All The Clothes I Bought In The First Half of 2019

It’s been about six months since my last clothing roundup, so I figured it was time for another update!

Everything I Bought

Mizuno Paradox 3 Running Shoes – $60 (Full Retail: $140)

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Replacement running shoes. Unfortunately all of the original Paradox shoes have been sold out at all suppliers, so I decided to get one of the next versions, but still not the most recent so I could get a heavy discount. They’re comfortable to run in, but definitely have worn out faster than the originals. 😦

Superfeet Black Insoles – $50 (Full Retail $50)

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Again, replacements. Always invest well in what separates you from the ground.

Vince Striped Linen Shirt – $22 (Full Retail: $135)

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I really like the design of this shirt and the lightness of the linen. I’m excited to get a lot of use out of it this summer. The drape on this shirt is lovely, but I worry a little about the longevity– it’s a little thin.

Eileen Fisher Cotton & Linen Shirt – $26 (Full Retail: $168)

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Similar to the above, I had a little bit of a linen splurge. The color is a bit greener than in the above photo. It drapes well, but the garment is too roomy/drapey style. Even in an XS, I’m swimming in it.

Linenfox Linen Pants – $76 (Full Retail: $70)

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Bought this based on a recommendation from Xin. Haven’t received this item yet since they take 4-6 weeks to make (and then to ship from Lithuania), but I am looking forward to wearing the same pair of wrinkly linen pants all through August/September. Luckily, that’s the worst time of year here for mugginess and heat (since all the seasons are pushed, like, two months back).

Total – $234

Full Retail – $563

Summary

While last year I had a goal stay under $350 for clothes, this year I’m willing to splurge a little bit more. Though, honestly, I spent $110 on what are really orthopedic expenses more than shoes, so I certainly don’t think $125 in truly discretionary clothes spending is going overboard at all.

I want to get espadrilles for the summer, because my leather Merrell Jungle Mocs are waaaay too hot when I walk a lot in the heat. I’d still like to get the La Collisione necklace from Alighieri, but it’s not top priority right now. Similarly, would like to fix up my leather jacket (small shoulder rip) and get the fancy watch my family gifted me for our wedding serviced so I can actually use it.

What clothes have you bought so far this year? Do you have a budget? What pieces do you have your eye on?

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Week In The Wallet: Summer is Finally Here Edition

Monday

I was feeling lazy this weekend and didn’t exercise. So I decide to do a one hour core workout to hopefully release some of the tension I’ve been keeping.

I find my husband doing his PT exercises in the living room. His knees have been hurting him, especially as he’s started running to get into shape. I’ve long been concerned for his health– we’re in kid-nesting mode and I want him to have energy to spend time with our babies– so I’m really happy he’s been making it a priority lately.

After my workout I take a quick shower and pack my lunch for the day: salmon, broccolini, and roasted sweet corn. I walk to the subway. It’s sunny and beautiful. Can’t I just lay out on the lawn in front of the library and read all day? Still, I’m glad for the nice weather.

Work work work.

I decide to go for some cold uni soba for dinner, with a side of gyoza and some hot green tea. ($35) The weather is just perfect so I take a nice leisurely walk home to digest my meal.

Daily total: $35

Tuesday

Working from home so I can take my morning 9 AM call from the comfort of my own bed. Everything I’m working on is on auto-pilot so there’s not much for me to do this morning. I lazily double-check sprint planning while checking out the real estate listings for our area. The market dipped last year, same as the rest of the US due to rising interest rates and the changes in the tax code, so there’s a triple-decker near where we are that is a really good deal as an owner-occupied investment. Not great timing, seeing as I’ll be leaving my job, etc. Still, one can dream…

I take a recruiter call during lunchtime for a job that I would be competent at and would get me in the door at FAANG. We set up a time for me to meet with the hiring manager on Friday. Job searching, wheee.

