Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Zen of Broke

You know what the best thing about being relatively broke is?? If your answer was a unanimous 'Nothing,' then you are sadly mistaken.  I know, I know... it's very chic of me to make this case for the awesomeness of minimalism! 

So very zen of me; packing up the bare necessities for an undetermined length of stay in one of the United States' most expensive cities.

Well, all that being said, that isn't exactly the message I was going for, but hey... I can surely lean on the 'Less is more' approach when the time comes.  What I was actually going for here, was to build a case for making the most with the dollar you've got.  

Let me paint a very realistic picture for you.  

In two weeks, I will board a plane to New York City.  And when I arrive, the already dwindling numbers in my bank account will instantly subtract.  Cab fare to Astoria will cost approximately twenty dollars.  And I can assure you, that will be the only cab ride I will take when I am in NYC.  I simply cannot afford to take cabs everywhere I go.  But when you are just getting off an airplane at 10:30 p.m. with two full suitcases in stow, and all alone in the big city... well, it's the only way to go. 

Next up is the inevitable expense of an unlimited monthly metro card. This will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty dollars.  Ok, at least I've got my transportation covered.  

Next comes food.  

Well, as you can imagine, the possibilities for cuisine of every variety are virtually unlimited in a city like Manhattan.  However, they are very limited when you are working with a tight budget.  Which leads me to my grocery shopping adventure in my very favorite market: Trader Joes.  (Dear God, Thank you for making sure to put a Trader Joes in NYC. You are so loving and kind.) And the good news about a tight budget for food is, I could probably stand to lose five pounds anyway.  

Alright, well that covers food and transportation.  Good. 

Now, let's talk about space.  In New York City, space is very limited.  It is the hottest commodity that is always in demand.  Square footage is one of those really really luxurious things that people like me don't even consider, because we simply cannot afford to.  So, what do you consider?  Well, in my shoes... not much.  

For an undetermined length of time, I will share a room with a friend of mine who recently moved back to NY from a long stint of living in Nashville (where we met three years ago).  Now, friends are key to surviving in NYC. But while space may be cheaper if shared, it still ain't free.  So, I will chip in the cost of one half of one room.  But I am fortunate to share a room with someone I know and trust... because trust me, it could get pretty rough otherwise.  

So there are the basics: food, transportation and shelter.  

Last night I came across a great coupon for a three month gym membership that is right around the corner from my shared room.  I have decided that this is a worthwhile investment, especially when living with a bunch of boys and girls.  

I need my own little escape.  And a place to wash my hair without the looming fear of taking all the hot water in the borough.  So, I think this is a good investment. 

And that about covers it for now.  

So, what's so great about being broke you ask?? Wasn't that argument the whole point of this little essay??

Okay, thank you for reminding me. Here is my zen theory of broke: if I have very little, I can only lose very little.  Genius!  

This is very similar to walking into a glitzy casino with fifty bucks in your pocket... but only fifty.  LEAVE YOUR CREDIT CARDS AT HOME PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

If you count on losing the maximum of what you have on you the moment you walk through that door, well then you ought to have a great time with that fifty and make it last as long as possible.  If you somehow manage to build on that fifty, then great! But you better not count on that odd. 

Where people get in trouble is when they keep going past a certain threshold.  The way I see it, I don't have too far to fall financially.  So, knowing that, as I enter the glitzy, money-sucking black hole of the city... well then that's good.  No big surprise when I am ready to cash in my chips and find a gaping hole where some semblance of a savings used to be.  

I am going to be really zen about this extreme phase of dwindling down.  Because while I can put a price tag next to almost everything in life, I cannot quantify the worth of an experience like this.  

To travel. To spend time with good friends. To see the leaves in Central Park turn with changing season is a luxury I can afford.  And if it cost every last penny I have, I figure this kind of opportunity may only come along once in a lifetime. So, I'm going all in.  You can bet on it. 

A budgeted girl in an expensive world; sleeping on the floor, walking through the park, releasing the fear of being broke and eating rice for every meal, you can't get more zen than that. 


Poor Man's Margarita

2 oz Tequila
1 oz Sprite or 7 Up
1 Lime wedge
Pinch of Salt. 

1 comment:

  1. Happy Travels! What a wonderful opportunity. Have fun while making memories and keep writing. Love, Aunt Carol