All Of My Purchases That Were & Weren’t Worth It In August

After reading Holly’s piece on her saddest wastes of money for 2017 thus far, it got me thinking about where I am currently spending my own money, and whether I’m happy about these choices. As a financial shit show, I had an inkling that going through my bank statements and receipts with a fine tooth comb would ~enlighten~ me into understanding my own spending habits better, and therefore improve them with that awareness.

To be perfectly and completely honest, I fucked up in August. Badly. I spent way too much money on stupid, frivolous expenses that did not bring me any joy or improve my wellbeing or life in any way. I honestly had trouble finding anything I felt happy, or at least not guilty, spending money on. Everything I purchased was almost always fueled by instant gratification, be it from going out to eat to cheap accessories from Target (as opposed to better made, higher quality items).

Ugh. Hopefully, next month will go better.

Shit I Regret Spending Money On This Month

Hungover McDonald’s ($6.87)

I went to visit my old college town before one of my good friends starts his PhD program in cellular and molecular biology (casual). We got a little carried away and I felt terrible the next morning. It’s about an hour drive back to my apartment, so I grabbed McDonald’s on the way home. It just made me feel more sluggish, as well as guilty, because I’m really trying hard to treat my body better — and drinking like a college kid and then eating fast food is definitely not a way to achieve that goal.

All the office lunches I spent money on ($58.73)

Yiiiiiiiiiikes. My wallet is emptier, my waistline is fuller, and I am pissed at myself for spending almost $60 on things that have taken me farther from my goals of physical and financial health. I’m starting a remote position this month, so hopefully that means I’ll be less tempted/unable to spend money on lunch out, but alas, time will tell. Hopefully guilt will actually propel me into better choices this September.

Target purse that ended up breaking in two weeks ($40.00)

It was beautiful. It was a mid-sized and olive green with a structured shape, possessing this very sophisticated and #adult look that I had never sported before. It also was like a Mary Poppins bag, because I could fit so many necessities in it. I had to have it.

Around two weeks after purchasing it (and throwing out the receipt and tags, fml), I went to grab it from my car’s passenger seat, and the strap was broken beyond repair. I don’t even know how it happened. Cheap purse probz, I guess.

Anyway, I wish I had just saved that $40.00 to put towards a better made purse. They’re called investment pieces for a reason. Lesson learned (I think). 

Total Wasted: $105.60

Shit I’m Glad I Spent Money On This Month

Student Loan Payment ($256.67)

Yes, it can be slightly painful to shell out almost $300 on an expense that isn’t exactly tangible and without any instant gratification. However, I am so beyond goddamn lucky to have been able to attend college. I know this, but I definitely need to improve my acknowledgement for the extreme privilege associated with higher education. After all, attending my university has provided me with so many opportunities that I know are unavailable to many Americans because of financial circumstances, among other reasons. To groan as I fill out my Nelnet payment is actually fucking shameful, considering what this degree has done for me.

This month, and every month moving forward, I will be grateful to pay $256.67.

NYX Eyeshadow Primer ($5.99)

As I’ve touched upon in previous posts, I really love makeup. I used to work for Sephora and I’m always watching beauty gurus on YouTube to find inspiration for ~*fresh lewks*~. For me, it helps me feel more pulled together and confident, as well as gives me a way to express myself creatively.

But, as anyone who wears makeup knows, it can get pretty pricey, and quickly. (Shout out to the tiny Sephora bags that can hold $75.00 worth of product! You the real MVP.) This month, I started taking an honest look at my current collection and am trying to shift some of my products to less expensive ones that can deliver just as good results as the higher end options.

One item I can’t live without is eyeshadow primer. My eyelids tend to be oily, and eyeshadow and eyeliner will just slide off in a manner of a few hours if I don’t use it. Previously, I had been using the Urban Decay Primer Potion in its original formulation. Although it lasted forever, around $20 a tube is pretty damn expensive, especially if I can find a primer that’s cheaper and works just as well. And so, I decided to pop into Ulta and check out an NYX eyeshadow primer instead. My twin sister uses it, and says she doesn’t notice a difference between it and a high end primer. I have to agree. So glad I tried it out and saved almost $15.

Total spent: $262.66

Molly is an assistant digital strategist by day and a writer by night. She drinks way too much coffee and can be found on Twitter here.

Image via Unsplash

  • Tara

    Can there be a rule that if TFD is going to keep running these posts, they have to feature dollar amounts that are actually in the regrettable range? Like sure, $60 on lunches out for a month isn’t great. But why is a $7 McD’s meal you got once on here? It was $7. Let it go.

