Loosening My Purse Strings

Plenty of home videos circa 1994 (and many other years) reveal a young Erin dancing around the living room. But one particular video shows nutcrackerme in a white dress playing pretend with a doll. No, I wasn’t dreaming about a wedding. I was reenacting a scene from The Nutcracker Ballet. I’d flit and twirl around the room, dramatically thrusting the nutcracker doll into the air and then clutching him to my chest, just like Marie.

This dramatic behavior came from watching the movie version of the New York City Ballet performing The Nutcracker.

Needless to say, going to The Nutcracker ballet has been on my bucket list for quite some time now.

This is my third Christmas in New York and each year I’m never quite sure whether or not it will be my last. New York is one of the greatest cities in the world, but it’s also a struggle to survive when you’re on the bottom end of the pay scale. After a year of living hand-to-mouth when I first moved here, I still have that mentality ingrained in my head. Even though I make far more now than I did when I first moved here in 2011, it’s hard for me to A) pass up opportunities to earn extra cash and B) spend my money on non-essentials.

This brings me to a cross-roads.

I work a lot in order to have the money to live in New York. I also don’t get to enjoy New York, because I work so much.

This Christmas season, I’ve made the executive decision to stop focusing so much on the financials and take in the splendor of living here.

After exploring several avenues to find a discount, I finally decided to hell with it and bought full-price tickets to The Nutcracker.

Ladies and Gentleman, it was worth every penny of the $99 I spent.

Not only did I fulfill a childhood dream, but I knocked two things off my NYC bucket list (see a show at Lincoln Center and see the New York City Ballet).

nutcracker collage

Later this week, Peach and I will be going to see Wicked. We deliberated the merits of trying to do the lottery or buying cheaper seats. In the end we decided to gift each other good seats to the musical and spent $130 each.

That brings me to a total of $229 spent on show tickets in one week during one of the most expensive times of the year (hello, Christmas presents).

Instead of worrying about pinching in other areas to compensate or denying myself going out with friends to save a few dollars, I’m giving myself these gifts. Sure, I may dip a little bit into my savings this month to cover the difference. But it’s okay. It’s okay that I’m loosening my purse strings. I live in one of the greatest cities in the world and this Christmas I am going to take complete advantage of that fact.

For all the penny pinching I (and many others) preach, I’m here to also tell you to give  yourself permission to partake in priceless experiences. Life shouldn’t be about always denying yourself in the present just to focus on your future.

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36 comments on “Loosening My Purse Strings
  1. That’s great, Erin! It sounds like you thought your decision out and are happy with it. I would go see a few shows too if I lived in NYC. =)
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…Squashing Vacation EnvyMy Profile

    • Broke Millennial says:

      Thanks, Holly! When I look back, I realize I have seen a decent number of shows. I usually do rush tickets too in order to save money, but sometimes it’s worth paying full price (especially when a show doesn’t have discount options).

  2. I totally get where you’re coming from, and I’m happy you got to experience such a wonderful night!! Sometimes you just need to say ‘the heck with it!’ and reward yourself.
    Little Miss Money recently posted…Day 55 – In which I Make a Pledge.My Profile

    • Broke Millennial says:

      I also tend to save up for big splurges, so luckily I’d saved up for Wicked which meant going to The Nutcracker didn’t totally throw me off my game. It was totally worth it though, so no regrets!

  3. Mr. NYBudget says:

    It’s definitely worth spending money on the experiences that you really care about. As for your comment about being able to enjoy New York City, though – don’t forget that there are SO many great ways to enjoy the city for free as well. Spend the money to go to the nutcracker this month, but don’t forget to take a Wednesday off work to go to the Bronx Zoo for free – or take a Saturday to walk the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges – or enjoy the amazing views on the always-free Staten Island ferry!
    Mr. NYBudget recently posted…Walking New York: Free Exercise and Entertainment All Year LongMy Profile

    • Broke Millennial says:

      Don’t worry. I’ve hit about every major free thing you can do in NYC and detailed a lot of them in previous blog posts.

