Finance Friday,  Lifestyle,  NYC

Finance Friday: My Plan for Living in NYC on Less Than $2,000 a Month.

I am currently preparing to move to NYC to spend a year volunteering with the organization City Year. I am SUPER excited to be doing something meaningful and important. But, another perk is getting out of the office setting I’ve spent a year and a half in. The tradeoff for doing something that I’ve been wanting to do for a really long time is that I’m going to be living pretty much paycheck to paycheck each month.

This is going to be rough for a major shopaholic. But, I’ve created a pretty detailed budget plan that covers all of my necessities but also accounts for some fun activities as well. I’ve never created or had to stick to a budget before. So, these first couple months are going to be full of trials and errors. I’ve only researched how expensive it is to live in New York. I don’t know firsthand. So, once I get there, I’m sure I’ll be shifting things around a bit.

Apartment – $1300/Month

This is definitely a splurge for me on my budget. However, I wanted to live in a safe area and within walking distance of my school. I’ve found an awesome housing company that provides fully furnished apartments. They have pretty good reviews and the apartments are beautiful. I wanted to do a coliving situation because I don’t know anyone in the city and thought it would be an awesome way to meet people outside of my program. I’ve also learned throughout my time rooming with many people that everyone has a different standard of cleanliness and mine seems to be pretty high. Most coliving companies have the apartment cleaned a few times a month. Although this is pretty expensive when looking at my total income, it’s actually super cheap for being just a few blocks away from Central Park and for offering so many amenities (furnished, free cleanings, and background-checked roommates).

June Homes also allows for easy transfers. If I don’t get along with a roommate or find out my work is farther away than I’m anticipating, I have the opportunity to switch apartments without terminating my lease.

Groceries – $300/Month

I’ve allotted about $75 a week for groceries. My PLAN is to get my groceries delivered from Whole Foods. Prime members get discounts on select items and free delivery. If this gets too expensive, at least it will have eased me into buying my own groceries again and getting used to shopping in New York. One reason I’m really into this service is because I’m a little nervous about buying groceries and having to walk home (Especially for my first few weeks of shopping where I’ll need to buy a lot of new spices and supplies). Delivery might be best although it’s slightly more expensive.

Transportation – $3/Day 

City Year is unique because you don’t know where you will be placed until you start. I was assigned a neighborhood so I know that I will be working in East Harlem. I picked my apartment based on an article I found from a few years ago listing all of the schools that City Year works with in East Harlem. There’s a good possibility that these schools are out of date. But, I made sure I was about a 20 minute walk from all of them. 

It’s possible that the school that I’m assigned to may be out of this range. So, in case it’s further, I’ve allotted some money for transportation. Even if the school if farther, I’ll probably still walk or bike most days. But, I want to have some money set aside for colder, rainier, snowier days. I’m anticipating taking transportation an average of 10 days a month; less in the Summer, more in the Winter.

Caffeine Fix – $5/Week

I’m used to getting an iced tea from Dunkin every day before work. It will definitely take me a sec to wean myself of this habit. But, I’m giving myself a little bit of the budget to get this fix when I need it. I’ve heard City Year’s days are LONG so I’m anticipating needing all the caffeine I can get.

Fun Activities – $100/Month

As much as I am looking forward to exploring the city and doing fun things, quarantine may be in my way this Fall and Winter. However, it may be a blessing in disguise for my budget. I’ve allotted about $100/Month for fun activities, bars and clubs, and eating out. I’m used to going out in Philly and I’m assuming NYC’s prices are slightly higher. For months that I can’t go out during quarantine, I’ll save it for when things open back up again.

Savings – $100/Month

I’m hoping to continue contributing to my savings and my retirement accounts. I don’t want to waste a whole year of savings just because I’m making less than I’m used to.

Total: $1850/Month

I am anticipating each month to be different but I’m hoping to stick to this rough budget once I’m settled in. I’m sure my first couple months will be a little over as I’ll be stocking up on items for my apartment. But, I think if I live within my means, I’ll have been given the chance to do something I’ve always wanted to do without ruining my finances.

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