My personal resolutions and resolutions for other empty pocket grads are on their way but first I wanted to talk about the point of New Year's resolutions beforehand.
The point of resolutions is to reflect on what you've done the last year and write down your goals for the upcoming one. I feel like many people skip the first part and sometime the writing part of the resolutions as well! I don't remember my resolutions from last year, which is bad.
But I'm going to take a moment to reflect on 2010 before the clock strikes 12.
1) I can do push-ups again. I ran my first 5k since high school. I can Down Dog. These may sound like little athletic accomplishments but after a injury ridden last five years, I'm thankful to reach them again.
2) I moved across the country. Something that I worked on for the past year was this move. Between working 40 hours a week while finishing school and trying to find my first car, it was a lot of work but it's one of my biggest accomplishments.
3) I produced a documentary. Our turn around time was pretty quick too.
4) I started this blog and found that permanent job. Unfortunately the latter made this blog slightly less exciting. I was hoping to blog about job hunting from the perspective of the disgruntled, unemployed recent grad a bit longer.
5) I overcame my fear of the oven. Now I can make mean mac n cheese, baked ziti, and other casseroles.
6) I cut my cable. This is terribly saddening but I'm saving about $300 a year and still find time to watch my shows (with friends).
7) I moved in and out of three different apartments. Now I'm living with my best friend and roomskie. Unfortunately, this only happened after some ugly verbal spats in the middle edition.
8) Company Softball Champions. Nuff said.
9) Angry Birds. A late entry in 2010 but a very addictive game. The reason I both want and don't want an IPad.
10) I'm a writer. Maybe I need to write more on Empty Pocket Grad but if you include my other projects, I did a lot and loved every bit of it. It's something I'm really passionate about so don't be surprised if you see a quote from yours truly @advicetowriters someday. Modest--I know.
Friday, December 31, 2010
My personal resolutions and resolutions for other empty pocket grads are on their way but first I wanted to talk about the point of New Year's resolutions beforehand.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
As a result, I'm going to write four posts on resolutions over the next week (Sorry I'm traveling with limited access to internet until 2011). Starting now
New Year's Resolutions--The College Senior
These next few months leading up to graduation are part of a war between two opposing forces: Last Hoorahs and Serious Thinking Moments.
1. Have The (Money and Job) Talk with the Parents
Depending on your parents or your career path, you may have already had a million versions of this conversation: What are you doing after graduation? Where are you working? Where are you living? Who is paying the bills? It's important to have this conversation now if not earlier.
I know many college grads whose parents have had skewed expectations of their post-graduate life. My own included--until I had this conversation for the 10th time and we reached an agreement. The point is that it's better to iron out the wrinkles in your "adult pants" now than risk your relationships later.
2. Consider Relocation
Going with part one, it's time to consider where you are living. Will you move to a big city? Or will you move home? Or does your industry require you to transplant yourself elsewhere? I went to a large university in New York City I loved New York life--but it's not affordable. For various reasons, I can only count a handful of friends who stayed in the city. But many have found other homes--relocating for various reasons. Here are some examples.
-One friend started living in New York working a few part-time jobs while trying to find the one. After her lease expired and she was still jobless, she moved home to Cleveland where she received her first full-time position.
-Another friend also stayed in New York and after a year, she moved to Greece to teach English.
-I moved from New York to Los Angeles to work in "the industry." I work full-time at a great company and was lucky enough to make a super smooth transition.
3. Make A Date With Your Career Center
If you haven't already, it's time to stop into the career center. Though many programs are geared towards recruiting, resume writing and interviews--an individual appointment with a career counselor can put you ahead of your fellow classmates. Even if you already know a lot about job hunting.
For example, I met with my career counselor in February and demanded she help me figure out how to move to LA and find a job. She gave me what advice she could--some I knew and some I didn't. She also connected me to a young alumni who wrote an LA Guide for recent grads. This alum was instrumental to my successful LA landing.
4. Go On One Last Adventure
You may be tempted to sit at home and apply to jobs over your spring break but don't. I commend you for your determination but once you are in the working world, you might not have the time or finances for these week long adventures. Personally, I would pick the Wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter (but that wasn't open when I was in school).
5. And One Last Bar Crawl
I really am not a bar crawl fan but I think that last one would have been a blast. My friend's did it while I was out of town and it's nice they had this last truly collegiate moment.
6. Start Saving
If you don't have a savings account open one now. Better yet--consider a High Interest Savings account via E-Trade or INGDirect. You can be saving for a car, an apartment, or retirement but it's best to start now.
7. Learn To Boil Water
Because you want to be able to at least make Ramen every night. It's surprising how late night munchies disappear once you move away from campus so being able to cook for yourself will get you far. If you are feeling particularly culinary, look into new dishes on All Recipes and Martha Stewart.
8. Upgrade your Tech
If your laptop is on its last leg, consider purchasing a new one with your student discount before graduation. Some universities let you receive your discount with an alumni card or for up to one year after graduation. This is also a great time to grab software from sites such as JourneyEd.com if you want the latest photoshop.
9. Get Carded
Find out how to secure a university alumni card and what your alumni programs can do to help you. For example, I know my card gets a 25% discount on insurance and would get me a few free gym visits if I was still in the area.
10. Fit in Fitness
Because the pounds will add up if you don't make a habit now.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Weekend Read: 12.17.10 3:04 PM
It's literally been a month since I've posted a weekend read but there have been a lot of good articles as we head into the holiday season.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Hot Saturday Night: Working In 8:16 PM
Remember in college when finals rolled around? You reserved a study room in LL2 of Bobst with a group of friends while you convinced yourself you wouldn't be distracted? Or when you stayed in the dorms and ordered pigged out on delivery while writing that 20 page paper on Descartes?
I just had one of those nights--as a post grad.
Unfortunately, my friends and I work in a business where homework is still plagues our Sunday nights and like finals week, the homework has added up. In addition to writing some blog posts for this week, I have 4 movies to watch, 2 scripts to read and my own writing to work on.
How do you make time for these things?
