04 January 2016


I really enjoy looking back on my spending for the year, it's slightly masochistic.


But let's first focus on what I did right, namely saved enough to pay for tuition and housing for forth year. Although getting enough scholarship to cover tuition helped immensely in this aspect.

When I first did my calculation of how much discretionary income I would have leftover each month after paying my fixed expenses and saving for forth year, I was pretty disappointed with the number and consequently stressed over every little expense. To the point I almoooost wished that I had stayed in Toronto and thus can abuse the free lodging and meals at home (but then I would feel a different kind of guilt). 

I didn't think that I had won any scholarships since the notices usually came out in July / August and I had not heard anything. But it turns out that I forgot to move forward the expiry date on my YWCA address, and the letter went there without my knowledge. So the late surprise of finding out only added to the sweetness of free money.
Thank you previous self for getting good grades, and being proactive in declaring the environmental minor, because 2/3 of the scholarships were tied to that.


Of course the first thing after I got the scholarship money was to think of how to buy things to reward myself. Had seriously contemplated finally getting a Burberry trench coat, which I've been eyeing since what...middle school? Alas practicality won over and I accepted that I was still not at a point in life where I can drop 2k on a single item of clothing.

The money did get spent on other big ticketed items though, namely two pairs of boots, a new camera system, and air fare to Mexico where my mom graciously paid for the resort itself.
Since I probably won't get to posting about said boots for a really long time (the lighting is seriously bad that I need ISO1000 and a shutter of >1/20s to get a decently bright image in my room right next to the window.../rant), I'll link to the article I was saving for that post now.
More materialism, less consumerism:
Materialism has come to mean greed and avarice. But at its heart, it is about a desire for material things. For physical objects – things that can be appreciated for their texture, line and colour. Also, importantly, things that we use and are part of our everyday lives. That can be a chef’s knife, an antique table or a racing bike. As well as a well-made shoe. We interact with these things physically. We touch and feel them, often bodily. They make aspects of the way we conduct our lives easier, more pleasurable, or simply more beautiful. There is depth and richness in their appreciation, and it should not be undermined by an association with sheer volume.
I wholeheartedly agree with his view here, and extract from it two guiding principles:
  1. They are everyday objects, ie. things that are actually used
  2. They can be appreciated for an inherent quality, and this appreciation increases the pleasure of using them. 
A good example of this is my single most expensive item of clothing to date: Crockett & Jones Grace boots. With postage and a shoe tree, this came to around $800, which is more than double the previous record holder, a coat I bought at Aritzia. Is $800 a ridiculous amount of money to spend on shoes? I won't disagree with anyone who believes so, but I expect a lifetime of usage out of it (with repairs of course) and I giddily stare at my feet every time I wear it because I am so in love with the scotch grain leather and full broguing. So I consider this one of my best purchase in the year.
sidenote 1: funny comment on the C&J thread in SF saying how C&J owners actually wear their shoes
sidenote 2: good /r/GYW discussion on "value" and price point

Another best purchase, almost a counterexample towards the boots, is my Lodge dutch oven. It was $60 and is the workhorse of my kitchen. I also expect this to outlive me. Prior to buying the Lodge brand one, I was always swooning at the Le Creuset or Staub dutch ovens whenever I was in a kitchen supply store. But the two French brands cost almost 3x as much, with similar performance across all three (cast iron is cast iron is cast iron) and Lodge also having a heritage behind it's brand, I didn't see a compelling reason to pay more.

Maybe all this rambling is just to silence the nagging voice in my head that tells me I should be saving for grad school tuition with all my might.


After totaling my variable spending for the year, which was heavily skewed by the aforementioned big purchases in several categories, I can draw the following conclusions:
  • Spent a lot of money on games...ones that I can't even play yet. Even bought a game at full price (Tales of Zestiria) because it came with a limited time bundle with the DLC. Now it sits in my download queue with Suikoden I, II, III, Dragon Fin Soup, and Trails in the Sky I. Many of these titles I need to first acquire a Vita for. But I generally spend a ton of time on each game so they're actually quite cost effective entertainment. 
  • Clothing purchases, aside from the aforementioned boots, were all for work wardrobe. 
  • My grocery costs are higher than I anticipated, not sure if it's because grocery is just more expensive in Atlanta. Other contributing factors are buying a lot of pantry items in bulk that I'm still eating through, and had to set up a new kitchen. 
  • Eating out costs are highly skewed by months when I traveled, but otherwise has been mostly because of work. I did eat out a lot near the end of the semester as well. I've done well on not eating out because of necessity but rather for the social occasion. 
  • Bought a lot of houseware items, mostly kitchen and travel gadgets, because the prices are just so much better in the States. 
  • Bought a considerable amount of skincare products, but all are getting used.
  • Spent just as much money on tea as skincare, skewed by the dragon kyusu purchase. Otherwise a bunch of small orders from various retailers. 
  • Won some and lost some at air fare, will feel a lot better once I stop trying to correlate the cost with the distance. 

Concluding remark: been a struggle sorting out my relationship with spending money.

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