Today I’m starting a new category of post called “New York on a Budget.” Although R & I are clearly not the first people to do Manhattan on a budget, I figured this is both a great way to bring insight to the joys and challenges of living in NYC and two, it’ll give me even more accountability than just knowing our financial goals or even writing them down without sharing them.
So, what are our financial goals?
- Really long term – live a good life, with financial stability and independence, while being able to take care of our (potential) children
- Intermediate term – survive the years of graduate school with as little debt as possible, so that we can get on with our lives
- Short-term goal – this year, when we have the most guaranteed income (my stipend is the biggest), use only the money we are getting, rather than spending down any of our savings
We have been very lucky that at this moment, we have NO debt. We graduated undergrad without debt (thanks to our parents!) and then moved Our plan for our time in NYC is simple – prevent ourselves from being in financial trouble later by NOT getting ourselves into debt now if we can possibly help it. That’s not to say that we haven’t thought about the situations under which we would take a loan – the two (or even three) semesters that aren’t covered by my scholarship are one area in particular. However, we’ve both agreed to take steps to reduce costs so that we can reduce the amount of loans we have to take out, if any.
The major difficulty we’re facing is two fold, though. We’ve gotten a better idea of what our household costs will be, since we now have an apartment and I’m working on utilities. We’ve made a couple of discoveries. For instance, we can get an alternate energy provider, so after we set everything up with ConEd we can switch to a different provider for a lower (think half price) rate. We also decided not to get cable, just Netflix streaming (since they are making me choose with the rate plan changes!) and internet, since I’ll need it for school.
So, aside from the fixed costs of living in a place, there’s also the costs of being alive in a place – especially groceries! For the last six months, I’ve been using Mint.com (based on a recommendation from Kosher on a Budget) to track our expenses, and use that as a guideline for the kinds of things we spend money on, knowing full well that there will be differences – it’s New York! I joke with R that I’m practicing – I’ve been printing coupons and trying to figure out what’s on sale at our local grocery store. Granted, moving day is 10 days away, so we’re not buying a lot of food at the moment, but I’m trying to get into the mindset. I’ve also been pouring over another website, called Money Saving Mom. I’m learning a lot and hoping to put it into practice as we get more and more settled in New York. I’ve also been using a piece of software called “Evernote” that I love. I’ve been looking around websites about the city and using Evernote to save pages in organized little notebooks – things like the nearest public library, and my selection of like, twelve grocery stores nearby that I’ll have to get used to.
It’ll be an experiment, and I’m excited to have you along with me!
So what’s your best tip for money saving? Or anything in particular you’re interested in about our new life in the city? Ask away!