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Shopaholic Series: Sophie of Russia

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SOPHIE OF RUSSIA AND NOW ISRAEL

  • I was born in Kursk, Russia (if you take a train from Moscow, it will take about 8 hours to reach Kursk).
  • I am a mix of Russian, Jewish and Greek blood. In overall, I would say that you can take girl out of Russia, but you can not take Russia out of a girl 🙂
  • Me and my mom came to Israel 15 years ago, when I was eleven. Yep, I am twenty six 🙂 For my whole life in Israel, I live in Petah Tikwa, a city located in central district. I would say that this city is a parallel of New Jersey- Israeli people love to joke about that city, claiming that city has nothing to offer. But I truly love that city. I don’t know any other city in which people from so many different cultural backgrounds would exist quite peacefully.
  • I graduated from Tel Aviv University, with BA in English- American Studies, and French Culture.
  • My craze for fashion could already be seen during kinder garden years.
  • My work at Zara (for almost three years) contributed to the development of my bad spending habits. Sales, sales, sales…
    About a year ago, I was exposed to the blogs about minimalism, and so my journey to fighting my bad spending habits began.
    Due my exposure to various documentaries regarding labor condition in places such as Bangladesh, I try to purchase fashion items that were made in Israel, or that were made in places such North America or Europe. Oh, and I really love thrift stuff.

———

Tuesday, September 1st

September is supposed to be a month during which I will not purchase any shoes, bags or clothes. My trip towards minimalism is very tricky.

In one hand, I hate when I have too much items; it causes sense of mess and disorganization in my life – so I prefer to pass stuff to my family, friends, or any other person who needs it.

I dare to claim that I am not really possessive person, so letting things go comes quite easy to me.

However, I just see that there is a constant drive in my mind that always demands to find so called more perfect item, otherwise, my minimalist wardrobe will not be complete.

[Editor: ME TOO!! ME. TOO. My minimalist wardrobe never seems to be perfect.]

In overall, my situation can be described the following way; a shopaholic, who easily passes thing to others, wants to buy less, but instead, just constantly replaces items, that were purchased less that year ago. Hmmmm….

I splurged myself with pedicure and manicure (costed me 165 NIS, which is about 42 USD), and I had to fix a sole in my shoes (costed me 60 NIS, which is about 15 NIS).

Wednesday, September 2nd

This day was probably dedicated to food.

I usually cook my meal, and bring it to work, but today I got myself a salad at cafe (38 NIS, or about 10 USD).

Then, I met my friend, and we went to café near on the beachside in Tel Aviv. One juice, one Fanta, one carpaccio and a basket of fries costed us 103 NIS, or about 26 USD, not including service fee. The place is really nice (it is called Gordo, and located on Gordon beach), and our stomachs were rescued from the danger of emptiness.

The next stop was in bar in Tel Aviv, where a brother of my other friend was celebrating his birthday. I decided not to drink any alcohol, due to a possibility that I will not wake up on time next day, and will late to my work (I need to arrive at my work at 8 am).

The whole food and beverages industry in Israel is not the cheapest one. However Tel Aviv city has enormous cafes and restaurants, and in many evenings, most of them are overcrowded.

Many times the high price has to do with kashrut restrictions, which raise the cost of a food. However, many Israeli people (including me) do not really follow religious restrictions; some of them are agnostics, and there are many people who are atheists. In Tel Aviv for example, there are plenty of places that serve pork and other forbidden by Judaism foods.

In my city (Petah Tikwa) we have plenty of stores that sell non- kosher products as well. A Russian- Israeli blogger once wrote that he prefers to purchase products in Arab villages, since it costs him less money, and the quality of these products is still great. It is a shame that I do not own a car, since these villages are hard to reach on public transportation.

Thursday, September 3rd

Ta dam… It is only third day of September, and I already broke my promise to myself not to purchase bags. The only justification of my crime is that last time I purchased a handbag was a year ago, during my trip to Russia (a great purchase by the way- it serves me at least 5 days a week).

There is great bags designer called Hilla Toledano.

What I love about her brand that not only her bags are truly beautiful, she purchases leather that was manufactured in Europe (kudos for her for not buying material that was produced in horrible conditions in places like Bangladesh) and manufactures her bags in her studio in Tel Aviv, which unfortunately, can rarely be seen nowadays.

There were times, when Israel had great domestic manufacturing industry. That industry started dying slowly in the 90. Like in many other countries, it has to do with the greediness of business owners (I refuse to be more polite in explaining that situation).

Many Israeli fashion brands closed their local factories, and preferred to pay insulting wages in countries like Bangladesh, China etc.

