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Money Matters: Where I Faltered in My Spending in November

Takeout and Dining out

There were three serious takeouts/ dinings, one work lunch, one bakery run, and several supermarket food court runs. It’s not criminal, but it adds up, especially the takeout and dinings. Had I avoided these, it would have saved me around 10% of my total income. Christ.

Coffee To Go

I brew coffee at home regularly, and I also use the free coffee from the vending machine that my office provides with a dash of cinnamon and coffee cream I bring from home. Sometimes, however, I want to live large and get a coffee to go at my favourite coffee place around here. It used to cost me 25 in local currency (less than 2 bucks), but the guy recently raised prices, so now it costs 35 with tip (a little over 2 bucks). I don’t have the exact number, but cutting these coffee runs would have saved me anywhere between 3 to 5 percent of my income. The Latte Factor, eh?

Treats, Snacks, Vending Machine

This is always one of my biggest missteps, both in finances and calories. I was doing fine when I was working from home, but in the office I find it particularly hard to deny myself that midday sugar run. Once more I don’t have an exact number, but I think it’s somewhere around 3%.

Online Subscriptions

Those have gotten out of hand when I got my salary increase. I haven’t felt any of them then, but I feel them all now. Cancelling what I don’t need will be on my todo list for next month.

Books

All I can do here is sigh. In general I am not against spending money on books, but considering my financial situation AND THE AMOUNT OF UNREAD BOOKS SCREAMING AT ME FROM MY 170 SHELVES AS WE SPEAK, I should cut out book spending altogether.

Cosmetics

I didn’t buy any makeup, and I didn’t buy any excessive beauty. What I bought was 2 bottles of dry shampoo and 1 bottle of regular shampoo. Dry shampoo is an extravagance, really. Washing your hair is technically ‘free’, as long as the water is running. And the regular shampoo I will certainly eventually use, but I didn’t need to get another bottle for around half a year or so.

Fancy and convenience foods

There were a couple of supermarket runs for simple things like bread and milk, but what I ended up getting were frozen pizzas, two boxes of salad (what? It’s more expensive than beef once you figure out cost per kg), low cal chocolate syrup, rich people plant milk, out of season veg and fruit, etc., etc.

Overall

If anything, this gives me a list of things to plan for to lower my expenses. I’d say these frivolities have accounted to about 40 massive percents of what I bring home, which is, of course, ridiculous. Let’s see how I fare in December, where all I want to do is buy Christmas baubles and ‘Cozy Winter’ scented candles, with a dash of pillows, hot chocolate, and fairy lights on the side.

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Uncategorized

Money Matters

I really want to talk about finances here, but I don’t want to drop numbers around. I am going to name some, because what’s the point of talking money without any digits, but I’m just not going to be precise.

Due to the covid crisis, my take home pay has been reduced quite drastically. Which means that right now I’ve got loans that take up around 70% of the entire money that reaches my pocket one way or another. One of them is the car. It’s 40-50%, depending  on my bonus. The other 30% are various personal loans from micro credit companies. Most of them have an insane interest rate, and I’ve already paid tens of thousands over what I’d owed to them.

I also have several personal loans that don’t accrue any interest, but still hang over my head every day.

Then, I also have late payments on several of my utility bills. This happened when I was stuck in another country due to the pandemic, and my card got blocked, and I had no access to my finances, and no logistics to pay my bills back at home.

Shit happens.

Now that you know this delightful story, here’s the first three things I want to do.

Pay off one of the three personal loans that have massive interest. That will free up around 8% of my take home pay and give me some room to breathe, God willing.

Save 1-2 thousand in local currency, to have some peace of mind. This sum would not cover any huge emergency (may Lord be merciful and keep us safe and sound), but it would cover things like a flat tyre, a vet or a doctor visit for minor ailments, a cavity, a week-late salary transfer, a broken lock, etc.

Not all of them at once, though.

Sheesh, can you tell my anxiety is “helping” me write this post?

Catch up with my utility bills. Luckily they don’t have any late fees or other penalties – that is, until the company gets pissed and freezes the money on your account via court, but let’s just hope that doesn’t happen, as I am paying, just currently not on time.

Ok, so. They don’t have any late fees, so what I do these days is I pay twice the monthly amount each time I get the bill. That way I stay current with the payments that came after the debt, but am also erasing the debt month by month. It’s a slow process, but it’s working right now. Whenever I can, I throw in a little more to speed it up.

Where am I with these goals currently?