I meet my friend for lunch in a bougie strip mall nearby. I get a tuna poke bowl from the fish monger for lunch and a pound of fresh salmon for later. ($36.38) The brown rice in the poke bowl is undercooked, which is disappointing for the cost.

Finish up work in the afternoon and head to the gym for my usual, weekly one-hour core class. I’m still a little sore from Monday, so this week feels intense.

After the gym, I’m not feeling terribly hungry, so I make myself a smoothie from blueberry, spinach, avocado, frozen banana, cashew milk, and flax seeds. I also slice up some of the fresh salmon and eat it sashimi style with some sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce dip. That plus sparkling lemon water (yay SodaStream) fills me up, weirdly.

My husband and I watch The Perfection. I’m expecting something like Get Out but with cellos. It is… not that. Not really. I feel like Netflix original content can be so hit or miss. This one, for me, was definitely the latter.

Very tired, sleep early. ZZzzzzz.

Daily total: $36.38

Wednesday

I mix a salad for lunch of sweet corn, avocado, tomato, and raw salmon.

Meetings meetings meetings.

I am planning to hang out with some friends in the evening, but they’re not home from work yet so I hang out in the square near their house. I am super hungry, so I stop by the crepe shop and get a a dessert crepe with Belgian chocolate and bananas. Nom. The cashier offers me free rooibos tea. ($5.27)

I meet my friends at their house, where we eat some Thai takeout. I get the pork belly grapow with fried egg on top. ($12.50) After dinner we take a long stroll with their dog, stopping for soy chocolate ice cream. ($8.56) The cool night breeze is perfect.

Daily total: $26.33

Thursday

Bad sleep last night. Feel like I’ve just been hit by a truck.

Light enough day at the office. For lunch I get a carnitas burrito. ($10)

Dinner is some frozen gnocchi with pesto sauce. I eat it while losing myself in internet videos on real estate investing. I am annoyingly fixated on the idea of buying a triple decker out here and house hacking it, but when I bring it up with my husband a look of sheer terror creeps unto his face.

I know why: we want children now, that’s the priority. I need to find a job that I can stick with so that we can do that. Why am I bringing up this whole other enterprise when babies should be my focus. Do I not want to have kids? (I do.) Is it because of concerns around pregnancy because we could adopt? (No it’s around work because I need to make enough to support us both in this HCOL area while also not keeling over from stress and I want to try to have biological kids first, thank you. Please stop saying those things it makes me feel terrible and I’m already really stressed as it is.) We don’t have this whole conversation out loud now (just the “well we could adopt” part), but we’ve had bits and pieces of it all a few times over the past year, so it’s easy for me to fill in the parts we skipped.

I feel awful and go to sleep.

Daily total: $10

Friday

Friday. Finally. Thank God.

Lunch is ox tail rice and beans and plantains from the nearby Jamaican place. ($13) I contemplate: when was it I began to think $13 was reasonable for a lunch? Everything feels so expensive nowadays. Or maybe my lifestyle has inflated. I don’t know.

In the afternoon I pop over to the FAANG company’s office nearby for an informational interview. After talking with the hiring manager for a bit, I realize that while I could probably do this job, I would absolutely hate it. So, that’s that then. I reach out to a recruiter at a mid-size private business that’s hiring. One day, one application at a time.

In the evening I go climbing with my friends. I have a membership, so it’s no no cost for me to go, plus it covers gear which is lucky because I forgot my shoes today. My friend who doesn’t have a membership misses my text that they can use one of my free guest passes and instead shells out $36 for a day pass. Yowza!

When I get home, I pop down to the basement. There was a storm last night, so I want to check the level of water seepage. We have a fieldstone foundation and are on a hill, so some water coming in is normal. I notice some rot around our main wooden beam that holds up the house. It’s not a lot, and some of it was definitely historical before we bought the property, but we thought we’d gotten rid of the source of damage before moving in, but it’s pretty clear some of the rot is new. It’s not a lot, and the structure is still fine, but it’s gotta be taken care of. Not tonight though, tonight is for rest.

