In 2011, I said I was going to be open.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Well, I've still been living and loving life! After a relaxing few days at home over Thanksgiving, my social life was literally NONSTOP for the two-and-a-half weeks I was back in the city before Christmas. Holiday parties, birthday parties, happy hours, dinners, Secret Santa exchanges and just going out with friends kept every single night booked. I loved it, but it did a number on me as I have been sleeping 10 hours a night since then! On the dating front, I did sign up for a 6-month Match membership. (I've been on one date so far and there are some other prospects.) I'm also going to my very first speed-dating event in January with two girlfriends and I have a Lifebooker deal for the site I keep being drawn to, but haven't signed up for yet, How About We. I'm also letting coworkers/friends know that I want to be set up! We'll see what happens.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Life's been non-stop since my last update. It's included awesome nights out with friends, lots of exploring NYC, lax spending habits and...a break up.
- Considering re-joining Match.com. (It's been 2 years since I used that site, the matchmaker doesn't have any more matches for me "right now" and I've never had anything come to fruition from using OKCupid in the past.)
- I made brownies using a pre-made Trader Joe's mix over the weekend. I'm not a dessert person (except ice cream and creme brûlée!) so this was strange...I even added Nutella and chocolate chips to them!
- I'm going to Atlantic City this Saturday-Sunday with my friends and I can't wait. Gambling? No. Okay, fine, maybe some penny slots... Dancing? Definitely!
- Daylight Savings Time... sunny at 7am and pitch black by 5pm. I'm nervous for the impending winter but also excited! I just hope it doesn't mean being completely holed up all the time...
- My Roth IRA that I opened 3 years ago at Vanguard is showing me a 3-year rate of return of 12.1%! How exciting!
- Home to Seattle for Thanksgiving in two weeks and I cannot wait. I seriously need family time and getting away from the city for 4.5 days will be great. Then Christmas a month later! Need to funnel any extra money into my Gift Fund this month and next.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
September has been a very busy month for me! I moved into my new apartment, my Mom came to visit, I went back to San Diego on vacation and now I'm off for another brief weekend getaway to the Midwest for my best friend's brother's wedding. It's just Friday-Sunday but it'll be a blast! The wedding on Saturday is an all-day event with a morning ceremony, brunch, various afternoon activities (golf or spa) and then an evening reception. And of course I'm excited to spend time with my best friend! It'll be a weekend full of laughter and fun for sure. :)
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
I got back late last night from a wonderful 4.5 day vacation back to San Diego! I saw a LOT of old friends (and even met some new ones!) which is exactly what I set out to do. The night before I left, I was getting a bit anxious: I'd never been on a vacation by myself before where most people would be at work while I was there. However, once I arrived everything just was a blast! I had lunch/dinner/drinks set up for practically every day, and I didn't even get to see everyone I wanted to...or rather, some people didn't get back to me.
On Wednesday, my first day, I arrived at 11am after taking an early morning flight from NYC. I picked up my rental car and after having a brief "oh-my-god-I-haven't-driven-in-six-months-do-I-remember-how-to-do-this" moment, I blasted the music and was good to go! (I actually got a free upgrade to a mid-size rental car because I needed to be able to adjust the seat higher due to my shortness. Sweet!) I spent the afternoon shopping...at a mall. Forgot what a luxury that is after living in New York. I went a bit crazy at Nordstrom's which is my favorite! I also bought gifts (baby, wedding and thank you) for the friends I was seeing/staying with.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Here are some quick personal finance updates:
- I spent $1,263 last month while I was being a nomad. Most of this was on food, cabs, gifts and fun things since friends were incredibly generous with letting me stay with them!
- I spent $440 on movers. My Dad generously offered to pay the other half. (Yes, it was ridiculously expensive, but that was due to being last minute.)
- I was able to save $700 which was split between travel, gift and E-funds.
- I just wrote checks for September rent ($1,200), security deposit ($1,175) and September cable/internet ($67.73) which is billed forward.
- I had to buy a wireless router (roommate has a desktop that he plugs in via ethernet)...the cheapest was $32 at Best Buy because I wanted it right away.
- I've already got $140 in cash back rewards from my Chase Freedom card! Granted, $100 of that was the sign-up bonus...but I'll take it!
- I've also been buying some things online (like this via Nordstrom!)...but I don't really want to talk about that. It's coming out of my budget but not putting me in the red, so it's all good. ;)
I can't believe it's September! My month is incredibly busy. First I had an awesome Labor Day weekend to kick it off with my friends. This weekend, my Mom's coming into town to visit! She's going to help me settle into my new place. (I still have five boxes to completely unpack.) Then it's off on a short vacation to San Diego to see one of my best friend's brand new baby girl and attend the wedding of two of my closest friends! Plus, since the weather has already turned rainy and a bit cooler, it'll be nice to spend a few days in sunshine and at the beach. Cannot wait, it'll be my first vacation since I moved. Then I'll have one weekend in the city before I head to the Midwest to be my best friend's date to his brother's wedding.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
I hope you had a fun and relaxing Labor Day weekend! Work let us leave early on Friday, so my coworker and I did some shopping for makeup. I ended up spending $81 which was more than I had intended to, but all completely items were ones I use on an almost daily basis that needed replenishing! I'm not good at doing my own makeup but am trying to get the tools to get better. The rest of the weekend consisted of:
Friday, August 26, 2011
Yes, it's turning into quite the week here in NYC!