If my memory doesn’t fail me, I have 4 months left on that loan. It could be one more, or it could be one less, but it’s not outside this range. If I will be able to place loan payments instead of loan extension payments, then this first loan (let’s call it S), will be done and over with in March.

The fund might need more time than that. I try to stash away some money monthly. So far I’ve been doing it for around 3 months, and I don’t think I’m even at 500. Hopefully I will be able to reach the lowest benchmark of my savings goal somewhere around March as well.

If you wonder why I’m so unspecific with this sum, it’s because I truly don’t know how much I stashed away, and I don’t want to know. It’s weird, but if I know how much I have saved, I’m nearly always bound to spend it, sometimes not on my own volition. Sometimes someone would ask me for the money, and I would be happy to share, partly because I’m an idiot, and partly because of the sermon on the mount all those centuries ago. If I just know that the money is there, it’s fine somehow.

To clarify, I know how much I have, or own, or don’t have, or owe in all the other categories. I also know when my bills are due, and how much I need to save up for my sinking funds, and the interest rate, and the list of my debts in order of interest rate, and the list of my debts in order of the total sum. I’m also aware when I don’t have any savings,  When I do, though, I prefer not to know how much, and only add it up every couple of months.

At the rate I’m going, utility bills are going to take me around a year to catch up on them. This is too slow for my liking (a lot of these things are too slow for my liking), but it is what it is right now.

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Things That Made Me Smile

Things That Made Me Smile, Week 46.20

I wanted to be dramatic and call this something like ‘5 things keeping me afloat rn’ or, dare I say, ‘5 things keeping me happy rn’, but meh. It’s a list of things that make me smile. And since I don’t know how short or long it’s going to be each week, I even dropped the number.

  1. My phone charger. It’s got a schematic portrait of an Iron Man on it. I picked it up in Egypt. It’s yellow, and red, and has a flat cable that doesn’t knot. It makes me smile.
  2. My father coming to visit. Transnistria was sensible enough to release its prisoners open the borders for its citizens to freely travel to the right bank of the Dniestr to be able to partake in the presidential election. So this is the second time I’ve seen my father since 29 February 2020. It made me smile.
  3. Partaking in said presidential election. Vote, motherfuckers. I have a right to it, and I execute that right every time like a responsible citizen. To which end, I have no idea, but that’s a story for another day, and certainly a differently themed list.
  4. Finally sitting down to publish the first post here. There’s hope for me yet.
  5. Having chicken drumsticks all marinated and ready to go in the fridge. Making dinner will be a breeze tomorrow night.

What’s on your list?

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Beauty

My Egyptian Make-up Kit: Base & Face

all the face makeup i took with me to Egypt

Elf Poreless Face Primer

A silicone primer that feels so slippery, I always doubt whether it does anything in terms of prolonging makeup life – but it does. You need the tiniest amount of this – I use a pump because I hate half-pumps, but if you’re okay with those, then maybe try a half and then go from there.

Maybelline Fit Me Concealer in 05 Ivory

Purchased during my trip to Bucharest well over a year ago, but still going strong. I’m about halfway done I’d say. 05 is a good shade for me, but I wish they had something just a touch lighter, to brighten the undereye. This one does a fine job of concealing, but sometimes I want more brightness. Ah well. #palepeopleproblems Nevertheless, this is as close to a shade match for me as I found in a very long time, and I love how it performs – minimal creasing, good staying power, doesn’t affect my mascara. So until I find another option, I’ll be repurchasing this.

MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundation in NW10

My perfect year-round shade. In the dead of winter I sometimes wish for something paler, but this works fine. At first can be a touch tricky to work with. A good thing to remember that with this formula, a little goes a long way. Start small, and then build coverage where you need it. Rather unforgiving towards any dry spots you might have, so prep your skin well, and prepare to blend, blend, blend. But the result is great.

MAC Studio Fix Powder + Foundation in NC10

My brother bought it, thus the NC instead of NW, but it works okay, just a little pinker than I would have liked. We didn’t have MAC in Moldova for the longest time, and sometimes there’s still trouble with shades – and prices. Overcharge much? But yes, the powder. A great medium to full coverage powder foundation. You can use a light dusting, and you can also go all in. With good blending and a finishing spray it won’t look cakey and/ or powdery at all.

Oriflame Colourbox Face Powder

A powder that does little. It’s almost transparent – at least on my face. I keep it in my purse for some oil control throughout the day, but it doesn’t work well for that. It mattifies, but for a short time. I bought it with the hopes that it’s going to be a workhorse, but no. Oriflame quality deteriorated over time. Colourbox sub-brand is no longer, too.

