a cafe I was working at, and although I ended up accidentally spilling 3/4 of the cup of tea onto the chair next to me, this was a necessary expense because I was doing interview prep studying, which is a gift to my future self. (Sure, I could’ve studied from home instead, but I work better at a cafe, specifically when it comes to doing coding practice.)

Frivolous: $54

This is $190 under budget, but only because I returned the AllSaints Papin jacket I bought on Black Friday. Without the leather jacket return, I spent $454 total in frivolous things, which puts me at $318 over budget.

I spent $273 on in-kind donations to a local charity, through a drive at my workplace. I don’t regret this, although I generally prefer to make smaller recurring monetary donations instead of one-time in-kind donations… But I think there’s a certain value in making your charitable giving visible and very public, in a way that encourages your coworkers to do the same.

I also spent $50 on a one-time donation to Meals on Wheels San Francisco (I normally make a small monthly donation, but I was feeling ~the holiday spirit~ so I wanted to give a little more), $65 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (a one-time donation; I was pissed about net neutrality), and $5 to the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW, aka the organization that runs Archive Of Our Own (AO3), because it’s doing good work and I should put money into things I care about; this was the first of my now-monthly recurring donations). ZERO REGRETS, and this made me feel satisfied.

I returned my AllSaints Papin leather jacket for $508, which I believe was an unhappiness-removing action, since I regretted my purchase.

I also returned some items to Forever21 for $22, which removed unhappiness.

I spent $8 at Walgreen’s on wrapping paper (for my white elephant gift at work), which was honestly kind of unnecessary but HOLIDAY CHEER, etc.

I spent $415 on Amazon for software engineering/development books, which I had reimbursed in full by my workplace because we get an education stipend. I didn’t desperately want any of the books except for a hardcover copy of Structure and Interpretations of Computer Programs (fondly referred to as SICP, pronounced “sick-pee”), but I was strongly encouraged to use my education stipend since I didn’t take any classes or attend any conferences this year… I know I should be grateful for this work perk, but honestly I’d rather take a higher base salary and pay for stuff like this out of my own pocket. I feel slightly unhappy about this because now I have a big pile of really heavy books that I have to find room for, but at least my books were free.

I also spent $64 at ASOS on a pair of the Monki Kimomo jeans in black, because I love my light blue mom jeans so much that I decided I wanted another pair. I bought the same size as before, but when they arrived, they were so tight that I was losing circulation in my legs (!). But after, like, two wears, they’ve broken in enough to be comfortable, and now I wear them 2-3 times a week. Happiness maker.

And finally, my old direct manager had recommended My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante to me aaages ago, and she followed up and said again that I should read it, so I bought it on Kindle for $10.

I regret this purchase, not because I don’t like the book (it’s well written but the emotional content makes me feel slightly ill(?) tbh, but I am definitely going to finish it) but because I should’ve borrowed it from the library instead. The last time I checked (which, admittedly, was a few years ago), the OverDrive/San Francisco Public Library catalog didn’t have a very large e-book selection, but lo and behold! I now have a shiny new OverDrive/SFPL account and THE WORLD IS MY OYSTER.

You know the phrase “like a kid in a candy shop”? When I realized how many e-books I could access, I felt like me-as-a-kid in a library, which is to say, like when I was 4 years old, piling my library books for the week into my little red wagon, handing my mom my plastic white library card where I’d written my name with a backwards S, because I was still learning how to write (although I could read just fine) and too short to hand my card over the front desk… I fucking love the public library.

I think that while this one-time purchase made me feel regret, it prompted me to rediscover the public library, which is… kind of priceless.

Gifts: -$237

This is $101 over budget for the month, but still within the gift budget I set myself for the holidays.

The most interesting money I spent was…

As I said in November’s post, I don’t regret gift purchases very much, but the one thing that’s brought me a disproportionate amount of happiness is Overcooked, which I’ve been playing with my boyfriend. It’s nice to have a cooperative game to play together, especially one where the stakes are low, as is the cost-per-hour of entertainment.

Previously, we’ve played through Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle together, and those are both very fun, very well-written 90s adventure games. But this time I wanted something that would help us foster our cooperation and communication skills rather than something to test our cleverness. (Together we’re very clever, if I do say so myself.) Anyway, Overcooked is SUPER fun, I highly recommend it, and I’m excited to play in a larger group at some point.

(The 2nd runner up gift purchase was Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate. George’s face when he realized the entire D&D party had gotten him a gift was priceless.)

Travel: $0

This is $180 under budget.


Overall, December was a little bit terrible in terms of spending money, which was pretty much what I expected. I spent more on eating out, watching movies, donating to causes, and buying gifts than during other parts of the year.

Since I already know November and December are spendy months for me, I usually aim to finish contributing the maximum to my retirement accounts by the end of October, if not earlier, so that I can have a little more cash coming home for the last couple paychecks of the year. It worked out well for me in 2017, and I plan to do the same for 2018.

I probably just need to expand my budget, though, since I go over my target number for Going Out expenses every single month, but I’m going to hold off on changing my numbers for a little longer, ’cause 2018 is bringing some Major Life Changes™ that are going to throw everything into a state of flux… 👀

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