13. James Makes a Budget (And Then Shits On It)


Here are the basics.

So. I live in Astoria. It takes me 35-40 minutes to get to Times Square 42nd Street bu I only have to take one subway. I live in a one-bedroom with two other people. The living room has a door so it’s David’s room. I share my room with Kaylee. My bed is lofted. We both have full-sized beds. It’s a nice sized room. Not huge. But comfortable. We have basic internet and cable through Time Warner, though right now they could suck my dick because our internet has been on-and-off for two months. And they have fixed it TWICE. So. I’ll break it down into the bare necessities.

Rent for this one bedroom is $1525 total. We split it like this:

David: 40%
Me: 30%
Kaylee: 30%

So here’s my monthly budget:


RENT: $457.50
(You can expect to pay at least $600 for your own room. I’ve been told that I could get my own room for $500 in Washington Heights and it takes about the same time to get to Times Square, maybe a little less: 30 minutes. Washington Heights is above the upper west side in Manhattan; 155 st and up. Also, I’ve been told Harlem has some cheaper apartments. And it’s not as bad a neighborhood anymore; it’s become gentrified. Yes, you do need to be careful, but it’s not nearly as bad as it’s reputation. Harlem is also above the upper west side in Manhattan but below Washington Heights; 110 st to 155 st. Astoria is getting a bit pricey. People generally say that if you have your own room and you pay $800 or less, you’re lucky)

(I buy a monthly metrocard. If you go in and out of Manhattan in a day, you spend like $5.50. I work in Manhattan so I take the subway almost every day. In WI, I was paying like $30 per week on gas so I’m actually saving money on transportation. Just get the monthly pass. It’s necessary because you need to be able to get to auditions. Also, if you lose it, you can file a claim and be refunded for the rest of the days on your metrocard. Trust me, I lost mine and they refunded me the remaining days I had left on the card and they canceled the card I lost. You can file 2 claims per year. The first one is free. The second one costs like $5. You just have to tell them your credit card number.)

(I’m not so sure about this one for the winter. And actually, thus far, I’ve paid less than that. So far, the most I’ve paid for this is $35 but I’m splitting a bill 3 ways, so the bill for the whole apartment is like $125. I’m sure I will actually be paying at least $60 when the radiator is on full-time, but so far, I’ve been over-estimating, just in case. That way, if I over-estimate, I can have extra money at the end of the month instead of scrounging for change.)

(Once again, I’m splitting the bill three-ways so it actually turns out to be $60 per month. But this one doesn’t go up and down. But I must admit, I DO want to kill Time Warner in the butt.)

(This is based on a month being defined as 4 weeks. So I give myself about $50 per week. But if you plan on never eating out while in the city, you should give yourself a little more money because then you will need to buy more food; you can pack lunches if you’re smart. Some things are cheaper out here, some are more expensive. But I can definitely survive off this.)

(If you go to the laundromat once a week, you can get by on just $5 a week. You won’t have huge loads. You can wash all your clothes together as long as you wash it on cold. Just make sure you separate them into smaller loads for drying, otherwise it will take forever and you will waste your money.)

(This has NOT been enough in the past and I usually end up dipping into my emergency fund. But I use this for various things like deodorant, toothpaste, toilet paper, resumes, printing music. But again, I have been spending more than this. To order my postcards, I spent $100 alone. Fluck. So, just be aware that you will be spending more money when you first get here cuz you’re getting settled.)

(…for emergency deodorant. or flights home… or at least a one-way ticket flight home.)

SO. On these bare essentials, I pay:


Now, I make at least $18/hr at one of my jobs. After taxes, I figure I make about $15.3/hr. So. I work 8-hr shifts. That means I need to work about 3 shifts per week. That’s not too terrible. So. Bare essentials. I will update soon with the cost of luxuries like dance class. But also, be aware that I share my room. You need to make at least $15/hr here. Getting a job is about networking. I suggest asking your friends for help. I also suggest trying to get into waiting tables. All work out here is flexible/unreliable but then again, that describes the schedule of a theatre person.

I hope this helps!!




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