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
- Sublet or sleep on friends' couches for the month of August and see about moving in with any of the people I know above (and yes, storing most of my stuff for a month)
- Find a 2-bedroom for August 1 and pay the full rent while looking for someone to move in on September 1 (again, possibly the two who need roommates from above)
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
So I've been rather M.I.A for the past month. I blame summer in this glorious city that I'm still completely enamored-head-over-heels-in-love-with-can't-get-enough-of! I just passed my three months of living here and this place continues to feel like home every day. :)
On another note, my current sublet is up on July 31st so all too soon I'm about to embark on yet another apartment hunt. The hardest part is that I really, REALLY want to stay in my current neighborhood, Hell's Kitchen. A 15 minute walk to work? A bajillion restaurants around the corner? Only 2-3 avenues from almost any subway line? Ability to get on the roof of the building and see all of the fireworks on the Hudson? I love it so much more than I ever expected to, especially since I knew next to nothing about the area before I moved to the city and just happened to get my first sublet here. I've already started sending out some emails to ads on Craigslist and all my friends know that I need a place for August 1st, so we'll see if anything comes from that. I just need to heed all the advice I previously wrote about and try to be patient with this crazy process again. Oh, and keep an open mind about possibly moving to a different neighborhood. Even though it hurts my heart just thinking about moving away from here!
Friday, June 3, 2011
When I moved to NYC, I only had one very good friend in the city. I've met a few new people through blogs and got back in touch with acquaintances. Most of my weekends, however, had been spent on my own since a lot of people I know go home (New Jersey) for the weekends or already have very busy lives...
Monday, May 23, 2011
On Saturday I spent all day with a friend who was in the city visiting her younger sister. I absolutely love it when people visit, even for a day, and who want to do anything/everything...especially EAT! We had a blast catching up and exploring the city. The weather started out great (high 70s, some clouds) and by 4pm it started raining - but that didn't stop us!
- Hester Street Fair: a small craft/food market in the Lower East Side. I'd never heard of it but this was our meeting spot at 1pm. I'm not much of a crafts person...but I was all about the food! After having only a light breakfast, I couldn't resist the descriptions of the empanadas at the La Sonrisa stall. The coconut curry chicken empanada was AMAZING and I'm definitely going back just for that! It was $3 and worth every cent. I also had the pulled pork slider for $3.50 because I was hungry and it was good, but it didn't come close to the empanada!
- BisousCiao macarons: after lunch, we wandered up and down the awesome, fun streets of LES. We stumbled upon this macaron shop that I've been to before and since my friend had never had one, I said we had to stop in! I got the rose and she got the lavender and honey. A fantastic dessert! Macarons are $2.50 each. When you buy a box of any size, starting at 6 for $15, they package them up beautifully and it makes you feel like you just walked out of an overpriced boutique...which you basically did!
- Delicatessen: We then made our way from LES to SoHo in search of afternoon refreshments aka cocktails. We were hoping for something outdoors or at least with an open-air concept. The wait at Delicatessen wasn't bad and ended up with a table right next to the sidewalk which was perfect, especially when it rained for 30 minutes during our time. We split an order of the truffle parmesean fries and I had an outstanding lychee-ginger martini. It was exactly what I was looking for! Light and sweet, but not overpowering. While the service was a bit lacking (the hostess came up to our table at one point and asked us how long we had been there, basically trying to kick us out even though we were clearly eating/drinking) and the place was packed, it was really fun. I'd go back here for the fries and the martini! My share was $20. We tipped well because our awesome waiter saved us from the hostess and basically told her off. Win.
- Shopping near Broadway in SoHo: A quick gander through some stores on/near Broadway in SoHo. It gets crazy with tourists and locals alike, so head down the side streets. Check out some of the street vendors off of Broadway for interesting pieces. I've bought good quality, semi-pricey necklaces and bracelets (~$30 each) here before and there are a lot of unique finds!
- Dinosaur BBQ: My friend (plus her younger sister and entourage) were determined to go here. Even with the daunting wait time of TWO HOURS! I'd never been to an actual BBQ restaurant before. This was a blast! The bar definitely took some of our money during the waiting time and I'd highly recommend the Donkey Punch which is rum + fruit punch served in a mason jar. For $8, it was more than enough to last me through the wait AND dinner! For dinner, I got the 1/4 rack BBQ pork ribs. It came with 4 ribs, a small piece of cornbread and two sides (I had the mac & cheese and vegetable which was collard greens) for a mere $10.50! And I had leftovers! Definitely worth the wait time. Note: I learned via Yelp that they DO take reservations, which is fairly new.
View A Saturday in NYC in a larger map
Friday, May 20, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Sunday, May 1, 2011
- Rent: $1,100
This included utilities, internet and cable at the one-month sublet.
- Metrocard: $104
Unlimited monthly. Starting in May this is pre-tax through work!
- Cell: $30
Still on my parents' plan, I pay for the data portion of my iPhone.
- Groceries: $92.73
WOW...I can't believe how much I spent on groceries! Mostly breakfast foods, a few trips to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods for quick dinner meals and snacks. Groceries are expensive here!
- Restaurants: $380.90
I expected this to be high. I ate out for almost every single meal except breakfast during the week. This includes Starbucks/Dunkin Donuts stops, lots of meals with old/new friends, trying a lot of food trucks...and some even had leftovers that would last me 2 additional meals!
