Author: Amy S. Choi

How I Survived a Month Without Takeout

During the month of January, I spent $30 on “takeout.” I don’t feel bad about that. Those were lattes and scones and slices of pumpkin bread that on snowy, sleety, generally awful days I could not resist. I also spent $1,500 on groceries. For the record, I didn’t count the convenience foods and drinks that were means to an end — another $100 or so over the course of the month that bought me a few hours refuge at a coffee shop to get through some email on a Saturday morning; or got me access to a “free” play space for my toddler; or work meetings with colleagues at cafés or restaurants. A little compare and contrast: In previous months, I’d spent approximately $800 in groceries and $1,000 in takeout. So, $1,500 vs. $1,800. THIS WAS NOT THE $1,000 WINDFALL I WAS EXPECTING. SHOUTYCAPS. [pullquote]Fridays, I have learned through this exercise, are not cooking days. Candy Crush and Seamless are what I need on Friday nights.[/pullquote] For $300 in savings, I cooked like a maniac every …

Takeout Takedown: Saying Goodbye to Delivered Food

I am giving up takeout. This is not about health. This is not about calories. This is not about honing my kitchen skills (they are great, thankyouverymuch). This is not about family time. This is not about putting a pause on my all-out consumerism. This is about money. According to my AmEx statement, last month my husband, Gabriel, and I spent $590.88 on restaurants. Since we didn’t go out for a date night in November — too much holiday and work travel, plus the cost of a babysitter, plus really, cozying up at home when the kid is asleep is a pretty blissful date — I know that that $590.88 is pure takeout. Wait a minute. The great sushi place on the corner doesn’t take AmEx. Neither does my neighborhood Thai, or burrito joint. Crap. My Visa takeout bill: $351.56. So, last month, we spent $942.44 on takeout. This is not included the random cash spent for a coffee or bodega snack here or there. Let’s just pretend that money wasn’t spent. Does cash even …

Women Who Inspire: Lisa Servon

NAME: Lisa Servon AGE: 49 OCCUPATION: Professor, Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at the New School for Public Engagement WHO SHE IS: I saw Lisa Servon speak at the PopTech Sparks of Brilliance conference in Camden, Maine in 2013, and in a conference packed with amazing speakers, she blew me away. She had flow in on a redeye from Oakland, where she was working at a check-cashing outlet. An expert in urban policy and economic and community development, her current research explores the absence of financial services to the poor and the larger social and economic implications of that absence. But she doesn’t do it from an ivory tower — in order to learn why low-income people choose to use check-cashing outlets, a seemingly exploitative and abusive industry, she worked registers in the Bronx and East Bay, in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the country. New thinking about the urban poor and financial services is (duh) important and supremely relevant, and she’s doing it smartly and respectfully. Go, girl. WHY SHE …