There is a certain group of people living in Los Angeles here with me - I like to think of us as comrades, chumps, soldiers in the trench on the eve of a spectacular moment in history. We are the members of a not-so-elite club known as the Poor In Debt College Graduates Who Do Not Have Parents Paying Their Rent. Otherwise known as, PIDCGWDNHPPTR. In this case I think the full name rolls off the tongue a little better.
Hey, don't be upset those of you out there who don't have to worry about rent or loans because you either A.) had the brilliance to go to a state school or B.) have rich parents who love you and want you to live a comfortable life. You do you. But this post is for all the cool cats out there who can't afford guacamole at Chipotle because it means sacrificing a week of laundry. For all the hopeful wanderers with an extra roommate in the living room because it just makes rent SO cheap. For all those who'd rather walk 3 miles to work then take a bus because your 10 year old car broke down and you don't want to pay for the already horrendous LA public transit. THIS IS FOR YOU.
Listen, this isn't a pity post. I'm not an IDIOT. Yeah, I'm talking to you reader who just rolled your eyes and glared at me thinking, "COME ON NINA! You drink STARBUCKS. You have a roof over your head. You live in LOS ANGELES. Boo-freaking-who."
I get you eye-roller. I am VERY grateful I can drink coffee and I can buy groceries and I even had a car TO break down. I see it everyday here - the homeless, the real poor, the people of Los Angeles that don't have anything and you sure as hell bet it makes me stop in my whirling day of anxietyovermycareer and stressaboutmyweight and heyit'dbereallynicetomeetagoodguyandhavehimaskmeouttodinner. I know it, I feel it, and I'm not blind to the blatant cry that is this broken city.
But hey, I also know that for all those like me out there, trying to support myself while cursing my student loans and wondering why NYU DIDN'T FREAKING SAY IN FRESHMAN ORIENTATION, "HEY! Yeah, we're a GREAT school, but guess what WIDE-EYED FRESHMAN? NO ONE GIVES A SHIT IN THE REAL WORLD AND YOU'LL BE PAYING BACK YOUR LOANS THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, MWHA HA HA HA HA" And then NYU turns into Voldemort and I cry -- for all those like me, it'd be nice to have had some advice before [foolishly] making the romanticized move out west. So here we go, from me to you - a 20-something's guide for being poor in Los Angeles.
1. Little samples are your best friend
I'm talking everything. From those lovely little white cups at Yogurtland to perfume samples - these are treasures. TREASURES, do you understand? Don't have enough money to buy your favorite perfume? Easy solution. Simply walk in the department store and spray yourself silly until everyone around you starts coughing and they're too busy wondering what that strange putrid conglomeration of scents is to see you sashaying out of the store in a cloud of yummy-nose-goodness. DONE.
For those of you like me with a severe Yogurtland addiction, those little white sample cups are honest-to-God tear worthy. Whenever I get "the hunger" and I need my froyo fix I always want to spend at least 4$ on some plain tart. (if you don't get plain tart then I simply don't trust you). But I can't spend that much, okay? So what do I do. I take a few of those cups and just sample as much as I want, and by the time I'm ready to actually purchase, I don't want nearly as much. DONE.
2. Getting really good at the "my stomach hurts excuse"
Everyone in LA (and probably every city) really REALLY likes "going out for drinks." This is something I learned immediately after graduating and making friends outside of college. It's like, a thing I guess. AN EXPENSIVE THING I GUESS, AM I RIGHT? AM I RIGHT? My favorite thing to do when I go out and can't drop 30$ on flaming margaritas (no matter how much I freaking WANT TO) is to perfect my grimace face and say something like, "I'm gonna stick with Sprite, my stomach has just been hurting all afternoon." No one argues with this statement because in reality, a hurt stomach can potentially lead to you vomming everywhere. And no one - I repeat NO ONE - likes vom. No one rolls their eyes and tells you to just get something tasty! Leave me alone to my sprite which is only a few dollars.
Same with restaurants. Whenever I want to go out to dinner with friends but don't necessarily want to spend 15 dollhairs on an entree, I'll get an appetizer and say, "My stomach's just been hurting, want to keep it light." And then sneak to my car and stuff my face full of Ritz Crackers. Because well all know Ritz Crackers are FREAKING. DELICIOUS.
3. Thrift stores, while nowadays "trendy," are actually smart for shopping
I know it's popular nowadays and especially in Los Angeles to wear clothes that your grandma probably wears and rocks better than you do (let's be honest). But thrift stores are cheap. And if you go to one in an affluent neighborhood, you can get really nice clothes for really cheap. So see that Goodwill in Beverly Hills? AMAZEBALLS. That Crossroads on Santa Monica? My favorite. I got a Free People shirt there for 8 dollars. EIGHT DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!!!JFKJSAKLF;JDASKLFJKLAS;JFKL;ADJSFKL;DJSL So yeah, girls who smell AMAZING and look like you probably sleep in a canopied bed and journal and drink cappuccinos, I can be in that club too with my Free People shirt! BOO YA.
4. Red lipstick and stale bagels
A lot of my life here is spent in a chaotic frenzy of running around erratically from one place to another and changing in Starbucks bathrooms. In a city where you're trying to make a career, you are generally busy. Your days are spent running from class to work to show to coffee date. Especially if your trying to have a career in the particular industry I am which by the general public is known as "comedy" but to me actually translates to "running from improv to see an improv show to writing (probably a new webseries that you SWEAR hasn't been done before) along with about a ZILLION OTHER 20-SOMETHINGS in a trendy coffee shop that ISN'T starbucks but secretly you just wish it was because their coffee is better anyway." This is a pretty tough field to crack into. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is I'm always a hot mess. Less of hot and more of just a mess. So how do I pull myself together and make people think I actually DID shower this morning instead of rolling out of bed and hair-spraying the shit out of my frizzy hair?
Red lipstick. Va-va-vooom. Red lipstick automatically makes you seem as if you have your shit together. Pair this baby up with a stale bagel, because that's all you can afford. Don't have time to grab a baby greens-feta cheese-cranberry walnut salad from Tender Greens because frankly, WHO CAN SPEND 20 DOLLARS ON AN EFFING SALAD? Well, did you know that it costs precisely no more than DOLLAR to buy a stale, crusty old bagel? You didn't know that?!!! WHAT?!?!? Hey, sure it doesn't taste like you just did Yoga, but it tastes like SOMETHING and oh, did I mention, it's only a DOLLAR? Right.
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These are just a few ways that I live "poor" in LA. Until next time my little doe-eyed Hollywood hopefuls.
In the words of a generic 1920s big-time movie star that probably actually never uttered this statement but for some reason at work we all just love saying it anyway,
"Ya gonna be in the pictahs! Ya big lug!"
So live frugally and onward!!!
google image for "big lug." IT WOULD BE KITTTYY!!! IKNEWWWWITTTTT