- Alcohol: $191.63
I knew this was going to be high, too! My close friends in the city are solid weekend drinkers and I spent two weekends with them. I also bought three bottles of wine (one as a thank-you gift) and there was one week I went out for drinks four days in a row! It's been worth it for my social life, though. :)
- Miscellaneous: $99.27
Everything else. Taxis, quite a few toiletries, indoor rock climbing, a case for my iPhone, a trip to Target, flowers and laundry.
- Savings: $600
Regular $200/month to my Roth IRA and then I sent $200 to my Travel Fund and $200 to my Gift Fund. It feels good to increase my savings amounts! (I'm also contributing 4% to get the 4% match on my new employer's Roth 401k, but that gets taken out of my paycheck before I see it.)
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
I've officially lived in NYC for one month! It's absolutely amazing and I don't know if the honeymoon phase will ever end. :) I thought I would share some lessons I've learned so far:
- Own GREAT walking shoes. You will walk everywhere! Your feet will definitely be sore! I have a pair of sneakers and a pair of flat boots (with inserts) that are lifesavers, especially since I'm a bit far from the subway but I live close enough to walk to work.
- Flowers are ridiculously cheap. Two blocks away from where I lived you can buy 2 dozen roses for $8! Men and women, you can afford to ALWAYS buy flowers!
- The bus is a completely underrated mode of transportation. During the summer it'll be my choice over the sweltering subway stations!
- My iPhone is invaluable. Google Maps gets me anywhere, whether it's by walking or by public transportation.
- Walk on the right. Sidewalks, stairs, etc. The other 8 million+ New Yorkers will thank you. Oh, and let them off first on the subway/bus!
- The weather is fickle. Be prepared for anything at all times! I have an extra pair of socks and an umbrella in my purse at all times.
- Yes, it can be a lonely city - but you CAN and WILL meet new people. Reach out to anyone and everyone. I have, and so far, it has been great! People will surprise you in a good way :)
- Cheap food is abundant. Yes, most of it isn't the healthiest...but $5 for a combo platter from the Halal cart near my work lasts me 2-3 meals depending on how hungry I am! (I do get my fill of fruit/veggies from here, though.)
- Re: cheap food, I have an obsession with food carts. Shout out to New York Street Food.
- Ear plugs are fantastic, especially with loud roommates and/or a window directly on the street. Case in point.
- 99% of the city residents are also transplants. I randomly met a native San Diegan in Union Square on Easter!
- Times Square is a tourist trap. I avoid it like the plague...but maybe that's just my "I-live-in-NYC" mentality ;)
- Don't buy a lot of stuff if you aren't close to your apartment. Dragging a bunch of bags on the subway is not fun! I try to stick to the one-reusable-bag-only rule.
- Apartment hunting is a little ridiculous. While using a broker seems expensive, it would be so much less of a headache - so try to look for a place with at least one other person instead of just a room somewhere!
- Always look around and up. There is so much to see and there is also a lot of amazing architecture!
- Every neighborhood and borough has a different feel. Check them all out and just get lost. It's really fun and you never know what areas you'll end up really liking.
- No malls = frustrating to go shopping because all the stores aren't in one location.
Monday, April 25, 2011
The past two weekends and the week in between found my social calendar PACKED and I loved every minute of it! Going out every night and brunch every day on the weekends, going for drinks with my upcoming roommate last Tuesday and hanging out with two Australian backpackers for the past five days who are friends of one of the girls in the current sublet. (Yes, I'm finally getting along with one of them and yes, being social = expensive but worth every penny!)
Monday, April 18, 2011
I have various savings funds in my ING Direct account. The biggest one, of course, is my Emergency Fund. I have a few others like my Travel Fund and Gift Fund that get used on a semi-regular basis. Then... I have other smaller accounts. Some of which I sort-of forgot about over the past few months, especially the two related to my car: Car Maintenance and Car Insurance.
Clearly, I don't need either of those anymore since I sold my car! My Car Maintenance Fund has $650 in it and my Car Insurance Fund has $930. I was canceling some automatic transfers from my checking account which included those two and made me remember to check how much was in them. Oh, and there's the $615 in my 25th Birthday/Christian Louboutin Fund which I clearly never spent and after some thinking, I just can't bring myself to buy such expensive heels! (Maybe one day. Because I AM madly in love with them!)
I'm not sure what to do with some of this money. Save it? Spend it? Half and half? I'm thinking of making some near-future pricey purchases like a new laptop (my first Mac?) and getting a few items tailored for work like pants (~$70 each) and a skirt.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
So I managed to secure the current (one-month) sublet that I'm currently in with the crazy girls while I was still in San Diego. (Yes, they still smoke, but it seems to have calmed down some - maybe because they are starting to show the place?) Anyway, that was an effort in and of itself to find this sublet while I wasn't in the city but I got really lucky, plus I didn't want to sleep on my friends' couch for an entire month! I figured once I arrived in New York, actually being here would be a huge advantage to finding a more permanent place, a room in an already furnished apartment where I could just sign onto a 1-year lease.
Wrong. Very, very wrong.
A week and a half after I got here, I started looking for shares. A share = your own room in an apartment aka not living by yourself. (Not the same terminology used on the West Coast!) I sent e-mails, I posted on Facebook, I contacted every person I could think of who might have connections in the city. I also figured out a budget and stuck within that range.
And I scoured Craigslist like it was my job. Which is almost was! I had a Craigslist window open on my work computer and would refresh it every hour. I would come home from work and continue to check it in between gym/errands/socializing. Whenever something that sounded decent in the areas I wanted showed up, with or without pictures, I immediately sent an email. I had a short paragraph written about myself, my schedule and my habits that I would copy/paste into each e-mail. I would possibly ask a question or two, inquire about pictures (if there weren't any on the listing) and then ask to schedule a viewing.
