Gourmet Food on the Cheap

In another attempt to bring you ideas on how to save money, this one may not be considered as strong as my last post. I mean, we are still talking about gourmet food here — you’re going to drop at least $15 a person. But these plates will take you to some of the best restaurants in Columbus at heavily discounted prices. It was even featured on NPR WOSU, so you know it’s cool. And if you make your reservations fast, you’ll get to partake! They call it Restaurant Week and it begins today, Monday January 17th through the 22nd. Prices range $15-$35 a plate for a fixed multi-course menu. What’s more? Restaurant Week benefits the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. I’m going to try the Melting Pot with my boyfriend, just $30. Or you can check out Hyde Park or Cameron’s for the same price, and Mitchell’s Steakhouse or the Refectory for just $5 more.

To peruse other participating restaurants and their menus, as well as phone numbers to make reservations, go to:


Someday I’ll Have Nice Things

Someday I’ll have nice things, but for now, I don’t — and I have come to terms with that. In the meantime, I have been interested in finding ways to save money on things that I need. Having been and then actively choosing to continue living as a poor college student has taught me a few things about managing little money while working full time.

1. Get a roommate and shack up near campus.

It might sound simple, but you’d be amazed how much money and time you will save in the cost of a parking pass and the hassle of traffic and weather conditions before class. Ohio weather is unpredictable. If you want to have time (regardless of mother nature’s plans) between work and class to eat, it makes sense to live near campus. And if you’re poor like me, you find a roommate. OSU even offers roommate listings on their Off-campus Housing website. They also offer roommate contract templates, which I recommend.

2. Drop the fancy cable.

The cost of cable is not a necessity. You can find most all of the shows, news, and movies you like to watch on demand online with no or limited commercials/ads. Chances are, you will still need the internet. Compare providers, if possible. Do not settle for the first provider your landlord recommends (unless they have a contract with a cable company; in which case, you have no choice, but can still opt out of cable). If you find a better price, ask that provider if they can match it.

3. Buy a lunchbox, a thermos, and a reusable cup/bottle, and plan your meals.

Always pack a lunch and a cup of coffee, no matter how easy the food at the cafe at work may be. Eating out for lunch every day adds up quickly, and when you pack your own lunch you can decide the contents and how healthy they are. I have also taken to bringing a thermos to work because though the coffee at work is only $1, that adds up over time. And don’t forget to have something in the house for you to eat for dinner before class. It comes down to planning — when you plan your meals in advance, you’re less likely to spend money on eating food on the go. If I buy a coffee every morning, eat lunch in the cafe at work, and then grab Subway on the way to class, I will be spending about $132 a month on food for only three days of the week! If I get Starbucks, that’s another $36, if I get a Subway meal, another $27, etc. I also recommend having a reusable cup or water bottle to fill regularly from the cooler, and it’s much cheaper than buying bottles of pop from the store (but if you’ll be tempted to buy that from the vending machine at work, pack that in your lunch — it’s still cheaper!).

4. Use coupons. Buy store brand, on sale, or in bulk.

You may have the image that coupons are somehow uncool, but with the economy down, coupon usage has gone up and for good reason. Coupons are a moderately simple way to save money on the groceries you need. If you subscribe to the newspaper, they’re in nearly every Sunday paper. If you don’t, you can still pick up a copy in the store. There’s also a wealth of coupons online. If there’s an item you buy often, it’s worth it to do a quick check to see if there are any coupons available online.

And if you don’t have time and patience for coupons, you can buy store brand items, items only when they’re on sale, or in bulk. Many people refuse to use store brand, but in most cases, it’s identical to name brand, and most store will give you your money back or double if you’re dissatisfied. If you must have name brand, only buy on sale. Chances are your parents have a membership to some bulk club — ask them to add you to their account, if you’re not on there already. Buying in bulk may not be cheaper than the sale price, but it’s still less than full price in many instances. Plus if you don’t mind store brand, clubs have those versions in bulk too. I do not recommend buying in bulk at the grocery store — many times, the cost per unit in bulk is higher than the sale price of that same item in a smaller quantity.

5. Find ways to enjoy yourself for less.

Ohio State offers discounts on activities in Columbus:


Also, see Wesley Lin’s blog post for more ideas on how to save some money.

Optimism in the Face of Denial

Rejection is something with which we all must contend. Most people have had a significant other give the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech. Some people didn’t get into their desired college, and most have been denied a job at some point. Either way, you never can quite prepare yourself for the sting of hearing “no, I/we don’t want you.” It can be tough on a person’s self-esteem to be rejected in rapid-fire over the course of just a few weeks. Of course the psych undergrad in me wants to see the psychological implications of it all. And it can be even harder not to receive direct feedback once the process is over.

I think it is important overall to let the rejection roll off the shoulders and remember that spaces are limited. However, in some sense, it is also worthwhile to consider the consistent mistakes we all make that can have an effect. Did I show up a little late? Did I say “um” or “like” too much? Did I shake uncontrollably? (Well of course not, but you could see why that might make a recruiter uncomfortable). Since  most of the fall interviewing process is over, everyone can take solace in the encouraging words of graduates and second-years at orientation — don’t worry, we did not receive initial offers during fall quarter. So no need to sweat too much yet — there’s still time.

