On scones and budgeting


If you haven't already, you should check out Renee of Montmartre's new shop. She stocks a great selection of hipster fashion and really nice home decor items, one of which is the Fog Linen tablecloth I recently acquired as pictured above.

So much for living simpler and buying less. My budget this month has been blown by purchasing the aforementioned tablecloth,  Hannah's dress and one of Julia's handmade pouches. I've renege on a promise I made a few weeks ago and that makes me feel really bad.

I think this spate of spending has been spurred on by two factors: (a) incessant browsing to fill a void and (b) a void created by tremendous stress. I'm under severe pressure to finish my doctoral work within the next 24 months because of the current state of funding for the sciences. I'm also stressed because I'm starting to feel so old that climbing out of bed at 7 in the morning is torture, my knees are grinding away and my back constantly hurts. I'm 29 by the way.

I've come to the realization that the whole notion of simplistic living requires serene self-discipline. It also requires a hobby, a certain disinterest in possessions and  a strong sense of priorities. On one hand I realize that blatant consumerism is the reason why many Americans are in debt and we're in this economic crisis, but on the other hand, I sometimes feel that if I could make that "one purchase", I would be more productive and live a happier life. The experts beg to differ, but isn't owning a $1700 YSL trench coat an experience in itself? I mean, sure, a week off the Amalfi Coast with endless supply of wine and fresh clams will make me ecstatic, but six months later, I'm probably going to start moaning about how work blows and how I wish I could take another vacation to the Mediterranean. And I'm still always going to want that YSL trench coat. So really, if you think about it, neither things nor experiences can really make you happy.

I'm always going to 'want' something because this is the culture we live in, one where I turn on the computer in the morning to find that Google Reader has 8 new posts about someone having found (or made) the perfect shoes or perfect organic blanket or perfect ceramic vase (this is amidst a post by Paul Krugman yelling about how the economy is going to tank because we're not pouring enough money into social programs). And why the heck do I need the perfect ceramic vase when I haven't had flowers on the table in over 5 years? I don't know, but maybe if I had it I would actually put flowers on the table. And so on.
Unless I completely swear off the internet, I think I'm never going to be able to avoid finding something to lust over. Finding the self-discipline to practice austerity is hard. Finding a list of priorities that can keep one from making impulse purchases while idling away time is even harder. I'm plugged into the computer and internet almost all my waking hours so it's only a matter time before I'm 30 pages into a book I'm reading that I'll be wondering about checking the email or checking the New Arrivals page on Totokaelo.

So dear reader, this brings me to beg the question: how do you avoid breaking your budget and how do you avoid the temptation to buy when you're actually reading blogs that espouse the notion of consumption (which I guess this blog is also guilty of)?

That being said, I made scones this morning from one of the best recipes ever. I used soy whipping cream and shortening in place of all the dairy products and added cranberries and orange zest as well. And I guess the experience of it actually did make me happy for a brief moment.


  1. Funny, when I get stressed, I bake things that I don't eat and send it off to friends and family. Especially scones! LOL.

    Anyways, I can understand the pressure to keep spending and buying new things. Sometimes, I have to back away from the computer and close my browser of several shopping carts of potential purchases.

    I meditate, do yoga, or something to clear my mind from the clutter and find some quiet space to just enjoy the free things nature provides. Sounds silly but sometimes, I sit in the park watching the bees move from flower to flower. Life is so simple but we crowd and fill it with all these distractions that prevent us from living and enjoying our lives in the present moment. I wish I was better at that...living in the moment. But you are not alone and we all struggling with this need vs. want balance. =)

  2. Stylepint: I wish I was more into yoga! I always seem to fall asleep even before I start the meditation, maybe it's my body telling me to slow down. Thanks for your tips, Jess. I really do need to take a step away from the computer and just disconnect sometimes!

  3. I have to say, looking at blogs and stuff featured on blogs, doesn't help. I can't tell you how many times I've had to stop myself from buying a certain jacket because it looks so good on others!

    I usually put something back and walk out of the shop AFTER allowing myself to say yes...an extra day of thinking does no harm. This has helped me get over some dangerous moments. I also avoid shopping on the Internet because the immediacy is treacherous...but the same principle works - just close the window and give yourself some time to decide.

