Donating a Beloved Book

It was a picture of a blonde with blue headscarf, pearl earrings and pink lipstick — almost like a Vemeer’s. I was captivated at the first glance.

In the logic of “time first, money second”, I did not want to pay a visit to the book store every a few days just to patronise the art work and so I bought the book. I spent $131 just for a single page. It isn’t even on my bookshelf anymore for I have donated it to my secondary school art teacher. It’s now a minor asset of her art reference corner.

I didn’t regret buying or donating it as I read into the fate of the book. It can either sit on its bored owner’s dusty book shelf or once in a while be discovered by and inspire a group of art students.

I know how much I’d love to read an newly published illustration book rather than the older ones when I was a student. Of course I could see buying a book but not owning it until the end of my life as a waste of money, but it could also be a present from “the new me” to “the old me”.

💸My Old Spending Habit (2 of 2)💸The Turning Point

My first taste of how minimalism could bring clarity and focus in life was dated back to 2008. During my short immersion in Australia, I’ve experienced how little one actually needs in order to survive and be happy.

As an avid reader, I came across several books written by decluttering experts in Japan and they were great guides to decluttering but I wasn’t ready to fully implement minimalism yet.

Then quite unexpectedly, two months before my graduation, I suffered a setback in the love department. I was so heartbroken that I was forced to re-evaluate every single belief of mine because all along I was wired to think “he” was “the one”. Something must be wrong in my head and I needed to know what it was.

I was in desperately need to move on and start from a clean slate. So I pulled out all possessions and looked at them one by one. “Does it reflect my ideal self?” I asked. If it didn’t, I tossed it to the trolley which was filled with clothes, books and trinkets to be donated to the Salvatory Army.

It was one of the wisest decisions I made for myself because thanks to my determination to downsize my stuff, my two movings in 2011 and 2012 became much less of a burden. I didn’t have a crazy amount of boxes to pack and unpack.

💸My Old Spending Habit (1 of 2)💸

I am not being one of those self admitted shopaholics who take their syndrome proudly as a prize when I say this, but I used to be very, very lavish.

All my friends know my bad spending habit. When I went out, I would spend the last banknote in my purse. There had been times when there wasn’t enough bus fare left that I needed to borrow a few dollars from my friend.

It all started when I was twelve. I didn’t want to feel inferior with my affluent friend. Since we met at weekend for tutorial class, I bought a new T-shirt, vest or sweater every week just to keep up with her abundant closet!

Luckily this friendship didn’t last long, or else I would certainly be broke from the additional expenditure starting from the age of thirteen when I was introduced to k-pop by my friend.

Not many people listened to Korean music in Hong Kong in early 2000s and so Korean stars’ products weren’t that widely available. It was almost like an obligation as a fan to buy every spotted knickknack with a Korean star’s face printed on it. I could have paid the first instalment of a mortgage had I not spent all those money on H.O.T, Shinhwa and some other K-pop bands.

Things didn’t get any better when I was juggling the development of both the brain and the body throughout the four years in college. My thirst for cultural input got me hunting for books and video discs which might not be relevant to my profession. My poor understanding of my body shape and skin type, and most importantly the lies told by advertisers and my impressionability, fooled me into buying an abominable amount of products that didn’t serve me.

Principles I Observe while Decluttering My Wardrobe and Bookshelf

Since I live with my parents, I can only declutter my room. (When decluttering around others, hands off stuff that don’t belong to you to avoid arguments.) The two biggest compartments in my room are my wardrobe and book shelf.

In my wardrobe, I only keep items that flatter my physique.  Also, anything that I haven’t worn for over a year will go to the donation box.

On my book shelf, there are only books that can’t be borrowed from the library or with pictures that can’t be easily retrieved online. For those who find it hard to give away books, embrace the mindset that knowledge is meant to be shared so let the books be passed on. I also keep handwritten notes that I took when I was in college, but even those I gradually digitalised and got rid of the hard copies.

💰New Money Habit 2💰Decluttering

Decluttering has been a buzzword for the past few years now. Even if you don’t feel like joining the whole fad of Minimalism Movement, you should give decluttering a try because it does relate to money management.

First and foremost, decluttering reduces our desire to purchase. Anyone who read KonMari’s book and follow her teachings will agree that decluttering is an exhausting, at times excruciating task! By simply clearing out the clutter in a space as small as the bathroom is enough to be shown how much stuff (in other words, money spent) one actually owns.

Some of the stuff we own are stored in places that are bound to be forgotten. It is only through decluttering that they come to light. We may think we need the latest product shown on commercials but once we see with our very own eyes and touch with our very own hands the stuff we actually own, we will see how bountiful our possessions are all along.

Apart from curbing our desire to shop, confronting with our clutters can resolve our potential to be an achiever to earn more money. Once a space is decluttered and the resources are lay neatly in front of us, there are less distractions and we will have clearer goals and work more efficiently.