Because of expensive leather and domestic production, her bags may be not the cheapest and not affordable for everyone, but I still prefer to purchase fashion items from designers like her. She mentioned in her Facebook page that she has a sale in her studio, so I decided to take pay a visit.

My three favorites were:

Eventually, I purchased a bag from the second link. Instead of 1,590 NIS it costed me half of the price- 790 NIS, or about 200 USD.

I have to say that I am really glad that I was able to purchase it, but there is a strong desire to give myself a smack for breaking my shopping fasting.

Friday, September 4th

Because of yesterday’s purchase, I just went to gym, and spent there 2 hours. Gym is great; not only sports are great for body and soul, but they also keep us away from shops and other potential traps.

Luckily for me, my gym is located not in the mall, or near shops that would distract my mind.

Saturday, September 5th

The evening is coming. Shall I go to shops or the gym? Eventually I drag myself to workout. Hooray!

Sunday, September 6th

It is 4 at the afternoon.

This time I go to my favorite thrift store and tried on shorts that were looking quite awesome on the hanger, but pretty hilarious on me. Hmmm, these chains are nice though…

C’mon, It is Rosh ha Shana (Jewish New Year) next week, get yourself that chain! It will look great with all of your shirts! Goodbye 45 NIS (about 12 USD).

[Editor: LOL I don’t even pretend there’s a holiday to celebrate. I just buy it.]

Monday, September 7th

Today, it has been 15 years since my mom and I came to Israel.

The gym is waiting for me. The weather is still insanely hot, so the power yoga class turned into bikram yoga. I am way too exhausted after the class, so I don’t change clothes after class.

Wow, the air conditioning in the bus is freezing.

Eventually, I find myself throwing a towel I use at gym, over my shoulders; this conditioner is turning me into penguin! After all money I spent at August on stuff, I am too cold and exhausted in order to try to make fashion statements.

Tuesday, September 8th

The weekend and the sales towards Jewish New Year are slowly creeping towards me… I never purchased anything online. And now an Israeli brand that mostly sells its stuff only online has special sale at the shop not far away from my work.

Hey, you don’t really need new shirt or trousers! Save some money for the perfumes and skincare products you wanted to purchase! Gym is my official savior over and over again.

Wednesday, September 9th

Another great way to avoid from buying clothes is to buy groceries. I usually make big purchase once or twice a week, when I buy all the foods.

The supermarket is insanely overcrowded- the New Year starts on Sunday evening, so everyone is fussy about buying loads of foods.

The next stop is at the market. Well, now my hands are full with products, and my arm muscles tell me that they had enough weight training.

After I bring sacks home, I go out again to buy a pack of six bottles of water (2 liters each one), and come home again. In overall, about 100 NIS (or 25 USD) are spent.

On Sunday 99% of stores in Israel work half of the day on Sunday, and are closed on Monday and Tuesday, because of religious restrictions. Tiv Taam and AM- PM stores can be saviors, as they are open on holidays and Saturdays (Jewish holy day) but quite expensive and not easily found.

As I planned, I went to cosmetics store to look for Clarins products; I need to buy a moisturizer for myself, and cleansing mask for my mom.

Eventually, I went instead of Clarins to Elizabeth Arden counter, where I purchased these two moisturizers for myself: here and here.

Also, I purchased for my mom gift set for dry skin that included moisturizer, tonic, serum and cleanser; as well as Lancaster cleansing mask.

In overall, I spent 600 NIS (about 150 USD). Beauty and makeup products in Israel are not the cheapest. These days, in Russia these products are more affordable. That is why I always try to find the highest discount.

Even though many girls purchase online these days, I don’t fill strong enough to avoid all the temptations that are found on the net, I suspect that I will buy loads of absolutely unnecessary stuff instead. Also, I just love the whole ritual of going to the shop, and the experience of interacting with the potential purchase.

To be frank, I just mostly find high- end brands more effective than mass- market ones, so I am always on a hunt for the highest discount. But my favorite face soap is Dove anyway

Thursday, September 10th

The weather is crazy. Reportedly, not only in Israel, but also in Lebanon, Turkey, Syria and Cyprus the level of air pollution is very high, and it is very hard to breathe while being outside.

I went to flea market at Old Jaffa, a place that includes different kind of shops, cafes and of course, thrift stuff as well. The original plant was to meet with my friend, but she had to go to other city, so I went by myself.

Last year I was wearing trousers 99.9% of a time, and it has been about five years since I hardly wore shoulder revealing dress. Last year has was very hectic and stressful, and worked out less, and gained some weight. Back in July I really did not like what I saw in the mirror, so I returned to practice at the gym 4-5 days a week.

