Reader mail: “I have zero savings.”

22 Sep

I got the sender’s permission to repost this; I hope it’s helpful to you all. I know a LOT of you are worried about whether you have, or will have, enough money to move to New York, and what roof will be over your head once you arrive. Read on to see our exchange — his predicament, then my advice.

“So I just got a job in Times Square, and I’m moving to NYC ASAP. I’ll have an income starting October, but I have zero savings.  I have a friend who is looking to move out of his apartment in the next few months, and is willing to contribute a decent chunk of change to our rent if we move into a two-bedroom. The problem is: I cannot afford the security deposit/fees. He is considering taking out a loan. (AHHH! Stop. Please. Alejandro.) I have two options: Crash at my uncle’s (for as long as he allows) and friends’ places for as long as I can take the awkwardness, and try to save $3000+ or live in a room rental place for six months to save up enough. Thanks for your consideration and awesome blog!”

Hi Diego*,

Here’s what: Stay at your uncle’s. Watch your pennies like a hawk. You can’t go out every night in New York right away, so discipline yourself fast and know that not going into debt is the absolute best reward you can give yourself for following your New York dream. Racking up debt on account of “But I deserve it!” is cliché.

There’s no shame in easing into your new life slowly and doing the right thing.

I’d be careful about moving in with anyone — especially a friend — who’s promising to float your share of the rent to a disproportionate degree, let alone someone who needs a loan (!!) to do so in the first place. Things tend to get out of round quickly in situations like that. A better option is to move in with someone you don’t know via rooms/shares on Craigslist, show proof you WILL have income, and see if it’s OK to post-date your security deposit check until you have the funds. It can’t hurt to ask.

I would never advise someone with no savings to pay a broker’s fee. That $2,000 you’re giving them to open the front door? Better saved or spent elsewhere. Also, do your math: if your rent would have you treading near or above 45 percent of your income,  look around: A studio on a train line but a little farther uptown might save you a lot of dough. Ipso facto, more going-out money.

Cheers, mate, and good luck.
Sarah Protzman

*Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

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