A Work Week in New York on a $0 Budget

Credit card debt is an ugly thing.

I normally don’t have it, but having to buy some of my own furniture and decor for the move forced me into a little bit of it.

That’s what inspired me to do this project for a week.

Not spending money in general is hard for me, but not spending money in New York is nearly impossible. Around every corner there is a temptation to spend; a cute top in a store window, a pop-up food cart, or a night out with friends pulls at my pocket at all times.

There are some rules to this I’m creating for myself:

- I have an unlimited monthly Metrocard, that is my only transportation. If I cave and get an Uber or taxi, that counts against my budget.
- I bought groceries for the week, that is my only form of food. Any eating out (including coffee) counts against my challenge.
- Any rent fees that are due don’t count against the challenge (rent, electric bill, cable bill, etc).
Obviously, if some terrible thing happens, I’ll fix it.

Other than that: NO SPENDING. For real.

Let’s kick off NYC Free Fun Week 2016!


8:30 am - Rolled out of bed and got ready for work. Made Juliet and I waffles from the freezer (she slept over). Packed lunch for work, made a coffee, and ran out the door.

9:30am - Took the 1, 7, and G trains to work.

10:30am - Arrived 3 minutes early, score! The whole team ordered out for lunch, but I ate my PB&J in peace. People tried my cotton candy grapes from Whole Foods and were impressed.

5:30pm - got off work early! Took the L to Union Square. Decided to kill some time by getting some more groceries I didn't pick up yesterday...yikes. Whole Foods always sucks my wallet dry. I went over my grocery budget for the week, which really stinks. But I wanted to get some extra stuff since I won't be eating out at all. You win some, you lose some.

6:30PM - took the L to the Meatpacking for a Samsung837 event!

7pm - time for my free meditation class with Juliet and Heather! We went on the roof of Samsung 837, it was so peaceful. Got free yoga mats, snacks, and refreshments!

Rooftop Meditation

Rooftop Meditation

7:45pm - I had a free drink coupon for Samsung's coffee bar, so I tried their Almond Palmer. Had to throw it away a few minutes later, was not a fan. At least it was free!!

8pm - bought nothing at Anthropologie by some miracle! Took the C train home.

9pm - cooked rigatoni for dinner, until a certain guest arrived...A MFING COCKROACH. I could hardly eat after that. Gussie was in Jersey so it was all mine to deal with. Luckily my friends and parents didn't care when I Facetimed them crying. He disappeared, so I felt pretty uneasy to sleep that night to say the least.

2am - painted nails at home and went to bed.

Monday total: $0 (grocery money redacted, that was about $38)

Today's temptations: Acai Berry with my coworkers - RESISTED

Reformation 70% off sale - RESISTED

So far Sounds concert ticket - RESISTED


9:30am - made myself frozen waffles for breakfast and packed my lunch. Brought a coffee I made in the Keurig to work. Called landlady ASAP about unwanted house guests who shall not be named.... Took the 1, 7 and G to work. Wore new jeans I bought this weekend and my butt feels FIIIIINE. Paige Hoxton high-waisted black jeans, check em out!

10:10am - second time this week I've seen couples snuggling and making out on the G train escalator. What's up with that?! It's a weekday!!! I'm all about love, but also all about catching the train and being at work on time.

10:30am - Okay, my landlady said it’s a waterbug, don’t Google that. She’s gonna spray the basement for them. Ate my lunch at work (leftover pasta, crêpe roll-up, grapes, 2 cookies, and a clif bar). Booked a free SoulCycle with my coworker tomorrow, super excited to try that out! Another coworker also told me that she would wake up with waterbugs crawling on her when she lived in Bowery. I’m feeling GREAT!!!!!

5:30pm - got off work early again! Decided to go to the Hamilton exhibit at the New York Public Library - Main Branch. Free! Took the G to the 7 train. 



7:00pm - took the B train home, and made "veggie bird nests" from Trader Joe's for dinner with carrots and sriracha ranch. Yum. And my landlady fixed my kitchen light WHILE I WAS AT WORK! I love her. 

8:00pm - cleaned, facetimed Jordan. 

12am - KILLED THE WATER BUG WITH LYSOL AND A TRASH CAN. VICTORY. Can finally sleep in PEACE. Took me about 10 minutes after I killed him in a rage to actually gather the courage to throw him out. Those things are CRUNCHY.

1:47am - sleeps. My credit card is acting up and is saying I have an $158 surplus???? That can't be right. Too good to be true.



Bryant Park carousel - RESISTED




8am - Earlier wake up because I have to grab a couple packages from the post office. Mom shipped me the stuff I forgot at home during the move. Thank you Mom!!!

9:40am - a little later leaving today because gussie just got home from her trip to NJ! We're stoked because our couch is coming today. Once again, packed my lunch, ate avocado toast for breakfast that I made, and made coffee to go in the Keurig. $0. Hopped on the 1 to the 7 to the G again...gonna be a little late for work but my work environment is pretty relaxed so it's no biggie.

