When I ordered Seamless last night, I theoretically knew there were only two exit paths — either I would talk myself into cooking the perishing groceries in my fridge and exit out of the online ordering app, or $40 would exit from my wallet. I didn’t really think about it when I started adding various specialty sushi rolls to my cart. I thought that it would cost a little bit, maybe $20. You don’t think much about $20; it’s not life-changing. After seeing how much I was throwing into my cart with reckless abandon, my roommate said, “You know that’s going to cost you like, $70 right?” I thought she was delusional. Then, I hit “proceed to checkout.” That’s how I learned my dinner order was going to run me $83.67 before tip.
It’s not purely a celebratory time. Sure, I’ve temporarily alleviated the responsibility of having to cook my own meal like a functioning adult, but it’s a stressful time, too, because of the constant decisions. Is 16 rolls enough, or will I still be hungry after? I’m always hungry like, an hour after I eat sushi. Should I get an appetizer of edamame? Do I sub out a dragon for a California roll, or is that embarrassingly basic?
Of course, once I saw the total, I had a brief moment where I asked myself, should I even be doing this? That’s like, 6 months of Netflix — or maybe 5 since they keep upping the price. I don’t know. But then I considered the alternatives: opening that can of black beans that I bought “in case of emergency”, which would require wiping off the film of dust that’s collected on top of it; figuring out what to do with said black beans; maybe boiling water for some pasta? And then pretending like eating plain pasta and canned beans with a spoon is a normal and not at all sad meal. I should really invest in a rice cooker.
There are things that rich people do, and from what I’ve learned from watching Arrested Development from my roommate’s ex’s Netflix account, pretending like your problems will go away if you ignore them is one of them. So I hit “place order” on my small army-sized portion of sushi, not thinking about how it would bring my checking account balance to $2.94 and especially not thinking about the birthday drinks I promised my friend I’d go to on Friday. I resolved to sell some of the clothes I don’t wear that much on Poshmark to make up the difference—“gently used” is subjective, right?
At this point in my life, nothing is going to change. What would I do differently, aside from budget, exercise self-control, or say no to social obligations? I’m only having as much fun as my peers are. So if they’re going to brunch, why shouldn’t I go to brunch? Never mind the student loan debt I’ve barely made a dent in despite making the minimum payments for eight years. (Talk about not thinking much about $200,000.) I keep a shrine in my closet to President Biden and pray every day for him to forgive student loan debt, so I’m doing my part.
What would I really do with the money aside from pay my bills or donate to my 401(k) that, similarly to my emergency black beans, is also collecting dust? It’s not like I’m ever going to be able to afford to buy a house. And even if I could, Williamsburg feels like it has peaked and is going downward. I walk my dog at 1pm, and I pass like, two different açaí bowl places that have closed down. I think that’s unsustainable. Shit, that reminds me—I forgot to pay the premium on my dog’s health insurance this month. Hope he doesn’t need any serious dental surgeries.
Guess I’ll have to open up a dating app and line up a few dinners for next week. Most of my friends are getting married or having kids, and I guess I should technically be looking for someone I could bring as a plus-one to their weddings, but my more immediate concern is finding a plus-one for happy hour on Thursday.
What’s that saying, you can’t take it with you? At the end of the day, even if I did get to a point where I was somehow making a lot of money (like maybe I won the lottery?), I could just lose it all. Isn’t that what happened with Yahoo? It was the darling company in the 90s and know I don’t know if it exists. I think about Yahoo constantly, but not enough to have ever typed it into the address bar of my laptop, phone, or tablet to see if it’s still around. I guess I could look that up. Hey Google…
Images: JP Valery / Unsplash
I read a lot of disturbing shit these days, but recently I read an article that was more offensive than my current bank statement—and, no, I’m not talking about the Arie’s latest tweet about how everyone is just, like, out to get him. I’m talking about the latest in Refinery29’s Money Diaries, a recurring column where they tackle “the last taboo facing modern working women: money.” Yes, because gender norms, sexual harassment, and glass ceilings are certainly no longer issues for the modern working woman! Every new column they ask millennials living in cities all over America how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period—and they’re “tracking every last dollar!” K. First of all, I don’t trust the sociopath who decided to actively sign up to track their spending habits over a seven day period. I’d rather admit to my mother that she was right about something in my life than evaluate my finances, like, ever. Second of all, what is Refinery29’s idea of a “struggling millennial”? Someone who can’t afford to buy everything organic? Or someone who still steals toilet paper rolls from the company bathrooms?
Recently a New York City millennial was featured on the Money Diaries, and it… was extra. So let’s take a look at this basically homeless person that was picked to share how she toughs it out in the city.
