Consume less, Waste less, Spend less – First Month Overview

My Dear Readers,

This first month of living on a budget (pretty strict budget) is over. As much as it feels like a relief, I am anxious to start the new month. I already put a February budget together: I did not make it as strict as January but I still made sure to be on track with my new year’s financial goal that I set for myself. I think it’s important to mention that living  with a modest budget keeps us on track of living below our means. Living paycheck to paychek is not in our plans. Instead of figuring out how to make ends meet, we will work on having fewer ends.

There are a few takeaways that I would  like to share with you. Some of those are funny, some are a little tough to share and some might be just plain every day things that most of you do. 

First of all, my husband and I are still on a simplifying & downsizing journey. As a result, he caught a “selling” bug and we sold about $500 worth of random things. Those were old phones that we had in the house, some toys that our toddler wasn’t playing with, some household items that nobody cared for. Things that we didn’t sell in the first couple weeks, we donated to Salvation Army & shared with friends. I also dropped off some toddler clothes & toys to the second hand kids store resulting in some nice store credit. We will need some spring gear for the little man, so it worked out perfect. One of the things that I was having a little bit of a hard time departing with was my wedding dress. I was trying to sell it for a while but I couldn’t imaging having tons of girls going through my home, trying it on. It didn’t feel right. It wasn’t worth much so I didn’t want to spend tons of energy trying getting rid of it. At one point I thought: if getting rid of it is the right move for me, the Universe will show me the way how to do it. And It sure did. One day, I drove by a small wedding shop that I’ve never seen, emailed the owner asking if she knows any place in town that take donations and there absolutely is one. There is a group in town that takes wedding gowns to make dresses for infants that were not meant to come to this world. I cried after I donated it. And not because I felt sorry departing from a gown that I worn once and will never do it again. Not because of some myths that if in this life I will have a daughter, she will wear it (silly myth anyways, why I would force my child to wear something out of an obligation?) I cried because It felt like it was the right thing to do for a great beautiful cause. God willing, my dress will not be used, but there are things that happen in life that we have no control over. 

Alright, enough sadness. Quick note, my January budget was strict – I already mentioned it. I didn’t allocate any money towards clothes or any extras towards cosmetics and other things that we girls like. Although, i did have an emergency! I ran out of mascara! One morning, my mascara made that ‘pop’ noise.. ‘Pop’ like there is an air in the tube and not a drop of a product left!! I surely treated it as an emergency. But you know what I did? I pulled $30 out of my food budget (I have very few items but those are very good quality items) and used it to buy a nice organic, not tested on animals Dr. Hauschka mascara. Love it! Here she is – my emergency 🙂 

Other than that, this months went pretty flawless. We used food out of a pantry, wore what we have, didn’t drink much wine, didn’t have any take outs but made sure we went out with a couple friends to keep our social life going. When I had something non-urgent popped up that I needed (or wanted), I put it on the next month’s budget. At the end, it felt good. It felt like we didn’t use any non-essential resources from our Earth, we didn’t spend any unnecessary funds that could have gone to a better cause. We treated people around us good as always, we read, studied, played outside, played at the house, worked hard and volunteered. There are lots of things in this life besides shopping and mindless time spending. 

I absolutely look forward to next month! Will keep you posted 🙂




Ladies Corner: Minimalist Make Up


I wanted to make a quick post on how I minimized my make up routine and the amount of products I use. This is for make up only; since I minimized the amount of make up on my face I sort of upgraded quality of my skin care. But that will be a different post.

As you can see, not much that I own and I am extremely happy with it. I wouldn’t touch a lot on the brands here as more than likely those will not be repurchased by me. Let me share the details really quick:

All I use for my skin products are concealer for under eyes areas and a different concealer in case I have blemishes or occasional pimples that need to be hidden from the world. I like NYX but I might have heard that they were purchased by L’Oreal and that company does test on animals. So I might need more research if I decide to repurchase or I will find something else. I use a pencil for my eye brows and an eye liner (DeVita – parabenfree & 100%vegan); a set of Lancôme eye shadows and a blush, and a Lancôme mascara. I absolutely love Lancôme products but I believe they still test on animals so probably will not repurchase until proven otherwise. Kind of sad… I have a few brushes and a lashes curler to help me put the face together in the mornings and a couple chop sticks & a lip gloss (not pictured cause I cannot find any of those – probably in my office). I use perfume during the work weeks and I use essential oils blend during the weekends. I also try to go cosmetics free on the weekends if I can and I do smoky eyes make up for the evenings out.

That’s it! Super simple, quick and inexpensive. And let me mention something important, minimalism make up requires a good care of your body & skin inside and out … but that’s for a different blog post.