  4. I’ve loosened up the purse strings myself, but also I’m making a lot more this month so that helps. The Nutcracker is one of the FEW things that I LOVE about Christmas, so I don’t blame you for wanting to see it, especially in NY!
    Budget & the Beach recently posted…Finding The Right Car for Your Road TripMy Profile

    • Broke Millennial says:

      Yay for another loosened purse strings buddy and a fellow Nutcracker enthusiast. If you get the opportunity to see the ballet I highly recommend going. It was beautiful.

  5. Debt RoundUp says:

    You always have to take time to enjoy life once in a while. Yes, the tickets were expensive, but you work extremely hard and you have the money. What do we all work hard for if we can’t enjoy the money we make?
    Debt RoundUp recently posted…How I Saved $780 Per Year On My Cell Phone BillMy Profile

    • Broke Millennial says:

      Love the last part of your comment. Sometimes you just need to enjoy the money you make. It’s also probably relevant that I don’t have debt, which eases up my ability to splurge.

  6. Experience spending is the best. I am actually taking my niece to see One Direction (ugh) for her birthday and Christmas present. I hated spending the $140 on our tickets, but seeing her face light up when she figures out what she is going to be PRICELESS.
    Michelle @fitisthenewpoor recently posted…Diet Like Beyonce, Spend Like Mom- Vegan Diet On a BudgetMy Profile

    • Broke Millennial says:

      Poor you for being subjected to One Direction, but it will certainly be worth it to take your niece. It reminds me of when my parents surprised us with a trip to Disney World and we had no clue where we were going until about 30 minutes before we got there and started seeing signs.

  7. Alicia says:

    I’ve done the ticket lottery in NYC – ended up three seats from the back of the balcony. I still cried during Les Mis, so it couldn’t have hindered the experience that badly, but I definitely enjoy having better seats (just not the price that comes along with them!).
    Alicia recently posted…Simplified Finances.My Profile

    • Broke Millennial says:

      I’ve done rush tickets for most of the shows I’ve been to here. Unfortunately, neither Wicked nor Nutcracker offer rush tickets. Wicked does have the lottery, but Peach and I were set on going so we didn’t want to risk missing out on tickets when he was in town.

      I usually think the view is pretty good for rush tickets, so I’m a big supporter of going that route if it’s an option.

  8. $99? I say why not! If it means that much to you and you’ll really enjoy seeing it, then by all means you should have bought those tickets. What is money for if not living every once in a while?
    MMD @ My Money Design recently posted…Using a 72t Distribution to Get Early Access to My Retirement SavingsMy Profile

    • Broke Millennial says:

      I enjoyed every last second of the experience. I would possibly even splurge for slightly better seats in the future.

  9. Good for you, Erin! I can’t wait to hear all the details. I can only imagine how magnificent the Nutcracker must be at the Lincoln Center. Worth every penny! It isn’t always easy loosening up those purse strings responsibly, but I do believe money is a gift that should be used on the things that truly matter. And that’s exactly what you are doing.
    Shannon @ The Heavy Purse recently posted…Create a Magical Christmas through Family TraditionsMy Profile

    • Broke Millennial says:

      Thanks, Shannon. It was certainly worth loosening up those purse strings. I’m so glad I didn’t sit there feeling guilty about it either.

  10. Gina says:

    I agree, it’s good to treat yourself every so often. Plus, I think it’s better to splurge on an experience rather than a materialistic item. Good for you for treating yourself!
    Gina recently posted…My 2013 Winter Bucket ListMy Profile

    • Broke Millennial says:

      Agreed! I rarely splurge on materialistic items as I prefer to spend my money on traveling. The only thing I’m eying right now is a new cross-body purse that’s small enough to be convenient but big enough to fit a book.

  11. Brian says:

    I am jealous of your ability to have access to so many wonderful musicals. I’m stuck waiting to see what they tour with her. I’m pretty pumped Book of Mormon is finally on its way to town.

    • Broke Millennial says:

      Book of Mormon is great! I actually didn’t see it in NYC because it’s so expensive and was hard to get tickets for a while. I saw it in Chicago instead.

  12. Glad to hear you had a good time in NYC treating yourself to a few shows for the holidays. I think it’s important to treat yourself from time to time 🙂
    Mrs. Snarkfinance recently posted…Discounted Earnings PotentialMy Profile

    • Broke Millennial says:

      It can be hard to resist the temptation when you live here, but I don’t want to always be depriving myself either!

