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Old 07-14-2010, 07:57 AM
 
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
20 posts, read 36,972 times
Reputation: 50

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As a new college graduate that's recently set up a new home in the City, I think I have all my bases covered -- but I wanted to submit my monthly budget for anyone who cared to peruse it and see what I've missed out on. I'd much appreciate any and all feedback!

Please let me know if this is reasonable and what else I should expect. I'm a single Asian female who will be working in midtown, living in a luxury high rise (thanks to a slightly insane amount of roommates in my apartment). Salary is just south of $60k, so I calculated monthly take home as a little over $3k.

Rent: $1250
Gym: $50 (facilities are in building, this is my building's rate)
Laundry: $0 (washer/dryer unit in apartment, my post grad stuff isn't good enough to need dry cleaners. Basic stuff from Banana.)
Utilities/cable/internet: $75 (again thanks to said high amount of roommates, and building covering water and gas. We got Sprint's triple play.)

Food: $500 (intend to do quite a bit of home cooking, and prefer Asian food when I eat out)
Going out: $300 (Roommates are either single or love going out anyway, this is where I'm most uncertain)
Shopping/random fripperies: $300 (I'm a bit of a minimalist -- hate stuffed closets and so many pairs of shoes that I look like I'm opening my own shoe store.)
Metro/cab: $50 (not getting a monthly card, will walk to most places)

This takes me up to around $2500, so I'll have a little over $500 to put towards savings/investments. Thankfully, no debt. How am I looking?

Last edited by cityathrt; 07-14-2010 at 09:06 AM..
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Old 07-14-2010, 08:52 AM
 
Location: New York, NY
917 posts, read 2,553,743 times
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Three things-

1) Are you sure the laundry is free? My building has laundry but you still have to pay for it (coin machines) so you might need to budget for that. If your apartment has a washer/dryer in the unit, you might need to budget a little extra for utilities depending on your lease.

2) You'll want to rethink the metrocards, especially in the winter. I like to walk as well, so in the spring and fall when it's nice, I get a pay as you go card for about $40 and use it for weeks, but when it's really hot or really cold, you will NOT want to to walk.

3) Health insurance- is that covered through work and do you have to pay for any of it on your own?

Other than that, your numbers make sense if you can stick to the budget. My BF and I spend $500 on food between the two of us, but I love to cook and we generally eat breakfast at home and take leftovers for lunch. We still go out 1-2x a week as well, but keep the tab under $50. I started budgeting a few months ago to save for grad school, and I found that I saved about $25 a week just by eating breakfast at home instead of grabbing a bagel and coffee every morning. If you are smart, you can trim your food budget but you certainly don't need to if you like eating at home.

As long as you are smart with your leftover money and don't try to live like SATC until you're making a couple hundred thousand, you'll be fine.
There's a lot of cool free stuff (like the Met Opera's HD summer series- free opera in the Met plaza!) so you can keep your entertainment budget down. Also, a lot nice hair salons have their own beauty schools, so if you check craigslists, you can usually get free hair cuts at nice salons. I've done this many times and saved over $1000 in hair cuts by getting it done for free (I have a classic bob, which is a favorite of salon schools). The instructors are usually supervising, so if the student starts to go wrong, there's a professional on hand to step in and fix it before it gets too bad.
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Old 07-14-2010, 09:00 AM
 
Location: New York, NY
917 posts, read 2,553,743 times
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Oh, one more thing.

Furniture.

When I moved into my first NYC apartment, I ran down my savings fully furnishing my apartment instead of just buying a little at a time as I had money. My roommates and I had everything we wanted, but I had no savings anymore, which made it tough when I was having trouble getting freelance gigs.

If you don't have money saved up for this purpose or furniture to bring, get furniture in pieces instead of blowing all your money at once. I wish I'd just bought a bed and some hangers when I first moved and gotten the closet organizers, night stands, desks, coffee tables, etc as I got the money for them instead of killing my savings. If you don't have money set aside for furniture, I'd put some money aside for that for at least the first few months til you're settled.

The kicker is, after all that, I ended up practically giving away my furniture when my BF and I got a 3 year lease on a furnished apartment, so I really don't have anything to show for blowing my money.
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Old 07-14-2010, 09:16 AM
 
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
20 posts, read 36,972 times
Reputation: 50
Oh, my bad! Typo, the washer/dryer is actually in my apartment -- not building. So yes, especially since I'm not paying for water that definitely makes laundry free, other than the bottle of detergent and box of drying sheets. Fixed my original post.

Very good point about the Metrocards, completely failed to consider NY winters. I think I'll have to budget some money for initial winter gear since I'm coming from the mid-Atlantic.

Health insurance is covered through work, but I'm not sure how much will be coming out of my own pocket. All new hires received some type of vague brochure, and I'm supposing we'll receive concrete details during training.

I WISH I'd gotten your advice about furniture earlier! One of my roommates was very persuasive/insistent on all of us ordering in bulk through Ikea to save on shipping costs -- and that was a small nightmare in itself with defective merchandise, lots of coordinating, blahdeblahdeblah. I hate Ikea with a passion now and never want to buy anything from them. When (and not if) the Ikea stuff starts to break, I'll be looking at local NYC furniture stores for replacements made out of real wood at the same price! (Yes, still a tad bit ticked off right now.)

