I think purple means "time to party"...

How To Live Large On A “City Girl Budget”

Finding yet another opportunity to procrastinate from what it is that unemployed girls do to actually consider themselves productive, I thought I’d regale you with the details of what I’ve been up to as my personal finances dwindle to mere dollars and cents. Its not hard to have fun in the city (and elsewhere) without spending any money. Sure, a night out for your favorite type of Asian cuisine and complimenting cocktails is fun but isn’t it more fun to have fun with money leftover? (Yes, in case you’re wondering, I do feel a little bit like Jimmy Fallon in those CapitalOne commercials right now. I mean seriously, who doesn’t like more cash?!) Keep reading for more ideas on what to do in and around the city when you’re low on funds, ideas or just need something fresh to do!

If the winter wonderland outside has got you down, here are some things you can do on the cheap!
If the winter wonderland outside has got you down, here are some things you can do on the cheap!

Potluck dinner parties // Your best friend’s apartment

Take the pressure off yourself and make "b.y.o.b." a surprise!
Take the pressure off yourself and make “b.y.o.b.” a surprise!

Inspired by the menu at my NYE party and the incredible assortment of finger food available at your local Trader Joe’s, I would highly recommend this delightful little way to dine with friends. Pick whoever has the coolest apartment, make them host and designate each person a course. You’re bound to get some fun things to try, and even if the main course is Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, there’s nothing more satisfying than a casual meal with good friends!

The Cantab Lounge //  Cambridge, MA

I think purple means "time to party"...
I think purple means “time to party”…

Before last Thursday I would have thought that “Chicken Slacks” was a type of newfangled fried appetizer. Now all I can think of when I think of Cambridge is the fun (and cheap) night of dancing, sing-alongs and appreciation of soul music I encountered a few days ago. For the city girl (or guy) who needs an Otis Redding fix, this is definitely the place to go if karaoke at The Crossing just isn’t going to be enough for you.

Indoor picnic/ tea parties // Your place

Easiest side dish recipe: Roasted squash- Cut summer squash into bite sized pieces. Lay evenly on a sprayed/ oiled pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and brown sugar. Roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Voila!
Easiest side dish recipe: Roasted squash– Cut summer sqaush into bite sized pieces. Lay evenly on a sprayed/ oiled pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and brown sugar. Roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Voila!

Recently I was asked my idea of the perfect date. I took more than a comfortable amount of time to develop a picture in my head and when I finally blurted something out it sounded like “an indoor picnic”. Seriously though, think about it, does it get anymore romantic? Either I’m feeling seriously deprived of romanticism or that which comes with the convenience of summer weather but either way, whatever compelled me to say this string of words clearly hit the nail on the head. Small bites, like the ones mentioned in my potluck dinner party idea, are appropriate fare and tiny tea lights make for an excellent setting. This would be fun to do with girlfriends in lieu of a Girls’ Night Out or for the fellas if you have a lady you’re trying to win over.

Toad // Cambridge, MA

Whether you like Whiskey sours, Guinness or Allagash, a night at Toad is not to be missed!
Whether you like Whiskey sours, Guinness or Allagash, a night at Toad is not to be missed!

Over the river and through Harvard Square, this place is exactly the kind of place I want to be at on a wintery night with a Guinness in my hand. Lucky for me and my P.I.C. Kaitlyn, we were able to catch a show on Friday night featuring a great band called McAlister Drive. There was something for everyone at the “hole in the wall” venue; from covers of The Lumineers and Justin Timberlake to original pieces, Christoph, Scarlett and their musical cohorts from The Gentleman Outfit put on a great show sans cover charge and I was even able to enjoy a favorite local brew from Jack’s Abby. Forget perfect dates, this was the perfect night!

D.I.Y.-day // Anywhere, USA

My baby changing table...all grown up!
My baby changing table…all grown up!

You know what you do when you can’t afford an actual change is scenery? You fake it a la room re-organizing and d.i.y. closet modifications. Not sure what I mean? Recently I repurposed my old changing table from when I was a baby and turned it into a storage unit for lingerie and books. I lined the drawers with perfume samples from old Allure and Glamour magazines and now have some great tabletop space to showcase my autographed copy of the new book by Adam Shuman. Another project I’ve decided to tackle is turning those old sloppy tees I own into things I might actually wear out and not just to bed. Pinterest has some great inspiration but my favorite way is to take those old tighter versions and cut open the shoulders or back in interesting ways. This is also a cheap way to add more things to your closet and highlight your best features without spending a fortune!

Well that’s all for now, do you know of creative ways to have fun that don’t cost an arm and a leg? Other city girls want to hear about them! Comment below or on Nessesscity on Facebook to share your thoughts and don’t forget to follow me on foursquare to see where I’m visiting!

xo, Vanessa

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Vanessa M. Gatlin

-Blogger, dancer, fashionista -Self proclaimed "political junkie" with a strong interest in international affairs -2011 graduate of Emmanuel College in Boston

7 thoughts on “How To Live Large On A “City Girl Budget””

  1. I feel some of your pain. I am employed, but I’m trying to live large, on my own, on a very small paycheck.
    Good luck with finding work and staying glamorous.

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