I’ve tracked my expenses for many years. This means I log the amount plus some notes in one of 13 categories after every purchase. One of those categories is simply called ‘Misc Wants’ – ie things I didn’t strictly need, but simply wanted.
‘Misc Wants’ is kind of like that random drawer in your house, the one you just chuck random stuff in. Unlike ‘Misc Needs’ – another expense category meant to track things I really did need at the time – purchases under ‘Misc Wants’ tend to be more varied in motivation. I could be bored, stressed, sad, excited, depends. As long as they’re ‘technically unnecessary purchases’, I lump it in there.
In this article, I’m going to share with you some of my ‘Misc Wants’ purchases. I’m looking at data all the way from June 2014 (I have earlier data, but not as comprehensive). As I’m writing this in August 2018, that’s more than four years’ worth of data.
Types of purchases under ‘Misc Wants’
First, let’s look into what I bought that got categorised into the ‘Misc Wants’ category. Looking at all the notes, they are mostly:
- Beauty products and services
- Clothes, shoes and accessories
- Games, apps and in-app purchases
- Impulse purchases at events, fun toys
- Home decor items, plants and kitchen tools
- Exercise equipment and clothes
- Cat toys
Some general but personal insights…
They do add value to my life
I LOVE some of the things I bought under this category. In fact, I don’t think my life is the same without them. These are things like:
- Books. Many, if not all of them, have helped me shape my worldview
- Kitchen tools and home stuff. What would I do without my 3-in-1 blender? Or that soft and super absorbent mat I step on after the showers?
- Exercise equipment and clothes. They encourage me to exercise more often
- Spotify. Deciding to go ad-free was so worth it
- Organisational tools. Storage containers help make my house look organised, thus improving my productivity level while working from home
- Plants. They brighten up my home
Sometimes I feel it’s unfair to place all these purchases under the ‘Misc Wants’ category. And my excuses are so weak, like ‘I could just read for free online’ or ‘I could just chop onions/blend protein shakes manually’ or ‘I could just jog around the park as exercise’.
I don’t know. For me, ‘technically unnecessary’ is ‘technically unnecessary’, full stop, but should it? Those of you who track your expenses, how do you log purchases like these? Where do you put them instead?
I don’t regret most of the unnecessary purchases
Looking through the items and services I’ve bought that were not strictly necessary, it’s quite nice to find out that I only regret about 15-20% of those purchases. Most of it was actually quite nice experiences and enhanced my life in some way.
The thing is, I’m not even angry at those regretted purchases. I understand that I cannot avoid ‘wasting’ money for the purpose of experimentation, and that is a necessary element for self-growth and figuring out my identity and personal tastes. For example, I tried:
- Different eyeliners before finding the ones that won’t smudge (Kat Von D’s Beauty Tattoo Liner or Elianto’s Xtra Lasting Eyeliner Pen btw). I’ll even go far and say that trying different makeup, beauty products and beauty services in general and finding those that I really, really love and will stick with are super satisfying
- Different clothes and accessories. I’m not a fashion enthusiast, but I do try to adjust my style based on feedback and weight loss. I think knowing what doesn’t work is also a step in the right direction, fashion-wise. Plus now I know which shops, styles and types of fabric to avoid
- Different mobile and computer games. I like gaming, and this option is cheaper than buying myself game consoles.
Note: I understand how big of a privilege it is to have enough disposable income to spend just for experimenting around.
I do regret these two things though
The biggest money-waster was under-eyes dermafiller injections for a whopping RM3600. I did it to improve my looks, and boy was it a mistake. First, what the heck was I thinking, splurging that much for a beauty treatment? Second, it hurt a lot. Third, it was a temporary fix – it’s supposed to last up to a year only, not even permanent! Fourth, I still have eyebags so it’s not even like I was satisfied with the procedure.
The second thing I regret is buying so much tobacco. I have no excuse, I really don’t. Don’t start, kids.
There were some failed attempts at lifestyle changes
For example, I wasted some money in an attempt to build myself an aquaponics system and start urban farming. I mean, I really like the idea of aquaponics – keep fish, which excrete nutrients, which fertilises plants, which filters water, which goes back to fish. But like, I lost steam, you know? Ended up donating/throwing them away.
I also bought a glass jar from Daiso to keep and make my own kombucha. I only kept it going for a few months before losing interest…
And that time I attempted to be more ‘sophisticated’ by buying myself an incense burner. I hate sweeping up the ashes, so it’s pretty much junk now.
There are more, but these are examples. But, like, everyone has these moments, no? You buy things in the hopes of becoming an ideal version of yourself, then lost interest in it? What’s yours?
The data exposed how I changed over the years
I used to buy:
- Lots of cheap clothes, shoes and bags. I’m talking about Aliexpress purchases, and those sold cheaply at booths. They definitely didn’t last very long. I thought I was money-savvy then, but in hindsight it was very penny-wise, pound-foolish of me. I’m still working on it, but I try to get better-quality items now.
- Lots of accessories, especially earrings. Now I tend to stick to silver hoops. Perhaps reflecting my minimalist(-inspired) lifestyle.
- Hair dye. This sounds ridiculous, but I used to be super self-conscious about my light-ish brown hair and dyed it black all the time. Have since adopted the IDGAF mindset, white hair showing and all. According to the data, the last time I dyed my hair was in Sept 2015.
Now I tend to buy more:
- Stuff sold by friends and family. To support them, even if they’re a bit pricier than I’d like
- Trial beauty sachets and packs from Carousell. To satisfy my beauty experimentation urges but at a lower price. Have tried more than 10 different brands now, and considering to purchase full-size bottles of the ones I liked
- Discounted services from Fave. Especially after they have their own ewallet (review of FavePay), and keep giving me cashback and additional discounts to use. I tried Korean hair perm because of it, and my goodness do I love my hair now.
Most surprising insights from my spending habits
I’m genuinely surprised by the amount of beauty products and services I buy. Didn’t think I was that kind of girl, but data does not lie, does it? Oh well, at least it’s not the worse vice in the world. Plus, I do what I can to keep the amount low. Like using eyeshadow as blusher.
But! According to my expense-tracking app, ‘Misc Wants’ category is just 5% of my total spending, so it’s not bad, considering the value, fun and novelty they add to my life.
Final verdict: I’ll be careful with bigger purchases, and definitely won’t do any more expensive beauty procedures, but it’s fine to continue spending the way I am now 🙂
What do you consider as unnecessary purchases but buy anyway?
Aside from food, coffee and drinks, that is (this is Malaysia, everyone loves food, they don’t count). How do you justify them?
If you have not considered doing something like this, I encourage you to try it out! You’ll learn something about yourself, I promise. Even a month is enough. I did get the inspiration from this post from Budgets Are $exy’s What I Learned Tracking My ‘Wants’ for 30 Days article 🙂