Thank you so much for your posts! They've been very helpful. As I suspected, after factoring in some additional expenses, insurance, and contributing to my Roth... money is going to be tight and not much is going to be going into savings accounts. Oh sigh.
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Old 07-14-2010, 11:25 AM
 
Location: New York, NY
917 posts, read 2,553,743 times
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The easiest thing to cut will be your food budget because you can eat breakfast at home and pack lunches for a fraction of the cost of eating out. Where are you moving to? There may be a cheap grocery store near you. My BF and I live near the UWS Fairway, but we walk 10 blocks to Western Beef because they are a much cheaper grocery store. We used to spend $60 a week on the basics at fairway, but now we buy most of our non-perishables at WB when they have a sale and get our produce from local fruit stands- saves us a ton of money on food each month.
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Old 07-14-2010, 05:50 PM
 
11,671 posts, read 21,231,508 times
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If your $500 for food includes eating out and your $300 for "going out" is just drinks & cabs home late night, you'll be just fine. I think you will end up taking more cabs/ subway/ bus than you think- $50 a month will go quickly if you get stuck in the rain or you want to go home hours before your roomates/ friends do or if you're hauling stuff home from Bloomingdale's or Bed Bath & Beyond (the two stores that sucked money out of my wallet my first year in the city!)

Be sure to set aside money throughout the year for haircuts and dr co-pays and prescriptions (medical insurance doesn't include dental and dental insurance SUCKS in general- count on at least $100-150 out of pocket for each dental cleaning). Set aside for plane trips home, family Christmas and birthday presents (or whatever gift giving occasions you observe), vacation/ trips, wedding presents (you're in your 20's- the waves of weddings will hit every 2-3 years) and bridesmaid expenses (figure $1000 for every wedding you're in- dress, showers, bacheloretter party, gifts, add more if out-of-town). Setting up your apartment & building a professional wardrobe will take a lot of money the first year, but much less after that.

Just make sure you're putting aside money from your $500 left over each month to account for these irregular expenses and you won't ever have to get sucked into the credit card vortex. I image you'll end up saving closer to $3k per year than $6k.

Oh- and don't EVER treat your tax refunds (especially now that you'll get bigger ones than ever before- probably $1000-3000 depending on your exact finances) as "spending money" or a "bonus." That is YOUR MONEY right out of your paycheck, so stick it in your savings account or use it towards the irregular expenses above. Don't blow it on Manolos- unless you get a great pair at Barney's at 70% off!
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Old 07-14-2010, 06:08 PM
 
Location: Confines of the 101 Precinct
19,086 posts, read 32,666,756 times
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no cell phone?
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Old 07-14-2010, 09:27 PM
 
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
20 posts, read 36,972 times
Reputation: 50
AHH! Turtlecreek thank you for your heart attack inducing post. It covered quite a few points I had completely forgotten about. Presents and weddings are a very good point, especially as my first one's coming up next year down the coast. Eurgh. Definitely not enough money to blow on Manolos or Louboutins now, and I'd so looked forward to getting my first pair. I'm hoping irregular expenses won't come to more than.. $200 a year. But that may be wishful thinking.

StinaTado -- I'm in Midtown West, perilously close to Times Square and as a result, haven't figured out where any of the cheap grocery places are. I definitely hope to brownbag most of my lunches, but will follow suit with whatever my coworkers do.

SeventhFloor -- another huge blind spot. I'm on my family's plan right now, and my folks haven't said what will happen now that I'm a "respectable working person". I looked at Sprint's package though and will most likely go for one of their $50/month packages. Bleeding from little $50 cuts all the time!

Thank you all for your posts, they were truly very helpful.
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Old 07-14-2010, 09:53 PM
 
10,604 posts, read 20,734,839 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cityathrt View Post
AHH! Turtlecreek thank you for your heart attack inducing post. It covered quite a few points I had completely forgotten about. Presents and weddings are a very good point, especially as my first one's coming up next year down the coast. Eurgh. Definitely not enough money to blow on Manolos or Louboutins now, and I'd so looked forward to getting my first pair. I'm hoping irregular expenses won't come to more than.. $200 a year. But that may be wishful thinking.

StinaTado -- I'm in Midtown West, perilously close to Times Square and as a result, haven't figured out where any of the cheap grocery places are. I definitely hope to brownbag most of my lunches, but will follow suit with whatever my coworkers do.

SeventhFloor -- another huge blind spot. I'm on my family's plan right now, and my folks haven't said what will happen now that I'm a "respectable working person". I looked at Sprint's package though and will most likely go for one of their $50/month packages. Bleeding from little $50 cuts all the time!

Thank you all for your posts, they were truly very helpful.
You have to add about $12 worth of taxes and fees onto whichever cell phone plan you get. The bills here always include an insane amt of extras, and not ones you can get out of. Also if the $50 plan doesn't include texting, add on at least $5 a month (20 cents per text) for when your friends text you -- not everyone will know you don't have unlimited texting and they will probably text you regardless.

One cheap market in midtown west not far from Times Square is Stiles Farmers Market. You can check reviews on yelp. The Big Apple Meat Market is next door and also cheap.
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Old 07-15-2010, 09:17 AM
 
Location: NYC & NJ
747 posts, read 2,209,252 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cityathrt View Post
Food: $500 (intend to do quite a bit of home cooking, and prefer Asian food when I eat out)
Going out: $300 (Roommates are either single or love going out anyway, this is where I'm most uncertain)
If you cook at home, you'll save a lot. NYC is also great about having a tremendous variety of 'inexpensive' places (let's define it as entrees being $8-15). Anyway, depends on how often you go out, but you could save quite a bit of that combined $800 if you needed it for something else.

Quote:
Shopping/random fripperies: $300 (I'm a bit of a minimalist -- hate stuffed closets and so many pairs of shoes that I look like I'm opening my own shoe store.)
Not really sure how $300/month on random shopping qualifies as 'minimalist'...

Anyway, I think your best bet is to take it slow and keep your discretionary spending pretty low the first couple months. See how it goes. If you see you're saving 1k+ per month, you'll know you can go out/spend a bit more, enjoy life and still meet your budget/savings targets. However, if you're being initially frugal and still saving 500, you'll know something was wrong with your above budget.
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