“Today: a service coordinator who makes $67,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on makeup and a silk eye mask.”
*throws laptop against a wall* SIXTY-SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME WITH THIS?? This is the struggling millennial who can barely make ends meet? AND SHE’S BUYING FUCKING SILK EYE MASKS?? Brb I think I just popped a blood vessel reading this.
Okay, well at least I can take some sort of solace in the fact that this person, this silk eye mask buying heiress, is definitely older than me. No way is this bitch younger than 26….
Location: New York, NY
*starts to slip into a rage blackout* Okay, but maybe she, like, has student loans to pay off or pays a fuck ton of other bills? Is this where she struggles?
Housing: $900 for a one-bedroom apartment. I’m extremely grateful that my parents help me out with the rest.
Loan Payments: $0. I went to a CUNY school.
MetroCard: $121, but my job reimburses me
Cable, Internet & Power: $0 — thanks, Mom and Dad”
So, let me get this straight. Homegirl lives in a one bedroom apartment in New York City, but only pays $900 in rent? According to TimeOut New York the average rent for a one bedroom apartment in New York City is $3,100 a month. This means her parents are financing AT LEAST 75 percent of that rent—if not more—and she doesn’t pay for a Metrocard, student loans, internet, power, or cable. Tbh she could have led with “I have cable” and I’d know she was rich AF. But you’re right, Refinery29, she’s this close to being out on the streets and living in a cardboard box. I’m weeping for the injustice of it all.
Also, let’s take a minute to evaluate this interesting piece of information about her finances:
“Paycheck (Biweekly): $928
Bonus (Monthly): $900-$3,000”
Wait, her paycheck per month is less than $2K? So her income is really somewhere around $35,000/year and not $67,000/year as previously indicated? And what are these monthly $900-$3,000 “bonuses” she’s referring to? She’s definitely a prostitute, right? Because the biggest bonus my boss has ever given me was the remaining money on her Starbucks gift card, so I can’t really fathom a $3,000 dollar bonus happening once a fucking month. If little miss service coordinator starts saying she just gets by with a little help from her friends then we’ll really know what’s up.
Here’s the thing about the “Money Diaries” that always sends me into a rage blackout: Refinery29 only ever interviews millennials who make between $70K-$100K, most of which is in the form of monetary support from their families, and then proceeds to condescendingly tell us how much these kids have struggled with their meager wages. When I first moved to the city over three years ago, I made half that salary and still managed to live
my best a life. My parents support me in the sense that they still pay for my cell phone bill (#blessed) and occasionally send me care packages with K-cups in them that “mysteriously” go missing between the Brooklyn post office and my building. To this day, I still make significantly less than $70K and somehow manage to live a ratchet fulfilling life.
So in the spirit of debunking the Money Diaries once and for all, let me just get brutally honest with you on what my bills look like as per the Refinery29 equation:
Occupation: Book Publicist/Freelance Writer/Actively Trying To Marry Rich
Industry: Anything that will accept my creative writing degree
Location: New York, NY
Salary (combined with freelance gigs): $45,000
Paycheck (Biweekly): $1,425
Bonus (Monthly): Lol people actually get these?
Some Shit I Pay For:
Rent: $1,085/month for one bedroom in a three bedroom apartment in a neighborhood that my friends kindly refer to as “the last district in the Hunger Games.” So sweet.
MetroCard: $121/month (pre-taxed, but still)
Internet + Power: Cable is for rich people. I only have internet, which I pay $23 a month for (split between three people) even though it only ever works on a clear, cloudless day. I also pay anywhere from $50-$100 for my power bill (also split between three people) so that I can keep my room the temperature of Tampa, FL. What is life if you don’t continuously live it like you’re on your senior year spring break?
Gym Membership: $59.00/month. Tbh this just feels like throwing 60 dollars down the drain each month, but whatever I’ll include it.
Alcohol: $15 – $30/week
(And for those of you who might not view this as a “necessary” cost of living, I literally just had to buy a bottle of wine to get through through this evaluation of my finances so, yeah, I think it’s pretty fucking necessary. Also, this doesn’t cover what I spend at bars/happy hours/really horrible Hinge dates. Obviously.)
Starbucks: Not a real criteria, just felt like I had to include this one in here. Can you put a price tag on being emotionally dependent on your barista? For the sake of being honest, let’s round this one up to $30/month?
Savings: Alright, is this absolutely necessary to disclose?
Credit Card: K, well now I’m just feeling personally victimized.
