Money scenarios not to feel bad about

6 Aug

When you live in New York City, the temptation to keep up appearances will always, always be there. Unlike some smaller towns, there can be huge discrepancies in what you make versus what your friends make (especially if they “make” a trust fund).

Therefore, I give you full permission to stop feeling guilty about the following money scenarios — because hey, you just got here. Your first million will take some time.

1) Not going to every wedding you’re invited to.

Flight + hotel + entertainment + vacation time + new clothes = OMG. Thus, you can’t go to all your friends’ wedding when you live in NYC on a budget. On the bright side, it gives you a chance to shop for a fun, frugal, personal gift; I love Pearl River Mart.

2) Speaking up when a big group wants to split the bill.

You order an appetizer and water. The rest order an entree, three drinks and dessert. The bill comes, and someone mindlessly says, “Let’s split it five ways!” No.

If you’re involved in the restaurant choice, speak up — there’s never been a better time to blame the recession. If someone else is choosing, I check MenuPages so I know what to expect to spend. And the fact is, YOU’RE NOT BEING CHEAP. You are paying for what you ordered.

3) Not shopping when you can’t afford to shop.

Nuff. Said. I recently wrote about one of my first experiences with this. It involved crying.

4) Refusing to thrown down a $20 when “Everyone paid, so why are we still $100 short?”

OMG, this always happens, no? Make sure everyone has added tax AND TIP. If some look confused, help them figure out what they owe, and put a calculator app on your phone. Here’s how I do the mental math. Don’t make fun of me.

Total bill: $93.15
Move the decimal point 1 place to see what 10% is: about $9.31.
Double that — $18.62 — and you have 20%.
Estimate the midpoint of these two numbers — about $13.75 — and you have about 15%, a standard tip.

The moral of this post? You won’t always be poor — and when you’re not, you’ll remember what it was like to feel that way. That’s a character-building experience. I support anyone who’s financially independent in this city, no matter what they’re making. Because they’re making it work.


3 Responses to “Money scenarios not to feel bad about”

  1. just a tip 08/06 at 10:43 am #

    given that waiters’ average pay is $3.30 in manhattan, and cost of living is significantly higher than in similarly-waged cities, i’ve heard that the standard tip here is actually more like 20%.

  2. Qi 08/06 at 11:42 pm #

    I concur about the tip comment, the standard for NYC tips has gone up. Forgot where I saw the article, but it definitely makes sense. With that in mind, I’ve had your #2 happen before. I didn’t speak up because it was work some people from work. What can you do right?

  3. nowooski 08/07 at 12:52 am #

    I’ve always left tips int eh 18-25 percent rage. But since moving to NYC a few weeks ago, I’ve constantly felt the need to leave smaller tips–not because of budgetary concerns, but because the service has been so bad.

    It seems that unless you’re having the lunch special at Jean Georges, the restaurant service in NYC is abysmal. European, even…

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