What in the hell? It’s already February? Lemme just wipe the goo out of my eyes and flip my calendar over.
What a whirlwind of a winter. Really. It was in the single digits here in New York a week ago and my long underwear was practically becoming a new layer of my skin. Then inexplicably yesterday it was 65 degrees and I sweat through those same long underwear.
But we’re not here to talk about the weather. No. Today’s topic is all about moneyyyyy. Cash, bread, dough, coin, dolla dolla billz y’all, Benjamin’s, George’s, shit who else is on money...
If you haven’t been following my journey for the past 2+ years then welcome! I am broke.
Now I’m just going to clarify so that I don’t come off as some millennial ass-hat (I might anyway, we’ll see), but my brokeness is minimal compared to, oh, I don’t know…over 80% of the world’s population who actually live in poverty.
That being said, the past year and a half I have struggled.
I pulled my retirement money to come out here. I live in an 8x8 closet to be here. And I’ve made a lot of mistakes.
You ever see that movie, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? Yeah, I haven’t seen it in a long time but I think this blog is going to be kind of like that. Except maybe less aliens.
Here are my top galactic hacks should you find yourself knee deep in student loan payments trying to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world:
Try having multiple jobs
As far as I’m convinced, gone are the days when you could have a single job that provided you with all the income and health benefits you could ever dream of.
Most people I know my age have 3-4 sources of income. Part of this is a shift in job culture that no longer guarantees you a job if you have a college degree. To be frank, that actually doesn’t mean shit anymore.
All that means is that now you have a heaping pile of student loan payments to prove that you spent four years taking bad notes in history seminars and doing improv with all your friends on weekends.
Because of this, you’re going to have to get diverse with that income stream. $30 bucks a month writing freelance pieces for some random website, another $250 a month teaching writing classes, a handful of $20’s every time you babysit some kids…it’s time to really double down on your New Year’s resolution to “try new things.”
Exhausted from all these jobbies? I know. I am too. That’s why I’m going to sign up for a sleep study at NYU. That’ll be a couple hundred bucks right there.
Find free shit
I know all our dads told us “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” but there actually is. It turns out that there are plenty of free things in the galaxy, specifically in New York City.
Free gym memberships?
Free foot rubs?
Yes! All of this and more can be free! How you ask?
You get crafty, of course. Did you know you can get free day and even week passes at gyms and yoga studios before enrolling? Who needs to get a gym membership at one place when you can simply sample every fancy gym in Manhattan one at a time and then never go back to those places again?
There’s also this cool thing called Class Pass that you can also get a free month of by clicking this link here. It has all kinds of day passes to gyms and fun workout classes. The coolest part? There’s even massages and other random wellness stuff on there!
You get a free month of points that you can use for different classes around your city. Yoga, Ballet, gym time, even candle-lit hot Pilates that you’d never be able to afford in this lifetime. And as long as you cancel at the end of the month you just get all those points to spend on whatever you want.
I even did a free “nap session” at the Dreamery Casper bed place with some of my points. Would I ever spend actual money to go to a swanky studio where I get my own nook, cozy sheets, and tiny samples of free skincare products while I take a 45 minute REM session in the middle of the day? No friggen way. But you better believe I’d do that kind of nonsense for free.
Oh and the key to free alcohol?
Might I suggest third-wheeling one of your friends and their beau on New Year’s and edging yourself over to the bar? Tons of bros willing to get you that Whiskey Sour in exchange for a dance or two it turns out. Then all’s you gotta do is give that friend a quick hand signal and she can swoop in for some fake emergency after you down that beverage.
This probably isn’t the nicest (or most feminist) of things to do, but it’s either that or smuggle your own shooters into the bar cuz ain’t no broke kids shellin’ out $15 for a glass of god damn wine no thank youuuuu.
Adopt a bartering mentality (a.k.a start trading shit)
You know back in the old days money wasn’t even a thing, OK.
People used to get by just on their own cunning ability to make their old crap look like a new iPhone. Want that buffalo skin your cool neighbor has? Better check your wagon for some dirty prayer beads to string together into a nice necklace!