To further my point here, I’m going to paint a picture for you of what a day in the life of It’s Britney, Betch is really like. Hold onto your matcha teas, betches, cause this
won’t be pretty and might make you mildly concerned for my health is about to get real. Now, The Money Diaries usually outlines all seven days of the person’s spending habits. I don’t have enough alcohol in my system emotional maturity to delve that far into my personal finances so I’ll only be outlining a typical weekday so you can get a sense of my struggles.
A Day In The Life Of Me:
7:00am: Wake up. Briefly consider taking everything in my 401K (spoiler alert: there’s barely anything in there) and quitting my job to become a Lady of Leisure. Or at least a SugarBearHair model. If the professional twins from Ben Higgins’ season can do it, so can I. Realize I am a single mother to a dog, and also someone who also likes to brunch every Saturday and Sunday. Selling hair vitamins would barely cover my mimosa habit, much less my dog’s affinity for, like, eating. Accept my fate and decide to go to work.
7:45am: TRAIN FUCKING DELAYS. Is the grass green? Is the sky blue? Is today just another day in which the MTA is going to rob me fucking blind? Wait 35 minutes for an M train and realize it might be faster if I walked to Manhattan with one broken leg while carrying everything I own on my back than to actually use public transportation even though I pay ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-ONE DOLLARS A MONTH to do just that. Give up for today and call an Uber. Spend 40 minutes and $45 dollars to go four miles down the road in a car that smells like the backroom of a Hollister store. Only die a little inside.
9:00am: I’m late for work, but not late enough that I don’t have time to visit my
boyfriend Starbucks barista. It’s important we make time for each other, you know? I spend $7.00 on a breakfast sandwich and iced coffee and whisper “treat yo’self” under my breath as I exit the building.
1:00pm: I brought my lunch, but it is a sad sandwich that I don’t really want to eat. Think about how skinny I will be if I just forgo lunch all together. Perhaps I will be skinny enough to fit into my freshman year crop top! Resolve to never again eat lunch.
1:03pm: Eat the sad sandwich and also an entire bag of Cheez Its because they were the last ones in the vending machine and that feels like a sign from God. I feel God here in this break room today.
5:00pm: Congrat-fucking-lations. I made it through one entire day of work and I didn’t even set fire to the building! What a feat! Now, I should go treat myself by sweating out all the frustrations of the day at the gym.
5:02pm: Walk by the gym. Briefly consider how I spend $59 a month there and how I’ve been wanting to get back into shape, and also the frustrations thing. Walk right past the gym and head home.
5:10pm: Spot a wine store directly by my subway stop. Another sign from God! Maybe you should pick up church instead of rewatching Criminal Minds from the beginning. Spend $15 on chardonnay. Remind myself that that’s $5 more than I was willing to spend on myself in college and reflect on how far I’ve come in this world. Namaste.
7:00pm: I consider ordering Seamless but show some actual fucking self-restraint and decide instead to cook myself a grilled cheese and soup. Boys, if you’re reading this, I’m single. Feed my dog. Open the wine. Re-watch old episodes of Riverdale and internally debate with myself if I should start giving redheads a chance.
Rinse and repeat for five more days give or take one Uber ride or Seamless order.
TOTAL SPENDING FOR ONE DAY DURING THE WEEK: $68.00
TOTAL SPENDING FOR ONE WEEK IF I STAY ON THIS SELF-INDULGENT TRACK: $400+
Obviously, after reading my Money Diaries, you can tell that I’m
a walking cry for help not the best with my money. But, you know, I still make it work. I still make enough money to pay for rent, feed my dog, and occasionally treat myself in the Forever21 sales section. Blessings. The point is that this is a more realistic look at what life in New York City is like for most people those of us who don’t make $70K a year. So to the service coordinator who makes $67,000 a year, I salute you for the trials and tribulations you must bear. Like being able to spend your paycheck on silk eye masks and makeup that costs more than $7 at CVS. BYE.
Images: Giphy (9);
So you’ve been putting shit on your tab too much and your credit card is maxed out. Whoops. You can’t help it if your blackout self wanted to buy shots for the entire bar. It seems like it was just yesterday that the direct deposit hit. Wait, it actually was yesterday? Fuck. Regardless, just because you’re broke doesn’t mean you have to find a sugar daddy—you can still eat these filling meals for cheap. And no, we’re not talking about ramen. Do you want to get bloated? Didn’t think so. Here are some simple meals you can make even if you’re broke AF that won’t leave you hungry or bloated. #Blessings
1. Pear Waldorf Salad
I know the word salad is in this, but we’re not talking garden variety, so chill out. Get a pear, apple, lettuce, and a bag of walnuts at the grocery store and you can make this four times in a week. If you want to make it more filling you can add a hard boiled egg to it and throw some quinoa in there. This is def a good bring-to-work lunch, and you can cut the pear in the kitchen so everyone knows you’re better than them.
