Thursday, February 21, 2008

$25 and Under

Blogging will of course be light until I once again have a hard drive. But a post, in the meantime.

If this whole studying French Jews thing doesn't work out (I'm still enjoying it, but you never know with anything) I will be qualified for something all the same, and that something is writing a guide to living in New York with very little money. Sure, such guides exist, but often enough what a magazine calls "cheap" is what a graduate student calls a twice-yearly splurge.

The problem with such a guide is that most of what grad students do to not spend too much involves not spending, period. While there's something fun about showing a designer dress alongside the H&M version and showing the thousands of dollars worth of savings, if you don't buy either dress, you save maybe $30, but there's no glamorous way of conveying that choice. Dinner for $25 is indeed less than dinner for $100, but pasta at home...

There are, however, some unquestionable cheap thrills. I will now list two latest discoveries, product-placement style:

1) GapKids: Not a recent discovery so much as a recent rediscovery. My quest to dress more like a grownup led me to the Boys section of the Gap, where there's currently a two-for-$25 special on polo shirts. I was the only woman shopping in that section who was not a) Hasidic, and b) shopping for her children, but if this should have bothered me, it did not. I got one polo in pink and one in white, and have now extended my 'professional' look by two days of each laundry cycle.

2) DessertTruck: In a quest to keep hip NYU students well-fed, trucks selling high-end sweets are now waiting whenever grad students finish up with two back-to-back seminar classes. Yes, $5 sounded a lot for a snack, but chocolate bread pudding with vanilla creme anglaise was even more amazing than that sounds. (Possible counterargument: But I'm always hungry after the two afternoon classes, so I might also have raved about a Twix). Yet getting a substantial, day's-worth-of-calories dessert on the way to the weekly trip to the supermarket meant that the impending three-hour shopping, commuting, and cooking process went by without impulse purchases or even a moment of crankiness.


J. Otto Pohl said...

I have only been to NYC three times for ASN conferences at Columbia University, but I found lots of cheap food. If nothing else it is hard to beat a Nathan's hot dog purchased from a street vendor. Overall I found eating out in Manhatten cheaper than Sacramento.

Anonymous said...

Hi Phoebe! I was shopping for my CASA child and I came across the cutest hooded sweater (& possible dress w/ leggings) at GAP kids and it's actually my favorite purchase of HOL '07 (and one of the only purchases as I am on a spending moratorium). It was nice running into you by CB (that should give you a clue who this is) and we should get together for coffee sometime soon! My contact info is on facebook.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

I think I know who this is... but what is CB? Now I'm confused.

Anonymous said...

Hi Phoebe,

The City Bakery...hehe.