Sex and the Ivy

Money, Money

Filed under: New York — Elle May 31, 2007 @ 8:44 pm

How is it possible that I’ve spent $175 in 26 hours in New York?

Before I get ripped for reckless shopping, $75 went to groceries and $40 to booze (I swear I’m not an alcoholic. It’s for my brunch this Saturday, okay?!). Not so justifiable expenses: cab rides, multiple meals out, wardrobe expansion. However, I completely stand by the $10 heel repair of my purple BCBG peep-toe stilettos. That’s less than 10% of their original retail price ($130 — bad, bad freshman self!) to restore my favorite shoes to their former glory. Totally worth it.

My only real luxury was a manicure, which a girl needs every once in a while. I even visited the Kate Spade and walked out without a purchase. This is discipline. But I need more than discipline if I want to leave New York with actual savings. Thus, I’ve downloaded Burn, a Mac-compatible expense tracker I found — where else? — at Lifehacker.

Since I’m on a streak, I wrote up a preliminary weekly budget:

Rent - $250
Utilities - $25
Transportation - $25 (30-Day Metrocard $76 or ~$20/week + $5 in random cab fare)
Groceries - $50
Restaurants - $50
Other - $50 (mostly salon/spa-related expenses)

Total expenses? $450. Thankfully, my job pays. Miracle, right? Assuming I manage a few freelance assignments, I might even have a decent shopping budget.

Before taking my summer gig, I did the math. Manhattan is ridiculously expensive but I’m actually making just as much money after rent as I would be in Los Angeles living at home. Also, a matter of pride: I really didn’t want to take a pay cut. The hourly rate for all my previous summer internships (entertainment, public relations) in California has been shit, and that’s being generous. Doing business-oriented stuff in Boston this fall actually paid double-digits, and I really didn’t want my seventh internship to pay me what I was making at 16. Minimum wage stopped being cool when I graduated high school. My current job — in new media — constitutes living wage in Manhattan, believe it or not. Thus, I’m in the Village instead of the San Gabriel Valley.

This is a very good thing. For one, my mother won’t have to fund my trip to China in mid-August. Second, I won’t feel guilty for the three months I’m financially independent. That is, until school starts and I’m reminded once again that she was in labor for 26 hours and I better be making the most out of Harvard because someone has to give me a real job when I graduate, dammit. But I’ll worry about that in September.

In other news, I am incredibly happy that I have a kitchen in which I can cook instead of a dorm room microwave that nukes the hell out of ramen. Tonight’s dinner for one: baked salmon fillet.

15 Responses to “Money, Money”

  1. AMZB Says:

    How does booze at brunch not seem alcoholic?

  2. H Says:

    I think you’re great and I have been just waiting at my boring job for you to write something and I am going to download that expense tracker…BUT i gotta let you know that you did the math wrong, your total expenses are $450.

    Also, Manhattan is only a bit over 200 miles from Cambridge (not several hundreds) (minute detail)

    Didn’t want to rag bc I do like your writing quite a bit.

    Also did you calculate based on gross or net income? Sorry just jealous bc if it is post taxes than you make way more than I do.

    What does new media do? What does this internship entail?

  3. HelloBAMA Says:

    I feel your pain. My sister and brother-in-law live in New York and I hate visiting them for even a week cause it kills my bank account. It doesn’t help I live in Alabama and the cost of living is comparable to Mexico.

  4. Elle Says:

    H — you’re right and I’m screwed :)

  5. Darcy Says:

    Walking in stiletto will always be something I watch other pretty girls do, because every time I put on heels taller than 2 inches, I suddenly start making excuses for myself to put on some sneakers instead. But it sounds like you’re settling in just fine. I will be moving into my new place today, and I honestly don’t know what do do with a lot of stuff (like where to buy a bed, doh)

  6. J Says:

    Many thanks for telling about the expense tracker, I have been looking for one. Have a great summer!

  7. ABC Says:

    Thank you for the link to the expense planner; I’ve been needing one as well.

    But my god- some perspective. I wouldn’t criticize your completely reasonable desires to earn what you want or to be financially independent. I’m just appalled at the shameless materialism you flaunt day after day. You’re clearly intelligent and possess at least a modicum of self-awareness, so I ask you: is this really who you want to become? Someone who cares so much about the state of her fingernails and her handbag collection and so little about making the world better for other people?

    Please don’t feel attacked or defensive. Just think.