Do you know how many e-mails I sent out? 28.
Do you know how many replies I got? 7.
Do you know how many apartments I actually saw? 4.
That's right. I only saw FOUR! Below is the breakdown of each one. Most of the time I just wouldn't get a solid feeling so I would pass based on that. Also, whenever I would get an address from a potential place, I would immediately put it into the Bed Bug Registry website to see if the building had ever had issues. I chose not to look at two places because last year over half the units in each building were infested! GROSS! Not something I wanted to have to worry about.
Price: $1,175/month (+$60 utilities)
Pros: LOCATION! This was a corner unit on a main avenue and street in the heart of Chelsea. Super cute area, very close to the subway, across the street from a grocery store plus had views of the Empire State Building. The living room and kitchen/dining area were an open plan and LARGE.
Cons: It smelled of smoke when I walked in. The available bedroom was TINY, even by Manhattan standards. It could just fit a full bed and a really small nightstand. There was a closet in the room but it was also tiny/cramped. The room was also directly next to the front door and landing for the floor, plus it was on a very busy/noisy street. Turns out the two other girls in the place were also on similar schedules to me which makes the bathroom situation complicated. It was also awkward because there were three other girls checking it out at the same time and they were trying to compete for the attention of the girls who were showing the room. I've never dealt with a situation like that before for a RENTAL but hey - welcome to Manhattan! ;)
Location: Upper West Side (low 70s)
Price: $1,075/month (+$45/month utilities)
Pros: Good location, close to to the subway and not too far from where my friends live in the UWS. Two blocks from a Trader Joe's! Available room was very big! It could fit a full or queen bed, wardrobe, desk and dresser plus have space to move around in.
Cons: Very old building which had had bedbug issues in the past, cramped bathroom (I tripped over the toilet walking in!), old everything and gross/moldy tiles in the bathroom. Turns out the two girls who were currently living there were considering moving out in two months as well, even though they advertised for someone to sign onto the 1-year lease after the sublet period was over. I just didn't get a good feeling from this place.
Location: Upper West Side (high 90s)
Price: $800/month (+$75 utilities)
Pros: CHEAP! Decent location, in between two subway lines and still relatively close to my friends in the same neighborhood.
Cons: Another old apartment, weird bathroom setup, TINY bedroom again and also directly next to the front door. The girl needed someone immediately (as in, sign the paperwork the next day in order to avoid it being put on the market by a broker and to avoid paying a broker's fee!) and there were about 12 people looking at the place! It was like vultures, even worse than the Chelsea place and I didn't even get to talk to the girl who was looking for roommates.
Location: Hell's Kitchen/Clinton/Midtown West
Price: $1,060 (including utilities)
Pros: Very clean apartment, renovated kitchen (brand new stainless steel appliances!) and bathroom, decent-sized 9x12 furnished bedroom including air conditioner, small closet and some built-in shelves plus lots of under-bed storage, on the same block as my current sublet, laid-back/quiet male roommate who works a lot but was friendly and a NON-SMOKER! The building is kept in good shape and the entranceway/lobby had all new tile work.
Cons: 3-month sublet (I wanted to sign a 1-year lease somewhere to have a more permanent place), no cable, no dining or coffee table. Really? That's what I could come up with?! Those are not deal breakers at ALL but more "nice-to-haves" that I'd definitely give up in exchange for a fantastic place!
I went to bed last night with a really solid feeling about the place. I knew I had found "the one"...even if it's just for a few months! I got up this morning and immediately sent an email to them letting them know I was very interested if they thought I would be a good fit, and not 10 minutes later I received a "HOORAY! We liked you too!" reply that make me super happy. So, yes, I'll have to move again in a few months, but I feel like I found a gem. Especially when they told me they had received over 20 responses on the first day alone and weeded through them to find the "good people." :) Goodbye, crazy-drunk-smoking-girls that I'm currently living with. You were good while you lasted!
The advice I would give someone looking for a share in Manhattan? Just keep looking! Something will come along. Yes, it's incredibly frustrating and a lot of work, but it's worth it and it will work out in the end! Oh and have a good write-up about about yourself. That definitely made me stand out, from what people told me. Be willing to compromise! Whether that's on price, size, location, length of lease/sublet...something has to give at the end of the day. Last but not least: TRUST YOUR GUT. You will know. :)
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
I'm still on the hunt for an apartment. It's frustrating but I know it'll work out! I've seen three places including the one I briefly wrote about in my last post and I have two more scheduled for this week. Plus I'm sending replying to all the possible Craigslist ads I can, so it really is taking up a big chunk of time.
I'm still eating out for 2 meals a day. (I've been keeping bagels/fruit at work for breakfast though!) It's still fun, even though sometimes I do feel guilty. Sometimes. ;) Oh and I'm in love with vanilla chais from Dunkin Donuts! I had one last Friday and another on Sunday...and could totally go for one now thanks to the rain/thunderstorm. Good thing I'm feeling lazy tonight!