For the past few weeks, I've been trying to buckle down and get real work done by isolating myself in my apartment. Ultimately, this leads to watching entire seasons of Bones and the newest Star Trek movie multiple times. So when my friend was stressing over her own workload--we came together in collegiate fashion.
We held a Work-In in her living room. We agreed to work for a few hours, order dinner, work until the Thai food arrived, take a TV & dinner break, then work some more. Best part is--it worked. We held each other accountable and made sure there was no browsing the internet and no watching Bones.
For the first time in a month, I actually got something done and made major progress!
Needless to say I think we will be holding Work-Ins more often.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
I've seen many personal finance bloggers advise against having a credit card because people, tend to swipe their way into a very deep hole. Specifically through shopping. Sometimes it's for books, games, alcohol, but usually it's for fashion and beauty.
How can a penny-pincher be a frugal fashionista?
Discover Off-Price Department Stores
Have you ever been to TJ Maxx or Marshalls? If your first reaction was a grimace, have you been to one recently? These department stores are being remodelled all over America to offer current season, designer clothing at a lower price. I confess-- 95% of my wardrobe is from Marshalls including my shoes and handbags.
Reinvent with Accessories
Instead of buying a whole new outfit, why not spruce it up with new accessories? Take a look from day to night. Or add some conservative jewelry and a cardigan to make an outfit work appropriate. If you wear glasses, try getting some funky frames. Great stores to accessorize at include Forever21 or an independent seller on Etsy.
Shop Second Hand
This one is self explanatory but there are plenty of great finds at Goodwill or The Salvation Army. You can also check out stores such as Buffalo Exchange, which also excepts second hand clothes for cash. If you are in the LA area, check out It's A Wrap. This is like the Goodwill for film and television. All the dresses those sorority girl extras wore once on Greek? You can find them here.
Need proof there are great finds? I have definitely given away dresses I've worn once to Goodwill. Which brings me to the next point...
Become Sale Savvy
With websites like Retail Me Not, it's hard not to justify buying the whole store because it's at a discount.
Resist. I know it's very hard when you are in J Crew.
First of all, think about if you'll actually wear that shirt dress you are holding. If you try it on and you feel uncomfortable in it--don't buy it. Secondly, is it really a good sale? If the item is a low quality blouse that's only discounted five dollars, is it really worth your money? Probably not.
There are many blogs who can provide more sales tips in advice. One of my favorites is The Budget Fashionista, who also has a great section called Etsy Finds. Also loving a new find: The Poor Couture
Friday, November 19, 2010
Weekend Read: 11.19.10 2:34 PM
Today is a big day. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows opened at midnight today and is expecting a $135 million dollar weekend.
But for other frugal living, personal finance, and career news...check out this week's Weekend Read.
- Davenport Family of Florida Camping Out Nine Days for Black Friday Deals [WalletPop]
- Gen Y Women: Is "Crazy" The New Normal [Ms Career Girl]
- Student Savings [Frugal Diva]
- LinkedIn Profiles To Career Introductions: When You Can’t Recommend Your Friend [LearnVest]
Enjoy the reads and have a wonderful weekend.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
With the holidays coming up, it's the time of year to spend and to give. Not only to your family & friends but also to the less fortunate. Whether that means the homeless, animals, or arts programs, here are some ways to participate in the Season of Giving.
1) Give Money. The end of the calendar year is when philanthropic organizations make a real push to bring in the donations. Jump in and make a donation. Even the smallest amount counts. Additionally, your employer may have an employee matching program, where they match your financial contribution, speak with your HR department to find out. Finally, charitable giving is a good way to score a year-end tax break. Just make sure you get all the necessary paperwork to claim your tax-deductable donation. Tight budget? Drop the change from your morning coffee into an employee's tip jar or better yet, go give it to the Salvation Army Bell Ringers that pop up all over the United States starting today.
2) Give Time. I am not travelling home this Thanksgiving, flying across the country is too expensive. I will have a lot of free time on my hands so in addition to some holiday shopping on Black Friday, I'm hoping to volunteer at a local food bank or spend time socializing with a senior citizen.
3) Give Stuff. Many shelters around the country are launching their holiday giving programs. These also include include Adopt-A-Family programs, Holiday Food Drives and Holiday Toy Drives. Though I truly believe if you are going to participate in an Adopt A Family program, try to give to the Adults as well. Those parents are working hard and deserve a reward as well!
I also recommend contacting your local shelter or food bank and asking what there needs are. Maybe they need toiletries or baby diapers for new mothers. Diapers are expensive and it's a really special if a new mom's basic needs are provided for so she can put the money to buying her child a toy of their own.
4) Shop For Charity. There are many companies that now donate a portion of their proceeds from certain products to charity. I'm thinking of buying someone a pair of TOMS Shoes this Christmas. If you do a large amount of your shopping online, consider shopping via an online store such as OneCause, IGive or GoodShop. Some non-profits like the Ocean Park Community Center even have their own plug-in so when you shop at a preferred retailer, a portion of your purchase goes directly to the charity of your choice.
However you choose to give back this season, in a big or small way, please try to extend your Season of Giving into the the rest of 2011.
Readers, if you have any other ideas on how to give back this holiday season--especially if you are on a budget, please share. I know as much as I want to Adopt a Family this winter, I cannot afford it and am looking for more ways to give.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Weekend Read 11.12.10 1:45 PM
A day late but what the heck! Welcome to Weekend Read.
Since I've moved out of my old apartment and into a new place with a new roommate, I'm trying to make this one a keeper! Tips below. Also some posts on getting some holiday shopping deals. I'm eyeballing some American Apparel v-necks.
Friday, November 12, 2010
This is a letter in response to a craiglist post by Erin, which I am sure will be removed soon so I will have to screencap it.
In case I don't...Erin is offering $60 OBO for someone to write her "world class college admissions essay"--the dreaded personal statement
I’m very concerned. Not only for ethical reasons, but also about the path your walking down.
I get it. College admissions is more competitive than ever and many times, it comes down to your essay. But even if you hired Stephen King to write it for you…I’m pretty sure a college counselor would still pick the other candidate. Because guess what? They can tell.