    • Carolina Dietrich

      I have to agree here. When I saw “I really fucked up in August” I was like, “Oh good, I’m not alone.” I wish I could have written this article instead.

      • Holly Trantham

        For the record, anyone can pitch me at any time 🙂

        • Emma

          You can also raise your standards for the content you publish at any time. 🙂

          • Holly Trantham

            Fine if you feel that way, but my comment was sincere. We really are always taking pitches, and if someone wants to write on a topic, I want them to know that my inbox is open.

          • Anon

            I think you’re in a vicious cycle. People see content like this, assume it’s what you want, and send you more of the same.

            Have you considered sending out more targeted calls for material to rectify that? If I were you, I’d pick weekly themes to solicit longer pieces around. So you might say something like this: “Send us your essays on women, money, and food. Possible topics include: the cost of eating disorders, learning to budget, navigating food choices and class, food and family issues, etc.” Or money and self-presentation or income inequality in relationships.” Or whatever. Post those calls in whatever PF blogs you can wrangle a deal with. You could still run unrelated material during the week but there’d be a conversation. But make them longer, more thoughtful pieces, instead of polling friends.

            The other thing I’d recommend (somewhat hesitantly) is to then Chelsea’s think pieces into an opening sally for a forum. They’re obviously meant to poke the hornet’s nest. So why not post them and then a week later have a follow up post where readers submit a paragraph or two reacting to it? Or better still, have a group chat with readers that turns it into a debate and post that? They can often feel like pronouncements in a way I know I bristle at. So why not change the format to make it more interactive?

            Or if that’s too much work, why not every week pick an article elsewhere on the internet and have the tfd members weigh in on it?

            Or why not do a budget recipe column? Sounds like you ladies like to cook.

            Or find someone who thrifts, rehabs stuff and flips it for money? Have people walk us through that in detail. How do you decide what’s worth buying? How do you refinish furniture? Do basic mending?

            These are all just thoughts.

      • Tara

        Right? I bought a $100 coat I didn’t need, spent $65 on a dinner one night because I didn’t check the menu prices before I made a reservation, etc. THOSE are actual regrets. (Well, not really the jacket, because it’s cute as heck.)

        • Carolina Dietrich

          Lol. I bought a dress “on sale” for $65. But then since it was from the US (I’m from Canada) the shipping, duty fees and taxes brought it up to double the sale price. I can’t even return it because it was final sale.

  • Summer

    I really hate to be rude, but where is the value in articles like this? Spending less than seven bucks at McDonald’s is not compelling content. Making a student loan payment isn’t a ‘worthwhile purchase’ so much as it is simply paying a bill. I guess it’s nice if you’re happy to make that payment, but it’s still an obligatory expense nonetheless and doesn’t really fit with this theme.

    I’m all for owning our purchase mistakes and having the self-awareness to realize when we’re making smart choices so we can continue to improve with money habits, but there seems to be a real trend here lately of over-justification of spending on everything from lamps to face wash to cheeseburgers. I also don’t want to sound elitist and try to put a dollar amount on what is “worth” writing about and what isn’t, but when we’re getting into the sub-$10 category, it just really feels like scraping the bottom of the barrel for anything at all to write about. I would have much rather seen this piece expanded into the value of knowing when to invest in quality items instead of inexpensive substitutions, which would have been easy to do with the story about the Target purse breaking after just weeks of use, and the example of the NYX primer performing just as well as the Urban Decay.

    • Marianne

      Yes, thank you! I had a similar comment on a piece about regretful purchases that was posted last week, but you voiced my thoughts much more eloquently. I would either like to see an expansion of substitutions; for example, you spent $60 on office lunches – what are the meal prep recipes you are going to try next month? Or a review of quality items and what to look for in them like you mentioned with the purse.

    • Tara

      At the very least go full money diary on this shit and break down every single thing you bought for a week or a month and see how much you spent in each category. A diary of 4 items that were questionable purchases is not a compelling article.

    • Ella

      Agreed and well said. Although I can relate to spending $60 on lunches in a month and regretting it that’s something I can express in a couple emojis in a text to a friend and is not the content I’m hoping to find on TFD. As stated above and in other comments a little more exploration of the underlying issues with this spending would go a long way to making this an article that resonates instead of one that lacks.

  • Kira90

    Ok, I got a latte today. I regret it. I don’t regret the one I got yesterday though.
    Boom! I just wrote an article worth publishing!!!

  • Laura

    Agreed with the above comments – the reason that a paid model for TFD would not work is that there are so many articles like this.

    • Lee

      One of the things TFD works on is checking their privilege and appealing to readers at all economic levels. Therefore by creating a paid model, they cut out those who are unable to pay for the articles and information.

