Musings New York

The Completely Irrational but Completely Logical Budgeting Compromises New Yorkers Make

In a city where rent prices are high and some people are so broke that tonight they will be going to sleep for dinner, budgeting becomes as much part of everyday life as toothpaste and condoms. The irony is what New Yorkers rationalize budgeting on and, simultaneously, with the same illogical logic, emptying their bank accounts on necessities like cabs and gin-and-tonics. These are some of our favorite compromises. Because, after all, isn’t life all about compromise?

1. Food vs Clothing
When it comes to food, we will splurge $15 on a burger. Though when it’s a $20 clothing item in question, we will take the pose of The Thinker by Auguste Rodin, and wonder just how badly we want this item. What has this item ever done for us? It will eventually just shrink in the dryer and break our hearts. Let’s face it, we already have plenty of people that do that for free. We will wonder what chain of events brought us to this point. Where did all our money go? Then, we will pull ourselves together, take a deep breath, put the item back on the rack, and go buy a $5 latte to get us through the rest of the day.
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2. Liquor Shops vs Cocktails 
Whether it’s Two Buck Chuck at Trader Joe’s or the $8 massive bottle of Pino Grigio at Wine & Spirits, when it comes to liquor shops, New Yorkers go cheap or go home. The $20 bottle of champagne you bought for your friend on her birthday is just as good as the $29 one, right? She’ll never know the difference! But our budgeting in liquor and wine shops is only to make up for the $8-15 cocktails we’re ordering at the bar on a night out. Because on our expansive list of things we refuse to spend money on, somehow, overpriced cocktails never seem to make the list. We blame Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda.
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3. Subway vs Taxis 
Subway prices are surging. What used to be an economical ride is now a staggering *drum roll* $2.75! So, when about to take the Q to Chinatown from Midtown to meet friends for dumplings, we reevaluate the distance. It’s a nice day out, only a warm 45 degrees, an easy 50 minute walk! The unforgiving, cold winter breeze will keep us company! And it’ll be worth it because we get to save almost a full $3.00, that we can spend on the $15 cab ride home later at 3:00am when we’re too drunk to care.
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4. Friends vs Dates 
How many times have we denied or even ended up canceling brunch or dinner with friends in order to save a couple bucks? (Alright, in New York city it is more like a couple 40 bucks to be precise.) However, when it comes to dates, we convince ourselves it is an investment! Whether you’re on the paying end of the spectrum, or investing in a new outfit or getting your hair done/cut, dates are not limited by the budget. Is it because the hunt to get laid or married is so significant to us, or do we simply value spending time with friends less? Are friends on the list of things we can live without, along with Whole Foods and Netflix? We buy our significant-other meals and presents, but we George Constanza our friends to pay us back for that subway ride we spotted them on when their slot read Insufficient Funds. Our own funds seem to be sufficient enough for the temporary people in our lives that can potentially get us off, but not the ones that are here to stay.
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