I’m not saying you should go around throwing your belongings at people, but you should think about it in terms of economics, something I’m going to talk about now even though I barely passed my ECON 101 class in college.
It’s like this. Supply and demand. I have a supply of…um…IDEAS…and someone has a demand for ideas. A personal trainer I just met while using that free Class Pass from the last item has a supply of FITNESS AND NUTRITION SKILLS and I have a demand TO NOT BE A FAT SLOB WHO GETS TIRED WALKING UP ONE FLIGHT TO MY APARTMENT.
The capitalization was for effect, I’m not angry. But you get it, right?
If I’m so good at writing books, maybe somebody won’t necessarily pay me for that (see December’s post 11 Inconvenient Truths About Being an Author to Brighten Your Holiday) but they might want to trade me a couple of free massages for some advice on how to structure a memoir or short story.
So far I’ve only been remotely successful at this. But think long enough and I’m sure you’ll find something you have that you don’t think is that great and there will undoubtedly be someone out there who thinks that’s worth trading for. Speaking of which…
Get Some Cute Merch
If you don’t have anything to trade or sell, now would be a great time to put that Etsy account to good use.
My partner in crime Kristen Jorden makes stunning quilts and they basically put everything to shame. You can check out her Etsy store here and her personal website here.
It’s nice to have a book, but I don’t recommend you spending the next four to five years trying to convert your brain into a published book because that shit is way too hard. Go easy on yourself. Make some cute shit out of garden pots or something.
If you think about it. Having trinkets to sell is a solid way to have a consistent stream of baby income flowing into your pockets. It might not seem like it’s worth it when you’re slaving away with your hot-glue gun, but once you make a few dozen of those ceramic gnomes your inventory is set until you sell out!
If you’re a good crafts person and solid at marketing yourself online that could mean a week or so. And if you really suck at making things and live off the grid you’re probably good for a few decades.
Kick Your Goddamn Starbucks Habit
I know, I know. That green lady with the twelve arms is really cool but you have seriously got to knock it off!
$5 doesn’t seem like a whole lot in the grand scheme of life, but come fucking on do you understand that dirty Chai latte is burning a hole in your pocket that already has holes in it in the first place???
Think about it this way. Even one $6 (cuz you don’t drink dairy now you fancy bastard) drink even just once a week is going to cost you about $24 a month. That’s $288 a year. And if you’re up to an addictive three times a week, that $2,592 a year! Did I do that math correctly, Jesus H. CHRIST. Yes I did. I absolutely did.
Get your shit together. That green lady is lighting your precious money on fire with all twelve of her arms.
So you like coffee. We get it. But you know what you could do instead of sacrificing that $6 to American mass consumerism?
You could just buy a big can of Folgers, mmkay. Hate Folgers? Fine, spring for a knock off or something cheap and bearable. Get the vanilla flavor. Knock your fucking self out just keep it under like $10.
And then you could make your own god damn coffee and bring it to the coffee shop.
Master cheat code? Try paying attention to when the barista’s change shifts and then ask for a free (or usually $1) refill in your road mug. How the hell are they going to know you never bought a coffee in the first place?
Or if you’re worried about your morals or something switch out the coffee for tea bags and just ask for hot water. That shit is absolutely free and totally legal.
Now sit back and enjoy not having $2,592 dollars mysteriously leave your bank account every year, you coffee genius.
Go “Green” (so to speak)
Always wanted to have a lesser impact on the slowly dilapidating environment? Well now you get to!
Being broke means using less and getting thrify with things, and that includes your carbon footprint. Now you can avoid breaking your wallet held together by duct tape AND the planet at the same time.
Everything has a purpose. Half empty shampoo bottles can become mega shampoo bottles, giving you 12 new containers to use however you want! Isn’t that exciting?
This will also keep you from buying more shit that you don’t need, because chances are, you already have it lying around in the bottom of the drawers of your IKEA bed somewhere so there is literally no need to waste the money.
And hey, who knows? Maybe you can jerry-rig your toilet to be like those cool eco-toilets in Japan where the water from the sink cycles down and gets used in the toilet water…that you can sell…on Etsy!