These days, I am glad to say that I like the change that I see in myself (knocking on wood), so I purchased cotton, knee length and pretty much upper body revealing dress.

Also, I found out that I love lily scent, so I got a small perfume.
Jaffa is beautiful as ever, and the unclear air contributes the energy of the city. I stand there, looking at the sea and feel really peaceful. May that moment last a little longer…

The dress costed me 270 NIS (about 70 USD) and perfume costed me 110 NIS (about 40 USD).

Friday, September 11th

Oh, I forgot to make confession; I am perfume freak as well. Another scent with passion fruit note is purchased. Goodbye 150 NIS (or about 40USD)

[Editor: This is one area I am not a freak about. I am very sensitive to smell…]

Saturday, September 12th- Wednesday September 16th

For no particular reason I feel really exhausted. We celebrated Jewish New Year on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

As you can guess, a lot of different foods are consumed; Israel contains a lot of different cultures, and each culture has its own traditional food. As a family, that is loyal to Russian tradition, we ate sushi 😉

Most of the places were closed, no public transportation was active, except for special private mini- bus companies (that are active in Saturdays and holidays in very few cities).

Luckily, such company is active in my city and in Tel Aviv, so I was able to go to the gym (which was open).

I have to admit that I absolutely dislike such restriction; people work hard, and cannot enjoy some travel and fun, if they don’t own a car or money for a trip abroad.

Many people (like me) miss the opportunity to go long- distanced places; not everyone can enjoy Israeli nature, which has great mountains and deserts. On Wednesday everyone returned the daily routine.

Thursday, September 17th- Saturday September 19th

New York Fashion Week is over, London Fashion Week is started. I love to see the runway pics in order to find new inspiration and ideas for my wardrobe. I have to admit though, that as a person whose clothes are black 99.9 % of the time, I prefer fall/winter season, rather than spring/summer.

I cannot really afford myself (hopefully I will be in the future) to purchase stuff from brands like Altuzarra and Narciso Rodriguez, but at least I can adopt some ideas from their shows. Every time I see Russian models on runway, it warms my heart; I am glad to see their success.

I wanted to purchase hair straightener a long time ago, I finally did. I don’t have curly hair; it gets sort of a wavy towards the ends- sort of disco look I guess.

The one I purchased if from Wetline; the original price in Israel is 500 NIS (about 130 USD), but I purchased mine for 200 NIS (about 52 USD). I already tried it, and this is definitely successful purchase ☺

It does annoy me though that is US the same brand costs the same amount that I paid for second hand one…

Sunday, September 20th

Damn it, I want to purchase lipsticks for Lancome’s new line. I tried them on, and they are great!

Wait, I have already two other lipsticks! And once I buy new stuff, I tend to give away my previous lipsticks, even if they were used just a few times. Like with clothes, I should not purchase new cosmetics before I am officially done with the existing stuff.

I just watched first episode of the doc Women Who Make America.

Sadly, the women in Israel as well suffer many times from the discussed sexism that includes inequality in employment, sexual harassment and other chauvinistic social behavior. I feel quite privileged after I see all that opportunities I have today though.

P.S. Gloria Steinem (I found out about her thanks to the documentary) is truly gorgeous!

Monday, September 21st

Damn, the spending drive tries to take over again.

Resist, resist, resist! I woke up in the middle of the night because of the impossible heat. Well, at least no money was spent.

Tuesday, September 22nd- Wednesday, September 23rd

Today is the beginning of Atonement Day (aka Yom Kippur); it always starts towards the evening. No Israeli channels are active, the VOD is not active, only foreign channels are available.

There are no shops, bars, public places. Moreover, there are no cars. Well, I actually love that idea of having one day without serious and fatal road accidents, which we have plenty of during recent years.

Basically it is a timeout period that last about day and half, while religious people and just people who maintain certain Jewish traditions do not eat, do not drink, do not watch TV, do not use computers and do not do a bunch of other stuff, for 25 hours.

The purpose it this ritual is to think deeply about their deeds, to come clean and to ask for God’s forgiveness for their committed sins. During that period, people also ask for forgiveness from each other.

The streets and roads are full with children and adults, who can walk freely on the road or ride bicycles (since it is forbidden to drive cars or motorcycles during that day, only ambulances, police cars or other urgent service cars are allowed).

Not everyone fasts though, (including me) since as mentioned before, there are many atheists in Israel, or Jews that do have certain faith in God, but do not fully follow Jewish rituals, and of course, there are Muslims and Christians as well.

I do watch TV, eat, listen to the music; I just do not turn stuff on a loud volume and try to not make a noise.

