How to Dress Like a Hipster When You’re on a Budget

So you want to be cool, huh? Want to be chill and fashionable and look like a New Yorker? Well, unless you love the Upper East Side prep style (and there’s nothing wrong with that), you might just end up looking like one of the many hipsters you see walk around the streets of the city. (If you’ve never been to New York, be prepared when you visit.) I have talked about American Apparel in Looking Nice at Half the Price, but don’t worry! Here are a few more places to shop in aspiration of looking like a hipster:

1. Urban Outfitters This is a no-brainer for America’s fashion conscious, and some may find it overrated sometimes. But I think Urban always has eccentric items no matter what, so you know what? I don’t care if everyone else shops here. Your style is chiefly based on how you put together your clothes and accessories anyway. I usually don’t buy anything full-price here because it will most likely go on sale at some point and the quality of some brands aren’t always the greatest. They also periodically have sales on already reduced-priced items, from an extra 20-50% off. I prefer the brands Staring at Stars, Silence & Noise, Deena & Ozzy, and Ecote.

2. Housing Works This is one of the best thrift shops you’ll probably ever go to. Housing Works is a non-profit charity whose profits go to New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. It also happen to have great deals on everything from apparel to books to home goods. (Someone I know bought a brand new Marc Jacobs bag for just $55 and Prada Shoes for $125.) With student ID, students get 20% off their purchase on Tuesdays! Brand name or no name, its up to you what you choose to buy, but you do not want to not miss out on the great deals this sweet thrift shop has to offer. In addition to purchasing it’s items, you should also think about donating your clothing, shoes, books, artwork, jewelry, or housewares. Sharing is caring!

3. ASOS ASOS is a British online retailer for men and women. It offers a wide array of hipster-y fashionable brands, but some of it’s prices tend to be a bit higher than what you might be looking to spend, so I suggest checking out it’s sale section: Women, Men. To see trends and outfits exhibited on the site, go to it’s Outfit & Looks page. To buy and sell new, pre-owned, and vintage clothing, go to ASOS’ Marketplace.

Dressing like a hipster isn’t just in what you wear; it’s how you wear it, often adding much-needed accessories to create the hipster look. For example, you can wear a white t-shirt with a plaid shirt and skinny jeans and think that’s hipster. Or you can wear that outfit with a fedora, an infinity scarf, a pair of oxfords or Jeffrey Campbell Spike Litas, and a piercing or two or five… and Voila! You’re dressed like a hipster.

Average Budget for a College Student

Adding discretionary spending subtracts mucho dinero from wallets everywhere. And that is exactly the grand lifestyle of the average college student!

Looking for breakdowns of how typical college students spend their own money, I found that 40% of their spending goes towards recreational purposes while 49% of the students surveyed have a part-time job, garnering their own income. Students attending college in New York City most likely hold a higher percentage in that area.

In this infographic, studies done by Westwood College demonstrate one of life’s greatest mantras: work hard, party harder! (Click on the image for a larger view.)

Monthly Money

Ding, Ding, Ding! It has come to my attention that I spent $370.23 during the majority of October. Recreational expenses only, excluding rent.

When my dear mother informed me of this lovely information (thanks, Mom), I took a look at my recent bank statements (thanks, Chase Online Banking). It seems I have been spending that general amount every month of this semester so far, albeit it’s only been three months so far. However, I also looked at my spending while I was in school last year and it practically mirrored what I spend now. Well, at least I’m a consistent spender! (And that doesn’t include cash spending! Yikes!)

I asked my friend, who goes to Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, what she and her friends spend monthly on miscellaneous things (excluding integrated university costs like housing and meal plans). Most of her friends are on a meal plan, which, in my opinion, plays a big role in spending. Being on a meal plans means that their spending on off-campus food does not nearly amount to the spending of students in the city without a meal plan. (Then, everything is off-campus.) To prove my point, she said the approximate monthly expenses of she and her friends in Lancaster were $100-150.

Another friend who goes to Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, has a different situation. “I don’t have a meal plan that covers my meal costs so if you were to include meals on campus and other expenses such as social events and shopping it’s more like $400. Its kind of a necessity to splurge because I eat vegan most of the time, and that food tends to be more expensive,” explains friend número dos. Healthy items are not always the cheapest. A salad for lunch in New York will usually run you about the same amount my friend pays in St. Louis, $7-10. While some healthier choices may be more expensive, many students are willing to make that sacrifice to better their eating habits.

I have a feeling much of this blog will be about food, since that is where the majority of my money goes. Look forward to raves about chai tea lattes from Starbucks and the necessity of the “half-sandwich.”

Moving to Manhattan

Hola! I just wanted to thank you for the great feedback! It is very much appreciated!

If any of you aren’t familiar with Manhattan, not to fear…the map is here! (Dora the Explorer’s singing map is secretly bustin’ out his song right now.) And it includes all 3,000 neighborhoods that Manhattan is split into. Though, it’s actually only about 30-40, depending on what one deems a “neighborhood” nowadays. If I tell you about all of these neighborhoods, this post would be about twice as long as it already is…no bueno. Here is all the information you need, provided by New York Magazine, one of my favorites.
Warning: This blog is mainly about Manhattan because, to be perfectly honest, I am not very experienced in the other boroughs. However, that is not to say I am not fond of them! I just know my shit when it comes to Manhattan way more than I know about any of the other 4 boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island). So if you have anything to say about the other boroughs, please type away! I’d love to hear your comments.

