Being Citybroke is about perspective. It’s about seeing glitter in the gutter and a sense of humor when life is giving you everything you don’t exactly want and you’re hanging on for a dream that you sometimes can’t remember.
It’s not sales or survival - it’s an electronic letter from the trenches. It’s what suits who make $60K in at age 24 can’t even imagine. It’s Freedom. It’s Poverty. It’s Broken. It’s Beautiful.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Thanks, Obama -- Chase Gave Me a Choice!

I was waiting in a ridiculously long line today at Chase bank about to withdraw a ridiculous amount of money to secure the lease on a new apartment when a mysterious thing happened -- a customer service rep walked up to me and asked me if I needed help.

I was speechless.

After helping me with my check, he pulled up my bank account and started asking me questions about overdraft protection. No, he wasn't being friendly (what was I thinking?!), he had a specific purpose.

Because of Obama's new Credit CARD Act, which was instated on Feb. 22 of this year, banks can no longer cover you (and then charge you for it) if you overdraw on your checking account-- unless you opt in for the service.

And, if you don't opt in for overdraft protection by this summer, you are automatically opted out. This means that for all the customers who are too lazy or uninformed to opt in for overdraft protection (probably most of us, including me), Chase could lose money. (As it stands now, if you don't pay Chase back for "helping you out" within the day you overdraw, they charge you $30.)

So, Chase is picking off customers one by one from the banking line to try to get them to opt in.

Beware! As most things in life -- if great customer service seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How We Spend Our Money

Want to know where all your money went? Here is a great graph breaking down how American's spend their money, based off Dept. of Labor stats.

Quick summary:

About $6,133: food
$118: reading
$323: tobacco
$808: miscellaneous (aka the bar)

Click here for a bigger image

This graph is brought to you by the folks at Visual Economics, a pretty much awesome site.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

DIY Burrito

Anything is good wrapped in a tortilla with hot sauce. This is a fantastic discovery when you're living off less than $5 a day as I am. For example, last night I had red beans sauteed with onions, artichoke hearts and Brussels sprouts. Wrapped in a tortilla with hot sauce. Yum! Go home tonight and try your own DIY burrito!

PS: Just can't get enough of these cats!

Gee, Matt

I've come across something more complicated than finding a decent mattress for under $1,000; finding a GMAT tutor for under $100/h. Can you believe that?! The audacity! People are actually charging the price of a weekend out in New York to sit next to you like you're 12 and teach you how to add fractions for 60 minutes (I learned that there are 60 minutes in an hour on my own, thanks very much)?

I've decided to approach these tutors like a business partner. The negotiation guns are out. I've set my highest price at $60 an hour, and I'm not going to budge.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 5-7: Bloody Monday

It's Monday. Day seven. On Saturday I had half a catfish sandwich, two beers, a glass of wine, a tequila shot, and a Mr. Softie ice cream cone with sprinkles. I get paid in exactly 7 days from now. I have $100.62.

Here is what I learned:
1. the Guggenheim is a total rip off when you're poor. $20 is so not worth it!
2. PACK A LUNCH. This is crucial when you venture from Brooklyn into Manhattan for the day. Reverting to a 6th grader because you're starving does nothing for your wallet or relationship.
3. There is no up side to drinking; it costs money, causes you to order more food, and you are hung over in the morning.
4. You can make a meal from lettuce, turkey, refried beans and cauliflower.

The good news is that I am still waiting on cable money from roomies and payback from work. That should be over $100. Until then, more lettuce!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Day 5: Weird Science

Hm. Somewhere in these last few days I think I did some math incorrectly. Either that, or I got one too many free meals. As of right now I have $143.62 in my bank account (once that damn rent check is taken out -- cash it already!). But this is $20 more than I had yesterday. And I spent $2.00 on a Fage yogurt and $1.00 on fruit this morning.

How I got more money doesn't interest me right now.

Back to the point: Status as of now, 4:13 pm on Friday, is $143.62. In the next hour this will slip down to $123.62 when I proceed to spend $20 on wine and cat litter. (This will give you a good idea of how I spend my Friday nights.) I will also withdraw $60 which will be my spending money for the weekend.

