Affordable luxuries for overeducated, underpaid urbanites

Affordable luxuries for overeducated, underpaid urbanites

1. Name-brand Red Bull. It tastes better. You look cooler. You feel richer. And do you really need the extra caffeine you get in that barrel of SuperAmerica ShockWave you can get for the same price as an eight-ounce Red Bull? Maybe the answer is yes; if so, carry on.

2. Full-service car wash. For about $15, a full-service car wash will wash the outside and inside of your car. This may not seem like a priority to you, but it’s like doing that thing during sex: until you’ve tried it, don’t underestimate how good it will feel.

3. Good coffee beans. You know those mattress ads that tell you to spend a lot of money on your mattress, because you’ll spend a third of your life on it? How much time do you spend drinking coffee? I’m just saying. Note that this expenditure may actually bring about a net savings if it deters you from running in desperation to your local coffee shop for a $4 coffee (that’s $3 for the coffee, and $1 to tip the barista who makes you wobbly-kneed) when you get sick of drinking the roach saliva you’ve been making with the Roundy’s French Roast grounds.

4. Not having to shovel snow. I rent a room in a house. That means that the entire space allocated to me and me alone in this world is exactly one room—but whenever it snows and, per the terms of my rental agreement, shoveling is not my problem, I feel like a king. Like a king.

5. Brunch at a bar. I don’t need to sell you on the benefits of brunch—but you may have dismissed brunch as something for fancy people who can afford brunch at La Belle Vie, or who can afford brunch ingredients at the upscale supermarket that’s the only one within hungover-stumbling distance and then have time to cook it because they haven’t put that freelance writing assignment off until the last possible day. Solution: have brunch at a bar. There may not be windows, so you can’t enjoy the bright sunny morning weather like the fancy people can, but your food will be cheap and edible and—if you luck out—will come with a free breakfast drink that doesn’t have to be coffee.

6. Puffs Plus. Because getting sick sucks, and when you’re wiping your nose with generic-brand sandpaper tissue, you risk shaving the whole thing off before you get better.

7. Digital books. Though e-books are cheaper than buying new hardcovers, I probably could have picked up American Gods as a used paperback for a lot less than the $9.99 I paid to download it. But that would have required me to get out of bed.

8. Sierra Nevada. This is the perfect affordable-luxury beer. It’s going to set you back more than Black Label will, but it tastes better and it’s stronger and you can usually find a 12-pack for $10.99—less than most microbrews. And unless you’re from California, it’s at least a little exotic: you won’t look like an average bro drinking the local mid-market microbrew.

9. Magazine subscriptions. The really good ones—New Yorker, Artforum—know they’re good, and will set you back. But I paid $8 for a year of Esquire and $12 for a year of Rolling Stone. Even if you wouldn’t pay $4.99 for a newsstand copy, someone does, and getting it for less than a buck makes you feel smart and fancy.

10. New cans of tennis balls. “I only want money so that I can afford to buy new cans of tennis balls and hardcover books.” – Charles M. Schulz

Jay Gabler