5:30pm - I messed up at work and bought the wrong printer ink (due to the store clerk's recommendation). The other intern and I decided to split the cost of a new cartridge ($10 each), I Venmo'd her $10. Luckily our boss said she'd reimburse us! still $0 spent!

7pm - home and EXHAUSTED, but promised Catherine (my coworker) that we'd do a free soul cycle class. I detached myself from my couch and got on the train. Ended up running through the subway station and on the street because I didn't get there as early as I had hoped. But REALLY enjoyed the class! Took the C train there and the B train back.

I loved my first class (cult is more like it though) 

I loved my first class (cult is more like it though) 

9:50pm - got a text on the train from Juliet asking if I was still coming over. On a whim, I hopped off at 34th St and walked to her place.

11pm - Gussie and I headed home from Juliet's on the 1 train. We hung a decoration above our couch that Gussie made & chatted to catch up on what I missed while she was home. I called Wells Fargo and they said that my credit card limit was extended since I've been good with my money and payments, which is a nice confidence boost! I also received Tupperware in the mail from my aunt and a Bed, Bath, and Beyond gift card from Cat!! That means I can buy a swiffer and not break my challenge!!!!!

Cat is the best

Cat is the best

2am - bed. Not feeling a 12 hour workday tomorrow. At all.



skip Soul Cycle - RESISTED


9:30am - Today's the day! We are hosting a big party at work for another company and it's a huge deal for us. I pack lunch and dinner, eat avocado toast and a banana for breakfast, & bring my own coffee on the train.

10:15am - Got to work later than I'd hoped. But the event went swimmingly! I mostly helped set up. When I took my half hour break in the park, I wasn't even tempted to spend! Bringing your own lunchbox really helps.

The event! 

The event! 

6:30pm - Off of work WAY earlier than expected! Headed home to hang out with Gussie, Juliet, and Juliet's sister who is visiting. A pillow I ordered a month ago finally came in! Juliet brought over peanut butter banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery and I tried it, pretty good! I almost broke my spending fast to buy it (limited edition), but luckily she had me covered. 

New pillow  

New pillow  

9:30pm - We walked to Bed Bath and Beyond to grab some stuff with my gift card. I got a Swiffer WetJet kit, laundry detergent, and duct tape. Ended up spending $2.62 over the gift card. The duct tape was to seal the sides of our air conditioner since we had a bug problem this week, so if you're someone who doesn't like bugs, MAYBE you'd consider it an emergency item. But anyway. $2.62.

2am - sleeping. I wrote some long ranty blog post that I may or may not publish. Got some really good news today that I'm hoping will come together, so I went to bed super happy.


Magnolia Bakery’s Banana Pudding - SOLVED because Juliet picked some up that I got to try!

TOTAL: $2.62



10am - My boss said I can come in at 11 today! Of course it's Friday, I'm exhausted, and I'm also running late. Like, 20 minutes late. NOT A GOOD LOOK. But I packed lunch, ate breakfast, the whole 9 yards. Filling myself with positivity for the day, no matter what happens!


1pm - already ate an early lunch, but our partner Dan offered to buy the whole team lunch since we did such a good job at the event last night. He is so considerate! I ordered some Greek food.

6:20pm - my coworker let me share her cab home since she lives 2 blocks from me. EXACTLY what I needed on this Friday. Super tired from a long week. Oh, and I got paid!

6:50pm - stopped into a couple of stores near my place to get more familiar with the area. bought nothing, ha! In fact, I might return a conditioner I got last week and get a cheaper one! (Update; this did not happen. I bought a more expensive one on the weekend once this challenge was over. Figures.)

7pm - home! Spent the evening with Gussie celebrating her new job. That called for a quesadilla dinner (which I promptly burnt), face peels, and a Stranger Things marathon. Her new job is such a step up and I’m SO excited to watch her thrive. We also went on the roof of our building, which was a risky move considering that we weren’t sure if our new neighbors (in the penthouse) had moved in yet. Turns out they hadn’t! We enjoyed some gorgeous views and ate ice cream in our PJs. Oh, and I paid my electric bill and the rest of my cable bill! About $21.


TOTAL: $0 (electric bill redacted, $21)


Rag and Bone 25% off sale clutch I have wanted for awhile - RESISTED

So Far Sounds concert ticket - RESISTEDish, I still really want to go!

I DID IT!!!!!!

I’m so proud of myself for doing this challenge for a week. It honestly was a lot of fun forcing myself to be creative about fun things to do. Just reminds me what an amazing place I live in where there are ample things to do for free!


I challenge all of you to the try this for a week! If you do it, let me know how it goes! Thank you to Lucie Fink for inspiring me to attempt a weekly challenge like this, I really enjoyed trying it out.


Hope you all have a great week! Make your 5 year old self proud!