My social life is...okay. One of my best girlfriends lives in city so I'm always included in her and her roommates' plans, but they were both out of town the last two weekends! So, I've been reaching out to other people I know of. I had a blast meeting up (twice!) with Leslie of 27 and Frugal recently and I'm also hoping to meet up with other bloggers soon, like Carolyn and Jessica! (Those last two blogs make me want to turn from a PF blogger to a regular blogger...hmm, food for thought?!) I've also sent e-mails to old friends who live in the city and a family friend's nephew/his girlfriend who said they'd be more than happy to help me make some connections in the city. It's definitely an adjustment going from having a consistent social life (friends, book club, bootcamps, etc) to basically being alone. Don't get me wrong, I am LOVING this time of exploring the city, doing what I want, eating what I want and relishing the time to myself. But I'm a people-person so it IS tough! It will pass though as I start to get to know more people and join things.
Speaking of joining things, I am planning on joining New York Sports Club. I believe I get a discount through work, but I think I have pay for a whole YEAR up front. That'll be about $800! EEK! However, for me it's totally worth it. I loved the Total Body Conditioning class I took and the Cardio Kickboxing was okay (the class had a substitute instruction so maybe that was why), but they have such a variety that I know I'll be happy there. I watched one of the Boxing classes and I definitely want to try it, but they seem tough to get it. (You have to call at 6am when they open or something to be lucky to get a spot!) I'll be doing this in the next month or two once I actually start getting my regular paychecks at work. Until then, lots of walking and occasionally dancing the night away!
By the way, I'd love to hear any of your advice on moving to a new city, meeting people and adjusting to new (yet familiar to me) surroundings. I definitely can't wait to have a more permanent place in the city. I can't even get mail here because I don't know how, hah!
Thursday, April 7, 2011
This city is a dream come true. Some days I feel like I'm on vacation instead of actually living here! I definitely can't believe I've already been here for a week and a half. It's feeling like home, but maybe that's just because I'm so comfortable navigating through the city on my own? It's just so familiar from all my prior visits!
Work has been going well. I'm still training, I'm still having technology issues and I'm still having a good time with my coworkers. The hours are great (8:30am-5pm) and soon I'll be receiving my keyfob so I can occasionally work from home!
I moved into the sublet last Thursday. That...has been interesting. Turns out, the girls smoke IN the apartment, when I had been told they only smoke outside. As a non-smoker, this is disgusting to me! Luckily, my room doesn't smell and neither does my closet (which is outside my room) or the bathroom. But hey, this is their apartment and after all, I'm only here for a month. The girls also party frequently, come home drunk, turn on ALL the lights in the apartment and are very loud. Unfortunately, they just aren't my type of people. However, the neighborhood (Hell's Kitchen) is fantastic, I can walk to work in 15 minutes and the subway in about 8 minutes. There's also NO overlap in terms of showering/getting ready, which is a big plus!
I knew this transition month would be expensive, especially in terms of food. I have been going out to eat or doing take-out (no delivery for me yet, I'm not that lazy!) for almost every meal. Since April 1 I've spent almost $80 on that! Last week I did make a point of buying bagels and cottage cheese for breakfast, which I keep at work, so at least that is helping a bit. But being a foodie, NYC is like mecca. I love trying different food carts at lunch (quick, cheap and I always have leftovers!) and trying restaurants in my area. The fact that the girls I'm staying with don't own any pots/pans doesn't exactly help matters! But you know what? I'm actually enjoying it! I know I can afford to eat like this because I have money saved up from my bonus/tax refund/sale of my car...and after packing my lunch 95% of the time for the past 2.5 years, I'm okay with dining out for every meal for ONE month. :) (Crossing my fingers that it's not more than that!)
One of my friends in the city got me a free week pass to New York Sports Club. They are all over the city, including one right near my work. I've gone twice already to different classes (a weightlifting class and a kickboxing class) and I definitely plan on signing up! I might try out one other gym just to see what their classes are like and because my work gives a decent discount to a few different ones. But I'll most likely sign up for NYSC using the corporate discount which should come to $70/month. Compared to my old 24 Hour Fitness Costco membership, it's ridiculously expensive. However, apparently this is a SOLID rate according to people I've talked to! Plus with the salary increase I got with my new position, I can afford that! (And hey, I walk everywhere and have been going to the gym so that will definitely counteract all the eating I'm doing!)
I've also started my apartment hunt! I'm looking to move into an already furnished apartment (either one or two other roommates) with either a furnished or unfurnished bedroom for May 1. I definitely want to stay on the west side of Manhattan since this is where my job is and where my friends are, plus commuting from most east side neighborhoods would be an absolute PAIN! I've worked out a maximum budget based on what my friends pay for their apartment in their fantastic location and so far, I definitely think I can come under that! I've been emailing places on Craigslist daily, and tonight I went to see my first one. The location was excellent (in Chelsea), one avenue from the subway and the rent sounded decent. However, upon arrival and the three flights up (not a deal breaker for me), the room was way smaller than the pictures, it was directly next to the front door of the apartment and it's on a very loud, main street. The place also smelled of smoke, not sure if that was from the current people living their or wafting from somewhere else, but obviously that IS a deal breaker! There were three of us there checking out the room/apartment and the two girls who live their currently also get up almost exactly when I do so that would be an issue since there's only one bathroom. That place was a big no for me, but I definitely learned what to look out for and more about what to ask (laundry, bedbugs/rodents, street noise). Obviously, I also have to be absolutely ready to take a place if I really like it, though! Since it's still the beginning of April, I know a lot of rooms will still be coming available so I'm not worried. Next!