Apparently my brain rebels by not wanting any of the perfectly good food I have in my fridge, so I order a Moroccan lamb burger for dinner. It’s a lot more cilantro than I anticipated, and I immediately regret not just eating down the fridge. ($22.52)

Daily total: $35.52

Saturday

My husband asks me if I want to go for a jog with him. It’s early, and I haven’t eaten anything yet, but I’m willing if it helps motivate him to exercise. We take one of my usual routes, which starts with a couple of steep hills. By the time we’ve gone a half mile, he’s feeling tuckered out, so we make our way back, my head a little woozy from the lack of energy.

I tell my husband about the issue in the basement and he agrees to take on the job of getting contractors out and scheduling the work. After all the renovations we did before moving into this place (99% of which fell onto me since we weren’t married at the time), I’ve felt pretty comfortable giving him house tasks since to balance the load. Plus, then I don’t have to deal with the sexist contractors who don’t even listen to me anyway. Because, frankly, I don’t have the patience for that right now. Not one bit.

I eat a piece of baklava which came with the lamb burger from last night and set out for a long walk. The weather is tragically beautiful and I want to be outside in the sun for as long as I can. I walk a mile to my preferred hole-in-the-wall Chinese place and order a plate of steamed fish with ginger and scallions with white rice. ($20) Mmm, tastes like childhood.

I make my way to the library. On its vast lawn, I read under an old, mature tree Open Secrets by Alice Munro. This is idyllic.

On my way home I stop by the local butcher for some pork belly, spinach, apple, and Brussel sprouts. ($22.23) I also swing by Whole Foods for avocado, bananas, mozzarella, frozen blueberries, biodegradable scouring pads and brushes, hand soap, and a toffee bread pudding.($48.68)

I make myself a blueberry banana smoothie, which is more than enough to tide my over for the evening.

I’m in need for some summer clothes, so I browse linen items on Poshmark. I end up buying a Vince tee with a striped abstract print and another heathered emerald top by Eileen Fisher.($47.78) I also reach out to an Etsy shop about whether they could customize the length for their linen pants. This will be a very wrinkly summer.

Daily total: $138.69

Sunday

After putzing around the house, I realize I’m twenty minutes late for a mentoring call. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck.

Ever since taking my current role, I’ve gotten a steady trickle of folks– usually young women– reaching out to me about my career path, how they could do the same, etc. I manage to connect with today’s– a woman who graduated five years after me at my alma mater– apologizing profusely for my lateness. I give her some advice on how to make the career switch: some books she should read, the job coach I use, how to sell herself in her resume, etc.

She thanks me and I feel like I have given her useful information, but I still feel terrible about being late to our call. Ughhhhh. I lay in bed, disproportionately angry at myself, for hours before I drag myself out to do some meal prep.

I cook some roasted carrots a la Smitten Kitchen, paprika and garlic Brussel spouts. and rest of my salmon. While cooking, I make myself some caprese using leftover tomato in the fridge and some basil sitting in my living room window. That plus the bits and pieces of food while cooking, as well as some more salmon, corn, and a blueberry banana smoothie fill me up for most of the day. I decide not to make the pork belly yet. That can wait for midweek. I still have some Taiwanese buns in the freezer, so I can make bao when I’m feeling up to it.

Evening is more chores (hellooooo laundry) and reading lazily in bed. I heat up my toffee bread pudding and serve it with a few dollops of unsweetened greek yogurt. That hits the spot.

Daily total: $0

Summary

Weekly total: $281.90

The ups and downs this week led to a lot more emotional spending than I would have liked. But still, I’m well within acceptable limits and hopefully when I leave my current employer in a month, I will feel a little more control over things.

Having it be summer has been really nice though. I’m definitely better mentally when the sun is out than in the dreary winters. I was able to read and focus. I was able to take long walks. I spent a lot of time with friends. It’s not all good, but it’s not all bad either.

