Personal finance requires a lot of balance and self-control. It’s easy to spend a few bucks here and there. In the end, it all adds up and you’re potentially left with partial regrets about careless spending. At the same time, you feel like you wanted to treat yourself during the moment. Sometimes, that small side spending is worth it for your sanity.
I’ve analyzed my spending over the years and saw some recurring habits and outgrown habits. My goal with Cold Brew Vibes is to share my thoughts based on actual experiences. Let’s talk about how I’m spending less money through quality purchases and what my spending trends should look like this year.
quality vs. price
It’s difficult to find the right balance between quality and price. Do you want to spend more on something you perceive as better quality or stick with a cheaper option? In college, I loved my Coach bags. Even though I barely had a clue what Louis Vuitton and high fashion handbags were, I knew I needed to be reasonable with my spending at the time, especially with a limited income. If I bought Louis Vuitton handbags back then, I probably wouldn’t be able to pay off my student loans in one shot before the grace period ended. As I climbed up the corporate ladder, I found myself with more opportunities for affordability but was still challenged with self-control. I realized I stopped going to the Coach website and frequented the Louis Vuitton website these days. Regardless of the brands, the rationale still stays the same: I will not buy a new handbag every month. The real question these days is, should I just splurge on that Chanel handbag or stick with the Louis V?
I found myself in regret when I bought items because they were cheap or on sale, which I don’t really have a use for anymore. I felt a bit wasteful because I’ve been taught to maximize the life of my belongings. At the same time, I’m a huge fan of getting rid of things and being minimal thanks to Marie Kondo. I try to evaluate the item to see if I can do a last-ditch effort to maximize the rest of its life under my supervision or dispose them via donation or trash can.
where i’m cutting my spending
When you progress through your life, you outgrow things. Your perceptions and interests change. I found myself not interested in certain things anymore while adopting a new interest in other things. In recent years, I really wanted to live a minimal lifestyle, where I have enough. Overkill isn’t it anymore. Here’s what I’m cutting my spending on these days:
- Stationery: For some reason, I’ve been a big fan of journals, notebooks, stickers, pens, and all things stationery since I was a child. The recurring habit would be the struggle of not finishing a journal or not wanting to use a sticker pack. My love for stickers was the reason why I opened a sticker shop.
- Milk Tea/Coffee: I used to go to boba and coffee shops frequently. I was a huge fan of collecting decorative cups from certain boba shops. Eventually, I bought coffee frequently, which added up in cost. I found self-control lately where I’d have a milk tea once every 6-8 weeks, and coffee once every 1-3 weeks. Not only is it a great money saver, but it also helps me cut back on sugar.
- Seasonal Fashion: I wasn’t a big fan of fast fashion brands, but I enjoyed buying seasonal fashion that I haven’t seen myself wearing lately. A lot of my clothing purchases these days are from Lululemon, which is versatile for workout and casual gear. The higher price helps me with picking out quality over quantity.
- Snacks: I’m a huge snack fan, but I’m trying to be better about not grazing throughout the day. Snacks are not always the best for my body.
- Alcohol: Alcohol is a bit tricky because when you’re dining out, it’s expensive and adds up. I’m cutting alcohol consumption, which would help me avoid those $30 whisky bottles. However, I won’t say no if they’re a gift!
- Makeup: I’m a huge fan of Chanel makeup and beauty products. Considering the price and expiration dates, I need to make sure I finish all of my makeup products before moving on to the next.
- Target’s Deal Section: … Or any other store’s deal section! I was a huge fan of the $1/$3 knick-knacks. However, I don’t really put them to the greatest use. All of a sudden, you somehow spend $20 on these products!
Even though I’m cutting back on certain spending, there will be times when I’m going to be a bit bougie. The key is balance, you can’t spend on everything. But you can spend on some when you cut back on others.
- Food: I’m a huge proponent of enjoying my meals, whether I’m shopping at Whole Foods or eating with friends. I learned how to spend reasonably at Whole Foods every week. I don’t go out as often these days but when I do, I don’t mind spending a bit more on something I’ll enjoy eating. I’m a huge foodie and if I want that $18 sweet shrimp nigiri, I’ll be my own guest to that.
- Designer: I still justify buying myself designer goods. It comes down to personal preference with budget and style of the year. Last year, I was looking for a Louis Vuitton leather bag that was slightly bigger than my clutch. I’m still thinking about this year’s bag. Even though I still spend thousands on a handbag, I make sure I limit it to one per year at most. This girl still needs to buy a house and furnish it! I had my pre-approval, waiting for the market to drop!
- Exercise: It’s amazing that 7 years ago, I complained about spending $30/mo for a gym membership when I went 4x per week. Today, I’m out here spending about $26 per class at SoulCycle. I usually go once per week and that’s already over $100/mo. I asked for a quote from Equinox, but it feels a bit expensive for the number of times I’d go per month. Over the years, I’ve learned that I prefer nicer gyms – 24 Hour Fitness was way too dirty.
I like to do a trend analysis of my spending. I recently published a blog post about my Top 10 Merchants in 2021. My top 2 merchants last year were Lexus Financial Services and Best Buy. I already paid off my car, so I’m already saving on that front (or more like deferred this year’s payment to last year). I don’t see myself going crazy with tech upgrades at Best Buy this year unless I spend on appliances there. I also don’t see myself buying a new MacBook Pro or iPhone this year either.
I’m trying my best with personal finance. I’m still trying to be reasonable with my spending despite how much I make. The discipline goes a long way, especially for the future where you’d put that money to good use.