3 things I do on payday
It's no secret that living in New York City is expensive. I spent two years living in the East Village before relocating to the Upper East Side last September. Both neighborhoods are notoriously pricey and people often ask me questions about my rent, what I spend on groceries, how I save enough to travel and treat myself, etc.. I work in the creative education space as the editorial and social media manager for a small internal marketing team, and though I do well, NYC's pricey rent, luxury gym memberships and $17 cocktails require me to be financially diligent in order to live comfortably while still having fun.
I was recently interviewed by the Wall Street Journal's financial publication, Moneyish, for a piece on 'self-care' spending habits. So many people, I suspect in metro areas like NYC especially, prioritize a treat-yourself lifestyle that can have a nasty way of being fantastic and relaxing in the moment, then guilt and stress-inducing later on when the bills are due.
I thought it might be interesting to share a post on my saving/ spending habits, starting with a very simple list of things I do on payday.
1. The Important Stuff
My rent is due on the 1st of every month. Beyond rent, my most basic monthly expenses include:
- metrocard - $121 (this seems like a lot, but keep in mind- I don't own a car. no vehicle maintenance, no gas money, no monthly payment)
- gym membership - $27 (i'll be sure to share a future post on NYC fitness options, I've tried Classpass, ClassPassGo, luxury gyms, swimming pools, hot yoga, pilates, you name it). Eventually I landed on Blink Gym- I'm a runner who needs little more than a treadmill on rainy days and some weights for strength training. Blink is clean, organized and gigantic- most of their gyms are multiple stories and packed with beautiful equipment.
- internet - $33
= grand total of $181
The first thing I do on payday is pay my rent- no matter what day it is. Something I quickly figured out is that your landlord will never be mad at you for paying rent early-- so that's exactly what I started doing. My direct-deposit hits every other Thursday at midnight. First of all, a portion of that $ is deposited into a completely seperate savings accont- I hardly notice it's missing, and it's deposited into an account I have yet to touch- I highly reccomend setting things up this way if you haven't already. Most often, on Friday mornings somewhere around the 15th or 16th of the month, I send next month's rent in early. It was hard the first few times, again, because treat-yourself and go crazy is much more tempting, but this is the best change I have ever made in my spending habits.
Beyond that, I set aside that $181. I used the Quapital app when I was first getting started. It actually allowed me to transfer that money out of checking into Quapital, where I couldn't be tempted to dip into it every time I saw a new pair of shoes. I don't find I need that extra financial babysitting anymore, so I've just become accustomed to mentally setting aside ~ $200 for bills on payday without a second thought.
2. Something I Need
I keep an Amazon Wishlist. However, I try really hard to limit this list to "smart" purchases bordering on needs rather than wants - home upgrades and things I could really use, not treats and extras. For example right now in my wishlist cart you'll find:
So glamorous right? The paint on the wall next to my bed is peeling but instead of applying a fresh coat I'm looking to experiment with that peel-and-stick temporary wallpaper (I've read promising reviews). I need new pillow shams and running gear. A 100-pack of kcups will save me money in the long run, and the closest thing to a random treat on this list is the scrabble game. My boyfriend and I are big on board games and when I envision a future shared apartment interior design, a fabulous floor-to-ceiling living room shelving unit filled with retro-series games is something I would absolutely love, so I'm slowly growing a collection.
Every time I get paid, my second order of business is to pick one or two things from this list and have them shipped.
3. Something I Want
Once all the important stuff is taken care of, I can treat myself to something special, fully knowing my bills are paid and rent is mailed. It's honestly a great feeling and I personally find the 'self-care' experience more genuine this way. Living beyond your means and shopping so much that you're pinching pennies and panicking on the first of the month is not self-care, it's self-sabotage. Here's what I told my friends at Moneyish:
Depending on how my finances look (let's say I took a trip recently, or got sick and unexpected bills popped up, etc.), treating myself looks different every time. If I'm lucky, it could mean a salon appointment to get my hair styled and blown out. This month it meant these vintage leather Prada driving loafers (I styled them that day with a Marc Jacobs top and True Religion skinnies).
But like I mentioned to Moneyish, other days it's just not so extravagant.
Some days my treat is a trip to the library (I'm lucky enough to live next to one) for a new stack of books. Other days it's a manicure or a matinee by myself for some quiet time alone.
The more I make sure to limit myself to self-care splurges that are comfortably within my budget, the more I'm honoring the entire point of self-care: relaxation and good choices for my mental health and long term happiness.