Come Monday I will have: $63.62.

Dear god! Scratch that. I will NOT withdraw $60 for the weekend. I will try to spend nothing. This will prove to be a great weekend! Here kitty, kitty...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 4: I'm In The Money

Day four started off well. The BF bought me a slice of pizza and a salad last night. Free dinners are great!

Then something bad happened but then something great happened. First, I got a reminder that I had to pay my cable bill: $50. So that left me at $125.75. But then I got another email saying I'm going to be getting a work reimbursement of $85.55 (in the next five days, but still!). That puts me back up to $211.30...higher than before!

I decided to celebrate by spending $1.20 on gum.

Budget: $124.55 (until I get that work check).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day 3: The Beat Goes On

It's day three and I'm still in the triple digits -- how awesome am I! Spent $.75 on a peach yesterday because I was sick of eating the cucumbers and tomatoes I bought at the farmer's market and have been incorporating into my lunches mostly out of pure guilt over letting them go bad. (Don't worry, I am also eating real food. Bought about four chicken breasts that I cooked all at once. Have had chicken salad, chicken sandwich, chicken omelet.)

A few challenges yesterday:
1. Went out to get a mid-afternoon coffee. Took a walk instead.
2. Went to get a manicure. Awkwardly walked in and then out again.
3. Scheduled lunch with a friend for Friday. This I will commit to. I can spare $10 by then!

Going to the BF house tonight, which means dinner on him! (If I cook it, of course.)

Budget: $175.75

ISpend Now IBroke

After finally paying some large mid-month bills, I now have $32.65 to my name until Friday Aug 28; that's ten days away. Sadly, that's roughly $200 less than I thought I'd have.

Survival mode:

Today I'm having lunch in the New York Fed dining hall (thank you Goldman Sachs) which will get me to yoga at 6pm. At which point, my equally broke roommate and I will make a delicious recession feast. There will be tofu, vodka and frozen peas involved.

Details to follow.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cheapskate Move of the Day

Left my credit card at home and ate a balance bar for lunch.

Limits the possibility for error.

Day 2: In The Beginning...

Day two living off $178 for two weeks in NYC. So far I have spent $1.50 on an iced tea (orange dulce). The event occurred around 8:30pm last night at the Roasting Plant, on Greenwich and 7th Ave. (Great spot. Open 24 hrs!)

I'm very proud of this $1.50 spent. First, it was a large iced tea. And besides hydrating me it also bought me a bathroom to use and a place to sit and study for 1 1/2 hours. Now that's stretching your dollar, people.

I did realize last night that I need more shampoo. Luckily I save hotel bottles and don't wash my hair all that much so I'm pretty good for a few weeks. So far, under control! But in the beginning it's always easy...

Budget: $176.5

Monday, August 17, 2009

Losing Your Smarts

SmartyPig, the amazing online bank straight from the corn fields of Iowa, isn't ponying up as much as they once were. When the online bank, which is like Orange ING for Dummies, first launched it was offering over 3% interest. Now the APY just dropped to 2.01%. They blog about it here. As we keep learning over and over, if it's too good to be true, it is. (Although the pig is still higher than almost all the other online savings -- so we will love our Mid-western friends.)

I, too, have No Money

My creative co-blogger has decided to document surving the next two weeks of her life in the most expensive city in the United States with $150.


So, I just did a little homework and after I pay a large bill today, I will have $220 myself.

My plan: spend no money and find free things.

Gritty details to follow.

It's Back to School Time. Let's Get Cheap/

For all the twenty-somethings coping who've found themselves with the least disposable income on record, the September Vogue is a bitter pill. This year, I will not swallow.

Instead, I'm ignoring what the cool kids say and embracing a new kid of retail therapy via the world wide web. I'm going to start shopping on ebay.

When I say shopping, I really mean browsing. But you know what, it's empowering to think, "That's a nice looking pair of boots, but I'm not sold," as opposed to tooling around JCREW and thinking, "I can't even afford shoes in the kids section."

It's the primal satisfaction one finds in being withholding - even if it's ten dollars.

I'll let you know if I find anything sweet.

