Loved this piece, and I'm excited to read this series!
@uncleezno I wouldn't paint the South and Midwest with such a broad brush? Atlanta is pretty far from where you want to be, and it has some issues (terrible transit!), but it's very diverse/liberal/liveable. And the Midwest has Chicago... Also, Providence is small, yes, but cost of living is very low, it has great connections to Boston and New York, and it's a fun, diverse, and culturally vibrant city.
@Josh Michtom@facebook Yes, this is very true! I'd say the nightclub example falls pretty squarely in the "necessary but not sufficient" category, for example. In my industry, it might be less important to actually have the lovely brownstone/constant brunches/silk blouses to have a certain comfort level with them (the dread cultural fit.) I'm doing pretty ok in a quiet part of Queens and an H&M blazer--but the pull of those cultural markers is very strong. And amusingly, I'm dating a lefty public interest law student who's encountering the same issues you did. She's doing the unpaid gigs and just taking out additional loans, which though her overall debt burden is low is still a big and scary gamble--even in the best possible scenario, it's not like she'll be raking in the cash after graduation.
This made me think of Tressie McMillan Cottom's amazing essay on why people (especially people of color) spend more than they can afford on designer clothes, etc.: http://tressiemc.com/2013/10/29/the-logic-of-stupid-poor-people/ I think her argument might make sense here, too - it actually sounds pretty logical for someone who wants to work in club promotion to wear designer T-shirts. In my context (white girl in a "creative industry"), this stuff takes a different form, but it still exists. It's pretty standard for people to be like, "I'm so broke. Let's go to the happy hour with $3 wells," but you still need the obligatory J. Crew uniform and an apartment in a "charming" and/or "cool" part of Brooklyn. (I still haven't given up on this future.)
I am sick and also busy, so this should be a cheap weekend: Friday: Dinner with gf, $80 (assuming I'll pay for us both, since she's been buying more groceries, etc. than I have lately.) Saturday: Working all day, maybe at a cafe? $10. Also, our grocery situation is desperate ($30.) In the evening, dinner with gf's parents ($0) possibly followed by drinks ($20?) Sunday: More work! More coffee! $10. Total: $150. So not actually that cheap. Eh.
I'm getting over a cold, so I'm going to try not to do much this weekend. Friday: Gym? Probably not, because "getting over a cold" is a really good excuse to stay home and drink hot toddies and watch Scandal instead. $0. Saturday: Farmer's market = $20? Also, I need picture frames and a tray (possibly just another picture frame!), so I may go thrift shopping and/or to the Brooklyn Flea. $40? Friend is having a birthday party at night, so $10 for a bottle of wine. Sunday: I'm going to try to do the thing where I cook a bunch of meals for the week, so $20 for miscellaneous groceries. If it's nice, I'll go for a long run. Total: $90, but I'll round up to $100.
@Nibbler I'd like to think so!
I just spent $12 on Chop't, but I'm not counting that, and I don't care. So: Friday: Going to the gym, then meeting gf after an event thing she has to go to for late dinner/drinks. $40? Saturday: There are basically no groceries in my home. I'm going to fix that by spending like $80 at the farmer's market and Trader Joe's. Sunday: Brunch with some friends ($20), followed by coffee and/or a bar to do work. Total: Under $175, I hope!
@forget it i quit We did it in our seventh grade Civics class--everyone had to draw a career and salary and choose a home/car/list of groceries. It was really easy, because we didn't have kids or even contributions to retirement or health insurance that I remember. (I was slightly marked down because we were supposed to buy clothes that we could wear to work, and I bought a $100 vampire dress from Hot Topic instead.) Needless to say, it was not particularly helpful. It was maybe the opposite, actually, since it was oversimplified to the point that I came away thinking that life on an $18,000 salary was going to be really fun and easy. That's my big concern about these kinds of simulations.