Minimizing spendings & consumption: week 1

Today is Saturday and I am proud of myself: since the first day of the New Year, I have not had a single cup of coffee (made or purchased, would be $4 per cup at the coffee shop), have not had a single glass of wine ( we are not big drinkers but used to enjoy a glass or two occasionally (that is $15 per bottle & $10 per glass at a restaurant) – removing it is a part of the overall life cleanse now), have not purchased a single lunch which would be $12 per meal (I pre-cooked and brought meals with me to the office; we had a lunch date with Hubbs on Friday but it was within the planned budget) and I made $30 on the things that were never used in the house. Pretty nice savings on my part for the first week of the year. 🙂

All of these steps are my current actions to achieve my  financial and overall lifestyle goals for 2017. Some of the goals include: minimizing coffee & wine intake (reducing consumption and detoxifying my body), without a doubt continuing with vegan organic lifestyle (it’s been 10 months and we still are going strong), saving my emergency fund (I am a big fan of Dave Ramsey’s snowball plan & all his money makeover books (If you are familiar, you will know which step I am on)) and minimizing/decluttering as much as I can (if I can make a few dollars on that, my savings will be happy). I made those goals measurable so I wouldn’t lose track.

We all make new year resolutions but for the most part those are just wishes until we have a game plan and start acting on it. I turned my wishes into goals and lists of actions. I will be reporting my progress here as well, so I wouldn’t lose track.

In a meantime…I have two boxes in my car ready to be dropped off at a donation location, a box of old photos that I am taking pictures off to save on my computer later so I can  eliminate actual physical pictures and… I emailed a local shelter to see if anybody there is in need of a wedding dress. Here it is; here is it what I’ve been doing/thinking of lately.



Why do we require big houses?

Ever since I moved to the US I am always asking this question: what is it about oversized houses in America? Why do families of three buy a house with 6 bedrooms, two living rooms, three bathrooms etc.? I get it that there is a status and a dream of “an American Dream” but why people overcomplicate their lives with a huge thing called “a house”? If you think of it as a day to day living, there are so many things you need to be doing with this house: cleaning, heating, paying taxes, paying mortgages, furnishing it, starring at empty corners, looking for each other …

A little bit of reflection into the past: We were a family of four living in 1 bedroom apartment at some point. Well that was tight. Then it turned into 3 bedroom apartment: we were all working, going to school, doing sports, social activities etc. and when we were home, when we had friends over, we were always together, close to each other. Maybe doing our own thing but next to each other. That apartment was always full of warmth and great vibes. I loved it. A few years later, my parents were doing great financially and we ended up having two houses… what happened after? Well…some relationships got broken and needed to be repaired just because people were too far away from each other; some things got overcomplicated logistically & emotionally. Needless to say, we got rid of both houses. Sadly, nobody needed it.

People in Russia are still very sensitive about the ‘real estate’ subject. Real Estate is very expensive there and mortgages just became available several years ago. That allowed people to buy their own condos instead of living in dorms or with their parents. But boy, those mortgages are expensive! Russians do buy it cause they are so hungry for normal living conditions that they don’t care how much they end up paying to the banks. 

Not always I’ve been thinking the way I am thinking now. Even after I moved to the US, I was thinking that to prove that we are doing good financially we have to buy a big beautiful house. Well we have a big house but none of us really care if we do or not. We did lots of work in it and made it beautiful but now we want to move back to a smaller house cause we all tired of taking care of it. And at this point of our lives, we don’t care what people think; we care of what makes us happy and what makes a smart financial decision.

One of my wonderful friends recently said: “I bought this house thinking I need it. Turned out – I sure don’t. I am just paying to heat up these dark empty rooms. I will be looking into selling it and moving back to a condo soon”. 

I don’t know if it’s our generation, a tiny house movement or some of us are starting to shift our priorities and energy into emotional & mindful living instead of stressing out over how many things we have. But I know one thing for sure: we really don’t need much space to be happy- we just need a comfortable living with people that inspire us and care about us, and we care about them. 