Day 1: How to Lose Friends and Alienate Yourself

Things are getting desperate in the Big City, so I've decided to use CityBroke as a platform to document my attempt to go two weeks (15 days, to be exact) without spending any money. Summer in the city means trips, weddings, cool drinks...and empty pockets.

I have $158.68 in the bank and $20 in my pocket for the next 15 days. You may think I'm f**ked. I'm not. I will win! I will beat the Bright Lights and Big City! And I'll beat it for FREE.

Here's the game plan:

1. Credit card is staying in my desk drawer where it's been for a month now.
2. Debit card is joining credit card. Cash only from here on out.
3. I already have food, so eating at home, when friends give me donations or will have to go dumpster diving.
4. Just paid rent, electric, cable so no more bills until the 1st!

And here's the prize: my entire (measly) paycheck to keep (save) for myself. Sounds enthralling, I know. And it will only get better from here as my social life dries up like my drinking habit.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Fat Wallet: Online Nirvana for Cheapskates

This site rocks. It has every online discount out there and a few that retailers put together just for Fatwallet users. Sign up and you'll be amazed at the savings. I actually use this site everytime I buy something online.

Interestingly, data from online traffic analysis firm Hitwise showed that the vast majority of Fatwallet faithful have a household income in excess of $250K. Rich people are better with their money!

Here a few: - New Customers: $10 Off & Free Shipping w/ $50 Purchase (nonprescription orders only - excludes contact lenses, gift cards, magazine subscriptions & bulk orders) - FatWallet Exclusive: $10 Off w/ $35 Purchase • w/ Coupon FTWT35 •
Sierra Trading Post - Extra 30% Off Over 6000 Items • w/ Coupon AC118A •(not combinable w/ other offers) - 20% Off Any Outlet Purchase • w/ Coupon OUTLET25 •

E*Trade is Awesome

I need to save cash.  But when I run low in my checking I just dip my dirty hands right into savings.  So I've decided to open an online banking account.  I'm not sure why I didn't do this before because so far it's pretty awesome. Right now I'm earning .1% (WTF!) interest in my Chase money market account (aka savings).  E*Trade Complete Savings (my choice of online savings) is offering a whopping 3.3%.  That is basically CD interest rates!  All you have to do is go to E*, sign up for an account and deposit at least $1, maximum $100 (for a day or two).  You have no minimum or fees, and free online transfers from any account.  In about 5-7 (which I'm still waiting on) you have your account.  Simple!  And you'll be earning WAY more money (33% to be exact), and it's a bit harder to get to when you really need to buy that new winter coat instead of X-mas presents for the fam (oops).  

And while your on E*Trade's site check out their checking accounts (offering 2.9% yield right now, as well as ATM refunds on any ATM when you get a debit card--hollar). You can also watch the cute baby TV ads.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Play the Stock Market - For Free

There is a new interactive website currently in it's beta stage that is totally worth checking out (although I'm still sort of trying to learn it). It's called WeSeed, and it's sort of like Sim City for investing. You are given 1 million (fake) dollars to start, and then you can basically just invest it and see what happens. Of course, the money isn't real, but the stocks you can "invest" in are, so you will see real live results when a stock goes up or down. A great way to get your feet wet in the stock market without losing any of that precious cash. Maybe once you kick all the other investor's asses on WeSeed, you'll have the confidence to earn some real money in the market.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Free Food (and other stuff) on Election Day

We've already established the fact we LOVE free things, this includes food and voting rights. So today, November 4th, Americans everywhere can celebrate a happy marriage of both.

Ben and Jerry's: Free scoop! Democracy never tasted so good. 5pm-8pm. Locations here
Starbucks: Free cup of tall coffee. If you care enough to vote, they care enough to give you a free cup of coffee. For the YouTube video click here
Chick-fil-A: Chick-A-Election Day. Supposedly you can get a free sandwhich today, although cannot confirm that.
KrispyKreme: Hot vote now. Get a free "I voted" sticker and a star shaped cookie!
Flu Shot: Who wouldn't want to vote yes on freedom and no on the flu! Find a clinic here
Babeland: Voting Feels Good. If you vote you can pick up a Maverick Sleeve (for him) or Silver Bullet Vibe (for her). New York and Seattle....I'm going for mine this afternoon. More info here

Well-timed Disaster

For people under 35 - or better - people with limited financial liabilities. So, no mortgage or kiddies.

