Last week I was having a conversation with an acquaintance who just moved to Central Park Towers, a luxury building right on Central Park West in Manhattan, i.e. my dream location… if I had a million dollars.
Considering that she too is an unemployed actress, and we were having this conversation at an audition, I asked about cost. At first I got a full lament about how expensive it was (not surprising, even if it is a studio), and then I got a whole list of “yeah, buts….”.
The conversation went something like this…
Me: Could you get a roommate?
She: No, I have to live alone. My therapist says it’s best for my mental health.
Me: Maybe a cheaper building?
She: I looked at all kinds of buildings with a realtor, there’s nothing out there. I’m not going to live in a shit hole. My therapist says it’s too much for me.
Me: Maybe a cheaper neighborhood?
She: I have to stay in Manhattan, all of my students/ tutoring clients are on the upper east/upper west side, it would just be too far to commute.
Me: Could you make your commute time productive somehow?
She: No, I get motion sickness.
Me: How about staying in Manhattan, just in a more reasonably priced neighborhood, Washington Heights? Inwood?
She: No, I hate it up there. It’s too far.
The whole conversation could be summarized by this “Yeah, I have a problem because I’m living in an apartment I can’t afford, BUT here’s a list of reasons why I don’t have any other choice”
I can give you a million ideas and ways to change your situation, but you have to be willing to do the work. This was such a perfect example. Some people just want to complain about what they don’t have and what they can’t do rather than doing what it takes to make it work.
I understand that your circumstances may take some options off the table, but every option? People who want to justify will always justify- they’ve already tried it, it’s too hard, they have special needs, etc.
I found out that the rent on this studio was $2,400/month. I understand that finding a New York City apartment with the perfect mix of location, cleanliness, safety, and price is difficult, but if you want to live here long term, you have to be willing to make concessions and find a sustainable balance. The same is true of any challenge.
I used to live in Weehawken, New Jersey, a twenty minute commute from midtown Manhattan. My rent in our spacious three bedroom was $500/month. At the time, I was coming into Manhattan every day for auditions and my work as a personal assistant and school administrator. Would it have been easier to live right in midtown Manhattan and walk everywhere? Of course. Would it have been easier to come up with almost $2,000 additional per month? Absolutely not.
What we perceive as easier in the short term is often just avoidance of longer term challenges. By not dealing with the long term reality in the present, things inevitably become more difficult. When you overspend for convenience, you sink into debt, stuck with high interest credit card payments and risk of damaging your credit when you fall behind on your bills.
Excuses and avoidance are dangerous to your long term financial health. You can continue to justify and “yeah, but” your way to zero, or you can take action and make a change.
As for my acquaintance, there are only so many options and alternatives I can give. I can only hope that she makes the decision to take control of her finances by finding a living space and a lifestyle that she can both live with and afford to support in the long term.
Have you ever sacrificed your long term financial well being for convenience and ease in the short term? What do you say to people complaining to you about their finances when they are clearly making poor choices?