  • Mj D’Arco

    I think that the initial allure to the financial diet was all their advice on money and investment. However since they decided to put all that content in the book their sites content has turned into mundane and boring, almost not worth reading anymore. While I understand the importance of expanding your product range it’s too bad that you are doing it at the expense of the blog

    • Tara

      Yeah, when was the last time TFD had an expert come in and give a breakdown of something? Or the last time they did a grocery haul? Please, anything but another breakdown of Mary’s complete financial ineptitude or “I spent $8 on a CoverGirl mascara, what was I thinking?!”

      • Lee

        No need to call out Mary. She appeals to the younger readers of TFD and gives them the chance to see that she makes those little regrettable decisions. If you don’t like her work, don’t click on articles written by her. The need to complain can be best reserved for your friends, not an online forum berating a writer.

        • Emma

          Stop. I am 21–so younger than Mary, and younger than the average reader of TFD. I can still tell that her writing is not valuable personal finance content. It doesn’t appeal to me, and worse, it isn’t helpful.

          Vapid content does not automatically apply to younger readers.

          • Laura

            Amen – articles that would appeal to younger readers would be something along the vein of how to find/obtain scholarships, obtain free furniture for your dorm, split household costs with roommates, or something else practical. “I spent a bunch of money that I didn’t need to spend” is not helpful.

          • Tara

            Especially since she lives with a well-off SO who can pick up the slack when she screws up…

          • Anni

            Here’s the thing about Mary – in the span of time since Mary started as a intern and moved into “adult” life, the choices she’s made have basically made her pretty unrelatable to a lot of the readers here who are her age. Since Mary started, she has gone from being single and living with her parents in a reasonable economic situation (I’m assuming from her last article where she missed out on scholarship by not paying attention which someone who really, really needed fin aid would not have)….to living with her boyfriend also in a reasonable economic situation. Mary went to college in the same place where she grew up (allowing her to stay at home) and she hasn’t needed to move from that area because her boyfriend is on residency and she works remotely. Mary’s gone straight from school and side hustling to working remotely from home and still side hustling. Even though she is obviously living that early 20s life, because of the choices she’s made and the person she’s found, she’s definitely missed some milestones that other people her age have taken.

            None of this is bad (hell as half of a 23 year old married couple in LA I don’t think my living sitch/romantic stitch is relatable to lot of young people in big cities), but I don’t think it was what readers had in mind when TFD took on a younger writer to diversify their range.

            I think people expected to read about topics like the financial toll of being single and young, of how to finding someone to live with on craigslist that isn’t a serial killer, of moving to a new city after graduation to work, how to decorate when your apartment is the size of a shoebox or how to have “adult” conversations with roommates about issues, tips getting the most out of free publics services, of maybe what it’s like to work a 9-to-5 after so many years of being in school or navigate being in any kind of in-person office (start up / corporate) as a new adult, how to do “happy hour” with coworkers, etc…all things Mary won’t necessarily experience because of the path that she’s taken.

        • Tara

          I don’t really understand why it’s weird to call out a writer who has literally no experience in the financial field, and yet writes for a website all about personal finance, on her subpar articles. It’s fine for her to make the mistakes that she does, and it was fine for her to be the summer intern talking about these foibles for a few months, but I’m not sure what she’s contributing to the site at this point.

  • Bea Wong

    Molly Burford has written a grand total of one NON- “shit i spent on this month” article for TFD.

  • Wolf

    I wish you’d make a plan for paying your student loans faster, instead of waxing about how much of a priviliege they are.

  • Jenn

    I found this article and this series to be rather insightful. The content is relatable and easy to read, and although the takeaway may not be straightforward, I am able to look at my own situation with her viewpoint in mind.
    For example Molly talks about spending money on fast food and regretting. That may not be compelling, but I can easily think back to when I spent money buying overpriced coffee when I could have easily made coffee from home. What was different? Not much when you look at the bare bones. In both cases being in a new/exciting/stressful situation prompted us to buy something we normally would not have.
    How use this information to make better informed decisions in the future? This is the key to understanding the takeaway. I have the hindsight to understand in a stressful situation and I am more likely to cave in and buy myself a latte. Perhaps this will affect how I make decisions in the future. Next time I have a stressful day or am in a bad mood I’ll be able to draw the connection between how I’m feeling in the moment (wanting a pick me up) and how I’ll feel afterwards (regretting money being spent on unnecessary coffee).
    Molly, I applaud you for sharing part of your personal life and values with us. You continue to teach us to reflect on our financial decisions in new ways and to take the time to reflect how we’ll feel in the moment to how we’ll feel in the future.