Stories

FINDING HER COMMON CENTS

Katie, 27, didn’t always have enough cash to afford the excesses New York City has to offer, but quickly found a way to do the things she wanted to do with change leftover in her wallet.

The summer after graduation, I moved to New York with $5,000 and no job.

I knew I had to be frugal, and I was well prepared. Ever since I was little, I was financially conscious. My parents always made me save half of my money and when I applied to colleges, I made sure to also prioritize scholarships.

So I saved up all summer and stayed at my friend’s place in Jersey City for the first week to get my footing and meet new people.

I got in touch with someone through Airbnb who had an open room in Union City for the month, and it was perfect until she had a new renter and asked me to leave. I said, “I was here first,” and she offered me another room that didn’t have a bed for half the price, which wasn’t ideal, but I got an air mattress to save as much money as I could. I wanted to live within my means.

I finally moved into a real apartment on a long-term lease, and my biggest advice for that is to negotiate. It’s hard, since New York apartments are so in-demand, but you have to. I was able to negotiate $300 off my monthly rent by being able to show that I was a good tenant and I was going to take care of the place.

In terms of my paycheck, I contribute to both my 401(k) and Roth IRA, and once I see how much I contribute to both, I know how to manage the rest of my money.

To keep track of my spendings, I used the app Mint. It helped me easily keep track of all my accounts, including my checking, savings, credit card expenses, 401(k), Roth IRA and my transactions. The most helpful part was that I could say I’m only spending $20 this month on coffee shops, and it keeps me accountable.

But, I’m living in New York City! I wanted to have fun and experience everything the city offers.

Instead of starting my night late, I’d suggest getting drinks during happy hour and end up spending half of what I would have spent — plus, I can get home earlier, which is always nice.I took advantage of Groupon deals or corporate discounts that gave me deals on shows, baseball games and helicopter rides.

I once even found $7 tickets to see orchestra performances at Lincoln Center. I ended up making such a fun night out of it, on a budget.

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