Selling the house & simplifying in 2017

My Dear Readers,

One of my NY 17 goals is to write here more as I am anticipating a cool experience this year. We’ve been big fans of Dave Ramsey for a while, we listen to his podcasts and I read several of his books that I loved. Well, besides going out of debt (which we almost successfully done with), he inspired us to figure out this housing dilemma that we have. Dilemma means: too many choices. Yes there is such a thing. First world problems. I am ashamed. Anyways, details aside, we decided to sell our current house because it is too big for us first of all (we all greatly dislike empty spaces), we will move into what’s now a rental (smaller house and not as fancy). We will live there for a couple years, upgrade it a little bit & sell it (the rental does not return as much money as we would like to see – Dave would say it was a stupid buy – well yes, not so smart). And while living there, we will plan and build a house that works for all of us. Let’s say, we all 3 + 1/2 are very independent individuals with different interests. But one thing that unites us is the way of living: no empty spaces and no empty rooms that we will have to fill with furniture and stuff, 3 car garage cause there are three of us and all of us like comfort, separate mom’s living area a little bit so she has her own HQ, nice quite area with a view (still in town but surrounded by nature). That’s our wish list. If we find an architect that would put this all together – it is totally doable. But first, we will be simplifying  – meaning selling/donating & extra $$ will be going towards savings. We all agreed that we will not be moving stuff around that we don’t use. Besides, moving to a smaller space will force us to do it – I am excited. I will try to document my ‘getting rid of stuff’ journey as it might be sort of emotional. Another thing that will be emotional is to leave this house. We’ve done lots of work to it and I love it. I will have to go through a breakup with my beautiful bathrooms & Levi’s toddler room with Calvin & Hobbs painting in it.  You might sense some anxiety in these words that are coming through me already. After all, I am not going to be surprised if we love living simple life in our “new” smaller house as well and will not proceed with the further plans. I don’t know. It’s too soon to tell – we still have several years and all our lives ahead of us. I will use this blog as a tool to help me to let go  and to proceed to what the Universe will guide us to.

Let the journey begin! First step: sign up or Facebook Free/Buy/Sell local group – already have some items on my list. 🙂










Selling my BMW and Buying Used Prius: Why?

My Dear reader,

Here is a confession of mine: About a month ago I finally made a huge decision to sell my beautiful 2013 3 series BWM and replace it with a cute little Prius – used – bought for cash. I don’t think I have to go into details on how much a relief that was and how truly happy I am right now after it is all done. But I do want to give you a little bit of a background story and a few points on why this decision has been made.IMG_3733

It was a dream of mine for a while to drive a BMW. I had a nice beautiful picture displayed on my vision board of a red Beemer. Well, we all know that visualization technics work and after a careful consideration, lots of doubts, insecurities and excitement, I was at the dealership signing papers. I knew exactly what I wanted in the car, I knew exactly how much money I want to pay monthly for it and what interest rate I will agree on. Well, I am a smart individual who have been working in a banking industry for about 10 years now so I know how to budget, how much financing costs and what this strange thing called debt. But, we were young, newly married, stable jobs, perfect credit score, no extra obligations – so I thought, why not. Well it worked for a couple years and I was happy. But I always had a thought in my mind that that thing – gorgeous sexy BMW – is just not quite me. It is too much. I am not flashy, I am actually pretty reserved and I am not that kind of person who will be running around the streets showing off my shiny little car to everybody and hoping to get the Looks. Nope, I surely did not need this. In fact, when people would ask me about it, I felt slightly uncomfortable and made sure to tell them that it is not brand new – it was in fact 2013. Now realizing it, I was trying to make myself feel better about this flashy fancy purchase of mine that didn’t even belong to me – it used to belong to the BMW Financial. 3d_shackled_debt

So, just a couple months ago, my husband and I started talking about budgets and how much we would like to get out of debt. We started reading and following Dave Ramsey, doing a close look at our budgets, seeing what fits us and what doesn’t. Well, my only debt besides the house was that flashy car that I didn’t care much about. I still absolutely loved her so it was a hard decision but it was made: I decided to get rid of it. I decided to get rid of that $500 monthly payment that I didn’t want to have because guess what: yes I could afford it but it was so tight on my budget that I didn’t have any room for “play money”. We also have a son now and we want him to go to Toddler camps and sports, and we we want to travel and explore the world and do all other things that this life has been created for us. So this $500 payment was absolutely on my way. We also, started shifting our lifestyle to more simplier, earth-friendly lifestyle and a cute little Prius fit this description better than any other car in the world.

So when we found a buyer and the paperwork was done, my husband and I, relieved and happy, were driving home jokingly saying “here, now You enjoy my $500 monthly payment – I will be enjoying life”.

A couple months later I cannot be happier.

