How To Be Poor In Manhattan

Go out on Friday night. Hunt down $2 beers because you love beer and you love your friends and you love bars, but you’re too broke to really “go out.” From behind your $5 street shades, sneer at people behind the glass of Momofuku and STK, because being snooty about being poor is the only way to be about it. Better yet, stay out of the Meatpacking entirely. Unless you want to hold a vigil at the McQueen store, not because his clothes cost a lot of money, but because he was a fucking genius. Smile at the doorman, then walk through the store and run your fingers along all the fabrics. Allow your eyes to well, but do not fucking cry. Don’t stop to look at pricetags. Leave.

Do not “pop” into any stores in Soho, on Fifth Ave, or the LES for that matter to buy anything. Forget what it feels like to shop on an even semi-regular basis, except for the sale section at Urban Outfitters. Forget why you ever shopped so much in the first place. Allow your heart to pound fast when you find a David Bowie crop-top on sale for $10. Credit a $50 pair of glittery gold Tom’s to your card, feel bad about it. Wear your new Tom’s in the rain and feel awesome about it. Debate for a full hour whether to buy a vintage leather motorcycle jacket for $175. Buy it. Don’t eat real dinner for a week (or more). Wear your badass jacket every night for three months, even when it’s really too warm.

Go to Le Bain on a Tuesday night by yourself. Smile at the friendly gay doorman, and say the name of the person you “know” whose party you are there for. Do not tell anyone you don’t know her, that you only follow her on Twitter and she follows you back. Do not tell anyone you walked in with $11 in your pocket. Order a beer and throw up a prayer that it won’t cost more than $11 (with tip). Sigh invisibly when it costs $8, $9 with tip. Allow your mouth to drop open when you overhear the bartender charge someone $20 for a gin and tonic. Turn to your equally poor friends and tell them you nearly “vomited in your mouth” when you heard that. Laugh with them. Commiserate in your poorness, on the roof of the fucking Standard. You are living the life.

Tell them a story about the cunt manning the list downstairs, how you heard her talk down to a man dressed like a punk. Motion to yourself, in your David Bowie crop-top and vintage denim cutoffs and ripped fishnets, as if to say, that man was like me, I am like him. Tell your friends that if the door cunt had spoken to you that way, you would have clocked her and probably ended up in jail, because your sense of value comes not from your wallet – or, rather, the rubber band you use to tether your money to your metro card – but from how fucking amazing you are as a human being. And anyone who implies otherwise is so wrong that they deserve to feel concrete pressed against their face. You know, as a reminder of where the ground is.
Walk amongst all the beautiful people, witness a wasted Lance Bass making out with his boyfriend. Wonder what it would be like to never think about money, to spend all of it on clothes and shoes and makeup and $20 gin and tonics. To care more about how you appear to other people than how you appear to yourself. Be thankful for not being one of those people. Text your BFF, OMG this party is insanoballs, who am I? Feel slightly guilty for enjoying this display of Shallow. Thoroughly enjoy the smart conversations you are having with your new friends. Sweat. Get bumped into repeatedly. Decide to leave. Go to your favorite dive bar on the LES, listen to Kiss, drink a $2 Budweiser, say a prayer.

Count your blessings. TC mark

image – Just Kids


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  • shreddycougnar

    damn , i thought this was about how to be poor, not how to be privileged and shallow, musta clicked the wrong link!

    • Ryan Culliver

      ok, so listen, each word has its own meaning(like “apple” that means the red sphere that keeps the doctor away if you eat one everyday), but sometimes, a group of words (like a sentence, or an article) can have many different meanings or a meaning contrary to it's literal meaning (see “satire” or “irony” for starters).

  • Jonah Matthews

    how are you drinking $2 beers anywhere

    how is that bar making a single cent in profit

  • taffs

    play-by-play of my last vacation to NYC. who knew i was living the life of the poor…?

  • Amanda

    I liked this article better when it was a comment.

  • setecq

    This isn't “How to be Poor,” this is “How to Deal With Your Dad Not Sending You Money For 3 Months.”

    Let me fix this for you: “How to Be Poor In Manhattan.” Wait 7 years for NYCHA housing. Pray. Move to Queens or the Bronx.

  • inflammatorywrit

    Being poor means being able to buy a $175 jacket? Sign me up!

    • greg

      @inflammatorywit:disqus  seriously, my mom would slap the fucking shit out of me if i ever spent more than a 40 bucks on a jacket. get real meghan

  • Twit

    Quoting unnecessary luxury goods at dollar amounts >$100 seems at-odds with your stated target audience. Perhaps a better title would be, “How To Be A Crappy Writer On A Random Blog Recycler”.

