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You pay for what you get

14 Aug

As flattering as it may be at the time, beware of “model calls.” My rookie mistake? Going for a free haircut at Bumble & bumble University Model Project in the Meatpacking District. This seems to be something new New Yorkers flock to — after all, I was being offered a free haircut at the height of vulnerable newcomerness, when I was sticker-shocked by the cost of everything. Many people may’ve had a good experience at Bb, and I don’t want to discount that. I, however, looked like this:

This flippy thing lasted six months.

My 'flippy cut' period. It lasted six months and seemed worse at the time.

The stylist’s supervisor was there to critique as the cut was in progress, which would’ve comforted me except that he kept saying, “Hmm, this isn’t quite right.” So the stylist kept going around, and around, and AROUND my head. All he knew to do to fix what was broken was to cut more off. When I came to, I had a faux-Farrah-looking thing going on. If you do decide to go, however, here’s what goes down:

• You may wait in line and be turned away — depends on if they have room for you. Get there early!
• The view and atmosphere is really cool, and they have a cash snack and drink bar while you wait.
• You don’t get to choose the cut you want, but you know in advance what styles they’re practicing that week.
• Bb also offers free styling and color (which I’d feel safer doing, if only for lack of permanence).

All this being said, I don’t want to dump all over Bb! I’d love to hear from someone who liked the cut they got. Anyone want to weigh in on this — or any other freebie that turned out well?

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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.

Take what little money you have, and give some away

4 Aug

I’m not one to part with my money out of guilt , so I don’t. (Back to that in a sec.) I’m not talking about the men who stand at a subway escalator and shake a cup. But I like giving money to subway performers (even if they’re not sanctioned by the city) who make the steamy, sticky platform a little cooler:

• Waiting for the L train, I saw a juggler/optical illusionist. Dude folded a dollar bill and balanced it on his forehead, which I thought was incredible — until he put another one of top of that one to make a T shape and did it again. $1 for you, sir. You’re a gentleman and a scholar.

• On the uptown 6 platform last week, a man singing Spanish songs on the guitar had the most beautiful voice. $1 for him! I always appreciate the musician buskers*.

• I also have a soft spot for the improv comics on the Shuttle (S), even though it’s driven by the captive-audience tactic. But they always make everyone laugh, even the suits. Last night a guy said, “Go ‘head and smile — it won’t mess up your hair!”

Returning to the guilt thing, here’s a story of when I got it wrong: In 2004, before I lived here, a man approached me outside the Times Square McDonald’s. “I’m really, really, really hungry” were his words; I’ll never forget them. I should have bought him a hamburger; instead, I got nervous and walked away. I can’t say for sure I did the wrong thing, but I sure feel like I did.

*Unless it’s so loud I can’t think or hear an announcement over the speaker. Who am I kidding? Those crap speakers are inaudible anyway.