Back in 2008 I took a leap of faith and moved to New York City with $500 in my pocket from Charlotte, NC. At the time I ran an online music magazine that highlighted independent artists. I loved it and moved to NYC so that I could be closer to the opportunities. Fast forward to today, 6 years later. I’m amidst another transition with My Fab Finance, and preparing to step out on faith again. All of this “reflecting” shifted my thoughts to how far I’ve come personally and professionally as well as the money lessons I’ve learned along the way. I put them into a post appropriately titled, 5 Lessons New York City has taught me about money.
Here are a few lessons I have learned:
1. Sharing is not only caring, it’s cost effective
Living in a city that is one of the most expensive in the US teaches a thing or two about budgeting. Prior to living in NY, the last time I had roommates was while living in Miami during undergrad. When I moved to NY I learned the true value of sharing. Sharing rent and utilities, organizing group trips to cut down on costs, sharing taxis, potlucks… you name it. I learned the art and value of using collective power to cut down costs.
2. Nothing remains the same, prices almost always go up
After living in NY for a few months I figured, it was safe to get rid of my car because I’d pretty much be able to use public transportation exclusively. Since moving here in 2008 the MTA has made drastic changes to the program. The eliminated the beloved unlimited day pass and 14-day pass while increasing fares. Within 5 years I’ve watched the monthly metro card increase from $89 per month to $112. One think we can count on is for prices to increase goods, services, or products.
3.What I don’t want to become
My first real job in NYC was working at an affordable housing facility. I came in contact with 60 year old women who we’re struggling to get by on their social Security, for some this was $675 a month and their rent was $575. Living in such a crowded city that’s dependent upon public transportation forces you to interact with people you wouldn’t ordinarily interact with. On any given day you encounter a stressful teen mother on the train or the elderly man who is standing in the cold handing out Barbershop flyers and hating every minute of it. NYC serves as a constant reminder of what I don’t want to become. That I want more for my life and more stability and enjoyment in my current and future years.
4. Everything that glitters ain’t gold
New York City is not the only city with a fake it till you make it population, but it is the finance and fashion capital of North America. Celebrities love this city and this city loves celebrities. This coupled with a dense population leaves people craving to feel different or that they belong to the upper crust of the New York social scene. When I first moved here I was involved in artist management and ran an online magazine. I recall knowing and aspiring rapper who wore nothing but high end labels yet was squatting on his sisters couch and promoters who rocked furs and yet couldn’t afford dinner. In turn I’ve met people whose wardrobes consisted of free T-shirts and they still wore clothes from 15 years ago yet they owned a home on the upper east side and had 70k in their savings account. I’ve learned not to be impressed with how people appear because that is not always the complete story.
5. The power of an influential network
In a city such as New York you need connections. So many people are talented and so many come here to live out their dream. Very seldomly do you break into positions and opportunities without knowing someone. The great thing about this city is its diversity. If you are like me you crave friends from all backgrounds, disciplines,and talents. I know fashion designers, lawyers, writers, activist, event planners, videographers, etc. By genuinely navigating these relationships I’m able to barter services or receive products/ services at a discount. I’ve often heard it’s not what you know but who you know but I’ve seen that repeatedly in NY. I’ve attended popular concerts and sporting events free and landed jobs because of who I knew.
Since turning 21 I’ve lived in Cincinnati, Miami, San Antonio, Charlotte, and New York. I’ve traveled to Toronto, Canada; Paris, France; London; Kingston, Jamaica and San Juan, Puerto Rico. I haven’t met a city yet that teaches you as much about yourself and life as New York.