Become a Better Cook
It’s no surprise we spend so much money on eating out. None of us can cook for shit! At least not on a consistent basis that doesn’t destroy the kitchen and all of our dishware in one fell swoop.
And nothing is more sad than lobbing off a block of cheese and Ritz Crackers at 1AM because you’re too damn tired to make an actual dinner.
I was just kind of raised that way. About once or twice a week we’d get tired of cooking and we’d all ravage the kitchen for anything we could find. We call it “Fend For Yourself” Night.”
As a kid I thought this was kind of cool that I could eat a pint of mint chocolate chip unchecked at 10PM but now I’m starting to realize every night of my adult life has become “Fend For Yourself Night” and it’s far less exciting than it used to be.
Sure, it can be easier to motivate yourself to cook when you’ve got a significant other to help you chop the onions and shit, but you’ve really got to get better at being on your own.
I used to really love cooking for boyfriends. I kind of felt like I was fulfilling my gendered societal duty every time I pulled a casserole out of the oven for my guy. There’s a lot of things wrong with that, but mostly it’s that I was only motivated to learn how to fucking feed myself when I was in the presence of someone else.
Now that I’ve been single for foreverrrrr I think it’s safe to say I need to get my act together. Luckily I got a great Vegan cookbook from a friend for Christmas and unlike every other cookbook I’ve ever had, I’ve actually make things from it.
And if you didn’t know, I do a once a week “cooking show” on Instagram Live where I cook in a made up character, funny voice and weird backstory and everything. Sometimes my roommates end up walking into the kitchen wondering why in the hell I’m talking to myself in a terrible French accident but ask me how many fucks I give?
I give about as many fucks as I have gallons of real dairy milk in my fridge! #VegansUNITE
It’d be cool if Netflix or someone picked this up and made it into a real cooking show, but for now I’m just enjoying coming up with obscure ways to explain why I’m cooking for myself alone in my kitchen at 11PM. Usually it involves a freak accident and a dead or seriously estranged husband. One time I made Butternut Squash soup as Christopher Walken. That was one of my personal favorites.
Buy (and Cook) in Bulk
It may seem counter intuitive to drop $20 on a liter of ketchup when you’re stretched for cash, but honestly you’d be saving yourself a pretty penny if you did.
I actually don’t have a membership to Sam’s Club or Costco but my best friend in Long Island does. Most of my time spent with her is actually just going there and picking out 10-pound bags of rice that she lends me extra suitcases to take home with.
If you live in New York City and don’t drive a car, this is kind of an impossible ask. If you tried to carry all those bulk items out you might end up like that Home Alone kid and drop your groceries all over a crowded sidewalk.
But what I can tell you is that there’s an app for that. FreshDirect, Shipt, and Postmates just to name a few. When I heard about FreshDirect it absolutely changed my grocery game. You’re telling me I don’t even need to put my pants on to get some more peanut butter and toilet paper? Get outta here.
It sounds like black magic but it’s really popular in New York and other cities where it’s not common to have a car or even large chain grocery stores.
And because you’re so great at cooking now, you’ll appreciate getting those groceries quickly and easily so that you can focus your efforts on making an 8-serving risotto dish which amounts to roughly 3-4 meals for you and you only yuh little sad single person!
Cha-ching! Someone just scored some extra moolah!
Borrow Your Roommates Books
If you’re like me, walking into a Barnes and Noble is the quickest way to drain your entire bank account. Books are awesome! And I’m not just talking about my own because I guarantee you there are better books than mine out in the world.
Books can transform our worldviews. They can transport us to new places and times and like damn isn’t J.K. Rowling a fucking genius?!
However, books are expensive. And if you’re broke as shit you shouldn’t buy them.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t raid your roommates bookshelf! Don’t have a roommate? Well then GOOD FOR YOU 99% OF THIS POST DOESN’T APPLY TO YOU since I’m assuming you must be either a bajillionaire working for a Fortune 500 or in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere and you can buy an entire house with a backyard and 5-car garage for $200 a month because that’s what real estate is like there and in that case fucking congrats, man.