2. Breakfast Burrito
You can make this at home on the weekends for brunch and you’re good until dinner time. Scramble together potatoes, cheese, and eggs inside a tortilla wrap. You can add sausage/chorizo if you’re into that, which is like $3.99 for a package of 5 at Trader Joe’s. Plus if you actually like a bro enough to let him stay over, you can impress him by throwing avocado into the mix.
3. Spaghetti And Meatballs
Pasta is so cheap that kids make jewelry out of it. Cook up some spaghetti and spice it up with pre-made meatballs. Throw mushrooms and onions in with the spaghetti sauce and boom, you’ve got a meal. Remember those parmesan packets you saved when you bought dollar pizza while blackout? Well, you can finally use those to garnish your pasta. See, your drunk decisions always pay off.
If you live in a city with a Chinatown, you can get freshly made dumplings for dirt cheap if you know where to look (Google). Lucky for you, the internet has made finding the best dumpling dealers pretty easy even if you don’t speak Chinese. A bag of 50 dumplings is something like $8-10. If you’re in New York we recommend Tasty Dumpling or Vanessa’s Dumplings. Make your own sauce at home with soy sauce, vinegar, and Sriracha. Obvs use low sodium soy sauce—you might be broke but you have a hot bod to uphold.
5. Japanese Curry Chicken
Get the Vermont Japanese Curry mix from Ranch 99 or whatever Asian grocery store is nearest you (again, if you don’t know—Google). Pick up carrots, chicken, onions and potatoes, and honestly you probably have half these ingredients from making other recipes on this list. If you’re not in the habit of keeping rice around, you can honestly get a box of rice to go at any takeout place for a few bucks and cook with it for several meals—but like, you really should just buy a one-pound bag from your grocery store for like, a dollar. You can add an egg or vegetables to round it out. You can make a huge pot of this and put the rest in the fridge to portion out throughout the week. Or you can be the coolest roommate ever and make extra for everyone.
6. Leftover Stir Fry
Get a to-go box of rice for a few bucks (or, like we said, even more rice for even less money at the grocery store), then throw it into a wok (or the closest pan you have to one) with leftover vegetables from your crisper. If you’ve got tofu, shrimp, or any other meats feel free to toss them in. It’s like how some days you know you need to do the laundry but if you throw on enough clashing items it’s almost like a choice. Same with the fried rice—use your best judgement on what food can go in there, but more than likely you’ll be able to finish off your leftovers while still filling up on a cheap meal.
If you’re not in the mood to cook but you only have $5, fill up on a falafel. This is one of the few things we enjoy both sober and drunk, and even more so when we’re high. A falafel sandwich is filling and cheap. And if you use your charm to get extra white sauce on the side, you can use it to make chicken and rice at home. Very resourceful.
8. Stuffed Baked Potato
You can make this at home easily with a potato (duh), green onions, cheese, sour cream, and anything else you want to throw into the potato. What else do you want us to say about this? It’s a potato. At least it’s not fries.
9. Rice And Beans
Yes it’s a little pedestrian, but rice and beans is probably the cheapest meal that will keep you full and last you all week, or until your next paycheck. Whichever comes first. And it’s extremely easy to make. You buy your aforementioned 10-pound bag of rice. You buy some canned black beans (we will also accept pinto beans—just not refried). You cook that shit up and mix it together. It’s very filling and won’t make you fat so long as you don’t go overboard on the rice. Sure, you’ll probably be puking at even the mention of the words “rice and beans” by the time you’re done with your serving, but as they say, nothing tastes as good as not being homeless feels.
Lentils are a genius legume that literally got me through my study abroad. There are a million kinds of lentils but I studied abroad in Paris, therefore, I ate French Green or Puy lentils. Cook up all the lentils your heart desires with a little bit of olive oil, some garlic, and whatever herbs you have on deck. If you can boil water, you can cook lentils. Eat that shit for the next few weeks. These lentils are super versatile so you can add caramelized shallots or onions if you’re fancy/not that broke, or even mix in some fancy seedy French mustard you have leftover from your last cocktail party. As far as cheap meals go, lentils are pretty much the complete package. They have your carbs, your protein, and your fiber, and again, you can buy them in bulk for super cheap and force them down your throat until you’re no longer poor.
Hooray! You survived. Now try not to blow your next paycheck on fancy dinners immediately. Or do, we don’t care.