[extra psychological boost if you start at zero sans trampled stock portfolio]

This is because the decline in investment valuations caused by the financial crisis potentially presents the greatest transfer of wealth in history from the cold (not) dead hands of baby boomers and beyond into those of younger generations. But that's only if you get smart.

Why? Because your pathetic paycheck (relative to someone 20 years your senior) is now roughly 5 times more powerful when it comes to investing. It's like you hand your broker a 20 dollar bill and he buys up a hundred dollars worth of beaten up blue chip stock (especially financials.) Pretend its a $100 Apple gift card that cost you $20. Sweet deal, right?

What's the first thing you need to do? Up your 401K. Its a downturn, damnit. Cut costs and turn up the volume on your investing strategy. Beer instead of cocktails, itunes instead of concerts. You are probably mostly in equities anyway so don't worry about bond/stock ratios.

Is the market at a bottom? Maybe, maybe not. What we know is that a ton of stocks are trading cheap and -for once- you can afford a fistful full of them. Attempting to perfectly time a market recovery is like using liquid liner - It should be left to the pros. Otherwise, you'll likely end up with a black eye.

So take a cue from Warren "Snowball" Buffet and be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.

Making the Most of Double the Investing Power

Actually Proud (!) to be an American

It may have been because it was 5:45am and I was sleep deprived, or because these have been a rocky past few months. Or maybe it was my contacts. But I found myself getting all chocked up (yes, I may have shed a tear) as I waited in line to vote this morning. Watching everyone from college kids to old men carrying chairs so they could sit waiting patently in an unorganized and way-too-long line, I came to realize that as a country we are, in fact, tied together. Even if half of us are jerks, we are all still Americans.

Now I know this sounds like a bunch of patriotic bullshit--which it is--but I actually feel this way and I can't believe it. I have never once felt proud to be an American, but today I can say I am. Let's hope for the best today.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Screw the Lender, They'll Screw You

We are starting to see a new crisis on the horizon, and this time it's credit cards. Not surprisingly, American's have been borrowing way too much money and making dumb purchases they can't afford and credit card companies are screwed. Now that people are losing their homes and jobs, they can't afford to pay that money back. Credit card companies are are freaking out, and we're gonig to see some changes in how they lend us money. Miss one payment and you might see your interest rate skyrocket. (Or, it might skyrocket for no reason at all.) You shouldn't shouldn't even be carrying a balance on your card. But, if you have a lot of debt you might want to think about transferring over to a card with o% APR. The prices for transferring debt might go up to, so do it while you can!

Your credit score is actually going to matter now
-- a lot. So now stuff like missing your payments or spending too close to your credit limit is a bit of a bigger deal. Wow, life isn't so fun when it starts getting serious.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

$700 Billion, What?

If you still can't figure out what the heck went down on Wall Street over the past few weeks, you're not alone. The entire situation is complicated, and getting more so with Paulson's $700 billion bailout plan. So Terry Grossman, from one of my favorite NPR shows Fresh Air, brings on Wall Street guru Gretchen Morgenson from the NYTimes to help explain things a bit in layman's terms--I think she does a great job. The podcast can be downloaded for FREE here: The Wall Street Bailout: A Conflict Of Interest?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ah, NOW I Get It

I usually have to wait until coffee cup No. 2 to start reading the business section of the NYTimes--I mean, do they really have to use such big words and complicated sentences? However, today there is a great piece explaining what the hell is really going on with the market these days. In English, Please beings with the question, "Can you explain this crisis in a way that it makes sense in layman’s terms?" For the full answer go HERE

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Get Skooled

If you read CityBroke everyday and still don't feel like you're on top of your finance game, then take yourself back to school. Money U, that is. Money U is an online financial course for the young and unexperienced such as ourselves. You don't really get graded and you just play games. So it's pretty much just really fun (if you love personal finances as much as I do). It's little bit expensive, $180 for three courses. However, your ROI could over 100% if the course teaches you some techniques that will save you a few hundred bucks. Totally worth it. And who doesn't secretly really want to back to school anyway?

