How To Be Young, Employed & Completely Broke

1328671464191_90111I work in an office with a lot of young 20-somethings. Not to sound like a weird stalker or something but listening to and observing a bunch of fellow millenials is really interesting to me. I work in the beauty industry so the young 20-somethings I work with tend to be a little more superficial than average. Don’t get me wrong, they’re generally all nice people but there is always someone talking about either shopping or how broke they are. I have a general idea about salaries in the industry so it really amazes me how someone making that much can be employed and broke. I appreciate nice things too but I like not being broke more. Here are some sure-fire ways to be young and broke:

1. Buy lunch everyday

Most people in my office buy lunch everyday. I work in Midtown Manhattan, where the average salad will cost you $13. I have to admit that I buy lunch more than I should too but I’m trying to be better about bringing my own. There’s also a juice bar and Starbucks downstairs so everyone seems to be buying a smoothie or latte at least 2 times a day (those are like 5 bucks each). So lets do the math: $23 a day, $115 a week, $460 a month…on LUNCH.

2. Wear designer everything

I like to shop more than I really should and it would be nice if I could afford some designer items but I really can’t justify it (other than a purse that I’ll use everyday). I notice a lot of designer clothing, shoes and handbags in the office everyday. Personally, I think its fine to buy expensive things if you can afford it, but if you’re complaining about how you’re broke, that leads me to think you can’t afford it?

3. Go out every other night

New York City can be one giant playground for a 20-something. There is always some party or event to go to. I’m more low key so I tend to stay away from those type of things but the nightlife can definitely be tempting. The mornings at work always seem to consist of someone talking about how much fun they had the night before (even on a Tuesday). A night out in NYC can get really expensive, from dinner, drinks, and taxis. You can easily drop $100. Ouch.

I realize I sound judge-y in this post and I kind of am judging some of the 20-somethings I know. But I feel like one of the first things you need to learn in your 20s is to not live above your means. Spending all your money on partying and shopping might be fun now but it’ll make your 30s kind of miserable. Financial stability requires some sort of sacrifice – even if it means eating ramen and staying home watching TV.

Do you know any young 20-somethings with bad money habits?

Exploring New York On A Budget

nycI talk a lot on this blog about how expensive it is to live in New York City. While it’s true, I feel like I’m starting to give this city a bad rep. Don’t get me wrong – some things here are ridiculously expensive. But most of the time, you get what you pay for. It’s an amazing place to live and explore. Even though I grew up here, I still feel like there’s so much I haven’t seen of this city.

Contrary to popular belief, if you’re visiting New York, you can certainly do it on a budget. Sure, if you’re coming here to shop, you’re probably going to need to spend a lot. But if you want to just explore what the city has to offer, there are plenty of things you can do that don’t really cost a whole lot. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Citibike – Citibike recently launched in New York this year and I think it’s one of the best things to happen to the city. Here’s how it works- there are a bunch of bike stations throughout the city and for $10, you can rent a bike for the entire day. The only drawback is that there is a 30 minute time limit each time you take out a bike but it’s not really a problem since there are so many bike stations around – you could easily park it and then take it again. It’s a beautiful way to see the city!
  2. Shake Shack – Shake Shack is one of my favorite quick eats. The burgers are amazing but the best part is the shakes. There are bunch of locations in the city but I still think the best one is the original in Madison Square Park. On a nice day, there’s nothing better than sitting outside, enjoying a shack burger and strawberry milkshake.
  3. Brooklyn Bridge Park – I grew up in Brooklyn so this borough holds a special place in my heart. Brooklyn Bridge Park is a beautiful place to visit, especially with kids. It’s right across the Hudson so you get spectacular views of Manhattan. There’s also a beautiful, old carousel kids can ride for $5 and the famous Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. If you’re in the mood for a walk, it’s easily accessible by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.
  4. Metropolitan Museum of Art – This one is a bit of a given already. The Met is one of the best museums to visit in the world, even if you’re not an art enthusiast. Also, admission is based on donation (the price they display is only recommended) so you can donate as little or as much as you want.
  5. The Pond At Bryant Park – This one depends on when you visit New York but since many of us are starting to plan the holidays, I’d thought I’d include it. Every winter, there is a skating rink built in the middle of Bryant Park. It’s completely free to use and if you need skates, there are rentals available for a small fee. It gets a little crowded on weekends but not so bad during weekdays. Also, during the holiday season, shops are set up in the other half of the park so you can peruse and shop at your leisure.

I would also recommend buying an unlimited MetroCard to ride the subway as much as you want (there are one day and weekly passes available). And on that note, I would totally recommend riding the subway to get everywhere – cheaper and more time efficient than taxis. New York traffic is not fun to be stuck in.

Have you ever been to New York City? What are some of your favorite things to do here?

The Costs of Big City Living

I live in New York City. I was born and raised here and I can honestly say, I love living here. I know what all the naysayers argue- it’s too congested, it’s too expensive, it’s not worth it, it’s too liberal, etc. But I’m not sure I can picture myself living anywhere else. I’m a city gal (I don’t even have a driver’s license!) and I actually enjoy the hustle and bustle. Also, most of my family is in the area so moving away would definitely be difficult. But I’ve been thinking a lot about how much it truly costs to live in a big city like New York compared to living in a small town. I decided to do some research and found this neat little chart, courtesy of the NY Daily News:

nyccostofliving

The most staggering number to me was the cost of a home – $18 Million for a 6 bedroom home, wow. It’s crazy to look at the numbers side by side. Obviously, there are a lot of other factors to consider, but just looking at the basic costs of shelter and food is astounding. One of my goals in the next five years is to own my own home but I’m seriously worried about how I would afford anything in the New York area. Between the BF and I, we already spend $2300 to rent a small 1 bedroom (which seems like a steal here) and that’s already a large chunk of our paycheck. How would we ever afford a mortgage, property taxes, and basic home maintenance? I would also be worried about the job opportunities in a smaller city. I would definitely be making less (which is fine, because of the lower cost of living) but I work in the eCommerce industry and there’s not many tech companies outside of the east and west coasts.

At the same time, I do feel like I get what I pay for. I love being a subway ride away from anything. I love having a plethora of culinary options. I love the diverse culture. Most of all, I love always having something to do or something to see and I feel like I wouldn’t get that in a small town.

For now, I’m staying where I am. But I think this will be something I have to revisit when I’m ready to settle down and start a family. Imagine raising a child in a small NYC apartment?

Have you ever moved to another city for financial reasons? Do you prefer living in small town or big city?