Replenished, Recuperated, and Easing into Summer

Summer evening overlooking the Hudson from a friends apartment rooftop
Summer evening overlooking the Hudson from a friends apartment rooftop

It’s a hot and steamy Sunday here in NYC.  I don’t know where spring went but summer is definitely here.

Over Memorial Day weekend I took a trip home to my parents house which was a really good opportunity to rest, recuperate, and replenish in various ways.

I had a lot of gift cards to JCrew left over from multiple holidays totaling $165 (I let my giftcards accumulate) and my mom had a $50 coupon to Gap owned stores.  I needed some new spring clothes, and, since I’m on a budget that does not allow shopping, I wanted to get as much as I could for my buying power and retail wasn’t going to cut it.    We took a trip to the outlets where I was hugely successful in replenishing my wardrobe for the coming season.  JCrew, Gap and Banana Republic all had 50% off the entire stores so I came away with new tops, white shorts, a dress, black pants, a chambray top and new dressy flip flops.  I went over by about $20 but my mom was happy to throw that money in for me.  I stuck to basics and neutral colors that could easily transfer season to season and would last me a couple years.  Shopping for quality is key to not having to constantly update your wardrobe.

I also use my weekends at my parents as an opportunity to shop their grocery store (and their cupboards) since it’s insanely cheaper than shopping in NYC.  (Mozzarella cheese sticks were $2.50 compared to $5.99 at my grocery store) I sacrifice by having to lug extra bags on the bus but I’ve saved a lot of money.

I’m still maintaining my social life, but cutting back on drinks as much as I can.   I don’t want to consume the calories, I don’t like being hungover, and I just don’t want to spend $10 on a cocktail anymore.   I bought a bottle of vodka to keep in my freezer to make a mixed drink before I go out.  Thursday night I went to see my friend Christoph’s band, McAllister Drive, play at Rockwood Music Hall in the Lower East Side.  It was a 10:30pm show, so my friend Ali came over for drinks and snacks beforehand.  I chose not to drink at the show since I had a client meeting the next day which saved me some money.   Rockwood is a great place to get some local flavor if you find yourself visiting NYC.  It’s $10 for all the live music you want and it’s very informal, you can just stop in and pay at the door.

It’s become a fun challenge, trying to find ways to try new things for free.  Friday night I stayed in and ordered some amazing tacos from the hole in the wall Mexican restaurant in my neighborhood I had been wanting to try for only $5.  Yesterday I ended up going on the Bon Appetit Grub Crawl.  Since my advertising client was the presenting sponsor I was able to attend as a comp’d guest.  The food scene in New York is something that is very hard to cut yourself off from.  New restaurants by the worlds greatest chefs are opening every month and this crawl gave me the opportunity to try 5 in one afternoon.

There are some delicious budget friendly recipes in the latest issue of Bon App that I took away with me yesterday.  I’m going to test some out for my first Entertaining post when my friend Lindsay comes for dinner and drinks on Wednesday evening.

I decided I’m going to rejoin a gym,  I had cancelled mine saying that I’d work out on my own but the reality is, it’s getting way too hot and I need a place to work out that’s air conditioned.  Good news though, Planet Fitness opened near my office and is only $10/month…I think I can swing it.

I’m still trying to save for SF and hoping to have some money left over from this paycheck, after a birthday brunch next weekend, and concert tailgating the following week.

How is everyone else easing into their summer?  


Be Your Own Business

Growing up I was always involved in a number of extra curricular activities, from ballet to piano, track (short lived but I did it).  In college, I held a leadership position in my sorority, worked in the career center and was  a tour guide.  Now outside of my career, I am the Vice Chair of a non profit organization which tends to take up a lot of my time, in addition to my hobbies of working out and cooking, and pretty robust social life.

At work, I manage people, time and projects, but why has it been so difficult to apply this concept to my own life?  In my industry, we work with our clients to understand business goals and objectives, shape our strategy accordingly, and use our learnings to inform and refine future strategies. What are the “buckets” or areas that we need to focus on going into the new year? Where can we improve and what is our approach for getting there?  From an executional standpoint, what is each person’s role in making sure those goals are achieved?