Ultimately, the essay is more about your personality than your writing itself. It’s about your insight, your ideas and what you have to offer not only the university, but ultimately society and the world. I’m not saying your essay has to be about that time you went to some Third World country and saved all the children. It just has to be about a story or a moment that means and says something about you.
But forging this essay as your personal statement is a step down the wrong road. Does that mean you will also forge your first term paper? Forge your thesis? And maybe you’ll do all that and graduate with a degree from an Ivy League university without getting caught (doubtful). Then what?
So take a deep breath. You have another month to turn pound out that personal statement and get into your dream school. I know you can write something you can be really proud of and maybe you can hire a proofreader for $60 obo.
Just remember, college, your job, whatever...is a match to be made not a prize to be won.
Empty Pocket Grad
Readers: feel free to disagree.
Friday, November 5, 2010
- Why Maddi Gilje should Stay At NYU (NYU Local)
To fully appreciate this story you have to find all the Maddi Gilje articles on NYU Local but this really resonated with me, even as a post grad. These articles are chronicling the a new chapter of Maddi's life. How we dream big and are often disappointed with the initial circumstances of this new chapter. Completely applicable to post-grad life as well--the message is don't give up!
2. How Millenial Women Are Shaping Our Future (Huffington Post)
I've always loved Lindsey's perspective on Gen Y and she's got it right here. Look at all the women starting their own businesses today and making a difference in other ways.
And those are my two articles for this week's weekend read. Be inspired!
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Jeez where did October go? It's hard to believe it's been an entire month since I've blogged. Halloween, Election Day and moving to my apartment snuck up on me.
But there is an important lesson in all this.As recent grad, you have to learn to stay the course.
As much as I hate that term coined earlier in this decade by our former President, it's completely applicable to my life as it stands.
When you are in an early entry level job and a new place there are many distractions, including but not limited to new tv shows, parties, and exploring LA. There are even obstacles such as working long hours so you only have time to run errands from 9-12 on Saturdays or going to the gym.
But you have to find time to not only fit these things but fit in the things you like to do.
For example, I like writing and I like fitness. But I've fallen off the wagon in both cases so I clearly need to adjust my schedule.
I obviously can't support a life where I work all day, go to industry events at night and then go to sleep. I'm not making it to the gym and not making time to do what I love.
So how do I fix that?
I'm making a deadline to fix my schedule. I'm going to become an early riser so I can fit these things into my life.
They say it take 21 days to make a habit but I'm going to get my butt out of bed in the morning and be productive. After thanksgiving, we'll be talking about my new schedule like it's a totally normal thing.
How do you stay the course?
Friday, October 8, 2010
When you're new to LA, the weekend hits and you're coolest. So if you are looking to find some weekend activities, look no further than Weekend Read!
Driving into work, I heard Carson Daly discussing Caroline on Crack, and she gave us the weekend low down on LA happenings. What I like about Caroline's blog is that it's actually a blog, not a just a listing of events or a newsletter. It's easy to read and keep track of unlike Daily Candy or Thrillist (great resources, but a little overwhelming at times).
Check her out and more for this Weekend Read:
Caroline on Crack
Daily Candy LA
Thursday, October 7, 2010
In need of travel tips? 3:21 PM
I stumbled across this article from Savvy Sugar about flying with Southwest. So many great tips that are much more efficient than my regular strategy, which is get there at 6am so you don't have any problems.
I'm also a fan of George Clooney's slip-on shoe observation from Up In the Air
What about you all? Do you have any useful tips for train, bus and air travel?
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Nifty Tools To Keep You On Track 7:54 PM
I've been slacking on my blog writing and on my blog reading. My department workload at the office has been kicked up a notch from the summer so I've been playing with new scheduling and organizational tools.
1) GoogleReader, GoogleCalendar...just Google
It's amazing how Google has completely streamlined my life. My company depends heavily on Microsoft Outlook but being a Mac person, this internet juggernaut is fulfilling my needs. I can use documents to edit budgets and spreadsheets wherever I can log in. My Google Calendar not only has my social schedule but I also have been adding group exercise classes at various YMCAs in the LA area so if I want to stop in I can. I do need to work on my use of Google Tasks
I'm convinced that Mint is the tool that keeps me from going into post-graduate debt. I've placed my excel budget into Mint and it tracks my credit card spending. So I know if I spent too much on movies or need to make my car payment. However, I don't like how it mislabels line items from time to time especially money spent at restaurants, fast food, and groceries.
If you aren't on LinkedIn, what are you doing? In this age when your future employer is pre-screening your internet presence, there is no better way to re-emphasize your candidacy than to have a complete LinkedIn. I also recommend placing it in your email signature, you never know if your aunt's niece is going to be your future boss thanks to a few clicks.
What are your favorite online organizational and career tools? Any I should try out?
Friday, September 24, 2010
Weekend Read: 9/24/10 1:39 PM
I have an upcoming post on the continuing education after college (with or without classes) but this week's been slamming. But I wanted to share something this week:
1) Sara Gallagher's guest post on your first annual review sure is handy for recent grads. I'm keeping this one in my back pocket so I don't get stumped
2) Best Cities for College Grads courtesy of Business Week. Note...Los Angeles didn't even make it on here.
3) A cautionary tale about losing your job before it even starts
4) Fabulous and Frugal Goes Green For Halloween
Friday, September 17, 2010
Weekend Read: First Edition 12:43 PM
Borrowing a term from the entertainment industry, it's time for Weekend Read! One of my favorite hobbies is finding new blogs only to be both jealous and motivated by their talent. Here are my shares this week (in addition to LearnVest of course).
Domestik Goddess If you are feeling crafty or have an urge to start a herb garden, look here for inspiration. Not only is DG funny but her advice is user-friendly for the domestically challenged like myself.
BlissTree Okay google, you have me stumped on how this showed up as a "Frugal Living" blog but I do enjoy it. I'm loving the news about smoke free parks in New York (yes please). I don't however like the slideshow about Overweight Celebrities by Caroline. It's not very becoming.
Finally, this article on FitCeleb about Trainer Bob's Walk for Farm Animal rights. You can read more about Farm Sanctuary here.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
You think after you pass the freshman 15 that you're transitional weight gains are over. Whoever planted that idea in my head was a liar. If anything, staying healthy gets even harder after college.