I still have more to blog about but I'm getting tired and want to spend some time reading before bed. More soon! Have a great rest of your week. :)
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Today was my first day at my new job! I got up early to get ready, take the subway and give myself time to grab breakfast before. I spent $11 at Starbucks...then found out we were given breakfast at the orientation! (I bet you if I hadn't bought breakfast, there wouldn't have been breakfast offered. That's how these things work, right? Haha.) After watching a PowerPoint with a few others new hires and getting my badge, I finally went to my building. Apparently I arrived earlier than they expected, since my manager wasn't around and I didn't have login credentials for my computer!
Of course, there were a lot of other technology issues throughout the day (par for the course, I went through the same thing on my first day of my previous job!) but I did get some training in with one of my new coworkers. Everyone else seemed to have their own lunch plans and I was working with IT on some stuff, so I bought lunch ($4.30 for a soup) and then trained for most of the afternoon. But I also twiddled my thumbs quite a bit since I couldn't log in to ANYTHING relating to HR and only a few applications by the end of the day. Oh well, such is life and it's a good thing I had my Kindle in my bag!
Also, my coworkers also seem fun and outgoing. Such a change from my old job and they are all actually in my age range, late 20s to early 30s! This is definitely an environment I needed. And I'm ready to be fully trained even though they warned me that'll take about 6 weeks. After work, I headed back to my friends' place, replenished my subway pass for the week ($20), picked up a package my Mom had sent me (the rest of my work clothes that I couldn't fit in my suitcase - yay!) and then bought some overpriced groceries for $20.64. I picked up mini bagels, cottage cheese, a greek yogurt, frozen edamame, two of those 90-second rice-in-a-bag, and a bag of chips - just a few things to tide me over.
Well, it's already way past my "new" bedtime, since my job starts an hour later here and my commute is shorter. Tomorrow I'm picking up the keys and actually seeing my sublet which I'll move into later this week! Can't wait to stop living out of a suitcase/on a couch and actually have my own room!
Sunday, March 27, 2011
I'm finally in New York!
The last few weeks have been crazy but thankfully I got everything done that needed to be, including selling my car two days before I left. I never want to sell a car again after that experience!
The day of traveling was a little crazy since it started with getting up at 4:30am to get rid of the final few things in my room and head to the airport. Once I arrived at JFK, it took 50 MINUTES to get my suitcase and then an hour and a half to take the SuperShuttle ($25) to get to the Upper West Side. (I'm staying with friends until I move into my Midtown West sublet on April 1.)
After feeling a bit overwhelmed with everything, I went out with friends last night. We went to a club in the Lower East Side which was a BLAST (I spent $38 which included my share of the cab rides, cover charge, coat check and a drink) and got home at 3am. I crashed immediately and slept until almost noon! That was an easy way to get myself used to the time difference. ;) After bagels with my friend ($8, I paid for both of us), the rest of the day was spent wandering around the city on my own as my friend wasn't feeling too well. I went shopping and splurged on a gorgeous B. Makowsky bag ($146 after sale and Macy's 10% tourist discount!), figured out where I need to go tomorrow for my New Hire Orientation which is in a different building from where I'll actually be working and just walked around. I popped into the gorgeous New York Public Library which I had never visited before, found some cute coffee shops on various cross streets to check out in the future and hit up a small farmer's market for some apples as snacks. I'm living out of my suitcase and still feeling a bit like this is an extended vacation instead of my new life, but I'm loving it so far!
My finances are in a bit of a disarray. I'm trying to keep track but it's a bit difficult! I've had a lot of money going in/out from various things...definitely looking forward to a regular (and larger!) paychecks starting next month. On top of my finances are my eating habits and working out habits...which basically disappeared over my last two weeks in San Diego save for a few bootcamp classes and very few meals cooked at home to use up the last of my groceries. I've basically paid for every meal out for the last 4-5 days, which is not normal for me at all! But hey, I guess that comes with a big move. I'm hoping April will be better once I'm in my sublet where the kitchen is huge, fully stocked and where I don't feel like I'm taking over my friends' space.
By the way...it's COLD here! My body was so acclimated to the amazing San Diego weather after 6.5 years that this will take a while, but I do have all the right clothing for the chilly (but sunny!) weather. Just have to make sure I stay bundled up when I'm outside. ;)
Thursday, March 17, 2011
My last few weeks in San Diego have been flying by! I can't believe I only have 8 days left... My Mom came down from Saturday through Wednesday to help me pack and purge. That helped me get rid of a LOT of stuff! (Who knew I was a card hoarder?!) My life got consolidated into 11 small boxes, a duffel bag suitcase from Costco and a large backpack. I'm taking the suitcase and backpack with me to NY, and everything else will be shipped once I get settled and find a place!
My to-do list is very close to being done. I got through so much with my Mom and I can't thank her enough for her generosity/love/support during all of this. I'm not the most competent packer and she definitely turned me into one over the past few days! (She also gave me $100 to be used as "NYC spending money" for the first week or so while I'm there on cabs/lunch/snacks/etc. LOVE!) The big items I have left from my list are selling my car, finding a sublet in NY (might be easier once I'm there but I'm waiting to hear back from a few places) and canceling my car/renter's insurance. I also made $153 from selling various furniture items on Craigslist which will definitely help me out over the next week or so, including covering a hefty dry cleaning bill. And to top it off I'm throwing a dinner party/potluck this weekend and am really excited about it! Almost all my friends are coming and I plan on making this because, well, I want to try something new and delicious.
Just for fun, here's a picture of me and the 10 boxes that went into storage! (The 11th one is my small flatscreen TV which I'll put in on the last day.)