I have a lot of buckets: work/career, blog, apartment/housekeeping, exercising, socializing, dating, nonprofit. Taking a look across these buckets, what are my goals and objectives? What needs to be improved in order to get there and how do I go about that from an operational standpoint (i.e.  how do I need to spend my time?)?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how the way I manage projects in the workplace are related to how I prioritize my buckets.  I know I want my own apartment in about a year or so which requires a certain level of financial means which in turn is shaping the way I approach my career. Does that mean a new position? If that’s the case, what is my next move?  Does that mean reviewing my accomplishments and advocating for a raise?  Does that mean learning new skills proactively?  So far, I’m already putting some practices into place, I’ve started my blog, rewritten my resume, and have started looking for free networking events on meet up.
Operationally, small sacrifices on a day to day basis may mean turning down an invitation for drinks to save money one night.  But that also means I can get home and answer emails for my Armenian group.  Staying in the city on a weekend instead of jet setting off somewhere, means I have time to run my errands, exercise, grocery shop and prepare food for the week.

If I’m willing to pass on something, then maybe it isn’t a priority for me at that given time (or I simply can’t afford it) if it’s the latter, then I usually find a way to make it work either by finding a cheaper way or by waiting waiting until I can.  But the point is, I’m learning to identify my own wants and needs which are indirectly affecting the financial decisions I make and vice versa. As someone who has always been a people pleaser, it’s been an empowering and insightful process and even more so to see how these choices and decisions are going to impact my future.

Before embarking on this process, I was letting life choose me.  I had been laid off twice during the years of financial crises, and felt like I lost control of my career.  When I lost control of my finances, all of my goals seemed out of reach and unattainable.  By rediscovering my wants and needs, I know that I can forge my own path based on decisions I make in my every day life.

Off and Back On the Bandwagon

This past week I fell off the bandwagon a bit.  Actually, a little more than a bit and I feel a bit guilty about it.  Last weekend, as I noted earlier this week, I was away for a wedding.  After returning from weekends away, I tend to get lazy and go right to bed or turn on the TV. Which I did in this case.  Failing to go to the grocery store on Sunday evening led to slim pickings in the refrigerator. Couple that with a crazy work week and some evening commitments left little motivation and energy to pack lunch for work and I ended up spending about $60 frivolously on lunch, printing at FedEx, and a cab ride or two.  That $60 could have been used a lot more productively, either saved, put toward debt or put toward SF.  Alas I’m feeling regretful and disappointed in myself.  I need to get back on track and not let it happen again.  This is a feeling I will channel when I get lazy in the future.

That said, this weekend I’m getting back on the bandwagon.  I need to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of this week.

I didn’t go out last night, instead, I stopped at my favorite vegetable market on the way home from work and went for a run along the Hudson.  Stiles had some  prepackages on special for $1 each so I picked up two.  One had zucchini, tomatoes, onion and the other had some bell peppers and limes.


All this for $5!
All this for $5!

I also posted the open room in my apartment on Craigslist, and we were able to find a new one this morning.  There, feeling productive already!

We went grocery shopping followed by lunch on our patio from some of last nights purchases and some pantry/freezer foods.

Openfaced Tuna Melt with Salad
Openfaced Tuna Melt with Salad

The rest of my weekend is pretty much prepaid.  I found a $15 1 hour open margarita bar on Bloomspot which I’ll be attending with two friends tonight.  I’m going to walk to save money on transportation, and keep my drinking to the open bar portion of the evening.  (Seriously, margaritas have a lot of calories!)

Tomorrow I’m attending an alumni event, a tour of the Cloisters followed by brunch, a total of $24 which I paid for last month.

How am I doing on my budget otherwise?  I have about $155 left for the next two weeks.  I should be ok since I’ve already prepaid for my friend’s birthday celebration next weekend and with a stocked refrigerator and drinking the office coffee I should be able to manage!

Alright I’m off for another run along the Hudson, before prepping a Cinco de Mayo taco dinner!

Does anyone else feel guilty when they fall off the bandwagon?  How do you  find the motivation to get back on track?