Friday, August 22, 2008

¿Dónde Estás Corazón?

The last time iSpend posted was on July 14th. I wish I could say this is because she has been doing some Deep Throat-style investigating into a really great CityBroke post, or she's been stuck in her fifth-floor walk-up in a body cast for the last six weeks. But, alas, I just saw her healthy as a lark the other day.

And, yeah, I realize I've been slacking, too.

iSpend...please come back to us!

Credit Card Extravaganza!

Want a really great time to waste time at work, but improve your financial life? Check out this new site, The guys from LowCards have been kind enough to give us a schmorgusboard of credit card card facts--everything from interest rates to balance transfer fees--to gorge on all day long. And they are savvy enough to put all their info. into what every American likes best--a list! Check out their list of "best" cards for whatever it is you're looking for in a credit card relationship. I am still trying to find the "best credit card to get me a date"....any help here LowCards?


Friday, July 25, 2008

I Guess it's Good to Give, Too

After you've busted your ass saving your dollars, it's good to give a little back, too. A great place to donate money in any increment (seriously, even just $20) is Modest Needs. The goal of Modest Needs is to stop poverty before it begins by helping those in need avoid the slippery slope of going broke. You see who your money is going to, and for what. (For example, a new bathtub, or hospital bill.) And Modest Needs is totally legit, earning the highest possible charity ratings from both Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance. Even if you're just giving to feel better about yourself, do it!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sweet Surrender

Buy one get one free at Jamba Juice today! Go here for a free coupon -- you just have to enter your email address. I figured they would send the coupon to my email so I entered my correct address, but they don't! It just sends you to another page, so feel free to enter a fake email address. Find a Jamba Juice near you and have fun in those lines!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I Hate My New Credit Card

All our loyal readers out there (hello?) might remember my post on getting my first credit card. This was March 10, 2008, a mere five months ago. And I'm cutting it up. It's the devil!

(Ok, I'm not "cutting it up." I am, however, using a strategy my dad's friend told me about: Hiding it in a block of ice and keeping it in my freezer. And I'm not buying an ice pick...yet.)

How To: Create an Investment Plan

We're all growing up a bit (a bit), and eventually we need to develop an investment plan for ourselves. If you're not quite sure where to start, or need a definition of "investment plan," Vanguard has a handy little tool here which lets you create your own investment plan. Now, this is mostly hypothetical if you're like me and have 100% of your reserves in "short-term cash" (savings accounts). But if you think you may like to start investing in the market one day, this is a good way to understand how ballsy you'll be with your investments. When you can afford to make them, of course.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Grey Hound Underground

I don't know many people who ride the grey dog, but with the economy the way it is - a resurgence is inevitable.

So I'm fooling around on the site and I see this "Neon" bit. It's a straight shot to Toronto from NYC and it's only $85. That's right. 470 miles for $85 bucks a head. That's what I call a recession-friendly roadtrip.

Time to look into Toronto hostels...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I'm in Bike with You

Want to save eighty-something dollars you spend on transportation each month? (I can't remember the monthly price of the subway these days, and I use TransitCheck anyway, so who cares.) Ride your bike. And if each time you hop on your bike to head to work you're terrified you'll find yourself riding the wrong way down a one way street and will get dirty looks, flipped off, and even beat up by other bikers, or will break some unknown-to-everyone-except-bike-messengers rule, than check this out! It's kinda like HopStop for those of use who aren't lazy assholes. Plug in your beginning and ending point, and RidetheCity will map it out for you. Cool! It will tell you what streets are going the right way for you, and even how long it will take. (Although it says for me to get from home to office it should be 35 minutes. It takes me at least 50.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Free Stuff on Your Birthday

Today is iSpend's birthday!

In light of this joyous day, I've found a great list of free stuff you can get on your birthday on Enjoy! Now write iSpend some happy birthday wishes.

How to Score Free Stuff on Your Birthday