Low-Buy Progress Report #1: January

To keep myself accountable to my 2016 low-buy, I’ve decided to do a progress report on my blog at the end of each month, recording how much I’ve spent on beauty, my reasons for buying each product, and whether certain moods, events, k-pop videos, etc. have affected my spending. I know January isn’t over yet, but I don’t plan to buy any more beauty products in the next four days, so let’s round up my purchases for the month! For the price of each item, I’ve rounded the total to the nearest whole number but haven’t included sales tax. If I order anything online in the coming months, I’ll include shipping costs in the total.

New makeup/polish:

MAC matte lipstick in Antique Velvet: $17
Floss Gloss polishes in Dinge and Dimepiece: $8 each
Revlon Matte Balm in Fierce: $11 (thanks, CVS markup!)
Total: $44

So, yeah, I went $4 over budget and bought four new products instead of two. I still think that’s decent for my first month after a no-buy, but I plan to be more frugal next month. Antique Velvet was a lemming of six months’ standing; the other products were closer to impulse purchases. I bought Floss Gloss Dinge, a dusty pink nude, and Dimepiece, a silver holographic glitter topcoat, in San Francisco. I was flying straight from SF to Austin for the MLA convention and had brought Zoya Normani from home to be my “interview polish,” but paranoia set in at the last minute: what if a mauvey taupe color was just too edgy for an academic search committee? Dinge was my solution to this irrational worry. Dimepiece, on the other hand, was my consolation for not having bought Smith & Cult Vegas Post Apocalyptic. Throughout my no-buy, I’d told myself that Vegas Post Apocalyptic would be one of my first purchases of January; when it came down to it, though, I couldn’t bring myself to drop $18 on a glitter topcoat, no matter how beautiful the bottle or how impeccable the branding. Dimepiece was less than half the price, and the small size of the bottle meant that I actually had a chance of finishing it before it went all gooey. Look how much of Dinge I’ve managed to use already!

As for Fierce, I’d been half-looking for a medium brown lipstick for a while. When I heard that Revlon had released a reddish brown shade in its Matte Balm formula, I couldn’t resist. I did wait a couple of days before buying it, though, to make sure I really wanted it. And now that I own both Fierce and Antique Velvet, I’m declaring a moratorium on brown lip colors for the rest of the year. I have more than enough!

Beauty tools:

Glass nail file: $6
Medium Z Palette: $15
Total: $21

(I assume you all know what a black Z Palette looks like.)

I forgot to make a budget for beauty tools in my resolutions post, because I don’t buy them often or compulsively. Should I count them in my $40 per month for new items? I don’t know. Anyway, you know how everyone tells you that once you use a glass nail file, you’ll never go back? It’s true. And look how adorable! The store in San Francisco where I bought this had a bunch of ombré colors, but I can never resist fuchsia.

New skincare:



None. I do need a new mascara (I can’t remember when I bought my current one, which is a bad sign), but when I went to replace it earlier this month, I made a horrible discovery: CoverGirl has discontinued my beloved LashBlast Length! I’m now on the lookout for a new drugstore mascara; any suggestions for something that gives subtle length without crazy spidery fullness?

Total beauty spending for January: $65.


I’m proud of myself for not going too far over $40 for new makeup, because January was an especially difficult month. I don’t usually talk about my professional life on this blog, but let’s just say that the academic job market is pretty brutal and I didn’t get any of the tenure-track jobs I applied for. I knew I’d probably have to go on the job market more than once (almost everyone does), but expecting a bad outcome doesn’t make it hurt any less. Combine this with the malaise that often sets in during this gray, slushy time of year, and you get an emotional state that has prompted bad purchasing decisions in the past. Now that I’m conscious of my weakness, though, it’s a lot easier to manage. I’ve been distracting myself by cooking new vegan dishes (last night I made gnocchi with a tasty cashew-based creamy sauce), attending my university’s “dissertation boot camp,” and experimenting with my Nude ‘Tude palette. Let’s hope that I can maintain my frugality, or “frugality,” in the months to come. Maybe it’s a bad sign that I already know what I’m going to buy in February: ColourPop eyeshadow in Eye Candy and possibly Telepathy, and blush in Rain. But that’s it! Probably!

I mentioned k-pop videos at the beginning of this post, so here’s the song I’ve had on repeat for the past few days, GFriend’s “Rough.” I can neither confirm nor deny that I teared up more than once while watching this video. Like I said, it’s been a rough month. If you will.

20 thoughts on “Low-Buy Progress Report #1: January

  1. Eh, I don't count things that are \”staples\” or that I don't normally overbuy on. Like hair products: I normally don't hoard shampoos or styling products, so if I decide to try a new shampoo, I don't count it. Makeup, though, I really try to keep track of, and certain skincare.


  2. I like L'Oreal's Telescopic mascara for length without clumps. If you can get the Shocking Extensions, go for it.I feel you on the academic job market … I was ABD for years before folding my tent and silently stealing away. There didn't seem to be much point in finishing; I was already the most over-educated housewife on the block with just a Master's, and there were no jobs. So good for you for keeping it to two lipsticks.


  3. I second L'Oreal's Telescopic. It's just what you want; length without that dramatic, spidery look. I was also happy with L'Oreal's Volume Million Lashes for the same effect.And hello, auxiliarybeauty, I guess I need to introduce myself. I've been reading your blog and Kate's from drivel about frivol non-stop for several days now. I love the way you write and I think your approach to beauty is both fun and sensible. Expect me to comment more often.Greetings from Indonesia!