Sure, the all-you-can-eat dining halls have vanished. But so has the three hour gap between Econ 101 and Writing the Essay that you used to hit the elliptical. Finding time to go to the gym when you're working full-time can be difficult for a recent graduate. Since most of us are not early risers, we're stuck at the gym waiting in lines for treadmills. It's such a miserable experience, we just stop going.
On top of that, the rush to and from includes a stop for an Egg McMuffin and a Big Mac. Then your clothes don't fit right because you've gained wait, which makes you stress out because you can't afford a whole new wardrobe and you just want to crawl into a whole somewhere.
Take a deep breath. No use giving yourself an ulcer.
Let's discuss a few ways to keep the extra pounds off while you adjust to a new lifestyle:
1) Make It Social. As I said in my earlier post about Fitting in Fitness sometimes the best things to make things priority is to make it fun. This rule not only applies to fitness but also healthy eating. I have been motivated to eat healthier because my friends and I get to together and make dinner for each other. Is it always amazingly healthy? No but I'm sure the homemade casserole is better for me than a trip to the county fair. For the Record, I'm breaking this rule this weekend.
2) Crack the Books and learn something new. Whether you are learning how to cook vegetarian or how to do yoga. Sometimes the most invigorating experience is succeeding at something you have always been afraid of. For example, I've always been terrified of using an oven or running a 5k ( I wish I was a good runner but I'm not). I'm running a 5k for charity this fall (with friends of course! Rule #1).
3) The Price is Right. Don't let the financial labels associated with healthy scare you. We can't all afford a membership to Sports Club LA but that doesn't make you a lesser person. It's funny because I have a friend who was talking about joining a gym and he refused to join a YMCA because they had a "stigma."
I love that I joined a YMCA. The people are friendly and low-key and the Healthy Lifestyles director is always looking to improve the facilities and classes for members. Additionally, I'm not shelling out every month, being pressured to find a personal trainer or locked into a contract.
You also don't have to shop exclusively at Whole Foods or Trader Joes. There are Farmer's Markets and many chain supermarkets now have special sections for Gluten Free, Vegetarian or Kosher eating. Plus, the supermarkets have buyer rewards programs. Overall it's just about finding the price point that works for your budget. If that answer is zero, find a hike instead of joining a gym. Use meet-up.com to find a running club. Healthy living should be for everyone not just those who can afford super trainers.
How about you readers? How do yourself thin but your wallet fat?
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Bookmark this: LearnVest 11:24 AM
I stumbled across LearnVest in a super strange way---it was someone's facebook status. After a quick google search, I discovered Alexa Von Tobel, founder of LearnVest and Inc 30 Under 30 Entrepreneur, knew what the problem was with personal finance books and websites. They speak to middle aged men (and sometime women) with tons of money who are saving for retirement. The advice is not helpful when you are a recent grad making $500 for 50 hours of work a week.
Thankfully, LearnVest is here to spell out personal finance for Gen Y women everywhere! LearnVest has many great tools including budgeting bootcamps, helpful articles, and a resource toolkit.
Some of my favorite parts of the site include:
- Cool calculators that help you find out how much you save buying a used vs new car or by brownbagging your lunch
- When I was looking for a grown-up credit card with a tangible rewards program, I used their Credit Card Finder tool to select my new Discover (testing now!)
- A checklist for 2010 Graduates starting their new financial adventure
- The new LV Expert bloggers! I love Dining & Entertainment and the Money Etiquette expert.
I hope you check out LearnVest. I've found it helpful so far but what do you think? What other features does this personal finance web source need to grow?
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Recent graduates have a lot of new problems on their plates. They are trying to find jobs so they can pay rent, have a social life outside dorm living, or trying to cook something other than ramen. When problems arise, you just want to throw your hands in the air and say f*** it!
Before you run crying to your parents because your internet broke, stop and think about how you can handle this for yourself. And yes you have to call customer service.
How To Negotiate and Fix Things with Customer Service Representatives
1) Say Hello and Get The Operator's Name. It's more relaxing if you introduce yourself and they introduce themselves. Plus, if things go awry, you have their name --written on a pad of paper.
2) Kill them with kindness (and Play Dumb). Anyone in a customer service jobs appreciates when someone is nice to them. It can also overwhelm the customer service if you give them too much information. When you get on the phone don't launch into what you researched online. Sometimes it's best to let them walk you through their prompt.
3) Playing Tough There are other times where you have to be tough. Not getting what you want? Ask for a manager or shift supervisor. If things go even farther south, ask for an area supervisor. Often times when an associate can't help you, it's just because they are not in the position of power.
4a) When You Are Pissed Off (Because Service is Not Up To Par). If your cable is out, your plumbing isn't fixed, etc. kindly tell the hiring measure that you were recently comparing their service to that of their competitor and that you have no problem switching over. Your parents can pull the 'I've been a customer from 25 years,' speech but recent graduates can't. So you have to threaten to take your business elsewhere. And make sure you ask your account to be credited.
4b) When You are Pissed Off (Because you are being billed for...) services you don't receive or overcharged. Let's say you did switch to another cable company but the first company is still billing you despite your service cancellation.
Three words: Better Business Bureau or Attorney General's Office. One of those sets of three.
Those words send customer services representatives scrambling and have yet to fail me. A sereis of complaints with the better business bureau can lead to an investigation and who knows, that vendor might be committing fraud and end up with a lawsuit.
I applaud Taylor Lautner for this move. Trust me, it works for normal people too.
5) Take the Survey I know you don't waste anymore time, but take the customer service survey or document your complaint. First of all, it will help weed out incompitent employees if their name keeps showing up with bad surveys. Secondly, you might score some free stuff. I got a free oil change and never have problems with my car dealership's service department and I'm convinced it's because I gave the Sales Reps bad ratings in the initial and follow up survey.
On that note, one try is not enough. If at first you don't succeed try two more times before dropping the F-bomb on the phone.
Final Note: Thank the People Who Go Above And Beyond
Last summer, my three year warranty on my Mac was about to expire and my computer was overheating. I took it into the Genius bar, got a ton of lip, left being very angry and was told there was nothing wrong with my computer.
