8 Lessons I Learned After Making 8 Thoughtless Purchases Last Week

By | Monday, March 14, 2016


These are my financial mini-sins of the last week. Want to do your own week recap-slash-confessional? Go ahead, be honest, and send them to chelsea@thefinancialdiet.com. I promise you’ll feel very cleansed.

A skirt which very much did not look in person the way it looked online: $39

I’ve got a wedding this weekend, and wanted to wear something very fun and elegant and not-the-usual-black-shift-dress that somehow gets trotted out at every wedding. So my thinking was a black off-the-shoulder long-sleeved crop top (this one to be exact) with a black tulle skirt. Online, the skirt looked elegant and subtle and like it would give a modern-retro vibe that would be perfect with black stilettos and a colorful silk scarf for the ceremony.

In person, it was so poofy and costume-y that it looked like I got lost on my way to a Black Swan convention. The top, heels, and vintage scarf are still a go, but I’m back to square one on the skirt part. And returning it is proving to be an enormous hassle.

Lesson: don’t take serious risk with online purchases that will be hard to return. You gotta try shit like that on before you put it on your credit card.

A takeout meal that was three times as much food as we needed. $40

When it comes to going out to eat at restaurants, I’m pretty religious about checking out Yelp and scoping the pictures of things. But for some reason, I’m not as good when it comes to takeout, and when Marc and I were in a hotel this week in a new town for his work, we picked a place more or less at random to grab some dinner from, because it was across the street from our hotel. We didn’t check how big the portions were (enormous, easily enough for two people and then some per entree), and we ordered two entrees and an appetizer. This was a huge mistake, and we had no room in the hotel fridge to put it all away, so most of it ended up going straight to the trash. My heart still hearts thinking about it.

Lesson: check to see how big this stuff is before you order.

A fancy cocktail when I did not need a cocktail anymore. $11

We should all be capable, when going out for drinks, of knowing when we definitely do not need anything else. And last Friday, while celebrating a friend’s birthday with a few friends, I should have taken the complimentary shots from the bar as my cue to ride out the rest of the evening on some soda water, instead of going for the fancy, bourbon-based cocktail when we headed to the lounge-y area downstairs.

I didn’t even drink the whole thing — which only happens when you are really, truly done for the evening — but I still paid $11 for the privilege of letting the ice melt in front of me.

Lesson: You don’t need to have an alcoholic drink to keep the evening going, and thefallacy that it’s only a good time as long as everyone is ordering another round is one that leads us to waste money, and have a totally unnecessary hangover the next morning. I wish I could take that drink back.

Yet another eyelash curler I’ll never use. $8

Some people can use these to their advantage — I cannot. And yet once every few years, I tell myself that I’ve finally matured into the kind of person who can skillfully use an eyelash curler as part of their routine. I am not that person, and as expected, my top lashes only looked like they’d been crimped and clumped at a 90 degree angle, as always happens. (And yes, I’ve watched tutorials. I’m just not good at this.)

Lesson: know your weak spots, and don’t waste money on them. I’m better off just curling slightly from the warmth of my fingers, as my mom taught me years ago.

Too much Easter candy. $11

I should have just gotten a little bag of the Cadbury Mini Eggs (my vice, my love, my lust), but I didn’t. I got a family-size bag of those monstrous, creamy devils, as well as a bag of Sweet Tarts jelly beans, because they looked good and Sweet Tarts chewy mini thingies are among my favorite candies ever. Now I have a solid 10k calories’ worth of Easter candy whispering at me from the top shelf of my cabinet, and the sugar-induced breakouts to prove it.

Lesson: Buy small, don’t tempt yourself.

A travel magazine. $5

I subscribed to a magazine (Bon Appetit) for this very reason: to prevent drugstore temptation, and to take the latest issue with me when I travel to have something to browse. It was supposed to be a small investment to save me money by pre-empting my habits in the long term, and pretty much as soon as I walked out of that store with my shiny, half-the-price-of-my-yearly-subscription vice, I felt awful.

Lesson: Don’t even go to a drug store right before traveling, it overrides even your best instincts and preparation.

A coffee just for the WiFi, even though I was already tweaking. $4

Why didn’t I just go back to the hotel and enjoy the free WiFi that did not require me to nearly give myself heart palpitations through over-caffeination? Why did I spend that money on a coffee I could barely touch? I guess it’s because sometimes, going back to whatever “home” is feels like a defeat if I’m already in the mood to be working out of the house for that day, no matter how irrational that might be, or how much money I’ll waste on coffee or scones while passing the time in some little cafe.

Lesson: Suck it up and go home, because the cafe WiFi always sucks anyway.

Overages on my phone because I forgot to log into the hotel WiFi. $15

I’m an idiot.

Lesson: Connect to the goddamn WiFi any time you arrive at whatever place you’re staying at. Do it. Do it, you idiot.

Image via Pexels

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