Project Low-Buy 2015, Update #1: What I bought, what I didn't buy, and thoughts on careful shopping | Hello Pretty Bird! - A beauty and not-so-glamorous lifestyle blog

03 March, 2015

Project Low-Buy 2015, Update #1: What I bought, what I didn't buy, and thoughts on careful shopping

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It's been about a month since I introduced my three-month low-buy challenge for 2015, so I'd say it's about time I shared my progress so far! Just to quickly recap, here's the basic gist of the challenge:

GOAL: Reduce frivolous buying by spending no more than $75 out of pocket over the course of three months.

RULES: Other than basic living and blog or work-related expenses (outlined here), all purchases must be counted towards the budget. The budget can be increased by selling items I already own or if I receive a monetary gift. Purchases made with rewards points, referral credits etc. do not count towards the budget.

So, have I stayed on track so far? Keep reading to find out!

First, I'll share the things I did end up purchasing.

Haul #1: A few odds and ends from the Birchbox shop.

Many of the items in this "haul" were actually free samples—the items I "paid" for were one Sumita Color Contrast Eyeliner, two Tokyo Milk Dark lip balms, and a three-pack of mini Klorane dry shampoos. I'm using the word "paid" in quotation marks because a large portion of the cost was covered by Birchbox points, so my out-of-pocket cost was only $8.09. PSA: Always review your monthly samples! POINTS!!!

Haul #2: Some "Happy birthday to me" bits and bobs from Sephora.

I ended up getting about $25 in unexpected funds at the beginning of the month (I'll explain why later), so I decided to treat myself to a couple of things from Sephora as sort of an early birthday present. I got the Bite Beauty Luminous Crème Lipstick Duo in Tangerine/Lingonberry (reviewed here), the Urban Decay Ammo Palette, and of course the free birthday gift (which is a very nice set of Nars lip pencils this year). I also purchased a Sephora Flash membership, because I mainly shop online and often find myself only wanting one or two things, so I hope that will discourage me from finding "filler" items I don't really need to meet the $50 free shipping minimum in the future. Total cost out of pocket: $40.49.

Haul #3: Four plates. Yes, plates.

I didn't anticipate needing any new housewares during the low-buy period, but shit happens and I found myself needing to replace a couple of my dinner plates all of a sudden. Whoops! Luckily, I found these cute floral print Corelle plates (pictured above with a bounty of tater tots) on Amazon for cheap. Mmm, tater tots. Total cost out of pocket: $17.42.

HAUL #4: Two Memeboxes.

I had a bunch of Memepoints in my account, so I was able to get the Leaders Mystery Box and Lunar New Year Mystery Box without spending a dime out of pocket. Unfortunately I don't have many points left after grabbing those boxes, but hey, it was nice while it lasted. Total cost: $0.

Other items I purchased but didn't take photos of:
  • A phone case off eBay (boring!) for $8.19
  • Some computer games for $6.69. This is one area of my spending I should probably keep an eye on—I buy random games on Steam, GOG etc. all the time when they go on sale for a couple bucks. Which of course means I have tons that I haven't played yet—including the ones I spent $6.69 on earlier this month. Whoops!


Think I went over my budget? I sort of did, but I also didn't. I received extra funds this month from two sources:
  • Ebates: Oh Ebates, you old so-and-so. I used it quite a bit when I was doing my Christmas shopping last year, but didn't really keep track of how much cash back I had earned, so I was absolutely SHOCKED when I got a Paypal payment for $25.74 at the beginning of February. Normally it's way less. Moral of the story: Use Ebates when you shop online, because it does add up. (If you don't have an Ebates account yet, sign up through my referral link to get a $10 gift card bonus after your first $25 purchase!)
  • Birthday gifts: I received $150 in cash as birthday gifts, which also shocked the crap out of me because people don't usually give me money as gifts. Seriously, I'm lucky if I clear $50 during any typical gift-giving occasion. I've decided to be boring and responsible and only add $50 of it to my frivolity budget though. The rest will go towards something more practical, like buying groceries and vitamins. I sure know how to have fun!



I honestly sort of lucked out with the Ebates thing and the birthday cash, but if it hadn't been for those bonuses, I probably would have skipped the Sephora order to leave extra room in my budget. Spend it if you've got it, and if you don't... don't.

Now... how about what I didn't buy?