So to conclude this long blog post, a few general thoughts: Most of people are struggling financially, almost all are living above their means. They spend more than they earn, and their debt is overwhelming them. A great book I read called 16 habits of Rich people says: “Spendno more than 5 percent on auto loans and never lease. These folks keep their cars until the wheels fall off.” And that’s what we will do. And if we would live in the city where no car is needed and a public transportation can get you around, I would happily get rid of it. But in AK, you have to have a car. But guess what, it is a thing that gets you from point A to point B ; it has to work good and look good but it surely doesn’t have to be flashy. When in the future I will be making really good money and will be able to buy a $40K car for cash – sure maybe I will get myself a BMW. Or maybe at that stage, I so will not care about it and I will get a nice “flashy” Prius. Or maybe we will move to Maui and nobody would give a thing on what you are driving. Nobody knows what future holds. But I know one thing for sure: Credit Score is a Debt Score. Your credit cards are you debt cards. If you have to take out a car loan, you cannot afford that card. And why did we ever decide to agree with our society to live in debt? Well this topic is to be continued…



Minimalist Closet: Getting There

My friend visited me the other day at my house and requested to see my closet. Apparently, she has been reading my blogs and Instagram, and she was inspired. Yay! So her reaction was: “You have no clothes!” Haha. Oh no, I sure do. In a matter of fact, I have too much. Every day I think what I have is too much and it is suffocating me: so my ‘eagle’ eye is scanning my possessions every day to find something that I can get rid of.

I never had a separation anxiety with things. I never had a problem of letting go. I had extra things and clutter from now and then simply because I wasn’t paying attention and it was just there. I never had an emotional attachment to things. In fact, if for some futuristic reason I will lose all my possessions tomorrow, I will not have a breakdown. I will have a little bit of stress because I would have to quickly replace things but other than that I would look at it from a prospective of starting over, starting fresh. cl2

When I started my journey towards minimalism (and I am not by any means close to it yet), my closet was the easiest part of my house to clean up. I departed from my extra clothes in no time and never looked back. I don’t even remember what I got rid of.

A few things that are worth mentioning: I am a corporate professional that works in the office five days a week, so I have to look good. Also, my family is very active: we do summer sports at a lake during warmer months of the year, I do yoga and go to the gym, we do some outdoor activities during the winter months, we travel, we attend cocktail parties etc. And we live in a four season state. So we do have to have a variety of clothes, some winter gear, some sport gear, some office clothes etc.  So my closet is by any means not a minimalist closet like you can imagine but it is getting to a stage that I can say I am proud of. cl 1

A few things that I am already liking from having fewer clothing items:

  • It takes less time for me to get dressed in the morning: I am not stressed out with making those decisions every day
  • By getting rid of things that in need of a repair or simply don’t look as good as they should, it eliminates a chance for me to wear something that I will regret later in the day and I can make sure that I look sharp every day
  • I only see and wear things that I absolutely love and that I fill good in
  • It takes less effort to keep my closet clean and organized
  • I don’t spend a lot of time at the stores doing mindless shopping
  • I am a big believer in quality vs quantity so it is easier on my budget to save a little bit of money every paycheck and then go to one or two stores to find one or two pieces of new clothing for a new season (I usually hit Banana republic and Gap and I am done. If there is nothing there that I absolutely love I move on and coming back in a month or so)
  • It gives me a piece of mind that my impact on the planet is minimal as it can be at this stage

Here are a few tips and tricks that I used to help me to get rid of clothing easier:

  • I sell clothes. It’s an extra motivation cause you get cash for it to either buy new and nicer (for example 1 items versus 5) or you spend it on experiences, paying off debts, saving it etc. My favorite app that I use is Poshmark: it is easy, you can upload pictures to your “closet” from your phone, they send you labels for shipping, you can chat with your customers instantly, etc. A win-win overall.IMG_3729
  • I donate clothes: there are people in need all over the world that can benefit and use those clothing pieces and it is better than those just seat in my closet collecting dust
  • I give it away to the people that I think can benefit from it: friends and family.

And honestly, there is still so much work to be done and I still have some impulse buys every now and then simply because I am a woman and I want to make myself feel better by buying something pretty. And I think it’s ok; I think there is should be a healthy balance between allowing yourself to have simple luxuries from time to time and becoming a consumer and treating shopping like a hobby. I always remember how our grandmas and moms used to live back home (Russia-Europe) where they had small portable closet chests with just a few pieces of clothing and they were happy. historic

Yes I understand that they didn’t have a whole lot but it didn’t matter. It wasn’t that important. I would like to get to the stage some day when it will not be important and I can pack items in a suitcase and go travel the world without worrying on what to do with that enormous closet of mine.  And it what point we all decided that to have a room as your closet is normal? Why did we think it is a great use of your life to stand there every day and look at the piles of stuff facing unnecessary decisions? Have you ever thought of that your home should be a living space not a storage space?

I truly look forward to continue my journey to simple living. There are bloggers and YouTubers that are absolutely inspiring. And there is more to life than shopping for things that eventually end up in a landfill. Fill your life with experiences, not things.