I'm Broke and It's My Fault

2:40 pm. Friday: I have 50 dollars to my name.

 

I had just finished my class, and needed to take the 2 train back up to midtown to get my paycheck. I swiped my card at the turnstile, pushing with the thrust of a thousand Gods on to the nearest platform. I was stopped by a brutal force. I hadn't prepared for this battle. I was standing in the face of the most powerful and heart-wrenching demon, a screen that read "Insufficient Fare." The green glow, piercing my eyes with the intensity of a demolishing fire, sweat began to roll down my Glossier infused forehead. I felt a single tear form in my eye, the cry of the poor. I ran to the quickest machine to fill up my card. 2.75…Two-Seventy Five. Why, Two-Seventy Five, Why? Is this the equivalent of gas prices? Do I need to fill up my metaphorical tank? Why am I paying so much for transportation when I don't even have the comfort or luxury of privacy? I shouldn't pay almost 3 dollars every time I want to go uptown only to see a man sucking on the bones of his previous meal he decided to bring on the train while a very upset, crying baby writes the soundtrack for the moment. I clicked the option I usually opt for, a 20 dollar speedy fill up, and I was on my way. After all, I was planning on picking up my paycheck.

 

 

3:43 pm. Friday: I have 30 dollars to my name.

 

I left my work place with the same net worth. I couldn't get my money because of a complication with my form. Defeated, I left. As I stood on the street, sweating profusely through my orange and white striped shirt, I looked up for a moment and saw a familiar face--which in New York, running into a friend in a crowd of strangers is hitting the emotional lottery. Naturally, I kicked her so she would stop and recognize me. As we were talking, I remembered that I had been up since 8 and had not eaten anything, so I asked her to get lunch. She agreed, but I noticed she was carrying a large black bag. I assumed it was a bag full of wigs or art supplies, but she told me that it was her laundry. Knowing that there was a laundry room in her dorm, I stood perplexed. It was then she informed me that the American Eagle in Union Square has a basement where the public can openly do their laundry for free (all supplies included). My friend is some type of thrifty genius. 

We decided that we would get lunch at a cafe nearby that our mutual friend works at so we could have overpriced finger sandwiches while simultaneously harassing our friend. We had about 40 minutes of down time, and I needed to buy $20 dollars of supplies at a local store. In my most ignorant state, I bought the supplies without checking my bank account. Within 20 minutes I had gone from being really broke to sad broke.

 

4:02 pm. Friday: I have 8 dollars to my name.

 

I suddenly realize that I can't afford to eat food with my friend at the cafe we had originally planned on going to and since walking into an establishment without any intention of purchasing a good/service, alongside harassing a staff member, isn't really socially acceptable, we had to come up with something else. Since I had already taken away a good 30 minutes of her day, I said I would go with her to get food. As she waited in line, the cashier asked me if I was going to order anything. I simply looked at him and said "no, I'm too broke." We both laughed it off, but there was a very real sadness in the laugh. It was a pity laugh from all parties. I was broke, but at least I could still be funny. I continued on this self-deprecating monologue of how I have no money and how I wish Karl Marx's plan for communism was just a little bit stronger. The cashier felt so bad he gave me 50 cents and drew me a smiley face sticker. I don't know how I accidently put myself in a situation where I was a suffering comic struggling to make ends meet, but the cashier and his friend laughed and said that my situation was an all too familiar experience. I guess this is the first time I ever got payed for my stand-up.

 

4:15 pm. Friday: I have 9 dollars and a sticker to my name. 

 

My friend and I are walking home. In the pauses of our conversation, I'm thinking of all the ways I can make money. I could sell my clothes, be a sugar baby, over-charge NYU students for essays and research papers, sell pictures of my feet on the internet (but that would mean having to buy nail polish). Anything that would get me some form of money as quickly as possible as I wait for my paycheck, but I don't want to do any of those things. I could start stealing, I guess, in the name of communism and denounce capitalism as some type of Marxist vigilante. But I'd rather be broke than have to pay any type of bail later. In this time of debating and spiraling, I realized that being broke was completely my fault. I was being completely irresponsible with my money and my budgeting. There was no one else to blame. It wasn't the faults of Marx, Capitalism, America, or the financial system. It was mine.

For some reason, I had forgotten how expensive New York was. I spent my first month back like I was an Instagram model, trying to live a lifestyle of cabs to class and postmates for dinner. But I ain't got that Kendall Jenner money. I somehow forgot that I don't have to means to live in New York like a celebrity, I have the means to live in New York like a student. I started to back track all my mistakes.

I shouldn't have bought those textbooks without asking my upperclassmen friends if they have them. I shouldn't have bought 8 face masks from Walgreens when I had some at home. I shouldn't have bought 8 notebooks from the going out of business supply store by campus because everything was 50% off. I completely disregarded my sense of thriftiness, my budgeting, and my smart shopping. I was deluded. I had totally forgotten every smart shopping tips and tricks I had read on Buzzfeed throughout my life. The reason I was broke was because I made myself broke. 

Granted, I know this is not a unique story and that millions of students experience this, but I started to beat myself up for my lack of discretion and common sense. I got caught up in indulgences and #TreatingMyself, when I really should have been #CheckingMyself. I wanted to go back in time and bully my past self, but since time travel has still not been released into the public, I knew I could learn from my mistakes. It's completely normal to get caught up in the fast pace of the city and lose sense of your financial realities, but if there's anything to take away from my experiences, it's to be aware and realistic about your money. Find tips and tricks. Find loopholes. Set budgets and calendars for yourself. Never rely on how much money you will have in the future. Always plan accordingly, and if all else fails, go to your local sub shop and perform until a man gives you 50 cents and a sticker.