An Entertainment Editor’s Impulse Buys: A Roomba, End-of-Year Sales, a…


My spending habits are surprisingly low for someone who lives in NYC, one of the most expensive cities in the world. The thing is, I just don’t like spending money. Treating myself to a “splurge” usually comes with more guilt and anxiety than joy, which is something I guess I should ask my therapist about…but then again, my bank account isn’t complaining.

And thanks to work I get access to a lot of movie and TV show screeners, meaning I get plenty of free entertainment. My beauty routine is cheap because I rarely wear more than some light foundation and mascara; I also have bangs, which are great because you can get away with a wash-and-go without much styling. When it comes to clothes, I’ll shop the occasional sale at & Other Stories—more on that later—but I keep a strict “one in, one out” closet policy, which means I’ll make a little money from a re-sell shop every season. For everything else, I ask for gift cards for my birthday and Christmas and spread those out over the year whenever I get the itch for something new.

So when I was asked to keep a log of impulse buys for a month for this series, I thought it’d be the most boring list ever. Lucky for this article, though, it hit right before Christmas. And this year, my husband and I were hosting our parents for the very first time. That meant buying more decorations to set the mood, a frenzy of cooking and cleaning, and a few last-minute gifts I purchased in a panic. The holidays were a hit, thank God, but I’m paying penance for it the rest of the year. Here’s why.

The kitchen cart I, a grown woman, bought because my mom told me to: $100.99
While I was home for Thanksgiving, my mom strongly suggested I find a kitchen cart to make Christmas dinner prep easier. I reluctantly agreed it was a good idea—counter space is limited in one-bedroom walk-up apartments—so I checked out Wayfair’s options. Normally, I’d spend a week weighing the pros and cons of each cart, but there was a big sale happening so I bought the first one I liked (the Haller Kitchen Cart by August Grove). I didn’t think too much about it until I got the notification that the package shipped—then my brain was all, Did I read enough reviews? What if the dimensions aren’t right? Do I need more drawer space? That was unnecessary. It’s so perfect I’m annoyed I didn’t get one sooner. Lesson learned: Listen to your mother.

The home cleaning services I paid for because I was too “busy” watching Real Housewives of New Jersey: $180
Once the cart arrived, my next big project in holiday prep was deep cleaning the apartment. One problem: I had a lot of end-of-year projects at work, so by the time I got home each night, I was too exhausted to do anything but turn on Bravo and pass out on the couch. Rather than keep putting it off, I sprung for a cleaner via a home service app. It cost $120, and I felt a lot guilt about it—just get off the couch, lazy!—but the woman did a great job and offered to come back for half the price ($60) if I booked her directly. (The app takes a huge cut.) I hired her to come back for a quick clean the day my parents arrived, and it was the best $60 I’ve ever spent.

The Roomba I couldn’t resist, because I’ve already spent so much on cleaning why turn back now?: $319.99
I was at Costco picking up food and other supplies when I spotted a sale on Roombas for $319.99. That’s a great deal—I’ve seen them cost in the $500 to $600 range—and, to be honest, I was motivated by my newly clean apartment. So, the robot vacuum came home with me. I’ve named her Roombie and treat her like a beloved pet.

The holiday decorations that were inspired by Hallmark Christmas movies: $87.84
Maybe it was all the Hallmark Christmas movies I’d been watching, but I felt like my apartment wasn’t festive enough. I stopped by Party City to see if they had any cheap holiday decorations and left with napkins, plates, and gifts bags for $34.43. I didn’t love their wrapping paper selection, though, so I went into the Five Below next door and got ribbons, paper, more gift bags, and a silly desktop golf game for my dad. That set me back $33.41. Then, on my way home, I passed by a Christmas tree stand and saw an adorable reindeer made out of tree bark. The guy at the stand was straight out of a Hallmark Christmas movie—where else do attractive Christmas tree farmers exist?—and he talked me into spending $20 on the deer, a Charlie Brown-style Christmas tree, and a small Santa made out of bark. I paid cash.

The ice skating tickets so expensive I gasped when I saw the cost: $450
A few days before our parents arrived, my husband and I sat down and came up with an itinerary. High on the list was ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza on Christmas Eve…but then I saw how expensive the VIP tickets were: $150 a piece. The tickets included guaranteed access to the ice (without that, it’s a long line with no guarantee you’ll get in), free snacks and drinks, and the skate and locker rental (that’s an additional cost with general admission). Expensive, yes, but this was a bucket list item for my parents and me. I hemmed and hawed and then closed my eyes and hit “purchase.” I didn’t buy much for my parents for Christmas this year—they’re trying to downsize—so I told myself (and them) this was their big gift. It wasn’t cheap, but seeing how excited my mom and dad were once we hit the ice made it worth it.

& Other Stories socks, $10; & Other Stories sweater, $83; Target jewelry stand, $19.99; & Other Stories metallic shirt, $75

The end-of-year sales that were a Christmas gift to myself: $256.99
I nailed hosting the holidays, but after everyone left I felt like I deserved something for all the hard work (mentally and physically) I put into pulling it off. So, I did a little online retail therapy. One of my favorite gifts from my husband this year was a new Vanessa Mooney necklace, and I wanted a cuter jewelry stand to show it off. I found one on Target for $19.99 that I liked. Then I got an inbox alert that & Other Stories was having a sale. That’s my favorite store for reasonably priced trendy-but-adult items, so I went to the location near my office and stocked up on a new sweater, a blazer, socks, and not one but two metallic tops. Those cost me $237, but I think I’ve earned it.

Anna Moeslein is a senior editor at Glamour


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