I love my credit card -- and I'll be the first to admit it. I'm twenty, an intern in New York City, and just as addicted to plastic as any other Millenial college kid seeking to get her fill of the city before she packs up for school in the fall. I've had an ongoing, sometimes tempestuous but always inseparable, relationship with credit since I applied for my first piece of plastic two years ago as a sophomore in college.
Within a year I had spent over $1,000 on everything from the necessities (groceries, bus fares, and university course books) to the questionable necessities (three pairs of running shoes for seasonal workouts, an iWork package which I never ended up using and a year's subscription to the Economist) to the impulse spends (a pair of vintage cowboy boots I've worn once, a collection of art history books which I've recently donated and a yoga mat that remains mostly rolled up in a corner somewhere). On top of this, I consistently made minimum payments each month with no idea how much I was actually paying in interest and fees.
I am (or was) Generation Debt. While I may have been coached on how to ace the SATs and write a sonnet in iambic pentameter, I've never attended a basic course on personal budgeting, the dangers of stacking up on credit cards, and the fine print on how much I'd have to save to pay back my student loans. The average college kid owes $2,200 in plastic and graduates with $23,186 in student loan debt. Even if you have a paying a job when you've got that diploma in hand, you're still starting life with 25 grand in liabilities (not including interest, which starts compounding like wildfire the longer you defer payment).
It wasn't until two months after I moved to New York and started working a paid gig that I was able to really pull myself out of the credit mire. But here I am, nearly six months into living in New York as an intern and with a credit card balance of less than $100. A proud resident of the Upper West Side, I've been able to I've been determined to live in frugal fashion since my move to the city. But even so, one thing I learned VERY quickly as a new intern in this City that Never Sleeps is that while it may be possible to skive on snoozing (at least until your day's work is done), it is NOT possible to resist the temptations that strike you on the sidewalk, in your office, when you're out with your friends on a window-shopping trip.
So after nearly six months of living the 20-year-old lifestyle in New York, I'm paying it forward with The Frugal Intern, a blog full of advice for newbies in the city trying to survive without breaking the bank.
I'll be chronicling my spending here until the end of the summer, writing about everything from buying weekly groceries to transportation options in the city to saving on gym fees I will arm you with what you need to know to begin saving immediately -- a little bit like a "How To" guide but tailored to helping you navigate the spending scene as an intern in one of the most expensive cities in the world. I'll cover as many specific topics as I can, if you have any that you'd like to request, please leave a comment to the post!
I'm setting a $100 per week limit as an after-rent spending budget and besides giving a quick rundown of daily spending patterns, I'll also include a few interesting savings and deals roundups and insights that don't fall neatly into any given category.
Go here for my first post, and be sure to check back for updates, and get ready to balance your budget this summer!
Follow Betty Jin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Bettyjin