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.

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.