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. ūüė¶

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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Trying New Things

My mother in law is a picky eater. I mean this with the utmost love and respect.¬†I am pretty sure MIL is a super taster. As in, there are very mild flavors she can pick up that float along in the background for my palate. She won’t eat meat, including seafood which she finds too fishy. No alcohol. Bitterness is absolutely off the table. Carbs and dairy product are pretty much the only things you can reliably count on her liking.¬†

Any amount of heat in a dish and MIL is out. No peppers, not even black pepper, or she throws up her hand in the air from the spice. Once, someone served her a slice of pepper jack on a charcuterie board, and she bemoaned that someone could so ruin a perfectly good piece of cheese.

Whenever we go out to eat with MIL, she orders the same thing: grilled cheese sandwich. It doesn’t matter if we’re at a sandwich shop, an Italian restaurant, heck even when we went to Asian fusion. Grilled. Cheese. Sandwich. Please.

It pained me to see that there were so many flavors in the world that she had isolated herself from. Some of them out of distaste, sure, but most of them because she had become too scared of trying. For someone like me, who considers food one of the most pleasurable aspects of living with family and emotion wrapped all up in it, it made me sad to see her so afraid of so much food. It felt, to me, lonely.

So we decided. She was going to come out with us and get some Japanese food. We’d order her different things she might like and eat the rest of it if she didn’t. No harm, no foul. Just a welcoming space to¬†try.

Turns out, with just a little nudging, we were able to expand her culinary interest considerably! She loved the tamagoyaki, sukiyaki soba, chawanmushi, edamame, and purple sweet potato tempura. She liked the avocado maki except the seaweed which wrapped it. She didn’t fancy the enoki yakitori. She looked downright appalled at my uni ikura soba (It looks orange and furry but I swear it tastes delicious!).

With this new assortment of foods that she had tried and knew she liked, she could go to a Japanese restaurant the next time one of her girlfriends wanted to go for lunch, and feel confident that not worry about being thrust into something scary or unfamiliar. As the pushy daughter in law that helped get her there, I am really happy about this.

Anyway, this is all to say a couple things:

  1. people can grow, even in their core habits, even late in life
  2. sometimes all you need is a nudge

Have you tried something new or encouraged a loved one to trying something new recently? How was the experience?

Are You Even Frugal?

The average household spending in 2017 was around $60k, according the the BLS. While I haven’t gone back through our accounts to confirm it, I would venture to say that between my husband and I, we also spend roughly that amount a year.

It wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time I could get by, spending a mere $2k/month on myself– half for rent and half for living expenses. Even then, I was living more luxuriously than I had before in my very centrally located apartment. But, then take that $2k, multiply it by two, add some lifestyle inflation (and some regular inflation), and voila! You end up at the average household.

Note that the average household has more people in it than ours. Usually in the form of another child or older adult family member. It is only because of our disproportionately large combined income that we are able to see FIRE as anything near a possibility.

Sometimes this feels awkward, the thought that I have a (sorta) personal finance blog while we are so wasteful with our money. We don’t scrimp, not really. I don’t think I’ve ever bothered with a coupon and god only knows how much I’m going to spend on food in any particular month.

I don’t think of myself as a FIRE role model. I avoid advice-giving or being¬†rah-rah FIRE for everyone on this blog, because, frankly, I don’t know how to even get by on an average income. Maybe as a flexible single person (I am having a tough go bringing down the numbers even as a DINK), but as a parent in an expensive place like where we live now? Where childcare starts at $1500/month?¬†How do people survive?

In some ways, that’s just how our FIRE journey is going to look. Increasing our W2 income¬†has been trivial compared with cutting our expenses. But sometimes I wonder if the gravy train ever ran out… would I still know how to get by on less? Or have I gotten too soft in my fat cat ways?

Would you consider yourself frugal?

Things I’m Proud Of

I’ve been a bit down on myself lately, what with the job and other things going on in my life. In the past, I’d often relied on watching shows like¬†Girls or trashy reality television like¬†Millionaire Matchmaker¬†to boost my waning confidence.¬†“I’m not perfect,” I’d think to myself, “but at least I’m not that bad.” And yet, as I get older, the comparisons seem to be wearing thin. A self-esteem built on comparison is a fragile one, to say the least.