  • Meghan Blalock

    Damn, y'all. This piece is intended as a response to this:

    Get it? No? Then I failed.

    ah well

    • ScottWalsh

      The thing is, we don't live on ThoughtCatalog. A lot of writers assume we're going to know something is a reply/rebuttal/satire/companion piece to another article on here; we aren't.

      • Meghan Blalock

        That is true! Apologies.

    • Jordan

      I knew it was a response, but still it just doesn't sit right…  I think the mention of the $175 jacket is what messes things up, even despite it making you go without 'real dinner.'  And maybe the mention of the fancy building (is the Standard fancy?  never been) and parties doesn't scream poor, even though you spent $9.

      But I guess like the guy above said, this is 'Manhattan' poor, or hipster poor, or psuedo poor, or something.  Really hard to pin down.  And I sound really pissy here, but I'm just trying to figure out why this feels the way it does!

      • Meghan Blalock

        No, that's appreciated. I certainly wasn't trying to offend anyone. And I'm sad that it doesn't convey the feeling I wanted to convey, which is that worth and quality of life is not determined by monetary shit.

  • Joe

    To haters: this is how to be poor in MANHATTAN. and clearly she wrote this because she is somewhat self aware, so rudeness is pretty unnecessary.

    • Jordan

      Yeah I think maybe this is why it may not resonate with everyone.  Maybe being poor in Manhattan is still a lot more ritzy and involves clothes over $100 and fancy parties with celebs?

  • Aelya

    I don't see my comment in here. I don't like this.

  • Meghan Blalock

    Also, just to be totally open and honest, I live in Manhattan on a salary of less than $30k after taxes. My parents do pay for my cell phone bill, because they get it for far cheaper than I could as a single person. But that's it. Thankfully, I have no dependents.

    Does this make me “poor”?It can be argued either way, and there are obviously different levels of poverty.

    I guess what I hoped to convey is that maybe one day I will make money, but I will never be rich. Because I will never see my own value (as no one should) based on how much money I have or don't have.

    • Ryan O'Connell

      don't defend your work, beb. it's fruitless. people either get it or they don't. #nosorry #noapologiez

      • Meghan Blalock

        well, I wasn't so much defending (OK maybe a little) as I was trying to initiate a dialogue about “poorness.”

        k now i'm defending my comment kbye

    • Dan

      Move to Brooklyn or Queens then, rent's way cheaper there. Then you can actually have money to blow.

      • Meghan Blalock

        Actually my friends in BK pay more than I do in rent….. #fail

      • Daniel Zabolotny

        I don't mean Williamsburg, Park Slope, or any of those hip young trendy areas, they're always overpriced for Brooklyn. The further into Brooklyn you go, apartment prices get cheaper and cheaper.

    • vveneziani

      FYI I really liked your retort/converse view of my story. I read it drunk.

    • Mark Gumball

      you are infuriatingly myopic

  • Brian McElmurry

    i liked this

    • Briana

      i liked this, too. and i'm usually hyper-defensive about hipstery 20-something manhattanites saying they're 'poor'.

      good job, meghan. i would like to be your friend. :)

  • Jacqueline2194

    I sort of getting where all the negative comments are coming from.  Hearing obviously-not-poor people complain about being “poor” because they can't afford every little thing they want gets old and annoying.

    That being said, I have definitely caught myself on more than one occasion doing the exact same thing.  “Wow, I'm so broke right now I can't afford to go to that concert” or, “Cigarettes are making me so poor I can't afford good liquor” are the kind of things I say on a semi-regular basis.  I have never actually been truly broke or poor, but I find myself casually throwing around these terms and applying them to myself.  I don't really know what the point of this comment is except maybe to say that I can sort of relate to Meghan, even though I think her post is pretty whiny and irritating.

    • greg

      @e7d4816066b3e593d93e46f7f6960426:disqus nailed it

  • Kia Etienne

    fuck them meg.
    i'm in the same category of poor as you.
    #fuckthepolice! #whitegirlproblems? #maybe

  • We Must Revolt

    Lol @ …”but $175 leather jacket. Don't eat dinner for a week.”

    How do you even get by Meg? You are so poor!

  • Jelly Roll Morton

    Jesus, NYC is so insular. Listen to something: you are not poor if you can spend (even in a “splurge”) $175 on anything that isn't rent. This is not a piece about a “poor” person. This is a piece about a person who has less money than other Manhattanites. NYC has so little real poverty it wouldn't know food stamps from a bottle of Colt 45. That fact is overwhelmingly obvious to anyone else from an actual city. By saying you're poor, you are insulting millions suffering from authentic poverty.