Unconvinced, I took it back the next day--literally the last day of my warranty. This Mac Genius opened it, ran the disk utility and immediately found the problem. Hard drive was fried, computer was basically on its dying breath. He fixed it up in a day (plus I got a hard drive upgrade for free because they no longer make 40 gb harddrives for that model).
As a thank you, I got his card and wrote and email to his manager about his excellent employee.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Thursday Linky Love 3:44 PM
It's been a long week people. I'm on my umpteenth cup of coffee and I started writing this post as though it was Friday. It's Thursday.
But I wanted to share a few links I found throughout the week
- How to Conquer That Monster To-Do List (SavvySugar)
- Most Awkward Move at the Gym (Peanut Butter Fingers)
- Gaining Weight in Your 20s (Health.com)
- Five Ways to Recharge Without Taking A Vacation (Yahoo! Hotjobs)
It seems like all these posts apply to my particular place in life this week. A lot to do--no time--can barely think straight.
But these are the challenges recent graduates have to face.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Wow what a weekend! I don't think I've been so busy since I've moved to LA. On that note, I'm pleased to present my first Sunday Review Double Feature.
Umami Burger (yelp)
4655 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
The burger that is taking over LA certainly didn't disappoint. I first heard of this infamous establishment on KIIS during Ryan Seacrest's morning show. I STILL don't know what an actual Umami burger is but I know any of the restaurants four LA locations are worth the treat.
Moderately priced, I had the Manly Burger with Sweet Potato Fries. Great choice.
The burger was savory and the bacon bits were thicky. I'm glad I got it cooked medium well though because it was a little on the pinker side. Still delicious.
But the sweet potato fries took the cake. It wasn't just the type of potatoes that made them sweet. They fries were also lightly dusted with Brown Sugar and served with the perfect garlic aeoli sauce. Yum.
After dinner, I headed to stop two for a friend's birthday.
4628 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
A wine bar. A good wine bar. The atmosphere was dark and sort of earthy--decorated with browns and built mostly out of wood. A welcome change from the industrial factory look from New York.
I have to say, I don't know much about wine...so I can't really speak to their selection. But this is a great bar for you if you know nothing about wine. The bartender was super friendly and you would tell him the flavor range you were looking for and they would find the perfect mix for you.
Though I wish I wrote it on a card or something.
All in all, this was a great Saturday night combination. Getting in and out of Los Feliz was a bit of a pain due to Sunset Junction (I got turned around and ended up in Glendale), but on the upside, street parking was plentiful and Covell also offers valet.
Until next time.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Despite last weekend being very eventful, nothing was particularly review worthy. But this weekend, my friends and I hit up the movies...outside. In a cemetery!
Cinespia screenings @ The Hollywood Forever Cemetery (Yelp)
6000 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Nothing creepier than watching a movie in a graveyard with at least 1,000 living and more dead people. I don't know who came up with this concept, but they must make a killing.
It's $10 a person plus $5 for parking to see old favorites such as Goodfellas and All About Eve. My friends and I saw The Sting. It was definitely strange to watch a slow paced con movie from the 70s but Paul Newman and Robert Redford made it better.
The big attraction to this Hollywood event is that it's an outdoor movie and you are expected to picnic. My friends and I are classy--we brought real wine glasses and salami and cheese. Plus strawberries from my trip to Costco for a Friday night party. Though we were more amused by looking up pictures of Paul Newman in various get ups for his Newman's Own pasta sauce than the film itself, we can write this event off as a success.
Tip: Get there before 7pm and hang out on a side street, cars start lining up on Santa Monica at 7 ish and they get let in around 7:30. It's also good to have a friend on a scooter who can cut the cars and grab a seat by the hedge (where you can have chairs)!
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Survey Says: A Little About Me 8:54 PM
In the name of procrastination...here is a little survey I found via Peanut Butter Fingers:
Four Jobs I Have Had:
* Executive Assistant in Movies
* Production Assistant on Morning News
* Subway Sandwich Artist
Four Places I Have Lived:
* New York
Four Television Shows I Love:
* Make It Or Break It
* Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations
* The Amazing Race
* The Good Wife
Four Places I Have Traveled To:
* Toronto (for the film festival)
Four Blogs I Visit Weekly:
* Fab and Frugal
* The Wrap
* Peanut Butter Fingers
* Fit Sugar
Four of My Favorite Foods:
* Peanut Butter Cups
Four Places I'd Rather Be:
* home watching Make It Or Break It or home with the family
* In New York City
* Travelling around the world
Your turn. Four places you've been. Four of your favorite foods. Go!
Monday, August 2, 2010
Sunday Review: The Rumor Mill 1:58 AM
I have to admit this weekend was not a very social weekend. I spent most of my days running errands, hitting the gym and working on various projects.
I rewarded myself with breakfast out on Sunday, by myself with my journal and a cup of coffee.
The Rumor Mill (yelp)
11739 W Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90066
I took a nice long walk to the Rumor Mill. My favorite coffee shop in Los Angeles--it reminds me of the good ol' days at Think Coffee. Back in the day before it got all crowded and high-faluting.
The coffee is amazing and has quite the kick. I also am a big fan of "The Bukowski," which is basically a ham bagel sandwich.
There is free internet and they occasionally host open mics, readings and other artsy things. It's low-key and a great place to go do some work. And there is a laundromat next door.
On the weekends service can be a little slow, but I always find the staff to be very friendly. And this morning, they were up against some pretty impatient and rude customers.
In conclusion, if you want to run in and out with your coffee, go to the Starbucks over by Costco. But if you want to enjoy a good cup of joe and get the creative juices going, this is your spot.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Most college students have a pretty easy schedule. You go to class, you eat, you hang out and most go to the gym. It's open at all hours of the night and you can pop in whenever you want.
But things change in the real world and fitting in fitness, is really hard. Generally speaking you have to either get up really early or go after work. Both can be difficult, especially the latter because if you get stuck in the office, you might not make it to the gym in time.
These are also both peak gym times so your cardio room is probably hot and crowded--another deterrent.