So instead of tearing others down, I want to list the things I’m genuinely proud of to build myself up. Alright, here it goes:

  • I willed myself into getting into a well-ranked college and graduating, thus securing for myself a base level of economic comfort.
  • I deprogrammed myself from the toxic behaviors I learned in my childhood and have found a core set of genuinely good people that I love having in my life.
  • I have taken forced myself to take risks, like buying and renovating this condo and quitting my job even before I had anything lined up, which have forced me to grow and realize most people don’t (and probably can’t) have everything figured out before moving forward.
  • I have consistently stuck to an exercise regime which has helped me to feel strong and healthy in a way that I wouldn’t have expected for myself just a few years ago.
  • I have maintained strong financial discipline which will likely mean I can retire decades early and allow me to spend the bulk of my kids’ childhoods really focusing on our time as a family.
  • Meanwhile, I have also been able to be generous with my money and my time in a way that makes me feel I am making a difference.
  • I have grown the capacity to appreciate and care for people who are very different from me.

What are you proud of?

Goal: Stop Eating Out

Look, I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog kvetching about how much I spend on food. Well, this year, I’m going to do something about it. My two step plan is as follows:

  1. Stop going to restaurants that aren’t worth the price.¬†You can see in the below chart I have mapped every local area restaurant I’ve gone to in the past six months in terms of price/quality and, upon reflection, I’ve found some of my most frequent haunts (“Chinese delivery”) don’t actually make the cut. This causes me to continue craving a “nice” meal later in the week, perpetuating the eating out cycle.
  2. Limit the number of restaurant trips I make in each price bracket. I typically have too many $20-30 meals which gets me in trouble. Knowing how many of those I can have in a month will hopefully help me ration it out a little better.

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Based on these numbers, I’ll be able to go out to eat between 2-3x each week. That’s less than I’m used to, but not terrible. If you sum everything up, there’s a good chance I’ll still be spending ~$300/month on eating out if I go somewhere fancy every month or have a board game night where we order in (there’s always at least one). While certainly not frugal especially for a FIRE blogger, is a number I can definitely live with.

Is eating out consistently “worth it” to you?¬†

On My Wishlist Lately

For better or worse, I can’t seem to bring myself to spend less on food and allocate more of my personal allowance on, well, anything else. So I want to document this list of unattained wants in a visual way which will, hopefully, spur myself to be a little more disciplined with the eating out.

Anker Soundcore Space NC

$100

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Like many tech workers, I sit in an open office, which means I am constantly overhearing other people’s conversations less than five feet away from me. While I have a pair of headphones I already keep at my desk which do work, they are super old and incredibly cheap. The sound isn’t great and, most importantly, I have to turn it up pretty loud in order to drown out the people around me. Sometimes, all I want is just quiet– no music even. While I’d love to have something akin to the Bose QC 35s, I can’t bring myself to shell out $300 for a pair.

Symphonized Wood Earbuds With Fabric Cable

$25

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This is my go-to earbud. I’m going to be honest, they are not the top of the line. But I am HARSH on my earbuds. Nothing ever lasts more than a year so why pay $100+ for something that’ll just get broken? I like these because the in-ear pads are extremely comfortable and the braided fabric cable tends to prevent snags and frayed wires more than just the plastic-sheathed cables.

Superfeet Black Insoles

$40

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I bought a few pairs of these a couple years ago and they have been pivotal in keeping my flat feet comfortable day in and day out. Sadly, though, I’ve run through all the pairs I had and now it’s time for some replacements, at least for my daily shoe.

Mizuno Wave Paradox 3

$50

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It’s about time (honestly, probably even slightly past time) for me to get replacement running shoes. I’ve always like the Mizuno’s Wave Paradox line, so why mess with a good thing? Opting for the v3 instead of the v4 because it’ll save me about $70 and, honestly, I’ve never cared about being the early adopter type.

Leather Repairs

$40

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My leather jacket has gotten a very small tear in the shoulder, so I’d like to take it to get it repaired. I’ve been avoiding wearing it in the meantime since I don’t want to make it worse, which is a shame because I love wearing this piece. Not sure what the actual cost will be to fix, but I feel like $40 is a decently conservative estimate.

