The first day of the month is the day I pay my (New York) rent. Yes, rent in New York City is insanely high. Before I started work, I did some googling about how to budget for a young adult. It was helpful, but I didn’t start learning until I got my first paycheck. When I saw the amount deposited into my account, I wanted to cry. New York City tax is INSANELY high! I thought to myself how am I going to live like this? The first month after I got my first paycheck, I was a little reckless (I was reckless). Even though I saw how little money came into my account, I still had my signing bonus, and I went a little crazy. I did not stick to my budget because I thought I have so much money from my signing bonus anyways. BAD IDEA! When it was October, I finally started to pay more attention to what I was spending my money on, but that wasn’t enough. This month (yes, I know..Black Friday and Cyber Monday are both in November) I am going to REALLY be hard on myself.
I did some math and this is the breakdown for POST-tax income.
- Rent and utilities – 56% (CRIES)
- Healthcare – 9%
- Transportation – 2%
- Food and necessities – 11%
- Shopping – 11%
- Savings – 12%
This is obviously my ideal situation. Many budgeting articles online use pre-tax income for these calculations, but I find that using my post-tax income gives me a more concrete idea of how much I can spend on each category. For people who know me, you’re probably thinking 11% for shopping? yeah right. Well, as I said, this is my ideal situation and I will be working towards this goal. Fingers crossed!
Now onto the good stuff: some tips and tricks I learned from living in the city.
- Transportation – if you can walk somewhere, walk there. Unless Google Maps says walking to your destination takes more than 30 minutes and taking the subway is less than half the time, walk there. If you’re going across town, sometimes walking will take 30 minutes but taking the subway will take 23 minutes, walk there. Sometimes I even walk for 50 minutes because that is my exercise of the day. You also get to see new places when you walk around!
- Eating out – don’t eat out unless it’s an occasion, like when a friend visits you from out of town. If you and your friend want to get Sunday brunch one weekend, go for it. I’m not saying to not enjoy the plethora of restaurants in the city, but twice a week is eight times a month, and it adds up FAST. Plus, if you make eating out a once-in-a-while thing, it will make eating out even more fun.
- Food – so what do you eat if you don’t eat out? You eat in, make your own food. Go grocery shopping. Buying three boxes of berries from the grocery store is way cheaper than getting a fruit salad at a restaurant. I usually think about how many meals I will be at home for and plan my grocery shopping accordingly. Go to Trader Joe’s instead of Whole Foods, because everything is cheaper at Trader Joe’s (I compared prices with my receipts). Cooking is a lot of fun, it is also some me time : )
- Drinks – the average price of an alcoholic beverage in the city is $15. A drink or two occasionally is fine, but like eating out, it adds up fast. I drink a lot less compared to when I was in college, and when I do, I like to enjoy some wine at home. Don’t get me wrong, I still like going out for occasions, and when it’s an occasion it makes going out more fun.
- Shopping – ugh Fifth Avenue is just right there! I can take the subway and I’ll be in SoHo! But I just got an email about a surprise sale! No no no. This is the part I am still working on, but I am improving. Unsubscribe from marketing emails, or at least make a filter so that it automatically goes into another folder (mine is called “Waste $$$”). Do some cleaning. I recently took out my fall/winter clothes and realized how little closet space I have, so if I buy more items, I won’t even have hangers to hang my new clothes up. A friend of mine suggested that I have to donate a piece of clothing when I buy something new, and that is exactly what I am going to do (I kind of have to because I seriously have no space in my closet). When you’re walking on Fifth Avenue, think about this scene from Confessions of a Shopaholic when she finally isn’t tempted by any of the mannequins in the store and they clap for her and she’s just so happy! This will be me someday.
These are just some things I learned. I wanted to write this blog post mainly because it is the start of the month and I really want to get closer to my ideal budgeting situation. I hope this was helpful for some of you and if you have any suggestions, please leave a comment below! Thanks for stopping by : )