How was your week? Any tips for keeping the motivation up while job searching? Any meal prep recommendations? Summer’s out and I’m looking for some bright, fresh recipes to go with it.

Financial Update – May 2019

Each month I will post an update on my finances to both give you, the reader, some insight into my situation and to give me markers of my progress on my financial journey. My updates consist of two parts:

  • Financial Progress Table – Tracks joint net worth progress.
  • Spending Table – Compares monthly spending to an average (for us) budget, keeping us accountable for additional expenses. I will also include my personal discretionary budget as well; I will not include my spouse’s discretionary spending, which I do not see.

Financial Progress

Each net worth goal in the Financial Progress table is broken down into undisclosed units of money. Our current goal is to reach “Financial Freedom.” By the time we reach this goal we will have:

  • A retirement account that can support us when my husband hits 65
  • Two college savings funds funded for four years of in-state public university tuition, room, and board
  • An emergency fund for six or more months of living expenses
  • Sufficient liquidity for my husband and/or I to make a career change with one to two years’ runway
  • A mortgage less than two times our combined gross salaries without bonuses or equity.

Once “Financial Freedom” is achieved, the focus will then working be towards “Financial Equilibrium”, where the income from investments covers all our ongoing expenses.

may 19

Spending

We’ve created a joint budget which represents the average amount we can expect to spend each month. This is average amount we need to comfortably live in case of a job loss, emergency, etc. I expect to frequently mostly keep in line with our budget when amortized over the year, even though amounts may vary from month to month.

For privacy reasons, there are two things I do not include in our joint spending updates: our monthly mortgage and charitable donations (pegged at 10% of our net income).

may 19 joint.png

Here is my own personal discretionary spending for the month. I try to spend $600 or less each month for my “fun money” since that’s the allowance that’s apportioned to me and my husband.

may 19 ind.png

Monthly Summary

Relatively spendy month. Our fridge died, so we had to buy a new one. We also had our condo deep-cleaned which was stupidly expensive. Let’s just say it was a similar order of magnitude as the fridge, but they managed to scrape all the burnt bits off the stove so I feel pretty satisfied by the whole thing. Also, I ended up flying to the west coast for a milestone birthday party for my grandmother, so that was a pretty penny too.

I’m kind of sad how much our net worth dipped this month. Between the spending, stock market slump (only 1.5 more years of bear market to go!), and a few thousand in charitable donations (not in the spending summary above but does count toward our yearly 10% of income threshold), we definitely backslid a bit. I plan to quit my job in six weeks, and would like to build up a little cash cushion in advance, but I’m afraid that I’ll need to money to exercise my options instead. So yeah, we’ll see how that goes.

How were your finances in May?

Everywhere You Go, There You Are

Warning: much navel-gazing too follow.

I am at a party with friends, many of whom I worked with at my old job. The usual greetings: “How are you?” they ask. I reply, “Alive.” I tell them I am decompressing from a rough week / month / year / decade of work. They nod, “Yup, sounds like you’re doing the same, then.”

Whether it’s the current high-stress job, the previous high-stress job, or perhaps any job at all, I feel I won’t be happy. While there are real problems both at old company and at new, the truth is I may not be suited to work. The concept of employment. Taking on the role which is imparted by a career, seeping into every fiber of my day and being. I don’t work as a ___, I am a ____.

I think: is it employment or me? Am I just depressed? But my mood improves during the weekend. And I remember, in the lazy summers of youth, having nothing I had to do, I was often my best, most productive self.

I worry, everywhere you go, there you are. But then is the right thing for me to turn off these feelings, or is there virtue in preserving that part of my identity which cares about aligning my labor and my ethics, being skeptical and challenging of authority, all those bits of me that are making it very, very hard to be happy with work? Is there virtue in the struggle? (No.)