Friday, March 4, 2011
Ever since I accepted the job, I've been coming up with an incredibly long to-do list of what I need to get done before I move!
- Give 2 weeks' notice - DONE!
- Book a one-way flight (EEK!) - DONE!
- Get American citizenship - DONE!
- Get car passenger mirror replacement (it was stolen last weekend, JUST the mirror piece!) - DONE! $20.32 for the part, they didn't charge me labor because it took less than 2 minutes :)
- Notify landlord of departure - DONE!
- Apply for a U.S. Passport - DONE! (Had it expedited and just waiting for it to arrive.)
- Accept a lot of lunch invitations from coworkers - DONE!
- Plan a goodbye party - DONE!
- Find a sublet/temporary housing in NYC - In Progress
- Clean my car inside & out - DONE!
- Sell my car (EEK!) - In Progess
- Sell the few furniture items I own - DONE!
- Donate anything/everything (books, clothes, etc) - DONE!
- Pack what I'm keeping but don't immediately need into boxes - DONE!
- Cancel: car insurance, renter's insurance & AAA membership - In Progress
- Forward my mail (to my parents' house because I don't have a set address in NY yet!) - DONE!
- Transfer $$$ from my savings to my checking to prepare for security deposit, first & last month's rent, potential broker's fee, etc - The money I get from selling my car will help with this.
Monday, February 28, 2011
I GOT THE JOB!!
It took a bit longer than expected. It's slightly less money than we initially discussed. But I'm okay with that. The benefits are amazing (4 weeks vacation plus sick & work-from-home days, 401k matching up to 4% with immediate full vesting, solid health/dental/vision, gym discounts, etc), the people I interviewed with were awesome and this honestly was one of the easiest decisions I've ever made. :)
I was able to negotiate my start date to the end of March, so I have just under a month left in San Diego before the huge cross-country move. It's going to be a whirlwind and I'll be a New Yorker before I know it!
I am so excited. My dream is now reality! I'm on a cloud and I don't think it'll actually feel real until I'm in the middle of that pulsing, energizing, constantly-moving-always-on city. :) My to-do list just became insane but luckily I have an amazing support system and a decent amount of time (and luckily money saved, since there's no relocation package with the position) to make this huge life change.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
In case you don't know, I'm a Canadian citizen. I was born in Toronto and when I was 10, my family relocated to Seattle for my Dad's job. We've been resident aliens (aka green card holders) since I was 12. Since all of our green cards are expiring in 2012, we decided to finally become dual citizens.
We downloaded the application forms and over Thanksgiving, spent about two days filling them out and reviewing. The hardest part was listing every single time we've left the country since arriving. You guys, we are AVID TRAVELERS. This was ridiculous and we had to use additional pages! Not only to you have to list the dates you were out of the country for, but where you went and how many days you were gone. When we thought we were done, I ended up remembering about two trips that we all managed to miss. What a process, but it was really fun to go "Oh yeah, remember that?!" :) Applications and fees were sent in at the beginning of December.
By early January I received a letter telling me to report for fingerprinting, the first part of the process. It was relatively painless minus the waiting time (no cell phones AT ALL) and the fact that the appointment, of course, was in the middle of my work day. Not even two weeks after that I received my notification to come in for the citizenship exam! It's a week from today and they gave me a basic civics study guide...which takes me all the way back to 8th grade social studies and my high school AP U.S. History classes. The interview/exam is broken down into four components:
- Civics Test (answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly from a bank of 100 questions)
- Speaking Test (various questions asked to you by a USCIS officer)
- Reading Test (read 1 out of 3 sentences to demonstrate English reading ability)
- Writing Test (write 1 out of 3 sentences to demonstrate English writing ability)
Friday, February 18, 2011
I'm not doing very well on updating my budget this month. I'm keeping a rough track but most of it is in my head. I'm finding that because I don't live paycheck to paycheck, I don't need to be so diligent about tracking my spending. However, I do love knowing what I have leftover at the end of every month and choosing what to do with that extra money! At the end of February I plan on making some charitable donations because I definitely fell off that bandwagon in 2010 and that needs to be remedied.
Also, I need to add a line item to my budget for Kindle purchases. I'm finding some Kindle books are more than their paperback counterparts but there are a lot of $5 ones which I am more than happy to pay for :) I've already read the entire Hunger Games series on it! (I used an Amazon gift card so all the books were free.)
I'm still in the waiting game on the NY job that I interviewed for a few weeks ago. Instead of being stressed and anxious about it, I'm actually at peace: they are a huge company that most likely has much bigger fish to hire than me! The HR rep I've been interacting with has been very positive about the whole situation so I figure it's just a matter of time. :) (But I'll probably call again if I don't get another update by next Tuesday.)
I received my second eBates cash back check! Here's my referral link in case you'd like to sign up. That $20.65 will serve nicely for some of the social events I have on the horizon. I also finally shifted some money around in my bank accounts and sent $2K to my Roth IRA for 2011 thanks to my bonus! I've also done some shopping recently, including three necklaces from various stores, three v-neck t-shirts from H&M ($6 each in lots of colors! LOVE!), a sparkly 3/4-sleeve shrug from Charlotte Russe and a long black sweater, also from H&M. All of those items came to $50 total!
I'm addicted to my iPhone! I've had zero service problems thanks to Verizon so far and I have a lot of apps on it... from games to music to productivity and the best part? They have all been free! Okay, time to stop the random updates/thoughts and read a free book I downloaded from the Kindle store: Life from Scratch. :)
I've been dating a boy (dubbed Airport Boy thanks to where we met!) for the past month. A few weeks ago he asked me to be his valentine and of course I said yes. He didn't strike me as the romantic or planning type so I figured we would have a low-key night, maybe cook dinner together or watch a movie. Well, that wasn't quite how the night turned out!
