Saturday, 8 November 2014

Quick wardrobe reflection and dealing with FOMO

It is now November.

I updated my wardrobe spreadsheet. Two observations.

(1) I tallied up the total items purchased since July (4 - that's on average 1 item per month). Wardrobe $ spent is so far less than 5% of net income. This 5% figure is the percentage that I gather what most people would allocate to their wardrobe spending, so I am just using this as a loose guideline. My own stats - this percentage varies depending on the stage of my life (and other financial goals at the time), so I don't have a definite number (or even range) that's representative of my wardrobe budget. So my approach when it comes to this budgetary allocation is this: if you can afford it, then go for it. It's your money, your choices, your decisions. Live life the way you want to, spend your money in accordance with that.

(2) September was a no spend month. I bought two things in October, one of which was this beauty. I toyed with the idea of November being a no spend month - we are a third of the way into the month and I haven't come across anything that's enticing. Then again, my lust list these days looks different from my lust list in prior months, so that's probably an important factor. In some ways, I think I am being unrealistic in the sense that I would like every single item that I acquire from this point forward to inspire me (instead of just being functional). But I don't need anything right now, so I am okay with proceeding with this mindset until it is proven to be unsuitable for my lifestyle.

I am not sure if November is going to be a no spend month because of Black Friday. Previously, I have been enticed by the great bargains to be had during this time of the year, right through to post Christmas sales. I was easily enticed by the idea of scoring a bargain without much consideration as to how each acquisition would fit into my current closet. This is something that I would like to change since a couple of years ago, but somehow, I still fall into the same 'trap'. This brings me to:

FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out.

How many times do we let ourselves decide to do something out of FOMO?

Why do we let fear rule our lives when we know that it usually brings us dissatisfaction eventually?

Recognise FOMO for what it really is: fear.

Fear is the stage you are in. It's ok to feel fear, feeling something is part of the human experience. And what you do while you're feeling that fear is important.

How to move past living in fear?

When you are living in fear, and you want to stop living in fear, your response is firstly going to be most likely living with courage. This happens when you're doing something despite the fear.  So, when you come across a pair of jeans, your size, your favourite brand, on a steep discount and you choose not to purchase them because you know that you already have too much jeans despite feeling that you are missing out if you don't buy them right now - congratulations, you are living with courage.

Courage, I find, is like a habit. If you make a habit of being courageous, you would attain a state of mindfulness, you understand why you do the things that you do and this understanding makes it easier for you to stay true to yourself. And staying true to yourself brings this quiet sense of satisfaction that people call peace.

It always begin with yourself. The first step is to look deep down within yourself. It is when you have enough courage to listen to yourself that you discover who you really are.

My problem is that sometimes I forget who I am, especially when I am tempted by so many beautiful things.

And I really really want to be especially mindful this month.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

acquisition analysis: black bag

[at the time of writing] i had just received the above bag. historically, the trend is that i purchase a lot more often than i walk away. this one is different though: i have an irrational lust for this bag on first sight, something that doesn't happen very often. there are a lot of things that i find beautiful, but very few that i am strongly attracted to.

i have always maintained that a good handbag has the ability to elevate an outfit, and is a pretty good "investment" because it's independent of one's fluctuating shape. as in, even if you lose/gain weight, your bags would still be there for you, you know. i recently did a purge of all the handbags of my younger years (some of which makes me cringe), in an effort to have with a relatively clean start. the goal is to have a collection that stands the test of time. this is a rather ambitious goal on my part because i dont know what i am going to like in ten years time. point is that i try to stick on the classic side whenever i can.

i have been wanting a black bag that's relatively small/medium in size for the days that i don't have to carry around a tote (i rotate two different-styled totes on a daily basis). it needs to be small enough and big enough at the same time (annoying, i know) because i want it to perform double duty: for work on the days that i carry light, and for fun on the days that i carry more than usual. i decided that the max size would be 30-35cm, anything over that is just to big to be practical to be considered small. (this paragraph is very hard to write because the points are difficult to articulate. if you've been in my position, you would know that there are some days in which a tote is just too big for all the stuff you need to carry. not that it matters, a tote still functions while slouchy, which can serve as a point of interest to the outfit. however, it is nice to have a bag that's small enough for those days, because sometimes, it's not just about function. function is important, of course: if something doesn't function, then it's useless. yet when form and function meet, man, that's quite something.)

