Money

I'm living on $60 a week in NYC for 2 months—here's how

Holiday expenses have a way of adding up.

Last month's outlays included plane tickets, Christmas gifts, and one too many trips to J. Crew. Tack on the everyday expenses that come with life in New York City and my budget didn't look pretty.

After reviewing December's alarming credit card statement, I felt the need to cut back … in a big way.

My solution? A cash diet.

It's as simple as it sounds. I'm ditching the plastic and limiting my spending to $60 a week, in hard cash. That will have to cover everything besides my fixed costs, including groceries, bars and restaurants, laundry, toilet paper, and transportation.

For my fixed costs, I count rent, internet, phone, insurance, and two memberships: One to my gym and one to Citibike.

All smiles before the cash diet starts.
CNBC
All smiles before the cash diet starts.

Here are a few more specific guidelines:

  1. Starting January 1, I'll withdraw $60 every Sunday. That's all I will have for the week.

  2. If I don't spend my weekly allotment, any extra money can roll over to the next week.

  3. I can't use previously purchased food besides essentials like butter, salt, pepper, garlic, and olive oil.

  4. I'll carry one credit card for emergencies. And by emergency, I don't mean a Chick-fil-A craving — I mean an actual crisis.

Coincidentally, my last week on the cash diet aligns with a pre-planned trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. While the trip's big costs are out of the way — I bought my flight in October and I'll be staying with a friend — stretching $60 over the four days I'm there could be tricky. To enjoy my first trip to New Orleans as much as possible, I'm aiming to save between $5 and $10 a week that will go towards a "Mardi Gras fund."

Think I can do it? Check in every Friday for updates on my cash diet adventure.