Low-Buy New Year: My February Style and Beauty Purchases

I’m two months in to my 2019 resolution to shop less and enjoy what I have, and while I’m still really encouraged about spending smarter this year, I had to talk myself out of several impulse purchases this month. I didn’t realize how much of my shopping is fueled by boredom and distraction: Instagram knows just how to tempt me with ads; I have a terrible habit of watching my favorite beauty gurus and makeup artists on YouTube with my Sephora app open, ready to put their recommendations in my cart; and I spend a lot of downtime in the evenings mindlessly scrolling through Pinterest and blogs and adding clothes and accessories to my wardrobe wish list (sometimes opening a new tab as I scroll and ordering stuff straight from my iPhone). With the ease and accessibility of Apple Pay, one-click ordering, and retailers saving your account info for easy checkout, it almost feels like it’s not real money… until your credit card statement arrives at the end of the month and your home is bursting at the seams with stuff you don’t need.

So I’m committed to holding myself accountable to my low-buy rules, and it’s been helpful — and eye-opening! — to recognize these retailer tricks + my own instant-gratification shopping patterns so I can break some bad habits and be more intentional with my spending.

In the spirit of working super hard this month, I did go a little over my original item limit (#treatyoself) but I spent less than $60 out-of-pocket: I cashed in my birthday/holiday gift cards, used referral/affiliate credits from my favorite retailers, and redeemed some credit card cash-back points to cover almost all of my purchases.

Sidebar: If you don’t have a credit card (or cards) with great reward benefits, I cannot recommend it highly enough. We pay all of our flower shop bills with a business credit card and pay off the balance every month, which gives us a nice chunk of fun money for cash back, travel, and shopping; it’s money we have to spend anyway, so we may as well get some perks from it! I do the same with my personal credit cards, and while it takes longer to rack up those points (my personal monthly balances are much lower than the business) every cash-back dollar counts. Plus, it’s easy to stay on budget and see how much I’m spending every month with a quick glance at my credit card apps, and using my cards this way gave my credit score a huge bump. There are so many great rewards programs out there, and a service like Nerdwallet or Credit Karma can help you compare credit cards to find the best one for your financial needs and goals.

Before we dive in to what I bought in February, here’s a refresher of my low-buy ‘rules’; this is the abridged version, and you can read the full details in My Low-Buy/No-Buy New Year post.

  1. No new books until I read at least 10 from my current collection of unread stacks.
  2. One fresh beauty buy per month.
  3. After my monthly beauty pick above, it’s one in/one out in skin care, makeup, body and hair care.
  4. One new addition to my closet per month for at least six months. (With the exception of essential basics that may need replacing from wear and tear.)


I made a Sephora trip at the first of the month with a mission to replace a couple favorites and treat myself to something new. Armed with a gift card that C gave me for Christmas, here’s what I bought:

• I polished off a tube of my favorite radiant tinted moisturizer with SPF 30 and I didn’t plan to replace it until I finished off the It Cosmetics CC+ cream in my makeup drawer; but I’m so pale right now, the shade I have in the CC+ (fair/light) is a hair too dark and yellow on my skin. So I picked up a new tube of NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer in ‘Terre Neuve’ (a fair shade with neutral undertones) that’s a much better match. I’ll save the It Cosmetics CC+ cream for the summer when I have a teeny bit more color.

Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadow singles are some of the best in my collection (‘Caramel’ and ‘Birken’ are everyday matte favorites) so I finally bought one of the palettes. It was a tough call between the Soft Glam and Modern Renaissance — I stood at the display staring at/swatching them for an awkward amount of time — but I went with Soft Glam; I think it’s the most versatile for my style and skill level, and has a great selection of pink and peach neutrals that are unlike anything I currently own.

• While I was there, I grabbed a tube of Milk Kush mascara because mine is way past the expiration and it’s what I use every day. I have such a love/hate relationship with this stuff: some mornings it goes on a clumpy mess and I want to chuck it in the garbage; but most of the time it’s everything I want in a super-black, volumizing mascara that lengthens and doesn’t flake or smudge. I realize this is not a great endorsement, but it’s honest, and I just can’t quit it. (For what it’s worth, the formula gets way better after a few weeks of use when it dries out a bit in the tube.)

image via Cuyana :: mini circle belt bag in blush


Something new: I’m crushing hard on circle bags right now, so when I got an email from Cuyana about their spring styles in new fruity shades, I couldn’t resist: I grabbed the mini circle belt bag in blood orange leather and the matching small zip-around wallet. I’m smitten with the bold color, and that it the circle bag can be worn around the waist or as a shoulder bag.

P.S. I rarely buy wallets — I like to invest in something with good quality and use it to death — but when I’m not carrying my huge beloved tote bag back and forth to work, I’m trying to save my shoulders and downsize into smaller handbags. I needed something durable and compact with good storage because my big wallet doesn’t fit in smaller bags, and this one is perfect.

I used cash-back rewards from my personal credit card to pay for this entire Cuyana order, so it feels like it was free. *dancing lady emoji*

Something essential: I lived in my cognac leather ballet flats for weeks, until I tipped a bucket in the flower cooler, dumped a couple gallons of ice-cold water right into my shoes, and destroyed them. The pair I had (and loved!) aren’t available anymore, so I cashed in a Nordstrom gift card and some Hautelook referral credits and ordered these Frye ‘Carson’ leather flats from Nordstrom Rack to replace them. I love the woven style for spring and summer; they remind me of the leather huarache sandals my mom always wore in the ’80s. (The cognac is sold out now, but they’re still available in grey and lilac.) My gift card and credits covered all but $58.85 with tax and shipping.

Something extra: This was a total bonus and technically put me over the limit of of my monthly no-buy limits, but I saw these Ray-Ban hexagon sunglasses on an I Covet Thee video and immediately put them on my wish list. Then I saw Teddi wearing them on an episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills shortly after, and thought, ‘That’s it, I’m buying them.’ I used an affiliate gift card + points from our business credit card to order them on Amazon, so again, freebie!!

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  1. 2.27.19

    This is such a great way to approach shopping. I think it’s a bit more practical than no-buy:)


    • 2.27.19

      Thanks, Sarah, I totally agree! I know myself well enough to predict that I’d fail a super restrictive no-buy; this way I still get the treat of something new, but I have to really think about what I want before I pull the trigger. I’m all about ‘fewer, better things’ right now, and I hope it sticks through the rest of the year!