Money Anxiety.

It’s real, y’all. Up until very recently, my money spending style was either feast or famine – either I was eating out every night, not paying attention to my bank account, or I was monitoring it every day and squirreling away every penny. There was no in-between. So when I found out that my partner got into a PhD program at NYU and we’d be relocating from Los Angeles to NYC, I freaked out a little bit.

For context, the greater New York City area’s cost of living is the 5th most expensive area to live in in the country. Between weekly requisite brunches, happy hours every night, and $150 gym memberships, the expenses in New York are quick to add up. That’s not to mention the dreaded broker fee, which doesn’t really exist in Los Angeles. So I realized pretty quickly that my way of living had to change, but I had no idea where to start.

At first, I was nervous. Really poring through my finances and expenses was in some ways eye-opening and disappointing. But after the initial shock, I realized that saving was incredibly doable with some discipline and dedication. Here are some of the things I did:

Paolo reluctantly posting in front of the skyline.

Stop going out to eat every day.
If food was a love language, it would be mine. I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes or technology, but I DO love to indulge in food. I know many people in my life who’d much rather order Uber Eats than try to cook something up themselves. But luckily, for Christmas, Paolo got cookbooks – Lidia Bastianich’s being one of them. Soon, I was enjoying homemade pasta, some of the best meatballs I’ve ever had, and roasted pears and ice cream at the fraction of a cost of what it would’ve been at a restaurant. I found myself calling up my parents and grandparents, asking them for the recipes of my childhood favorites so I could introduce them to Paolo. I’ll also admit that we took advantage of Paolo’s parents being close by and spending time with them grilling outside or his mom making Guatemalan favorites.

Limit my “variable spending” budget to $800 a month.
Now THIS was a tough one. We were challenged to adhere to that budget between the two of us for everything including groceries, shopping, dining out, stuff for my cat, everything went into that budget except for non-negotiable given monthly expenses. That basically evens out to $25 a day for the two of us. We challenged ourselves to “No Spend Days”, where we cannot spend any money in the budget. Paolo and I became ruthless about what was essential and what could go. Instead of going out for drinks with friends, we opted for budget-friendly dinner parties at home. As an idea for a date, we would go out for a walk in one of our local parks and admire the scenery and spend some quality time talking to one another. There are days where it’s not easy and we end up spending more than we intend to, but it’s allowed us to save as much extra income as we can.

The amazing view from Governor’s Island (free to go to on the weekends!)

Open a high-yield savings account.
One thing people don’t tell you about savings accounts is that the ones at most major banks are pretty crappy. After some recommendations, I opened up a high-yield savings account with Marcus which doesn’t have any withdrawal fees, no minimum balance, and an interest rate of 2.25%. I opened both an emergency fund which I deposit money into monthly, as well as a moving expenses fund, which I also have auto-deposit set up on. I love that instead of being charged for saving my money, my money is working for me. Any side income I made from Instagram, astrology consultations, and babysitting, I put into the moving fund. Soon, between my accounts, I had $6k saved up.

The view from the Brooklyn Bridge is incredible!

Be realistic about living in expensive neighborhoods.
Paolo and I really wanted to live without roommates, which is almost impossible to do in New York City proper. Instead, we opted to live in *gasp* Jersey City near the PATH train, which gets us into Manhattan in 15 minutes. There’s such a stigma against living in Jersey that the cost of living prices are significantly lower. For only $50 more than what we’re paying for a 1 bedroom in LA, we managed to snag a 2 bedroom 0.4 miles away from the PATH station. Jersey City has a culture of its own, and it’s slowly becoming a more trendy place to move because of the affordability. Plus, you avoid the exorbitant taxes on just about everything, which means the groceries are significantly cheaper.

Find moving services for cheaper.

Obviously, this isn’t the end-all-be-all endless list of tips that are required to move, but they certainly were helpful for me. Have you ever had to move cross-country? What were your experiences? Comment below! I’d love to hear from you!

For anyone that knows me in real life, you know there are two things I love more than anything else in the world: food and Disney. So when I had the opportunity of a lifetime to get advance reservation tickets to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland, I knew I couldn’t pass it up. And boy, was I impressed. Everything was carefully crafted to the last detail — and that includes the foods. Here’s what I thought:

Meiloorun Juice, found at Ronto Roasters in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

First off: Is the Cantina worth it?
If you’ve read up on Galaxy’s Edge, you’ll know that one of the featured locations is the Cantina, where a live DJ spins galactic jams and you can order alcoholic and non-alcoholic concoctions that only a bartender on Mos Eisley could think of. This also happens to be the only place in the park where you can order alcoholic beverages. Even with the advance reservations, there was a line at least a half-mile long to get into the Cantina, and by the time we got there, reservations were not accepted, so we didn’t get to try any of the food or drinks inside.

