Empty Wallet No. 2

The pennies are adding up, albeit very slowly. When your coping mechanism to stress is to spend for the sake of spending — that psychological trigger for instant gratification — a self-imposed austerity can be difficult. But keeping the end in mind (living cost, debt payments, etc.), I somehow make it work with the occasional “treat yo self” awards, even if it’s a $0.99 bag of chips. Continue reading →


Scenes I’ve Seen No. 1

Author note: I started experimenting with short prose, micro prose, whatever you want to call them, on Twitter. It’s a play on my interest in, and recent binging of travelogues, and my curiosity of what it would be like if I wrote mini-travelogues about the city I live in. And here on out, I introduce to you: Scenes I’ve Seen. (Though sometimes, it may be other senses.)

If you enjoy these stories, let me know on twitter. Let’s get to know each other.

I’ve never known a smelly place quite like the intersection of Knickerbocker & Flushing where, on any given day, a multitude of scents compete to overwhelm your sense of smell…

fast food

Dunkin Donuts/Popeyes Grand Opening;
Knickerbocker & Flushing – Bushwick

On a bad day in winter you can count on burning your nostrils and choking a little from the exhaust of cars, mopeds, and delivery trucks that race down Knickerbocker in a comical attempt to beat the light at Flushing Avenue…

On a particularly hot, humid day in the summer you can count on your gag reflexes kicking into full gear as you walk as fast as you can away from the semis loaded with decomposing waste from nearby neighborhoods…

Sometimes you can’t help but wonder if there’s a dead body nearby, the vinegary stench is so bad…

Sometimes I’m reminded of the smell of dead deer along the back roads of Maryland…

On a good day – and these are rare – you can smell freshly baked goods from the corner Dunkin Donuts and the fatty fried smell of its neighbor, Popeyes Chicken…

I’m always tempted on those good days to stop in and buy a meal from each but I resist, or rather, I remind myself I can’t have any (#glutenfreeproblems)…

If you’re walking by beware! Depending on which way you’re going, the wind can bring an assaulting scent of rotting food from the roadside dumpster next to Taqueria El Fogon, which, oddly enough, remains dormant in its outside scent.


Scenes I’ve Seen No. 1 was originally published on Posts by Gina

Empty Wallet No. 1

In a previous post, I wrote about my resolution for the new year: budgeting and writing. It’s a two birds, one stone kind of situation that I’m hoping will make both things more interesting… at least for myself, if not for my readers who may find the whole affair a terrible slog to get through, or a tragicomedy of the best kind. We’ll see.

I was debating on what to call this journal of sorts. Since my finances, money, and my budget won’t be the only topic I write about this year, I had to think of a(n interesting) way to differentiate my money diaries from other posts. Of course, I couldn’t well call it “Money Diary” because Refinery 29 has that. Number Crunchers sounds weird, and I’m not really crunching numbers… or am I? Whatever.

Scratchpad sounded good, but there’s a publication on Medium that has that name so couldn’t steal that. Money Pad? Money Bag? Piggy Bank Woes?

Empty Wallet Diaries. Or just, “Empty Wallet” plus the post number. That sounds good, right? Technically, my literal wallet is empty, and my actual bank account is always on the verge of empty so it seems fitting. Over time, the wallet will be less empty, but the name works on so many levels so let’s go with that, shall we?

Welcome to Empty Wallet — a segment of my blog in which I explore my finances, budgeting woes and successes, and my relationship with money (remember, we’re going to be BFFs by the end of this). I hope you laugh and cry with me, and if you feel like you’re dying to give me some kind of unsolicited advice, by all means, shoot. That’s what the comments section is for. I cannot guarantee that I’ll take your advice or even respond.

So without further ado, let’s get talkin’ money.

I actually started the process of revisiting my finances in December — a preparatory process for 2018 so to speak so I can jump right in from day one.

Habits aren’t formed overnight, so this preparation for 2018 was a smart move on my end. I sat with my S.O. and crunched some numbers to determine just how bad my spending habit was. It’s bad~~~~ After a momentary self-destructive, inner tantrum, I continued on: okay, well, clearly this is unacceptable. How to proceed?

We went over my existing budget scheme, and compared it with the new one I made for this year. Tweaks were needed. Next was a list of banned items. It was ultimate austerity time. I thought the banned items list would be difficult to deal with but it proved to be surprisingly less of an issue than the spending calculations. Yeah, okay. No coffee shop Americanos. No buying lunch. Stick to a grocery list. No random purchases without evaluating needs vs. wants vs. desires. In short: no impulse purchases.

I’m the worst impulse spender I know, and it’s my way of coping with stress. So the ban on impulse purchases, while seems straightforward, sent a jolt of anxiety to my inner self. What am I going to do when I’m stressed and I need to do something?

The week of work I had in December, before the company’s scheduled vacation days, I noticed a significant increase in coffee consumption. As you can imagine, that’s not very good for someone who has generalized anxiety, so I started swapping some of the coffee for herbal tea, and plain water. I also noticed that I was eating out of my coworker’s candy bowl a lot more than is healthy or necessary. I probably gained a pound just from those handfuls of mini Snickers and Milky Ways.

The only saving grace in this initial setup was holiday scheduling. Being at home with no junk food to entice my habit of eating out of boredom, I was in better control of curbing my consumption — monetarily and food-wise. Of course, I’m not convinced that I’ve been eating less in general.

Our new grocery shopping schedule and approach has yielded more way-too-delicious, home-cooked foods. It’s a toss-up we’re still trying to figure out but so far, everything seems to be working as it should. Now pray to the money gods that this endeavor doesn’t fizzle out by the end of the month!


Empty Wallet No. 1 was originally published on Posts by Gina

An Uncomfortable Resolution for 2018

It’s that time of year when it seems just about everyone drafts their resolutions for the coming year. I’ve done this in the past, promising myself to write more. (I’m a writer, I tell myself.) I thought about making the same commitment again this year but thought better of it. Previous years’ resolutions always fell through, starting out strong and then fizzing out by mid-February. But recently, I wondered if the solution was as simple as changing my attitude and purpose about writing generally. What if I made a resolution about something that had more impact and integrated it with a 52 week writing challenge (because those aren’t going away any time soon, right?)? Continue reading →

When the Work Starts to Kill You

When I was an undergrad, I knew a career in journalism would likely result in a terrible work-life balance. At least in the beginning but the worst instance of this is happening now, as a communications person for an educational non-profit in Manhattan. It feels worse than when I was working on my master’s degree. I’ve suffered from noticeable body aches, where the pain is concentrated in my lower back, and experienced chronic headaches that last for days. I can feel my body breaking down, and these are the days I don’t want to get up for work. And I’m not alone. Continue reading →

What I Learned Making Thanksgiving Dinner

“Do you want traditional Thanksgiving or subversive Thanksgiving dinner?”

I was intrigued. This was the first Thanksgiving M and I weren’t traveling. I assumed we were going to do some adaptation of the traditional dinner — like turkey tacos or sandwiches or burgers — but that question made me pause.

Why should we do a traditional dinner? Continue reading →