What does an empty pocket grad do?
Here are my three simple tips:
- Pack it up. In addition to packing my lunch every evening, I also pack my gym bag. That way when I'm in a rush to get out the door because I've hit the snooze button to many times, it's still a grab and go. I drop my bag in the trunk and on the way home, I stop in to break a sweat.
- Make it Social. Personally, I like to work out alone without people talking to me. But making it social is a great motivator. Join a sports league. Take a class. Just remember what you are there for.
- Fit It In. Are you an assistant who's stuck at your desk until 11pm each night? You're packing on the pounds lunching with friends during your HR enforced lunch break? If you follow #1 and #2, this step should be easy. Exercise during your lunch break. Hit the company gym. Don't want to sweat it up too much? Take a nice walk with a work buddy a few times a week and it will get you some sun and keep away the flab.
Going out for MY 45 minute lunch walk around the golf course.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
When I was 12 all I wanted to do was play Olympic softball. Though my collegiate and olympic dreams will never be realized, I still have a great love for the sport. Which it why I play rec league softball once a week. I'm cheating on this post. In the summer, I play in a company league so it's free but the reasons I play are still the same.
REVIEW: LA PARKS AND RECREATION SOFTBALL
Parks and Rec softball is a great way to meet new people, get a some light exercise and kick butt. There are 4 leagues:
-Open (mostly guys, some women)
I play in a co-ed league where things tend to be a little bit more lax and fun. The guys are much more into it than most of the girls. This can be discouraging especially if you are new to a team but don't worry, generally you will be fine.
All you need is a glove and $370 to register a team. Don't have a whole team? No worries, you can call the Parks & Rec office and register as a free agent. If you are new in town, this might be the best way to go.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
The regular Sunday column for this blog will now be my "Sunday Review." One thing about being a recent grad in a new scary place is that, you have no idea where to go or what to do for anything social. Ever. I'm going to be reviewing venues, activities and restaurants every Sunday. Hopefully this won't be too much fun or I might break my budget.
This week's lucky venue...
French Market Café (yelp)
2321 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
A group of my friends and I came here for a lovely late dinner on Friday. It was my first time venturing into Venice outside the beach and I'm glad we did. This little restaurant is tucked away off Abbot Kinney but is surprisingly quiet and quaint. Most of the seating is on a wonderful front open porch (or deck...if that's what you want to call it). It gives the place a refreshing atmosphere that is hard to find anywhere.
The food is delicious but relatively simple. My one friend had the boeuf bourguignon and the other ordered ratatouille. They both looked delicious.
On the other hand, I went for the Croque Monsieur. I had a long week people, don't judge my comfort food.
I was pleasantly surprised by my dish. I've been to many French restaurants and I always feel this sandwich equals greasy grilled goodness. But my sandwich was still tasty like good comfort food should be but it was not dripping in grease. It was marvelous!
Overall, we had a great time. Our server was very funny and we were able to share a delicious bottle of red wine on the cheap. If you're in the Venice area and want a nice outdoor cafe where you can chat, check out French Market Café
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Being a new hire, this Yahoo! Finance article posted on my twitter feed somewhere really struck a cord.
Personally, I think the most important ones (though they are all VERY important) are #3 and #6. So many people, including myself at one point, think "I'm a perfectionist" or "Sometimes I try to hard" are good "weaknesses." But the most important thing I think you can do is treat your hiring manager and your recruiter with respect. And if you do, you won't give them these non-answers. They're not stupid.
Other questions to avoid non-answers to include:
"What is your greatest fear?" and "What is the biggest mistake you've ever made on the job?"
Yes, I've been asked both those questions. Start practicing your answers now because the greatest fear one really stumped me.
Same goes for #3. Ask intelligent questions. If you don't have any questions about the position itself, ask about the company as a whole or even the recruiter's own career path. Not only does it show you are invested in company's future and your own, but you'll connect on a better level with your recruiter.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
My friends I've made it to the next step. I've graduated from college, moved across the country and now, I'm employed. Despite the fact that 100s of my friends are currently working unpaid internships or volunteering until they get their next big break. Believe me all the unpaid work will be worth it, it's all about putting in the time until the timing and luck factor work in your favor. And it will.
But that doesn't mean I'm not still an empty pocket grad. In fact, I am very much a broke recent graduate. Remember this post about budgeting and expenses? Gosh I felt so prepared but I grossly underestimated some expenses. The good news is that I overestimated others. But the point is that I've learned a lot about moving into the real world and I'm still going to write about it.
Mission & Vision Statement for Empty Pocket Grad
The mission and vision of this blog is to provide information and insight regarding all the steps about transitioning. Whether that be from job to job, place to place or from tuition checks to rent checks. My misadventures will touch upon subjects including but not limited to finding apartments, cars, and burning things while cooking.
Adios Amigos and Amigas!
Friday, May 28, 2010
As a young person, I'm often conflicted about being green on a limited budget. What do you think? Can you go Green and Save Green?
And for some Friday fun:
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
New City, New Apartment 12:20 PM
I know I promised a job hunt update. More on that later.
But an important factor in my job hunt is in fact, my apartment. You see I'm moving across the country, and even though I'm eager to start working, I don't want to sleep in the company parking lot.
After a series of summer sublets, I've become a bit of a remote apartment hunting master. As a result, many of my still-in-college friends have asked me for advice on the hunt.
Below are my tips:
1) Figure out your transportation situation.
Particularly for those of you going from a New York to a LA or a part of DC without a metro stop (Georgetown anyone?). It's the first question I ask. I can't recommend neighborhoods where you'll need a car when you don't have a car.
When I subletted, I never had a car so a major factor was walking distance to and from work and if there was public transportation nearby.
Also, is it reliable public transportation? If there is limited or no service after certain hours or on the weekends--that might not work for you.
2) Who is your ideal roommate? Do you even want a roommate?
Are you a night owl? A smoker? Partier? Studier? Whatever you are, figure it out now and make sure you spell it out so everyone is on the same page. Don't think that you can just "figure it out" or "handle it later." Some lifestyle changes are non-negotiable and some people won't change for you. It stinks to be in a new place with a new person and have one thing become a big problem.