What if I went self-employed? But then I start from zero. And the times you have the least leverage to choose what you want is when starting from zero. Also the grind, I do not romanticize it. Starting a business is damn hard work.

So where does that leave me? Here, in my friend’s living room, with people that I enjoy, that make me laugh, that I make laugh too. The communal pizza is droopy and stale, the way good party pizza should be. The lights are dim and furniture mismatched and we’re all figuring out what it means to be ourselves as we emerge from that time of our lives where “finding oneself” is still an acceptable vocation. There’s tumult and stress and the cloud of responsibility just on the horizon, but I can’t see them beyond the popcorn textured ceiling. I am distracted– by friendship, by a moment of simple joy. I am okay. Anywhere I go from here, I will continue to be: okay.

 

Financial Update – April 2019

Each month I will post an update on my finances to both give you, the reader, some insight into my situation and to give me markers of my progress on my financial journey. My updates consist of two parts:

  • Financial Progress Table – Tracks joint net worth progress.
  • Spending Table – Compares monthly spending to an average (for us) budget, keeping us accountable for additional expenses. I will also include my personal discretionary budget as well; I will not include my spouse’s discretionary spending, which I do not see.

Financial Progress

Each net worth goal in the Financial Progress table is broken down into undisclosed units of money. Our current goal is to reach “Financial Freedom.” By the time we reach this goal we will have:

  • A retirement account that can support us when my husband hits 65
  • Two college savings funds funded for four years of in-state public university tuition, room, and board
  • An emergency fund for six or more months of living expenses
  • Sufficient liquidity for my husband and/or I to make a career change with one to two years’ runway
  • A mortgage less than two times our combined gross salaries without bonuses or equity.

Once “Financial Freedom” is achieved, the focus will then working be towards “Financial Equilibrium”, where the income from investments covers all our ongoing expenses.

april 19

Spending

We’ve created a joint budget which represents the average amount we can expect to spend each month. This is average amount we need to comfortably live in case of a job loss, emergency, etc. I expect to frequently mostly keep in line with our budget when amortized over the year, even though amounts may vary from month to month.

For privacy reasons, there are two things I do not include in our joint spending updates: our monthly mortgage and charitable donations (pegged at 10% of our net income).

april 19 spend.png

Here is my own personal discretionary spending for the month. I try to spend $600 or less each month for my “fun money” since that’s the allowance that’s apportioned to me and my husband.

april 19 single

Monthly Summary

Lots of financial updates this month. For one, I finally finished our taxes, woohoo! I don’t know whether it was because of the 401(k) over-contribution, getting married, the new tax law, or all of the above, but filing this year felt twenty times more complicated than usual. Long story short, I thought we’d be getting a refund, but apparently my 401(k) contributions last year were traditional and not Roth, so we actually owed, like a couple thousand dollars. I’m just glad that’s over.

In other news, apparently someone stole our joint credit card number? I was doing my usual mid-month financial check-in and noticed about $300 worth of sketchy transactions that occurred in $20-50 increments over the course of like 5 days. My husband and I were puzzled by where those came from, but given the merchant was a portmanteau of two real, but completely unrelated company names, it seemed clear pretty quickly that it was fraud. Luckily, the overall damage was quite small and our credit card company reversed all the charges. We now have our new credit cards in hand, all with relatively little hassle. Super bizarre though.

Lastly, I got charged a $27 late payment fee because my personal bank switched my account number with about zero warning, causing my credit card’s auto-pay to be declined. That was annoying.

Notable things that happened in April include:

  • Maybe I should just get rid of this section. -_-

How were your finances in April?

Offbeat Techniques I Use To Relax

If you haven’t figured it out already, let me lay it out for you: I am a high-anxiety person. I put myself in stressful jobs and situations, I can sometimes spiral into that stress, etc. It’s a thing. I know it, you know it, state of the world kind of stuff.