Watch Repairs

$250

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I got a couple nice family heirloom watches as gifts during my wedding. They’re old and haven’t been used in decades, so they definitely need battery replacements and some amount of cleaning/tuning I imagine in order to be worn. There’s a part of me considering just selling them or holding on to them unused so that my children can inherit them, but on the other hand, I feel like vintage watches/jewelry/etc. lose their value more quickly these days in the age of online shopping, remakes, etc. Should I really just let it gather dust in the hopes it might be worth something later? I don’t expect I’ll wear them all that often, probably only when meeting with business contacts, so I probably only need to get one repaired at most and hide the other for safe keeping I suppose.

Shorter Haircut

$35

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My hair is in an okay place right now– it’s healthy and decently kept. But it’s at a length that I don’t love and, now that the wedding is over, I’m pretty eager to chop it off to look like the above picture (minus the dye).

Alighieri La Collisione Necklace

$260

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I’ve been crushing on this piece for a long time. I really like it because it’s mixed metal, which I’m thinking/hoping will help me wear my silver wedding ring (actually I think it’s either tungsten or titanium, but it’s silver colored) along with some other gold pieces I received from family.

Custom Leather Chelsea Boots

$245

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A new shoe store opened up a few minutes away from my house. Their pieces are absolutely gorgeous and are custom-tailored to your foot. They take the measurements locally but the manufacturing actually takes place in Guatemala. They claim to pay their cobblers well and have individual biopics of each on their website, but Everlane and other clothing brands have ruined the “ethical clothing” label for me. It is very clear, though, that they know what they’re doing when it comes to shoes.

What’s on your wishlist?

My Goals For 2019

In many ways, 2018 was a preparatory year for me. Putting the little bits of my life into place so that I’d be ready to transition into a new sort of life, a¬†family sort of life (*silent scream of terror echoes in my head*). And I certainly feel more at ease with myself than I was even a year ago. So here are my goals for 2019:

  1. Get pregnant.¬†AAAAAAaaaaaahhhhHHHHHHhhhh. Sorry, this one scares me a little. A lot. Bodies and pregnancies are weird. But also they’re totally normal? And I really want a family, but also knowing that I’ll be so much free time and sleep is, *gulp*, kind of daunting.
  2. Achieve “financial equilibrium”.¬†Once we’ve hit this net worth milestone (roughly equivalent to CruiseFI), then we’ll start working our way toward upgrading our home and reaching semi-FIRE levels of investments.
  3. Take two international trips. My friend is getting married in Copenhagen this summer and my husband and I are talking about going to Japan. Want to sneak in a couple of international jaunts before kids.
  4. Finish at least two “courses” worth of learning materials.¬†I feel like my brain has been atrophying over the past however many years since college. Therefore, I’d like to make it through a couple of “courses” worth of learning material over the next year. I think this will be brushing up on my Japanese before our trip using Pimsleur and taking some Coursera classes on DB engineering / playing around with AWS for work.
  5. Get my internet addiction under control.¬†This will be starting with a no-internet January. (Note I wrote all my January posts in advance.) So if you don’t see me around for a while, that’s why.
  6. Finish writing my podcast.¬†I’m in the middle of writing a fictional podcast. And by middle I mean very beginnings of. I have an arc though and decent outlines. By the end of the year I want to have finished scripts for the season and be ready to start staffing/recording a pilot.

Then there‚Äôs my ‚Äúkeep on keeping on‚ÄĚ list:

  1. Maintain regular diet and exercise.¬†Last year “body weight” was on the list, but, um, goal #1 from the first list. Instead, I want to make a commitment to maintain regular exercise that is appropriate for where my body is at throughout my pregnancy and thereafter.
  2. Continue volunteering and donating 10% of our income.¬†Instead of just my income, I want my husband and I to donate 10% of our combined net (which he’s a-okay with).
  3. Read at least two books a month.¬†I think I set the goal too low last year. I’m hoping, if I manage to get my internet addiction under control, I should be able to free up a lot more time for reading.

What are your goals for 2019?