Ethical Shopping (My First Purchase After A Year-long Book Detox)

During my gap year/spiritual journey in 2011-2012, I found the dharma talks given by Ching Kung master (a Chinese Buddhist monk) so enriching that I didn’t feel like reading anything secular, except for teaching purpose (like the poems and short stories covered in the syllabus of HKDSE English Literature).

During that period of time, it was kind of a guilty pleasure for me to buy this book called Bonjour, Happiness. To be honest, I didn’t even need this book, as I considered myself quite qualified as a French in most aspects of my lifestyle. If it doesn’t cover anything that I don’t know already, why did I buy it?

Well, I spent half an afternoon reading in an air-conditioned, well-lit and spacious bookstore, so it would be morally wrong to walk out of it without leaving anything behind aside from a few strings of hair from the mindless brushing and twirling while reading… I am kidding!

The true reason was, I wanted to be an ethical buyer. As a minimalist, I believe I bear a certain degree of responsibility in supporting the ideas of finding happiness in a less materialistic approach as preached by the author Jamie Cat Callan.

Before that, I hadn’t really picked up a book and walked to the counter for nearly a year. There was only this one time when I wandered around a nearby district and discovered an underground used bookstore with over ten cats lying and jumping around.

I don’t want this place, the home of those cats, to close down but I know it probably will someday as people are less inclined to paperbacks. I want to help with the rent, even by just a few pennies. Besides the boss kindly directed me how to get to my destination. In return I bought a few used books there.

Another example of ethical shopping was I bought a packet of baking soda for $10 at a bakery supply store when I could get the exact same box for $9.5 at a chained supermarket. To which store my money goes to matters because each dollar speaks for what I support. I wanted to support a local store which specialised in baking so I opted to spend my money there.

Compared to this guy here in Hong Kong who started his one-man campaign of not buying things from corporation chain stores for a year, I am only doing so little.

I hope by sharing how little we can do to implement the notion of ethical shopping that more people will join the league and make this world a kinder place.

💰慳妹日記💰美容勝品

打開女生的記帳app,相信花在美容類的費用一定佔最大比例。

實際來說,妝物並非必需品,但按愛美一族的邏輯,保養品和化妝品卻絕不能省的。香港名人章小蕙就曾說過:「飯可以不吃,衫唔可以唔買。」

情路不堪的女士,花起錢上來更是不遺餘力,因為被愛郎拋棄的恐懼已經蓋過儲蓄的熱情,以及這筆存款可以實現的夢想。

其實,愛美絕不一定要花大錢,原因是,在消費主義橫行的世代,商家販售的未必是真實的變美利器,厲害的的廣告標語很多時都僅止於滿足消費者「只要買了這個就能馬上變美」的(懶人)幻想。

商品的價錢不一定反映其性能,這一點吾早就意識到。此外,由於吾的薪金不足以支撐high end products的長期消費,這幾年來,吾一直嘗試並收集許多小資的保養方法。

本來不覺得這些的心得對其他人會有任何參考價值,但越來越多人來問道「你是否花很多錢在保養?」吾想,吾的保養之道也是值得公諸同好的,於是就整理出這一篇心得文。

胭脂

canmake的五色花瓣胭脂(初版含閃粉),兩年下來總算鐵皮了。本來想投資一盒hour glass的「五花腩」胭脂,但看到網民評說美國開架品牌NYX的一個色號有如專櫃品牌NARS的「高潮」胭脂,踫巧香港的wishh在做清貨減價,一百塊港元就能買三件NYX產品,於是囤了兩盒胭脂和一支眼影打底膏。(用過NYX的遮瑕膏,效果滿意才膽敢一口氣囤三件產品的)

粉底

粉底選對色最重要,其次是質地,要小心觀察粉底會否跟保養品的成份相沖,出現「搓泥」的情況。也要小心留意有沒有堵塞毛孔的情況,否則,暗瘡護理又是一項延伸消費了。

睫毛膏

自化妝生涯之始,一直以來都是用發明mascara的品牌──maybelline,偶然受好奇心所使,轉用別家品牌,都必定大失所望。(包括愛用的護膚品牌明色推出琒GO! LEOPARD) 後來遇到SANA推出的睫毛膏+睫毛夾的套裝,超乎預期般好用,馬上進入「用一囤一」的模式。

眼線筆

重點是不脫色和容易卸,牌子不拘。

唇膏

同一時間只持有一支。化妝品本身不是甚麼昂貴的東西,說化妝品是個坑是因為女人們愛轉look。事實上,一般女人不是明星,衣著打扮受工作環境局限,合適的妝容也離不開一二,所以,擁有再多顏色的唇膏其實也不能派上場。

眼影

自從留意到眼影很容易帶來色素沉澱,平日極少使用眼影。

減肥食品

不做機,不上跳舞班,不吃減肥藥。發掘不花錢的運動,如做家務、買食材、跑樓梯。吃得清淡,少食多餐,可以省掉食費,另外,別太寵味蕾,養得肥大了,就吃不了苦了。

頭髮

預留充裕的時間細心洗髮、輕力梳頭、逐層吹頭,勝過一切美髮產品。