and the usual acquisition criteria apply - good material and construction: leather, durable; affordable for its quality. i have to mention the last point because there are a lot of seemingly good quality options out there (whether they really represent good quality of not is another discussion another time) at prices that i would rather not afford. i take care of my bags (and everything else i own), but i don't exactly "baby" them either, so they can't be too high maintenance, else i would be spending more time maintaining them than using them.

i have this debate with myself over and over and over again before settling at a price point that i deem reasonable for a bag for my current lifestyle. this is a very personal decision and i would not even dare to recommend this to anyone else because the price of something, anything, needs to be evaluated based on one's current lifestyle. i get that this is made even more complicated due to the fact that i expect the bag to stand the test of time. but this is not a financial analysis whereby one does an NPV analysis, rather, this is a value analysis, whereby one gets to assign a dollar value in terms of what one deems to be appropriate in the item's contribution to one's life. it is definitely arbitrary in nature, and in arriving at this value, you just need to remember the trade off between quality and dollar value, and also that just because something is expensive does not automatically mean it represents good quality.

Furla has been around for as long as i can remember, but i never paid enough attention to anything inside the store, until i saw the Piper bag. i am normally not attracted to dome-shaped bags, although admittedly, i did look at a Coach patent leather dome bag a few months ago (and didn't purchase). either the shape was growing on me, or i just want a variety of shapes, or perhaps it's something else - the Piper stole my heart at first sight. it was one of those things that you just knew you would love. (side note: there is nothing else in the collection that caught my attention the way the Piper did, i do acknowledge that aside from their Candy Bag collection, Furla actually errs on the classic side, which explains why it never appealed to me previously.)

i haven't felt this strongly about an acquisition for a long time, so i am rather curious as to why. i went back to my wardrobe spreadsheet and looked at the items that i've acquired this (financial) year: a jacket, a pair of shoes, a pair of jeans (replacement pair for two current pairs that i retired due to being worn out) and a bag (this bag). all of these items have been on my lust list for a long time and the jacket and the shoes have gotten quite a lot of wear considering their relative new-ness, which is to say that they integrate seamlessly into my wardrobe. that said, it is probably because i have a relatively clean state because i have been donating quite a lot of stuff. it is somewhat rather funny that given that when i first bought the shoes, i admitted that i was being irrational. i rationalised the decision by letting go of the shoes that i didn't wear often. i end up wearing the new shoes more often, and became happier as a result. perhaps the key is to actually let go of the things you don't love, so that you don't have to waste so much emotional energy, period.

i guess it is the planning, the research and everything else in between that somewhat contributes to this sense of euphoria. i hate to admit this, but when something is acquired mindfully, it is way more satisfying than something acquired on impulse.

image is from here (you can also buy the bag there - click at your own peril!)

ps. in the case of the shoes, it was one pair in, and 6 pairs out. in the case of the bag, it is one in and 5 out. pretty good for someone who's trying to downsize and stay stylish at the same time!

acquisition analysis is a series of entries that centres on the practical side of how to maximise your marginal utility when spending your money. it is not primarily directed at the financial side of things, rather, on refining my buying skills, specifically on how an item would fit into my life. after all, if it is true that i get to design my life, then it follows that i need to be more critical in both adding and subtracting what's in it. furthermore, i personally believe that in order to maximise one's resources, acquisitions (or purchases) have to be of a strategic nature, instead of a mere time-filler. i admit that at this stage, i am yet to formalise an acquisition process, so one of the goals would be to come up with my acquisition process after i analyse a few of my past purchases. this should make for an interesting exercise because i note that some of my acquisitions do not necessarily stand the test of time. some items that i purchased turn out to be of a terrible quality, despite meticulously taking care of them. lots of lessons to be had!