HOWEVER, if you’re really nice and ask a cast member, they may be willing to let you go inside and tour the packed Cantina. Unless you specifically want the experience of ordering alcohol in the park, don’t waste your time and just try to peek inside instead. The bar is very crowded and the non-alcoholic offerings at other stands are just as interesting (and some are the same).

Green and Blue Milk, found in various places throughout Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. (The Green looks yellow here due to lighting.)

The non-alcoholic drinks are good…but pretty similar
I had the opportunity to try quite a few different “mocktails” around Galaxy’s Edge. Most of them are either iced tea or juice-based, with lemonade and exotic fruit flavoring added. All of them are pretty good, albeit a little sweet for my taste. Most of the drinks have a similar flavor profile: tart, fruity, sweet, and refreshing — perfect for the blistering heat that Southern California is notoriously known for.

The big drink that’s on everyone’s minds, however, is the blue milk. It actually comes in two flavors, blue and green, and if you ask a cast member what the difference is, they’ll jokingly say, “One is blue and the other is green.” In reality, the blue and green milk are both the same base of coconut and rice milk (no dairy!). The blue milk has dragonfruit flavoring added, while the green milk has an orange blossom flavor. Both of them are more like a smoothie in consistency than actual milk.

The serving size is a bit small, but what it lacks in size, it packs in flavor. Neither particularly tastes like the fruit that they’re emulating, but that doesn’t make them any less delicious. I preferred the green milk, while others I’ve talked to prefer the blue. The TRUE hack that a cast member taught me, though, is drinking one sip of one, and then another sip of the other for an unforgettable, unique flavor.

Outpost Popcorn Mix from Kat Saka’s Kettle in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

What about the snacks at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge?
Unfortunately, quick bites around Galaxy’s Edge are currently few and far between. There are a few drink carts here and there, but there aren’t a lot of snacks to munch on as you walk. Currently, the main area to grab a snack is Kat Saka’s Kettle, where you can get some Outpost Popcorn Mix. One common theme I noticed throughout Galaxy’s Edge is the food scene is heavily sweet-skewed. This snack was no different.

The popcorn is a take on kettle corn with a fruity/spicy twist. The purple kernels have a fruit flavor that vaguely reminded me of Trix cereal, while the red kernels are not quite hot, but have a slight twinge of spice to them. Even though the description says that it’s a “sweet and spicy” mix, I didn’t find it to be spicy at all, and you could definitely share this with little ones or people with a low spice tolerance. The other quick bites location is Ronto Roasters, where you can get what basically is a hot dog in a pita wrap. I didn’t have a chance to try those, but they looked pretty good from spying on other people’s purchases.

Fried Endorian Tip-yip, found at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Is there a place to get a full meal at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge?
Why yes, there is! Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo doesn’t require any reservations, and is similar in style to other casual sit-down restaurants in Disneyland. I found that the food offerings were simultaneously trying to cater to foodies with unique flavors while also remaining accessible to less adventurous palates in the park.

I had the Endorian Fried Tip-yip, which basically was a rectangular chicken finger on top of a mashed potato and vegetable mix, with a gravy on the side. While I was expecting something more “intergalactic” if you will, it was a solid meal. The chicken was perfectly moist on the inside, but crispy on the outside. The mash and vegetables weren’t glue-y or lumpy, and had the perfect amount of salt. But the REAL star of the dish was the gravy. There was a freshness to it that I couldn’t place my finger on, unlike a typical gravy that bogs down the dish. It mixed perfectly with both the potatoes and the chicken in a way that was simultaneously comforting, yet exciting and new.

It’s also worth mentioning that the food comes served in reusable cast-iron plates, and the utensil you are given to eat with is a heavy spork. I love that Disney is slowly making a move towards more sustainable options at their parks, and I think it’s great that they’re really making an effort at Galaxy’s Edge.

My overall review?
Overall, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is a foodie’s paradise while still remaining accessible. Disney has made some great strides in the effort to bring delicious and unique food to all of their park restaurants, and this is no exception. Beware, however, of the prices. If you are on a budget, eating at Galaxy’s Edge is at least 25% more expensive than other places around the park. Sodas, for example, cost a dollar more and are significantly smaller (probably because they are custom-made for Galaxy’s Edge). Also, if you have the Disneyland app, take advantage of Mobile Ordering as much as you can to skip the lines for Docking Bay 7, the Milk Stand, and Ronto Roasters. Otherwise, I would say eat, drink, and be merry at the Happiest Place on Earth!

Have you tried any of the foods at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge? Drop me a note in the comments with your thoughts!

Hello, internet world. My name is Kat, short for Katriana. I am a 22 year-old currently living in Los Angeles (New York in August) and after a year and a half on Instagram, I’ve decided to start a blog! In a new commitment to my health and wellness journey, I thought that maybe getting my thoughts down on virtual paper might help me with my mental health, as well as perhaps being useful to the people who read it.