Interviews, Interviews…. And More Interviews

Never in my life have I completed more interviews in such a short amount of time. Since last week, I have interviewed with five different companies in the quest for an internship. I was beginning to feel like I was wearing a suit more often than not! It was strenuous, but the practice effect seemed to be doing its job. Through most of the interviews, the recruiters usually (somewhat) apologized for using behavioral-based questions during the interview, and in keeping with a concern for people, assured me not to be nervous and encouraged me to take my time in responding to such questions. I appreciated the goodwill, but although recruiters may feel that behavioral-based interviewing techniques are a new trend, in my years in the job market, these have certainly been the norm, including my experiences interviewing to be a CSR. And rarely did the questions throw me off. I did slightly stumble over one that went something like “tell me about a time that you were working in a group and had to convince others to see things your way or make a change and what was the result?” Well, that can certainly be hard to articulate. But I can see from the perspective of a manager that it’s important to search out people who have leadership skills and an ability to influence others and make real outcomes. And after a few interviews, I was well prepared to field similar questions.

Overall, I think a great strategy to prepare for any interview is to know what you might say in relation to your previous experience based upon common behavioral questions. And don’t fret if you don’t have much work experience — group projects and club involvement are great ways to sell yourself as a conflict-resolution guru and natural born leader. And remember, it never hurts to remind yourself that you’re awesome and any company would be lucky to have you. And truly believe it!

Splendor Is Worth the Wait

When you walk into Jeni’s Ice Cream, it really is no wonder that the name is officially Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. Splendid is not a word often used in everyday English language. I mean, when was the last time you heard someone say, “I had a splendid time at lunch with you today!” It seems a little overkill, right? Well, the company’s choice adjective to describe their ice creams is neither exaggerated nor pompous. It is not only excellent, but inventive. Just give goat cheese and with cognac fig sauce a try. If you think that sounds awful, you’d be awfully incorrect. They’ll even let you test their precious flavors, if you don’t believe me. My favorite time of year to visit is in the fall, when the seasonal flavors include heirloom pumpkin, and you can take in the sights while strolling the Short North. And in the Short North, there never seems to be a dull moment (seriously, I watched a young woman sitting in the middle of the street under an illuminated Short North arch, posing – in her wedding dress!). During Gallery Hop on Saturdays, Jeni’s draws an extended line out its door of patrons willing to wait. I was rather excited to walk right in on Friday. Though I had come in thinking I’d give one of the other flavors a chance, I ended up leaving with my old favorite, salty caramel. I’m usually the type to like ice cream with a lot of stuff in it — nuts, candy, etc — but this is so different. Each taste is worthy of being savored. And you won’t even get annoyed if the ice cream melts a little. You’ll eat every last bit.

Jeni’s is well known for their commitment to buying local. They’re participating in Local Foods Week, October 2nd through October 8th, which includes several opportunities to enjoy Jeni’s ice cream. Or you could just stop in at one of their shops in Short North, North Market, Grandview, Dublin, or Bexley. I guarantee that splendid will enter your vocabulary.

Free Events: From Mingling to Rocking Out, Geek Style

Returning to Ohio State after a long summer back home in Cincinnati was like a breath of fresh air. Yeah, it was tough to be away from my favorite (albeit only) university for even that long! And in just the first week of school, I was reminded of the opportunities for fun that I had long missed, especially OUAB sponsored events. If you haven’t heard of OUAB, you’re seriously missing out. Their calendar’s full of cool, mostly free, events for OSU students. Why are OUAB events so awesome, you may ask? Well, it’s organized and run by your fellow students, of course! Plus they even have opportunities exclusively for graduate and professional students.

On Friday evening, there were two events by OUAB: a grad/prof cookout and a Weezer concert, both free to students. At the Faculty Club, many graduate students came to relax and mingle and win raffle prizes. Unfortunately I arrived a little late for the food, but The Council of Graduate Students was on hand with free water bottles and information about how to become involved in the branch of student government representing graduate students.

Shortly thereafter, my friend and I made our way over to the stage set up on South Oval for the Weezer concert. Hundreds of others were already waiting early for the event. In spite of the somewhat erratic rain, a throng of fans stood umbrella-less for over two hours before the headliner began. Some people entertained themselves by dancing to the openers or simply dancing to the music that burst from the speakers in between bands. In fact, the highlight of the preconcert experience was absorbing the sight of a student climbing the lone light pole near the stage while his fellow students yelled with encouragement. Though paramedics were on hand, he fortunately was not injured.

Before long the band was on stage. They of course played their popular songs, but also included some new songs I had not yet heard off their new album, Hurley (you read that correctly Lost fans, that Hurley). The band has taken an interesting, nontraditional promotional method for their new album (if you don’t believe me, just Google Weezer Youtube Invasion). As much as I enjoyed the music, it was the people watching that I enjoyed most about the experience. Weezer fans dance in all different ways, from the traditional two step, head bob to a more eclectic, act like no one can is watching style. The concert was certainly a welcoming environment to embrace your geek side. And after all, who besides Weezer makes being a self-declared geek seem so appealing?