  8. Susie Says:

    Oooh definitely taking a look at the expense tracker…I’m impressed that you have that all figured out. I usually go the route of “if you don’t look at the bank account, you must be doing OK for money.” I’d love to live in NYC for a while, but Boston is wayy expensive enough for me! Good luck :)

  9. dartmouth girl Says:

    $50 for groceries for a whole week? and what about going clubbing… that is at least $50 a pop…

    just saying, good luck!! you are ahead of me, i try to ignore my expenses!

  10. susan Says:

    Reality check -

    Based on the lifestyle you seem to enjoy, I would adjust a few of your entries-

    1. taxis - you’re planning to go out, right? Well I gotta tell you - it’s virtually impossible to go anywhere in the city w/out dropping at least $8 or 9. And it’s unrealistic for you to assume that you will only jump in a cab solo once every 2 weeks if you plan to go out at all (esp if you’re wearing your newly-repaired heels). Btw, where is your apt? Close to some good subway lines, I hope.

    2. groceries/restaurants - $50 in restaurants covers what? 6 lunches and a coffee OR about 1 dinner with 1 cocktail at a middle-of-the-road Manhattan restaurant OR 2 weekend brunches. How do you plan to cover the rest of your meals with only $50 in groceries (equivalent to one paper bag full from Whole Foods)? Please up this number.

    3. Other - if this is all nails, I suggest you hit up Niu Nails II on E. 26th St. b/w 2nd and 3rd Avenues for a $5 mani and $10 pedi. Add a whopping 33% tip and you’re at a cool $20.

    What about alcohol, unavoidable shopping, train tix to the Hamptons?

    I suggest you lower 1. your utilities by cutting out cable and internet and turning the AC off turning the day and 2. your expecations about how much you will save.

  11. Liz Says:

    I downloaded the expense planner as well. As a New York native (who is also trying to put herself on a budget this summer so she can have some remnants of her intern salary in her checking account come September), I must warn you that restaurants and bars often eat up more money than one plans for. Manhattan will always be my first love, but it’s quite a financially taxing relationship. You will benefit from not yet being 21, however (in theory). But I wish you the best of luck in your financial planning endeavors!

  12. Ilyana Says:

    @ Susan… she is a blogger. She can’t cut off her internet,lol.

    With that said, GURLLLLL, If u make it on that budget without ever having to ask for money from Mom you need to come be my money manager, because in over 20 years of living in New York, on my BEST most frugal month I couldn’t make it on that budget. Groceries in Manhattan or prohibitively expensive, 50 dollars usually gets u some toilett paper, cereal and a banana,lol. And even when u have groceries, u always eat or, or order in, and you don’t even know where the money goes. I co-sign that cab rides are at least 8-9 dollars, and u will likely be doing that a few nights a week. You’re not training it to the club…lol

    I’m psyched for you… I love miami but I miss NY in the summer sooooo much!!! Enjoy it:)

  13. Elle Says:

    ABC — what “shameless materialism” are you referring to? I write one entry on the state of my finances and all of a sudden I no longer care about “making the world better for other people”?

    I spend money I make myself, I have causes I actively support, and I get a manicure once in a while. Chill out.

  14. Sex and the Ivy » But Python Is So Summer! Says:

    [...] *For those who don’t understand sarcasm (which apparently constitutes a lot of people on the Internet), “totally affordable” in the above reference is A JOKE. I would not spend $1,495 on a purse. I do not buy designer purses everyday. Maybe every month**. Go away. Please stop sending me hate mail about my fucking budget. As the comments on that post indicate, this is actually what Manhattan costs. I am not making this up. Someone be my boyfriend and buy me dinner. Oh god, I’m going to starve. **In total seriousness, I really only splurge when I land a decent freelance assignment and I never blow my entire paycheck. The largest amount I’ve spent in one outing this semester was $400 and this is because a completely incompetent Kate Spade clerk overcharged me. Then Bank of America/my mother/the useless piece of plastic in my wallet got all pissy on my ass. [...]

  15. Sex and the Ivy » Update, Kind Of Says:

    [...] Oh, by the way, I went over budget as expected. No more grocery stores. I am only buying from veggie stands from now on. I’m also going to start eating a lot more rice, pasta, other cheap stuff. On the bright side, I’ve lost at least three pounds in the past week and a half, though I’m sure the new carb intake will eliminate that progress. About 15 more to go, hah. [...]

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