I’m not really sure what this photo has to do with money, other than budgeting sucks and Kate looks unhappy
“Budget” is one of my least favorite words. Not only does it look ugly on the page, but I am also particularly terrible at living up to its meaning, “an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time.” I have always been someone who thinks in pastels and flowers instead of numbers, which is great for creative projects and not so great for actually functioning as an adult.
So I’ve recently requested a little help from my friend Benita. She studied architecture, so I figured that she would have the dual advantage of being competent in math while also possessing an appreciation for Anthropologie dish ware and overpriced art books. Alas, she has put me on a budget.
My expenses do not really rack up from going out. As much as I enjoy looking at early 90s photographs of Kate Moss and Johnny Depp, I am not a club girl. My perfect Saturday night would typically involve a $5 slice of vegan carrot cake from the Whole Foods dessert to-go case and some $14 international edition of Vogue. This is my crack. (I did have one experience about a year ago, however, where I woke up with blood on my foot in my friend Alicia’s bed. Apparently I had stepped on a broken champagne glass the night before at The Jane… not sure why I was barefoot, or on a table for that matter… hopefully this doesn’t happen again)
Instead I buy clothes. And organic groceries. And yoga passes. And bottles of red wine for the “table” at home. And these things, unlike my more fleshy Jane expenses, do add up. So I’ve compiled a small list of things for you, but mostly for myself, to stay on track money-wise in the new year. Keep in mind that each person is different, and that this is catered to a 23-year-old who lives in NYC and has a compulsive spending problem with vintage black dresses and almonds.
1. Buy bulk grains. Really. Buying in bulk allows you to measure out exactly how much you think you’ll need, and is also cheaper than buying something that’s been prepackaged. I use the bulk bins at Whole Foods to pick up pearl barley, rice, etc. I am constantly getting chewed out by my friends for not going to Trader Joe’s, but this is my choice. As someone who has worked on a farm, I have to say that the produce at TJ’s is not fresh. Maybe get snacks like chocolate peanut butter pretzels or stuff like canola oil. But not apples or kale or fish.
2. Buy whiskey sours instead of cocktails with fake Russian-sounding names. Okay, this is kind of a joke, but it’s also not. My local bar, Pine Box Rock Shop (which used to manufacture coffins, get the joke???) sells $5 whiskey sours (the most perfect drink ever). Compare to a $15 cocktail in the West Village made with lychee fruit.
3. Avoid Brooklyn-based pour over coffees or $11 cafe smoothies. I’m sorry but I agree with my friend Harriet that morning green smoothies are a fad diet. Don’t get me wrong, you should eat more vegetables, especially the green kind. But I will always and forever designate breakfast as my most luxurious meal, the one that includes carbs with almond butter and clover honey and a large cup of coffee. Buy a French press, or opt for whatever’s already been brewed for $2 instead of 5 at the local shop.
1. Get to know your local/favorite thrift shops. Angel St on W 17th is one of my favorites. They have a sweet mix of designer vintage and super cheap, unlabeled stuff (like under $20). It’s pretty rare in New York to find 70s Oscar de la Renta and a $10 skirt on the same rack.
2. Sell the stuff you no longer want. Or WEAR. If you say you want it but don’t wear it, the math is not adding up. Create an Etsy account for yourself or post on Craigslist.
3. Secondhand at The Strand. Whenever I have an anxiety attack I buy a book. This is a lot of books. The other day, I threw down $15 in a museum gift shop for a book on Sufi mysticism with a gorgeous cover. I rationionaled it as “spiritual grounding.” This coping mechanism may not be avoidable, but the costs can be reduced by buying cheaper, secondhand copies. I honestly don’t end up reading them all, but books are kind of like boyfriends– just nice to have on the shelf at your disposal if you fancy a late night read.
1. At one point in my life, I thought I wanted to be a full-time yoga instructor and got my certification. I am still in love, but more with my own practice for balancing out the madness in my head than actually teaching. Some studios in NYC are $20 a class. This is insane. I have opted to join www.myyogaonline.com. For $9.99 a month you get online classes from some of the top studios and teachers in the U.S.
2. Or just practice on your own. You can make your own playlist, and since you’re completely isolated in your apartment, you don’t have to listen to Bhagvan Das! I put everything from Rihanna to The Cranberries on my personal yoga playlists. And I am always much more clear headed by the end.
This was the longest post ever. Have fun. Don’t spend too much money. Bye.