Avon Mark. Translucent Setting Powder

Now this, I love. I am on the fence whether I would like to continue supporting Avon as a brand though, so I am not sure if I will be repurchasing. This loose setting powder is not the most finely milled out there, but it is transparent (again, I am pale, so perhaps on darker skin it will show up), and it sets makeup well. You don’t need a lot, so I expect this to last me at least another 6 months.

I Heart Revolution Blushing Hearts Peachy Pink Kisses

I believe the brand no longer makes these particular blushers/ highlighters, and it’s a pity too, because the quality is really nice. You can achieve a natural look, or you can make it visible from a plane above. You can use it as a blush topper, or you can use it as a stand-alone highlighter, or a blush. You can mix shades together, you can use each of the three individually. I love this. The only downside is that it can emphasise texture if you’re not careful.

Mary Kay Shy Blush

Some time ago somewhere on the internets I read that this MK blush is a great dupe for NARS Orgasm blush. I’ve no idea, I’ve never had the latter – but the MK one is a pleasant product. Mine is on the older side so it’s losing its pigmentation just a touch, but it’s still workable. It’s a pretty universally flattering shade, though on deeper skin tones you might need to layer it thicker. Once this is done, I will not be repurchasing, as I no longer support MK.

Elf Blush & Bronzer Duo in Fiji

A light bronzer with a good (neutral) undertone for me. Not very pigmented, which in bronzers is always a plus, from where I stand. Blends well, looks natural. Blush is completely matte and fairly neutral. I’ve only used it a couple of times so I can’t say anything bad or good about it, apart from, “I like using it”. If you’d like a deeper review, holler in the comments, and I’ll move it higher up my list of ‘products I want to write dedicated posts about’. 😀

Elf HD Undereye Setting Powder

Absolutely love this setting powder for concealer. It sets, but it also has the tiniesttiniest amount of reflection for brightening. Unfortunately, it’s discontinued. There’s another undereye setting powder on the official Elf website now. I’m going to try it, but I have no idea when, as Elf is hard to come by in Moldova. There are a couple of sources, but the choice of products is limited.

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Beauty

My Egyptian Makeup Kit: Eyes

Let’s go back to roots: I want to have a chat about makeup, starting with a series of posts about makeup I took with me to Egypt. I was packing for three weeks, you know. So the photo in this post features all the eye makeup I took with me.

Except that unfortunate eyeliner that didn’t make it into any photos, but it’s nothing to write home about. Just a black dip liquid eyeliner with a marker tip. Very inexpensive, effective. Seen better, seen worse. If you’re in a pinch but jonesin’ for some liquid eyeliner, grab that Golden Rose one.

Let’s get down to business then, shall we.

Pink and gold tubes are black and blue mascaras. The black one is by Oriflame, and I still think that Oriflame has some of the best mascaras on the market out there, and for reasonable prices too. The formulas and brushes are diverse. I’ve been getting angrier and angrier with Oriflame recently for its business and ethics, but the product is solid.

The gold tube is a blue version of the Russian market cult favourite – Vivienne Sabo Cabaret mascara. It’s a blue that actually shows up on your lashes and also does something besides just giving them colour. I like it. Got it in a BOGO-free situation when buying a present for somebody, so didn’t even spend a dime on it, technically.

The black tube is a brow gel from L’Oreal x Isabel Marant collection. It’s a transparent gel that gives a good (I should even say great) hold without glueing your brow hairs together. The spoolie is tiny, kinda triangle-shaped, and excellent for this type of product. I think once I’m done with the gel, I’ll keep the spoolie around. It has no colour, and leaves no white cast – at first it looks like it might, but it dries down completely transparent. Doesn’t give any weird gloss either. I wish L’Oreal weren’t so asinine in their ethics, because I’d LOVE to repurchase this. However, L’Oreal has been on my radar for various forms of BS for quite a while now. I will have to shop around for something else once this gel runs out.

Artdeco Eyebrow Powder in 2 is more of a shadow, not a powder. I’ve been using it for years now. This is my second, the first one I dropped and broke beyond my then repressing skills. Artdeco Eyebrow Powder in this medium grey tone is ideal for my needs. It was good on me when I still had dark brown hair, and it’s perfect with black. I think as long as I’m using powdered products for my brows and keep my hair a cooler shade of dark, I’ll be using this one.