  4. I feel like I'm waving from the other end of the academic drain train; I just got my first grad school rejection. Alas, there are no material comforts in my future, as the new year has evidently incapacitated the payroll office of the school I work for, and I'm three paychecks behind. Incredibly, despite my obscene collection of eyeshadow, I don't own a Z Palette. I think this is mostly due to my primal fear of depotting. I will be buried alive in eyeshadow palettes. I can't do it.


  5. Thanks! Hey, at least I didn't buy 20 lipsticks. I'm close enough to finishing my PhD that I might as well just do it (I'm planning to defend later this year), and I'm lucky that I've had relatively few real-life distractions. I figure that even if I don't end up in academia, a PhD will help me get a job SOMEWHERE. Probably. What were you studying in grad school?


  6. I think you did very well, especially after just coming out of a no-buy. I didn't buy anything in January, but when I was home over Christmas I bought 4 new products, some with the Christmas money I received from grandma – sorry, Santa! – so I don't really now how to count those. I don't want to completely ignore that purchase because it would be cheating, but I do sort of feel like they were at least partially gifts. For now, I've decided to count them as normal purchases and if I abstain from shopping in February too, then I would still be within my allowance. Hmm.Oh and btw, you rock those brown shades – they look awful on me 😀 And I absolutely understand your reasoning behind getting that glitter polish as a substitute for another expensive polish you've been lemming. I tend to compensate in this way all the time.


  7. Welcome, and thank you for the kind words! I miss Kate's blog so much; she was my biggest inspiration to start my own blog, despite the fact that my makeup skills didn't come close to hers. I hope she returns eventually!


  8. I don't count beauty tools or things I'm not prone to buying a lot of (hair products, nail polish) because I feel like I've already got those nailed down as far as responsible spending goes.Job hunting is one of the most soul-deadening things that you'll ever do, I'm fairly certain (ask me how I feel about it in the summer, when I start looking for positions for after this contract. It won't be pretty). It's especially hard when you're in a field that doesn't have a lot of openings or half-decent prospects. I spent most of 2015 in a state of depression and general emotional angst about job hunting and it was awful. It hurts. It's lonely. And it kind of makes you hate everyone because they all ask how the job hunt is going.So four products: I think you're doing well!


  9. My sympathies on the job rejections. I've been ducking and hiding from the job hunting process myself–I told a friend recently that I'm using up all my getting-rejected resilience on submitting work for publication, which is kind of true although it's also kind of a copout. Like you say, being prepared for bad news doesn't help very much. I hope you get some better news on your next go-round.


  10. Stay strong AB! My contract at my current job is ending too and I'm currently uncertain of my future, so I can empathize with you. I hope all goes well for you! And good luck at keeping to your budget next month!


  11. Ugh, I remember how shitty those grad school rejections felt. Don't despair, though–it's very early in the season! And I don't know anyone who was accepted to all the grad programs they applied to (I certainly wasn't). I hope you get your financial stuff sorted out soon! I was just paid yesterday after no income for a month and a half…I'm usually opposed to depotting, too. I don't have so many eyeshadows that space is an issue, and I like seeing the shadows in their original packaging. But with this particular palette, the sorry state of the packaging was preventing me from enjoying the perfectly good product, so I had to take drastic measures. I like the Z Palette because the top is clear, so I'm reminded of my neglected shadows every time I go to do my makeup. I've been using the Nude 'tude colors so much more since I depotted them!


  12. Hmm, I guess I would count products that I purchased with gift money, since that money could theoretically go toward anything. If someone were to give me a Sephora gift card, on the other hand, the money could only go toward makeup, so I probably wouldn't count it. You do get into all sorts of quandaries on a low-buy, though. Like, does a product count as a \”gift\” if I request it specifically?And thanks! I think my greatest beauty discovery of 2015 was that I actually look good in certain shades of brown. Fierce is just shy of being too warm for me, but I think it works.


  13. Yeah, maybe I shouldn't count tools either, since I almost never buy them. I just want a sense of how much I'm spending on beauty generally.I agree, one of the worst parts of the job search is telling others about it. I hate when people who haven't yet gone on the market say things like \”Wow, I'm surprised you didn't get anything!\” Or even worse: \”If YOU didn't get a job, I probably won't either!\” THANKS. It's really hard to get people to understand that in a field like academia, ability doesn't have a whole lot to do with getting a job–there's a large pool of very accomplished people and there just aren't enough positions for all of them. Ugh. I'm sorry you've been having trouble, too. 😦


  14. It really got to the point in the fall where I started avoiding everyone who might ask me about it because I just didn't want to talk about it ALL the time.For librarians in Canada, it's better than academia or even librarians in the US, but it's still not great. The general consensus is that you'll do 2-3 years of contract work before you find something (hopefully) permanent. It's getting that first contract that's the hardest part, and so I'm really, really lucky that I got that hump over with, because I have loads of classmates still looking, and we graduated eight months ago, which means people have been looking for a year and a half now.Good luck with the continuing hunt. May people not ask you about it too often!


  15. I haven't really even been applying! I look at listings sometimes (mostly for jobs doing education stuff and/or writing in nonprofits), and then I dither until the job posting expires. I'm interested in eventually having a more normal work schedule instead of the three part-time gigs I have now, but the current situation is complicated enough, and always has enough unfinished business, that it's hard to think about how to move on, so I just keep sending essays to magazines instead.


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