    • Jelly Roll Morton

      actually, to take a global scheme into account I should have said “billions”

    • Meghan Blalock

      I live in Harlem and see people buy their groceries with food stamps all the time.

      • Bernie Mac

        girl, Harlem is money. I have spent time there. Harlem is money. You're confused. You should travel.

  • Jade Mitchell

    i LOVE “how to be…” pieces.

    i'm jealous of how you can write so fluidly, without digressing. regardless of what people are commenting, i think the brand, price, and money citations really “make” the article. it's hard to relate to something like “that really expensive jacket” or “overpriced beer.”

    write more soon? :)

    • Meghan Blalock

      thank u :)

  • justaguest

    1) Hey Meghan!  Great news!  You're in the top 7.16% richest people in the world!

    2) You say this piece is all “fuck the money, I am not my wallet,” yet you
    spend a good portion of the article glorifying the wealthy lifestyle. 
    You clearly loved being at the swanky party, and you went out of your
    way to tell us all about it here.  You just don't want to pay for it, and you think not paying for it makes you better than everyone else there.  Does it?

    3) You'll spend $175 on a vintage leather jacket, but you choke on spending more than $8 on a drink.  That's fine.  We all prioritize our money in different ways.  But don't act like your priority of vintage clothing makes you somehow above people who value a memorable night at an upscale bar.  Or a luxe vacation.  Or a car, or whatever.  Different things make different people happy; this is not that complex of an idea.  So why are you insisting that your purchases make you TRULY happy, whereas everyone else is just about the image?  I think you're being too kind to yourself and too hard on others.

  • Pfft

    “dressed like a punk”

    Move back to Ohio and stop clogging up NYC plz. 

  • Ryan Culliver

    Are we legit playing the “I'm poorer than you, so I'm more ________ than you!” game? Just because there are other problems in the world doesn't mean your problems don't matter. Poor is relative. Rich is relative. If you're legit saying that this girl is richer than you so she shouldn't call herself poor, well people in mother fucking Mexico are poorer than you, so you shouldn't call yourself poor. That's the logic we're following, right. Get the fuck out of here. I spent 70$ on dinner tonight. Some people think that's rich, some people think that's poor. Have some mother fucking perspective.


    being poor sucks. i was poor all of my life. being poor is not cool or fun. it's stressful. somebody i hope to have a steady income and not worry about food or where i will sleep. all my life i have to worry about dumb shit like that. i don't know how it feels like to have extra money to spend on random things. i am tired of being poor. hopefully i will become middle class someday. at least.


      *someday i hope

      sorry i wrote this drunk

      and i just got done crying (literally) about my shithole of a childhood i had.

      good article


      the article forgot instructions on how to steal food from trader joe's in manhattan

      or how to steal from american apparel in manhattan

      or how to eat with mexican dishwashers for free in manhattan

      or how to go to the public library and steal electricity in manhattan

      wait. nevermind. the things i suggested are for a different article about manhattan

      an article should be written about how to be poor and homeless in manhattan

      i will write 10 tips

       1.feel bad about being homeless in manhattan.

      2. dress nice and pretend that you are middle class and educated. ( people trust you more)
       you can steal things easier and loiter at places easier.

      3. steal things from stores that mainly sell stuff to educated liberal white people.

      4.  always sleep in parks on the upper east side. actually always stay near rich people. don't talk to other homeless people. look down on other homeless people.

      5.  go to an apple store. use a computer. check your email. chat with people on facebook. pretend you want to buy an i pod. leave.

      6.  loiter at a barnes and nobel for 5-6 hours. read things. flirt with the employees. pretend that you are self employed.

      7. learn a random language like korean, hindi, turkish, chinese, thai, or armenian. so you can ask for stuff from tourists or immigrants. they will like that you can speak a little of their language and probably give you free shit because of it.

      8. stay in manhattan. being homeless in queens or the bronx is too depressing.

      9. go to whole foods. get a basket. walk around the store and put things into your basket. eat the things in your basket while walking around the store. pretend to buy more things. pretend that your going to pay for the things  in your basket.  pretend that you have money. eat some organic grapes. eat until your full. set your basket down. leave.

      10. find a store that you can easily steal malt liquor from. return daily to that store and steal as much as you can. get drunk on malt liquor before you go to sleep in the park, because being homeless in manhattan is kind of depressing.

      • Meghan Blalock


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