a fast fashion holdover, my personal finance homework + other updates

levis 501 ct at 11.06.14 PM

This is an old photo, but I posted it because it’s finally cold enough to break out the old wool socks + Birks combo.  Yes, I know it’s ugly, but I’m shameless, and for casual days lounging around, walking the dog, it’s not too offensive.

I’m wearing one of my favorite sweaters here.  It’s a 5 + year old cotton knit from Zara.  I think it’s true what the Luxe Strategist has said about fast fashion– they don’t all fall apart quickly.  Some do last, if you choose carefully and properly care for your clothes.  But I do think the quality can vary to the extreme at fast fashion retailers.  And quality is only one factor when deciding on what brands to buy from.  At this point, ethics and the environment drive my decisions more than anything else.

I just got back from a week in Cali where I gave a talk at a conference.

I was shocked to discover that the Forever 21 headquarters is now located in the very same neighborhood I grew up in (boooo!).  I’ve heard some terrible things about how they treat their employees, a culture of women bullying other women in the work place.  Why am I not surprised?

But anyway, since being back in NYC, I’ve been busy doing homework that my personal finance coach assigned to me.  She had me total up everything I spent in October and calculate the percentage of my take home pay that I spent on each category.  This is the breakdown of how much I should be spending in each category according to my coach:

housing 25-35%
savings 5-20%
utilities 5-10%
personal 5-10%
recreation 5-10%
food 5-15%
transportation 10-15%
clothes 2-7%
medical 5-10%
misc 2-5%
unsecured 5-10% (student loans, credit cards)
charity 10-15%

Turned out my biggest expenditure was on food.  I was shocked to find out I spent the same amount on food as rent!  Eek!  I don’t go out for fancy dinners, but I guess all those seamless orders + tip add up.  My coach challenged me to not order from Seamless at all in the month of November and cut my food bill in half.

Tonight I made cauliflower tacos (vegan) from the Thug Kitchen website.  It was really good.   I bought pre cut cole slaw to save time on food prep and toasted the tortillas on a frying pan instead of microwaving them to get a crunchier texture.  Tomorrow I’m trying the mushroom tacos recipe from NYT, for something a little different that will still use up all the leftover ingredients from tonight’s dinner.  Cooking every night is going to be a challenge but it will force me to be more creative and actually plan out my meals the night before.

I just finished reading The White Coat Investor, a book two friends from med school recommended.  I highly recommend you read if you’re also in the medical field.  And I just started reading Ikigai  (a japanese version of Hygge) [update:  I just finished reading it; it’s not well written; not a book I’d recommend unless you are very interested in the topic] and Why Buddhism is True  by Robert Wright, who was recently on the Secular Buddhism podcast, which if you have not listened to yet, you should.  It’s gold.   One of the most helpful episodes for me has been the podcast on perfectionism and the problem with comparing.

[outfit:  old zara knit sweater, levis 501 ct*, vietnam wool socks, birks]

 

A Few Good Links

IMG_3991

There is so much going on in the world right now.  Sometimes I just want to bury my head in the sand.  Just tell me when it’s all over.

I almost never talk about my work here, but the other day I was asked to see a woman for anxiety.  She was dying of cancer, had gone through a horrific bout of pneumonia and was on a ventilator.  Because of the ventilator, she could only communicate by writing.  The first thing I said to her was “with all that you’ve been through, the cancer, the chemo, the pneumonia and now the ventilator, it’s understandable that you’d feel anxious… but is there something making you feel particularly anxious right now?”  Her arms were weak; she could barely lift her pencil to the notepad.  Very slowly, in faint squiggly letters she spelled out:  T R U M P!  We both sort of just looked at each other.  I shook my head, sighed, and she knew I felt the same…

So with all this terrible stuff happening, I took extra care to share some enjoyable things with you this week:

This week, I read this beautiful short story in the New Yorker called “Likes” by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum.  It’s a modern story about a father who struggles to communicate with his teenage daughter as she is consumed in the world of social media, instagram, and “likes”.  After I read it, I immediately wanted to know what message the author wanted to convey with the story, and was happy to find they interviewed her about it here.

Have you listened to the Secular Buddhism podcast yet?  It’s my favorite podcast of all time.  I’ve learned so many valuable concepts from Noah Rasheta.  He has this wonderful ability to take abstract concepts, that no one is actually able to put into practice, ie. how to stay in the present moment, how to let go of anger, how to forgive, etc…  and turns them into simple practical actions that you can incorporate into your daily life.  If you are new to the podcast, listen to the first 5 episodes in order, then listen to this recent one about anger and hatred.  There’s another amazing episode on how to teach your kids mindfulness.  It involves turning meditation into a game!  How clever!

And lastly, the new Bjork music video is genius.  I’m just blown away by the artistic vision and technical execution of it all.  It’s created by artist Andy Huang, who was actually in my college class.  We took a couple painting classes together and worked on a post modern video project for art theory class during our senior year.  He seemed like a nice guy.  Very quiet and humble.  I always knew he’d make it big.