3) Write your story.
I think of remote apartment hunting as a little like pitching a business idea, you've got to sell yourself. So write it out beforehand. Tell you them your little story, why you are moving to XYZ and what you are looking for in an apartment or sublet.
4) Hit up the CL
That's right. Time to scour Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, sublets.com and Google. Don't be too picky. Send your story to anything that looks reasonable based on your living/location factors. And don't be afraid to use the "Housing Wanted" section too.
5) Once you're done, get an agreement.
Draft an agreement between yourself and your subletter or landlord. Be sure to define security deposit and return and what the move in/move out process. Don't assume that the terms are the same in LA and NYC....because they're not.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Prepping For Frugal Living 8:53 PM
In preparation for post-graduate life, I'm preparing for all these new post-college expenses.
For the record, I did have some different expenses than most college graduates. I lived off-campus and didn't have a meal plan and I also didn't have text book expenses because...my classes didn't have text books.
But let's a do a comparison
College Car-less City Life Graduate Car-necessary City Life
Utilities (Electric, Cable, Heat) Utilities (Electric, Cable, Water, Trash)
Metro Cards Car ( plus gas and insurance)
Health Insurance Health Insurance
Cell Phone Blackberry
Gym (free in college)
And I'm sure I'm forgetting some things. But basically, I've been researching living frugally. Researching apartments and then checking to see how close they are to Trader Joes, CostCo, Walmart and Target.
But in my adventures I've discovered some new blogs (which I've added to my sidebar)
Fabulous and Frugal
The Frugal Diva
Check them both out for general and LA-specific spending tips.
Next Time: How I saved my spending money the last semester of college and a job hunt update.
Monday, May 17, 2010
A Graduate.... now what? 4:16 PM
It's happened. I've graduated.
A whirlwind of graduations, lunches, and celebrations and it's all over.
So now what?
Well, I don't have a job lined up yet and I'm planning to move across the country. So in these next few weeks, I'm doing some spring cleaning and learn some new skills.
In terms of spring cleaning, I'm literally sorting all the crap I have in home closets and brought from school and deciding what I need to move. Which means I'm giving up lots of shoes.
But I've also decided I want to learn some new skills and work on some skills I already have.
Things to Learn & Do:
- HTML--it's just a useful skill I should learn. Especially because
- Building portfolio website for film crew & animation stuff.
- Become a better PR guru- I've been doing PR for some of my friend's projects. I've even secured an article in the Boston Globe for my friend's film.
- Work on my storyboards--I need to just storyboard some random sequences and ideas.
- Learn After Effects--Okay I appreciate you now and wish I learned this program earlier
Friday, March 26, 2010
Don't get too excited. It wasn't dessert.
For the first time ever, I actually baked a non-dessert in the oven. And it was really really good!
It all started with my friends Chicken & Diced Tomato recipe from Ehow.com
But then the adventure continued. Today I made Baked Farfalle with Chicken Sausage, Green Peppers and Mushrooms. I think I put too much tomato sauce in but overall it's very good and I have enough portions for a couple more dinners.
See ->> Too much sauce.
But it's good to keep trying these things. Cooking is really time consuming, even simple things like this. I've also started slicing and dicing my own vegetables instead of buying pre-sliced greens. It's good that I start doing these simple culinary things because it gives me confidence to try new things (like baked chicken!)
In other news, I've decided I'm going to start blogging about other post-graduate things including but not limited to: personal finance and health (including fitness).
Sunday, February 14, 2010
My cooking adventures have reached a temporary halt due to illness and lack of time. It's a bit of a set-up back but it's one I could expect. One of the number one reasons to get take out or eat out is that's it's quick and easy.
I'm pretty proud of myself. I haven't cooking anything complicated and worth blogging about but I've still been packing lunch regularly.
But the theme of this blog post, I'm looking to get back on course. I have a couple new recipes I want to try, including a baked chicken. Other things to get on track: my french language skills. Hello meetup.com
Monday, January 25, 2010
It's Thursday Night and after a long claustrophobic day at work (it was the weather I swear), you go home to make yourself some tofu stir-fry. Except you turn away for a split second to long (damn you crackberry and your bbming) and "EPG, what's that burning smell?"
This was me last Thursday. I burnt rice in my roommate's pot and I couldn't for the life of me get the stains off the bottom. I ruined her perfectly food pot.
But thanks to the internet, I discovered this neat little trick.
When you burn a pot, pan, etc. fill it with cold water and dump a TON of salt into the water. Let the salt water sit overnight and the next day, burn marks come right off.
I don't know what chemically happens overnight but this tip saved me a trip to the Red Hook Ikea to replace her pot.
Hope it helps you out some day.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Woah the first week of the semester was difficult. But I'm really proud of myself for not slipping into my old habits and eating our too much.
Last Monday my best friend from home taught me how to make Peanut Chicken with Vegetables and Rice. I've always been intimidated by cooking raw meet and I tend to burn rice so it was scary.
But actually, it turned out pretty good and I was able to grill the chicken we didn't use. With some rosemary, it's perfect for a salad. No photo though.
The second dish of the week was tofu and snow pea stir-fry. I didn't have a great tofu grilling strategy to start off but when I was finished I had delicious food for the next few days. One thing for the next round, I would love Teriyaki sauce. I made do with soy sauce and salt this time but it needed a little more flavor.
Overall, I'm missing a little bit on the flavor levels so far in my cooking adventures. The first round things have been a little on the bland side, but well cooked and balanced meals. I'm really excited to keep cooking and blogging about what I make.
Next up: Lessons from Kitchen Disasters: Saving your burnt pan.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Since I live in New York City, I tend to go on several smaller grocery trips. After all I can only carry so many environmentally friendly tote-bags filled with groceries down 14th street. Therefore, my next grocery trip is tomorrow. I'm going to buy more lunch foods and some new dinner foods. My friend is coming out of town and it actually might be fun to try to cook dinner for someone. Or it could be a disaster.
But in my quest to make yummy brown bag lunches and stick to brown-bagging, I've decided to browse some recipes in hopes of variety.