I just starting finding fashions shows from 90’s (my favorite decade in fashion), so I guess it will my main entertainment during these two days. Thanks Karma keeping the internet active.

Old Helmut Land shows, in which Helmut was involved before his retirement are awesome. Oh, Kathryn Stockett’s Help is waiting for me as well.

I just found out that there is Muslim holiday today as well, Eid al-Adha. I must admit that I am not really familiar with this holiday, but I do know that it is one of the most important holidays for Muslims. Oh, there some celebrations in the far East as well. I hope that everyone had a great time.

If you are tourist, don’t worry, hotels serve food as usually, and beaches in Tel Aviv (a city in which most tourists stay) are full with people.

However, I would recommend you to look around while walking, since some bicycle riders are way too enthusiastic to pay attention to the people around them. Unfortunately, there are small accidents sometimes because of that.

Thursday, September 24th

It was a crazy, exhausting and fun day. There was just no space for even thinking about shopping. I have to admit that the lifestyle “work hard, play hard” is not really for me.

Eventually, I am just sleepy Russian bear, who after day of work, wants to give his bed a hug. Work hard, sleep hard.

Friday, September 25th

My relationship with eyeshadows is pretty much on-and-off. I was crazy about then at the age of 15-16, then I stopped using them and few years later returned using occasionally.

For almost year- two I did not have any eyeshadow. I just recently received purple one from Pupa, and I saw an awesome palette at Smashbox, that costs 300 NIS (about 79 USD).

As usually, it costs less in US (about 50 USD), but I do not purchase stuff online. I don’t know about other countries, but in Israel, unfortunately, there are no discounts for Smashbox products.

Today I purchased mine from a girl who previously owned, but hardly used it, and paid the US price.

It is in great condition, the colors are great for me, so this is not cheap, but good purchase for me. I do wonder though how long it will take before I’ll grow tired of eyeshadow again.

I did resist buying clothes though. I do have crush one black silk top, but I told myself to wait till October 10th; if this item will still be available, I’ll purchase it then.

Saturday, September 26- Monday, September 28th

Another Jewish celebration starts- Sukkot. Thanks to Sukkot, I have a few days- off, and as usually, at some days, there is no public transportation, open shops and other stuff that is part of our daily lives.

Bars in Tel Aviv work, so if there is no family meeting, and I don’t want to get stuck at home, bars are my solution. The good news is that I feel less hunger for shopping though.

P.S. Cannot wait for NHL Season to start. Go Penguins!

Tuesday, September 29th

My visit to the mall did not cause me spending money. In the cosmetics shop not assistant approached me, so I just looked around and then left the shop. My main goal of the visit was to look after potential pair of black booties.

It is very challenging for me to find a pair of quality shoes that are on sale; many times my favorite shoes are sold before the sales begin.

The funny thing is that many times the cold weather does not appear till the begging of sales; some people even go to the beach till the end of November.

I have my eye on two pairs; now all I have to do is to decide whether I really need two pairs, or one is enough.

Wednesday, September 30th

Wow, September passed really quickly. Today I had some other kind of shopping. I went to Russian grocery store in my city; there are plenty of these shop in my city (since there are lot of Russian speakers there), and the food there is not kosher. Basically, to me is like to pay a visit to mini- Russia; there is Russian music in the background, and I surrounded by Russian cheese, meat, sweets and other very tasty food (of alcohol as well).

Not only people from ex- USSSR buy there; I also saw Hebrew speakers there, Asian people, and African as well. I am not a person who spends crazy amounts of money on the food, however, I do enjoy food and I definitely love to eat (not to cook though).

In my imagination I already see myself at my next visit to Moscow, eating delicious pork at the Red Square area, and then visiting the amazing GUM (a fabulous mall in the Red Square area as well… May it happen as soon as possible!

Overall thoughts

The bag and the dress I purchased became my favorite items- I wear them at least once a week. The necklace will be given to another girl; once again I understand that I am not a jewelry person.

I do use the palette, and I’ll start using Elizabeth Arden creams within two-three weeks.

On the second half of September I hardly went to gym; so it’s time to get back on track. Also, my books are still waiting for the attention.

I always spend more money in the beginning of the month, and then, slow down towards the end.

These days I fantasize about long wool coat and black booties; I hope that I will not buy shirts or trousers instead. Well, one pair of trousers is allowed. I plan to purchase some beauty products as well.

September was hot, fun and sometimes confusing month. It is time to plan the budget for October!

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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1 Comment

  1. The Asian Pear

    I love this series! Almost as much as I love the wallet series you had! 😀

    Reply

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