  13. Micro says:

    Going to see the Nutcracker is also something I want to do in my life. Although for me it doesn’t need to be in NYC so I should be covered as long as I’m near a major city. Won’t be able to do it this year though as my dogs decided to be little money vacuums this month. Annual check up + vaccinations and a spay and neuter procedure later and I’ve now kissed over $500 good bye. Luckily my gift shopping was completed before December.
    Micro recently posted…Settle your debt for less than the full amount – The debt settlement process in detailMy Profile

    • Broke Millennial says:

      I’m glad I saw the NYC Ballet’s performance and especially got to see it at Lincoln Center, but I’m sure it’s a wonderful show in any major city.

      The money factor (and the general responsibility) is the major reason I haven’t gotten a dog yet. I am just not prepared for the expense.

  14. eemusings says:

    Dude, of course!!! I NEARLY spent double that on Broadway tix when we were there having failed on the lottery front, but it was just a bit too much to pull the trigger on. $99 is pretty reasonable.
    eemusings recently posted…How to get cheap Broadway ticketsMy Profile

    • Broke Millennial says:

      I agree that $99 is pretty reasonable. The $130 for Wicked is a bit more than what I’d normally spend (considering I normally do rush tickets for $30), but I’m certain it will be worth the money!

  15. I love that you’re going to see theatre! I know you love it and have a background in it, I wish more people were using their splurges on the arts. I just bought sleep no more tix, couldn’t find a discount either.
    thebrokeandbeautifullife recently posted…Don’t Blow It!My Profile

  16. Dear Debt says:

    I remember working three jobs in NYC, while going to grad school and having those moments, thinking ‘what is the point?’ It felt pointless to be living there when I never had time to enjoy it. Granted I did enjoy it, I did spend some money and I saved myself from having over 100k in debt. Was it worth it? I don’t know. I wish I could’ve had more fun, instead of working 7 days a week. Glad you got to take 2 things off your bucket list! I love Lincoln Center and NYC Ballet is great.
    Dear Debt recently posted…Dear Debt Letter from Little Miss MoneyMy Profile

  17. That’s so awesome that you are seeing those shows! It’s definitely important to enjoy life and have those experiences. A friend of mine’s sister passed away last night in a car accident. You never, ever, ever know how much time you have left so it’s important to cherish every day and to sometimes spend the money to have those experiences.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…Online Shopping Alternatives to AmazonMy Profile

  18. I’m a huge proponent of spending money on things you love and not on frivolous things. A play in NY during Xmas is worth it. When we were there at this time of year we saw Addams Family with Nathan Lane, it was awesome.
    Charles@gettingarichlife recently posted…Get Rich With Real Estate: How To Value Real Estate In Any MarketMy Profile

  19. Awesome! I think it’s great that you did it. It’s great to prepare for the future, but it’s not worth it when you never let yourself live in the present.
    Ben @ The Wealth Gospel recently posted…What People Living on Less Than $1 a Day Taught Me About MoneyMy Profile

  20. I love this post…”Life shouldn’t be about always denying yourself in the present just to focus on your future.” is my favorite line of all time. Sacrifice is important, but you can’t live your life telling yourself no all the time! Thanks for the reminder…I’ll see ya around!
    Joshua L Rodriguez recently posted…I’m Back! Did You Miss Me?My Profile

  21. Brent says:

    Good decision. Sometimes it shouldn’t be all about the money. If you want to do something and you can afford it because you’re making money, saving and investing it’s okay to splurge!
    Brent recently posted…How To Set Up An Automatic Savings Plan For Christmas 2014My Profile

  22. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be here either after spending the past 6.5 years here and I really do want to see more plays before I go (I’m not big into musicals personally). I saw Alan Rickman in Seminar (which I enjoyed) and I really do want to see a few more before I go. One exception to my musical rule is The Book of Mormon which I know you have to splurge to get tickets to!
    Tara @ Streets Ahead Living recently posted…So sorry, I’ve been busy shoppingMy Profile

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