In order to manage this stress, I have found spending time on my own relaxation helps. Let’s be clear, the standard advice for being more relaxed is like the advice for most health concerns: eat well, exercise, hydrate, socialize with friends, and get enough sleep. And I invest a lot of time and energy into doing those things! But sometimes that stuff alone only gets me 70% of the way to feeling good, leaving me a residual base layer of anxiety and tenseness.

So this is the other stuff, the stuff that’s kind of weird or just not usually at the top of mind that I also do to help myself relax.

Blue Light Filter

I spend most of my waking hours in front of some type of screen, whether it’s my phone, computer, television or e-reader (which frankly is much less a problem than the others). For a long time I felt two things using these devices: (1) addicted and (2) anxious while engaged in their use. Blue light filters have helped me loads with the second part of the equation. On my mobile device I use Twilight and on my work and home computers I use f.lux. It is immediately noticeable how much less tense I am having all my devices at 3500K, which I do all day. Less eye strain, decreased heart rate, much better sleep. I should have started doing this a lot sooner.

Sensory Deprivation Tank

I’ve only done this once as a special anniversary activity with my husband, but it’s something I’d like to do again and build into my schedule more routinely. For the uninitiated, a sensory deprivation tank involves getting into a slightly larger than coffin-sized box half filled with really salty water which you just float in for an hour. It takes a while to calm your mind enough to get used to it, and for a good half hour my muscles were just randomly spasming trying to relax. I’m not sure I got much out of it in terms of clearing my mind, but it essentially erased my back pain for two weeks and gave me the deepest sleep I had in ages. So for those with chronic pain, would recommend giving it a shot.

Self-Massages, Real and Imagined

After years of practice, I’ve gotten pretty good at giving myself massages. I knead and trigger points one by one until the length of my neck, side, jawline, etc. are relaxed. One benefit of frequent self massage is that I’ve gotten pretty familiar with which trigger points relate to which areas of pain. Now, instead of actually using my fingers to dig into a muscle, I am able to just imagine pressing into the muscle and breathe into it to force it to relax. It still takes about the same amount of time as actually physically performing the massage, but has the added benefits of being able to get deep into the muscle, not actually generating pain, and avoiding accidentally hitting one of my nerves in the process. If I’m focused I can get all my spots from head to toe in about an hour.

What are the nonstandard techniques you use to relax?

What Do I Like About Working?

The other day I had a one on one with my grand boss. I talked with her about the various struggles I’d been going through that have been making my job feel impossible. I laid out the things I need to do my job well: actual staffing on my projects instead of begging and pleading for an hour here and there of developer time, not having the founders promise the sun and the moon to new customers for things that fall on my shoulders erstwhile shifting all the people time to other areas. I cried; I’ve been doing that a lot more lately because I feel just too broken to keep it together anymore. Apparently a lot of my colleagues have been crying to her lately too, so, that’s comforting to know it’s a culture of overwork and not just me.

My grand boss gave me some advice: Make connections that can help back me up in these hard situations. The founders do actually want to hear my feedback. Stay positive and think about what I actually enjoy about my job and take pleasure in that.

It is my reflex to scoff at these well-intentioned words. All the people who would help “back me up” are constantly busy and have multiple times gotten sick of fighting with the founders on the points that have given us the most concern. And every time I’ve given feedback that I need more resources I hear Bob has more important things to work on and Don’t worry, we’ll get it done. Except, it’s on me to get it done. So, *shrugs*.

But I want to try and keep it together, so if focusing on the positives on my job will help me have fewer anxiety attacks and get me through the next few months then that’s what I’m going to try to do. So what do I actually like about my job?

  • Good pay.
  • Interesting technical and business problems.
  • Diversity in the types of work I’m doing day-to-day.
  • Most of my colleagues are nice people, even if I find them difficult to work with.
  • Yummy, free snacks.
  • I’ve learned a lot about how successful startups operate and where they fall down. I am a lot more open to the prospect of starting my own company someday with the knowledge I have now.

What do you like about your job?