On Valentine's Day, he came over all dressed up (he usually wears jeans and plain t-shirts, needless to say I was stunned as he cleans up WELL!) bearing flowers, my favorite wine and a home cooked meal! He pre-made it at his place as a surprise, since his only instruction to me was to be ready by 6pm. We ate dinner at my place where my roommates were seriously impressed.
About an hour later he told me he also had dessert reservations but would give no hints as to where, other than I would need a warm jacket. We hopped in his car and off we drove...and drove...almost 30 minutes later, after my multiple guesses as to where we were headed, we end up at a hotel. I'm thinking there must be a nice restaurant in the hotel with good dessert. Try again! We were going for an evening GONDOLA RIDE!! He had also brought champagne for us to share and there were complimentary chocolate covered strawberries. The weather was absolutely perfect, the blanket that was provided was comfy and the entire hour we were steered around in the water was bliss. We cuddled close and talked the entire time. It was really romantic, a little bit cheesy (he told me he likes all that stuff for special occasions) and a LOT of fun! I've never done an all out Valentine's Day ever so I LOVED it! Plus it's been three years since I last had a valentine which made it extra exciting. :)
Friday, February 4, 2011
I finished my taxes the day after I got all of my forms (a few 1099s and my W-2) and by January 28th I had received a refund of $664 from Federal and $341 from State. I used $15 of that to pay for the state filing at TaxACT, which I've used the last three years to do my taxes. It only took me about an hour to do everything online and my taxes are very easy! So I have a $990 tax refund to figure out what to do with...
On the 31st, I received my annual bonus for work done in 2010. Hooray! It was $7,000 gross (umm, I expected HALF that so what a nice surprise!) and I netted $3,634 after taxes. This is how it's broken down:
$2K, 2011 Roth IRA
$500, Travel Fund
$200, iPhone (for Verizon...finally!)
$40, Case for my new Kindle (Mom bought it as an early Valentine's Day present for me. LOVE!)
$394, Other/Miscellaneous (Gifts for friends, clothing & I want this tote since I bring my lunch to work every day.)
Are you getting a tax refund or do you owe? What are you going to do with your refund if you do get it?
Monday, January 24, 2011
For 10 days at over Christmas and New Year's, my family and I went to Jamaica!
My parents, brother and I flew into Montego Bay and had hired a driver to take us to Negril (~50 miles) over on the west coast of the island. We spent 4 days/5 nights at Country Country, which are beach cottages on the famous 7-mile beach of Negril. Our two cottages were a 30-second walk to the beach and I loved the laid-back feel of the place! Since there were only 24 cottages and not too many guests, we never had to fight for beach chairs or towels. We would have breakfast (included) at the beach bar every morning. My favorite was the banana pancakes with fresh fruit (papaya!) and pineapple juice. A lot of Jamaicans walked the beach selling their wares and we also bought fresh, warm, fluffy coconut bread from the bakery man on a daily basis. Yum! :) The rest of the day was spent wandering the beach, tanning/reading and water sports. That's my Mom and I parasailing in the picture below! Such an amazing 15-20 minutes with the most breathtaking views. It was expensive at $45/person (we negotiated) but my Dad treated us :) In the evenings, we would find restaurants out on the main road for dinner like jerk chicken shacks or (and this isn't a joke!) a place called "Perfect Restaurant" which actually WAS the best meal we had in Negril! (Oxtail with rice and "peas", which is rice and red beans.) Then we would play our favorite card game til 10 or 11pm, sleep until 10am and do it all over again.
Jake's in Treasure Beach, which consists of a Mediterranean-style villas on some small cliffs. This was on the south coast and the weather was amazing the entire time! The food at the hotel wasn't the best (except for the Baked Oatmeal every morning!) so we ate at the adjacent restaurant, Jack Sprat's, a lot. We took day trips to Pelican Bar, Y.S. Falls and a small, not-overrun-by-tourists-town called Alligator Pond where we got interviewed live by a local radio station! More reading and more card games, plus making friends at the bar while drinking delicious passion fruit margaritas. New Year's Eve was spent at Jack Sprat's with a bonfire, fireworks, a few hundred tourists/locals and a stage complete with bands and DJs.
It was a phenomenal trip! Jamaica was more expensive than anticipated, mostly because tourism is by-and-far the largest industry for the majority of the country. Still, I definitely want to go back one day!
- Take as many swimsuits as you own! I only took two and it definitely wasn't enough...even though I only own three. Good thing I had enough beach dresses!
- Jerk chicken in Jamaica is actually doused with BBQ sauce. It's not the "spicy jerk" that you find in the States! We actually think that type of jerk chicken is found in Trinidad or some of the other Caribbean islands.
- Jamaicans are incredibly friendly, but of course you only have to be careful that you aren't getting ripped off as a tourist. Even the little convenience stores away from the hotels weren't that cheap! And they really do say "No problem, mon!" all the type... but the whole Bob Marley thing is definitely a tourist attraction, as Jamaicans love their dance hall music.
- I would stay at both of these places again! Country Country was small, laid-back and low-key while Jake's was more expensive but still laid-back...it IS Jamaica, after all! :)
Trying to save my cheese!
themoneymaus [@] gmail [.] com
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