Avon True Glimmerstick in Cobalt Cool. My first impression was disappointment, because the liner wasn’t half as pigmented as I was expecting, and also dry. But then the tip broke off… It’s still not as intense as, say, Inglot gel pot liners, but for the price point it’s quite decent, and lets me achieve a look that I want – namely a neutral shadow with vibrant liner and matching mascara.

Now, the palettes. I wrote about them in detail before, but I feel like I want to update my impressions in full, with good photos and a new set of swatches. Besides, I made those old posts private. Hmm.

Maybe later. Would you like some aged perspective on some old releases?

Speaking of age. They’re about the same, and I must say that INGLOT outperforms MAC in the department of ageing by quite a degree. MAC is now much drier, much crumblier, and the staying power has gone down by at least two hours. The same thing cannot be said about INGLOT – it’s like the damn thing hasn’t aged a day. And the INGLOT pans are as big as they’re deep. I’m getting drunk off my arse if I ever hit pan in an INGLOT shadow, mark my words.

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Life

There’s a special irony in writing about 7th of October in Kishinev whilst sitting in the city of 6th of October in Egypt.

Or at least I see it. We’re all locked down, quarantined, etc. etc., no intro needed, so I’ve been going through my photos looking for unpublished content – and it turns out that most of my ‘content’ is unpublished! Cool. It means I can regale you with boring tales of yesteryear – and you can’t even blame me that much. Quarantine. Limited resources. Entertainment and expense cuts.

But yes. 7th of October 2018 was Wine Day. Like any decent Moldavian, I ought to celebrate it. That year, like many other years, we decided to go straight into the heat of it all, and join the festivities in the Cathedral Park. Usually it’s not as busy as it gets on City Day, and also quite joyous. You know, wine. Meat. Placintas.

Not this time. But more on that later.

As any other journey in my life, this one began home.

I was waiting for my friends to get off from work and join me. To occupy myself, I did the thing I do best.

Take questionable quality photos of stuff around me. Namely, plants.

You will have to forgive the editing of these photos. It’s all pretty random; I’m doing it all on my phone.

Categories
Life Travel

Egypt, One Month and One Day

If there’s one thing to love about Egypt, is that morning ends when the sun sets. When the sun is up, people would greet you good morning and serve you breakfast, no questions asked.

Cairo is a city that reportedly never sleeps. I live outside Cairo, but I believe this wholeheartedly, because even here, in the small area between Sheikh Zayed and 6th October, everyone is still awake at midnight. The supermarkets are full, and not just with night creatures working evening shifts like me. Families, in full, run amuck to fill their trolleys with groceries to feed themselves, with cleaning supplies to keep themselves presentable for the days to come.

We’re in partial quarantine, partial lock-down, under curfew these days. I am at the hotel’s open rooftop restaurant as I type this, and I watch the road slowly becoming deserted. Most roads are open, but it would be empty until 6 am next day.

6 am is the time where I should, ideally, be blissfully asleep. Though we’ll see about that.

Places like Egypt, where they serve you breakfast at 3 pm, where they tell you ‘good morning’ at 5 pm, and where the supermarkets aren’t empty at 1 am – places like Egypt are reassuring for the likes of me, who have always found it difficult to keep a stable ‘early bird’ routine going. I have since long reconciled myself with the idea that I am a night owl, a night animal, a night creature, a bat, a cat, a perpetrator – unwilling, or rather, unable to fully conform to the society’s idea of healthy daily rituals.

I’d love to. But daylight demoralises normalises me. Stabilises (rather, dulls) my senses and evens out (rather, lowers) my perception and IQ.

But anyway. Let us not let my ubiquitous egotism get in the way of talking about Egypt, because Egypt is beautiful. Confusing at times – I don’t speak the language. And I miss my independence, so to say. In many instances it’s been an exercise in humility, in relying on the kindness of others – something I’ve never really been good at. Here, though, since all I can say is ‘shukran’ and ‘assalamu alaykum’ and ‘inshAllah’ and, oddly enough, ‘arbet eshr’ – all I can do is rely on the goodwill of those that surround me, even though the locals joke that what I know is just enough. It ain’t, oh it ain’t, especially if one doesn’t want to confess to one’s trespasses and discrepancies.

I mean, come on, I’m a 35-year-old woman, surely I can buy beer and cigarettes on my own?

Egypt teaches me that no. No, I cannot. I also can’t buy meds. Bananas. Sugar. Sneakers. Underpants. Toilet paper. Condoms. Chewing gum. Bread.

All the fine necessities of life.

But certainly these… unbosomings aren’t something that one would come to expect from a travelogue (isn’t that a hateful word). I’ll try better next time. Maybe.