Thursday, May 1, 2008

Budgeting and Spending in NYC

I’m an obsessive budgeter. And kind of a tightwad. “Kind of” in that when I had money, I spent it. But now that I don’t, every penny spent is like childbirth.

Which is how I’ve managed to live without working for 4+ years. But it probably isn’t the healthiest approach to living. Penurious, cheapskate and tight ass are all apt descriptions about which I am somewhat ambivalent. Fortunately, I have a lover who is the exact opposite but still appreciates this trait – for the most part.

So, after a financial meltdown in March and lots of money anxiety, we decided to track everything we spent this past month. And we did better than the budget though in totally unexpected ways.

While we spent much less on dinner because we ate in (read: ordered) almost every night-a huge savings- we spent money on parking tickets, doctor visits and prescriptions which were not budgeted.

Of course, when I do budgets, I try to be conservative so I get the (un)expected thrill of beating my goal at the end of the month. But it seems like there is always a surprise that justifies the budget-padding that I do.

The harsh reality: living in NYC is expensive no matter how hard you try to save money. When I lived in suburban Philly, you couldn’t spend money unless you got in a car and drove somewhere which required conscious decision-making. In NYC, you HAVE to go out and spend money because you’re cooped up in a small space all day and it seems like life only happens “out there”. You feel guilty for staying at home when you can hear and see people on the street “living” life while you troll the internet.

Which is an elaborate excuse for the amount of money we spent on drinks. Though we don’t go out every night and we try to go to places with cheap happy hours, we still spent $600 on drinks!!! Which makes me feel like I need to just stop drinking altogether. But then 6:00 rolls around and I’m tired of being cooped up all day and want to just go out and enjoy life a little. And if you break it down, it is only $10 per day per person – a small price to pay for sanity in NYC.

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