When apartment hunting in Manhattan, the common feeling you get is “On to the Next One.” (Yes, I quote Jay-Z.) Whether it’s Craigslist.org (watch out for the crazies), a broker that your dad’s friend’s cousin’s coworker knows, or the New York Times real estate section, settling on an apartment in the city is no small feat. Here is a map of Manhattan’s neighborhoods with their respective average rents and percent increases/decreases.

Average Rent for a Two-Bedroom Apartment in Manhattan, March 2010

“Across Manhattan in March, the average rent for a one-bedroom was $2,341,
while two bedrooms came in at $3,289.” – MultiFamilyInvestor.com

So you can see why I want to scream at my friends when they complain about their $600 rent. Dude! That is unimaginable in Manhattan! Even a studio will run you about $1200-$1500, at the least. Unless of course, you happen to be me… and rent a two-bedroom apartment in the West Village for almost half that price. (It’s nice to have friends who don’t actually live in the apartments they own. :-P)

Anywho, back to normal circumstances…
Renting an apartment in Manhattan doesn’t mean you have to live off of dollar-slice pizza for the rest of your life. (Though, 2 Bros. Pizza is quite delicious.) It does, however, require you to do some research.

Now, if you don’t mind splitting a studio with another person, then by all means, go ahead and sign up for no privacy whatsoever. [A studio is an apartment with no walled bedroom. It is essentially one large room with a living room on one side, a bed and clothes area on the other side, and a kitchen. The bathroom is, of course, in a separate room. We aren’t in colonial times anymore.] But if you want some sort of space of your own, you will need to get a wee bit creative. This can entail sharing a bedroom, putting a wall up to create another bedroom, or simply pitching a tent on the rooftop. (You might want to be careful about the pigeons though.)

Sharing a Bedroom
If you grew up in a house with 14 brothers and sisters, this should be no problem for you. You get all the privacy you want, as long as you share that privacy with your roommate. This is how most people our age live anyway so why must New Yorkers be so greedy and want their own bedroom? Drunken mistakes, late nights ;), the rare occasions you will do homework, not having to worry about another person secretly criticizing your messy room, those times you just want to blast “My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit… Any of these are good reasons to want your own room.
Back to my point… If your budget requires you to share a bedroom, worry not! There are plenty of things you can do to make it a pleasant experience besides drawing a line down the middle of the floor. The most important act is to pick a roommate with whom you share similar living habits. For example, do not room with a loud, gossipy, disorderly person if you are a quiet neat freak. This just will not work. If you don’t see that, go get your eyes checked. And your brain, too. Secondly, you can evenly divide the room so that the furniture setup is nearly symmetrical and your things stay on your side. Another option is to get a curtain and use it to split the room, but that would only make it look even smaller than the tiny space New York real estate has blessed you with…so, maybe not the best option.

Sharing an Apartment
Ix-nay sharing the oom-ray. (I’m fluent in Pig Latin.) Sharing an apartment is the best-suited, most cost-efficient option, assuming your budget doesn’t insist on sharing a room. A one-bedroom will probably run you at least $1600-1700 but it might be easier to find a two-bedroom for, let’s say, $2050, leaving each roommate with a monthly rent of $1025. The typical Manhattan rent desired for college students is around $1000 per month. If this is too expensive and you’d rather not resort to sharing a bedroom, you can certainly find more affordable rents in New York City’s other lively boroughs. A couple of friends of mine lived in Brooklyn last year, in two separate three-bedroom apartments with their own roommates, and both paid about $650 per month.
Wherever you decide to reside, the most important act in sharing an apartment is akin to the most important act aforementioned in “Sharing a Bedroom.” The lifestyles of your roommate(s) and you should be as congruent as possible if you want a pleasant living experience. For instance, a wild party animal who could break a flat screen TV with her five-inch heels like it’s nothing would not be a good match for someone who likes to stay in at night to watch movies and play video games on their precious flat screen TV. Common sense is invaluable. Use it! 🙂 Sharing an apartment with a friend or two or five also allows you to be a social butterfly. Let’s think about this… Yes, you like to have your alone time; everyone does. This is why you want your own room. But imagine having your own place and coming home to an empty apartment every single night. Sound boring? That’s because it is. Having roommates is FUN! “F is for friends who do stuff together…” SpongeBob clearly says it best.

Any thoughts?

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Attending college in New York City has its pros and cons, just like any other city. But notice the difference in length of these lists…

Pros:

Convenience, people. In New York, convenience is everything.

Living in the city means you have all the unique and delectable restaurants you want at your fingertips. There are all different kinds of bars, lounges, clubs, hookah bars, et cetera. From a shop solely dedicated to the art of rice pudding to a restaurant/bar with incredible American cuisine and drinks that is open 24/7, you name it, you got it.

Not to mention how late many restaurants/bars are open until. (I’ve gotten the best burgers and crepes at 4:00am.) I mean, it IS the city that never sleeps.

You can intern or work during the school year because you’re only a 20-minute subway ride away, not a 3-hour car drive.

There is a Starbucks about every three blocks (chai tea latte = heaven), and you never have to worry about being far away from a deli or drug store.

You are among the world’s most useful public transportation system… The good ol’ Metropolitan Transit Authority. (Ah yes, the MTA and I have a love-hate relationship… explanation to come later.)

Cons:

It can get pretty damn expensive, especially with dorm/rent payments and if you choose to get an unlimited monthly MetroCard ($104). Though, most people I know just use the pay-per-ride (regular) metrocard… Oh, and you don’t get that whole “normal college experience” thing, but the word “normal” doesn’t mean shit in New York anyway. And that’s what I love about it. See? NYC even makes a con turn into a pro!