I almost pulled the trigger on an Innisfree order last month because they were offering free shipping to the US on orders over $30, but luckily I talked myself out of it, because that would have totally killed my budget at the time. And honestly, the products I was interesting in buying (hellooooo moisturizer) weren't things I really needed at the moment. I enjoy the novelty of trying new products and sharing my experiences for the sake of this blog, but when I take a step back and look around me, I realize that I actually do have a bunch of stuff that I haven't written about yet. So the "it's for the blog" excuse doesn't really wash either when I have several unopened, similar products lying around. So many goodies, so little time. And only one face. Sigh. If a dozen people beg me to review a specific product then that might be a reason, but otherwise... nope.

I'm also trying to be more discriminating with my purchases. I've been getting rid of a lot of old makeup and skincare lately, and it just doesn't feel very good to get rid of a moisturizer (or foundation or whatever) that's still 2/3 full. Sometimes we expect products to work for us and they just don't agree with our skin for whatever reason, but some ill-fated purchases could have been avoided with a little additional research. For example, I just got rid of a mostly-full bottle of Bourjois foundation—if I had looked at more photos online before I bought it, I would have realized that it was really yellow-toned and soooo not a good color match for me.

At the same time, I don't always have tons of time to research a small purchases (like drugstore foundation). It's tough to strike a healthy balance between saving time and saving money, because 20 minutes spent looking at pictures of makeup is 20 minutes I could be using to do work or improve my skills or something. But maybe wearing foundation that doesn't make my face look weird does actually improve my life in a way and therefore is worth it. But then I start to wonder, how much time is "worth it" per day to spend on your beauty routine (as opposed to other areas of self-improvement)? Thoughts?

Anyway, I've taken away three key lessons from this month:
  • Never underestimate the power of Ebates and rewards points,
  • Spending a bit of time researching beauty purchases is worth it, and
  • Always anticipate replacement plates. ALWAYS.

What do you think of my low-buy so far? If you received a large cash birthday gift, would you spend it all on fun stuff or do something practical with it?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. For more information, check out my full disclosure policy.


  1. What a great start! Honestly, I've never imposed a 'no-buy' for myself but the current exchange rates is enough to kill any excitement/self-convincing to purchase XYZ. I am eyeing a few products longingly but until the exchange rates stop being such a kill-joy I think I'm happy to just keep them in mind.
    I did get a $50 Sephora gift card for Christmas though! So I am definitely on the look out for anything I'd like at Sephora. Right now, the Bite lipsticks are calling me but we'll see =]

  2. Yay, good job! I've never done a low or no-buy but I need to. Memebox has me buried in products to try or use or sell. Maybe if I'm on a low-buy it will force me to pick through my hoard of products and sell some!

  3. I think you did really well considering it was your birthday month and everything. I honestly don't know if I could do a project low buy like that. Sometimes I end up in a low buy, but that's usually because of just being too busy and not something I planned.

  4. Thank you! Yes, exchange rates are a bit of a bummer. I definitely felt that when I was living in the UK but still using an American bank account... ouch. Bite lipsticks are awesome though, if the Sephora GC is really burning a hole in your pocket!

  5. Thanks! I've been combing through my stash and found a couple more unused Meme-products I need to swap or sell too, lol. It's hard to let some of that stuff go... on one hand I'm like "But I might use this weird mask eventually!" but if I haven't yet even though I've had it for months, maybe that's not going to happen...

  6. Thank you! Yes, Ebates is really great. Adding it to your IMATS fund is a smart idea! I suppose I should count myself lucky that I'll be away during IMATS and therefore have no temptation, lol.

  7. Thanks! Yeah, I think I found myself a bit more spend-happy because people gave me cash and I was in the mindset of treating myself as a reward for making it to 31, lol. I have unintentional "low buy" periods sometimes too. I go through phases when I'm just tired of shopping. They're never permanent though...

  8. I don't think I could ever do a no-buy but love your low-buy idea! And how have I not heard about Sephora Flash?! Sounds awesome!

  9. Sephora Flash is a new-ish thing. I don't think they've advertised it that heavily either - I first heard about it on another blog!

  10. I gotta say, you are incredibly disciplined when it comes to money. Using birthday money for groceries is so responsible. And now I really want some tater tots.

  11. Haha! Well, by "groceries" I mean slightly nicer stuff than I would usually buy in an ordinary week. Pickles I'm too cheap to buy, new spices, extra tater tots. All the non-essentials.

  12. Are you saying pickles are non-essential?? Don't let my husband hear you.

  13. Just the FANCY onces. Kosher dills are a staple.