1) Martha's Favorite Tuna Salad Sandwich
2) Grilled Chicken and Escarole Sandwich with White-Bean Spread
3) Chicken Wraps with Mango, Basil and Mint
4) Baby Spinach Salad with Tuna
5) Tangy Tabbouleh Salad
6) Waldorf Salad
7) Lentil Soup
8) Chicken Pesto Sandwiches
9) Turkey Cobb Salad Wraps
10) Salmon Cucumber Sandwiches
I'm still on the hunt for a great chili recipe though.
Through some link-hopping I stumbled on Ms. Career Girl's website (now in my links I love). In exploring the website, I found this really awesome opportunity for college seniors transitioning into the real world.
Though I will not be signing up (because then this blog would have no purpose), it seems like a really nice opportunity to re-evaluate your career strategy, and increase your Google factor as your enter the real world.
Check it out here at Ms. Career Girl
Friday, January 15, 2010
I decided I'm going to try to post a question for the reader's every Friday. Since I just blogged about why to pack your lunch, I want to know your favorite brown bag lunch recipe!
So far this week, I've made two delicious turkey, hummus sandwiches. It's actually pretty flavorful and probably healthier because there is no cheese or condiments.
Can't wait to try your suggestions.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
As I mentioned on twitter, I failed to buy my original protein for my stir fry at Whole Foods.
So I had to improvise my dinner plans tonight:
I started with this (minus the pasta sauce, I ditched that at the last minute):
And I ended up with pretty decent pasta dish. The salsa lost a little flavor when I heated it up so I think next time I will add it last. But the tuna was perfect and I saved some for tomorrow!
4 Reasons to Pack Your Lunch 11:26 AM
Today I packed my lunch, a yummy turkey, baby greens, & hummus sandwich on whole grain bread. I have my own reasons for packing my lunch but according to twitter, there are many other reasons to pack a lunch.
1. It's better for the environment. According to Go Green, Live Rich, by David Bach, take-out packaging creates 1.8 tons of litter per year. Plus, there are still many takeout establishments that use plastic packaging that just sits in landfills.
2. It's healthier for you. Unless you are lucky enough to live in a major city, most fast food joints don't list their calorie counts directly on their menus. With limited portion control capabilities, it's easy to overeat. Even if you do live somewhere like NYC, according to the NYTimes, those calories counts might not be so accurate.
3. Packing will save you money. Period. In the past two weeks, I've saved an average of $40 a week. Or $120 a month, which covers my grocery bill and then some.
4. Better use of your lunch hour. Take a stroll around the block, hit them gym, or do some window shopping instead of waiting in line at the nearest cafe.
But what if you eat out to socialize and get out of the office? Meet up with your friend at a local park and eat your lunch there. If you are going to a fast food place or a cafe, take your lunch and take a seat. Sometimes when my Cosi obsessed friends really want Cosi, I go across the street to get something else and sit with them. Sure it may not seem kosher, but as long as one of the people at the table made a purchase from the restaurant, you can bring your own lunch and be social.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Grocery shopping in downtown Manhattan is always very overwhelming. I plotted out my grocery list before I left for work this morning.
But when I entered Whole Foods in Union Square, I got hit like a deer in the head lights. Which way is up? Where am I going? Why does this cost this much? Is that too much? How long will it take me to eat these grapefruits? a
It goes on and on. I succeeded mostly. I did not break my budget (though I skipped a few item as well), and got a couple healthy meals in the my two tote bags.
In my grocery bag
Farfalle (Bowtie Pasta)
Spicy Black Beans
Roasted Vegetable Pasta Sauce
Two cans of Vegetarian Chili (1 spicy, 1 mild).
4 Granny Smith apples
The other great thing about Whole Foods, is that you can buy pre-chopped fresh vegetables. These are great because all you do is wash them and they are great for stir-fry or salads.
-Diced Red Onions
-Jicama/Mango salsa (for flavor)
-Guacamole (I couldn't get past the blockade to the real avocados)
I forgot to buy: Eggs (luckily my roommate is trying veganism and invited me to eat hers) and tofu (for my stirfry).
All in all, a relative success. I might only buy produce there in the future and purchase my basics (like pasta and chili) at the local supermarket.
But I'm glad I did adventure to Whole Foods, because now I can follow them on Twitter and find all the steals and deals.
Til next time
I'm always looking for heroes, and inspiration. So on this blogging venture, I figured I better checkout what other female Gen Y bloggers are out there.
I found this great list by on Modite.com, which detail the Top 8 under-appreciated blogs by Gen Y Women. In addition to Modite herself (I'm picking through the archives as we speak), she's linked me to some fun, fresh & enthusiastic Gen Y women.
I had to share.
P.S. If it kosher to refer to someone by their domain name in the Blogosphere (or is it Blaggosphere...I've seen that too)
Monday, January 11, 2010
The blog Where I Grow Up? 4:24 PM
Hi all, Empty Pocket Grad here. Yes I made a whole new gmail and blog account so I could chronicle my transition from college to the real world.
Let me tell you a bit about me. I'm about to finish my senior year at a NYC university and like most Gen Yer's, I'm using a blog to figure out my life. Everywhere I went over winter break, people ask me "What are you going to do when you graduate?" I have some pretty good ideas, but I realized I have a few obstacles to overcome.
1) I cannot cook. I love food but I was happy I made deviled eggs for New Year's. As a result, I'm going to use this blog to force myself to learn, post pictures of my new creations (failures included, because part of life is failing miserably).
2) I need to get a job. In this economy and particularly in my media industry, job-hunting is a bit messy. I love writing about job hunting resources, tips, etc--so I hope I can share some of my revelations with you.
3) Personal finance. I'm not horrible on this one, but it's so hard to keep yourself on a budget. In my disconnected campus life, it feels like it's always "let's get coffee, tea, lunch." And while I enjoy all those things, it kills my bank account. So I've made spending limits for myself this semester so I can save money to move. Let's see how long my good habits last.
4) Other post-graduate things: staying healthy, finding cheap, free things to do, helping others.
5) Whatever else I want to blog about. Because I'm entitled to blog about anything I want.
The Empty Pocket Grad.