    That said, once I've bought something, I don't beat myself up with guilt. If I didn't use money I don't have, or money meant for something impt, for the item, I don't agonise. I do have my regrets but I take them as a lesson learned. I think spending with discipline is a process that's never truly over - you don't really reach an end point, and slip-ups in a lifetime are inevitable.

    I'm trying to admire things without wanting to own them - that's one of the hardest things for me. But I think if I succeed at least once in 3 times, that's a 30% success rate. And I can't be the only one trying...so that keeps me optimistic. But I'm obviously an optimist, hah.

  4. I'm in the final stretch of my dissertation, just 3 weeks til it's sent to my readers before the defense, and my spending is spiraling out of control. Part of it is shopping in anticipation of an actual (yet still paltry) income in 2 months, part of it is feeling depressed and on edge because of school.

    I took a break from looking at blogs, and that helped some. There is always something shiny and desirable right around the corner. I can't own everything I want, so I try to focus on small batch, hand made, independent 'things'. I also never go on vacation because all my money goes to living expenses and clothing.

  5. I feel the same way as you. Sometimes, I comfort myself by reminding myself that at least the stuff I'm buying doesn't come from Walmart or H&M, etc. and thus doesn't as directly contribute to the cycle of "irresponsible" consumption. But then again, consumption is consumption, right?

    Do you think that your increased purchasing has something to do with the changing seasons? I'm finding myself in a similar position, and that's what I'm blaming it on. I do think that swearing off the internet and blogs is an effective way to be more productive and spend less. But as graduate students, so much of our day is spent in front of the computer that quitting the internet seems nearly impossible. Since I'm so lamely addicted to the internet, sometimes, I use programs like Freedom and SelfControl (haha, what a name) to block the internet and force myself to write. It's pretty helpful when I'm able to work up the discipline to turn it on.

  6. lin: I'm so obsessive that once I have my mind set on an item, it doesn't matter if I turn off the computer, walk away or run 8 miles, I have to own it and I will own it. I guess it's a weird disorder that I need to fix. But you're right, austerity is an on-going fight and I just have to accept that there are times I am going to slip up and I guess not feel too badly about it.

    erica: I think we all go through the same thing (not sure if it's a female predisposition) where we buy things when we feel stressed - particularly with grad school when it seems that there's no finish line. I think when we eventually learn to deal with that stress, then maybe we can learn to curb spending.

    jennifer: I sometimes think that maybe my purchases are justified because it's not fast-fashion and it seems to be a long term investment (and I'm also helping to keep the economy going, hah!) but at the end of the day it's just a really hypocritical way of making myself feel better. I don't know if it's the changing seasons (we only have rain and non-rain), but I know for a fact that when I get stressed out, I buy more than usual! I should take your advice on using the internet blocking software, that's a really good idea!

  7. oooh -- thanks for what looks like a super yummy recipe.

    as for the budget issue, i have no good suggestions. i a total instant gratification sucker whose worst tendencies are aided by the internet.

  8. I think it might help if you become very very stingy or only buy coveted designer items that you have to save up for... that's how it worked for me. Or just have a poor income so you have to save save save up for everything... I noticed that when I started earning more money, I started buying more stuff that look good on others. *sigh*

  9. joyce: That's by far the best and easiest recipe for scones I've tried - even better than the Ina Garten ones. I also use a little egg wash on the top and it comes out all golden and pretty.

    Fleurette: That is so true! I think I buy more because I feel like I can afford the splurge. Although, the more I earn, the more I want designer items (I'm targeting a Hermes satchel as my next splurge, yikes!) which I guess can only go so far if I'm on middle class wages. Hah.

  10. Haha that's right, I even have a Celine box bag on my list as I know I'm able to save up 2000 GBP for a bag. I should stop working :p

  11. you have a great blog, really like this post :)

    I am your new reader, please visit my blog and be my follower if you like it :)


Fact: Bloggers thrive on comments. Thank you for making my day. For personal questions, email conspiratorialwink[at]gmail.com