TRUE CONFESSION: How I Ruined New Year's Eve, One Bad Money Decision After The Next

Photo: Flickr via von_hedwig

I know that as red-blooded human beings, we’re allowed to make a few mistakes every once in a while.I just wish mine didn’t cost so much. 

About two years ago, I turned what should have been a wholesome New Year’s celebration into a nightmare –– one bad money decision after the next. 

When all was said and done, I managed to blow close to $700 over the course of six topsy-turvy hours that, in retrospect, weren’t really that fun at all. 

It may sound trivial to some, but it’s cautionary tales like these I wish people were more transparent about. When it comes to spending, we all give in to temptation (and yes, a little peer pressure) from time to time –– no matter how old or wise we become. 

Like many poor choices, it all started with a little peer pressure.

A pair of long-time friends were in town, so I met them at the swanky W hotel in the lower Manhattan's financial district for a pre-party drink.

I was broke at the time and usually would have tucked a mini bottle of something serious in my clutch and been done with it. But my girlfriends had flown across the country to have a good time, and I knew toasting with a couple of cheep beers in my apartment wouldn't cut it.

So, naturally, we decided to order a $75 bottle of champagne.

Then I blew $20 on a cab I never needed.

Feeling festive, we left the hotel and made our way to a cab to head uptown.

Here's where I could have saved serious cash. Not only do I live in New York, the land of public transportation, but the city was actually giving away $30,000 worth of FREE cab fare and metro cards to party-goers at the time.

As we lacked both a publicist and a hit reality TV show, we weren't able to get into any of the super exclusive parties going on throughout the city that night.

I did a little search on the web and found a great-looking party at an East Village venue with four floors, unlimited drinks, and a balloon drop at midnight.

It also cost $150 for the smallest 'VIP Package' available. I'd just gotten a small Christmas bonus, so I justified the price with any shopaholic's go-to mantra:

'Whatever. I've earned this!'

VIP turned out to be a rip-off.

I could have purchased a cheaper ticket for $99, but I picked the VIP pass imagining velvet ropes and a swanky sofa raised high above the crowd of 'commoners' below.

What I got was a cheap silver wristband and all-I-could-binge access to the half dozen bars on site.

And we still had to pay for the coat check, double the usual $2 it would cost on a normal night.

Then the mob attacked.

By the time we counted down to midnight and wasted our confetti poppers, I was pretty miserable.

As many NYC parties are wont to do, the organisers sold way more people tickets than the venue could actually hold.

Once midnight struck, the massive crowd all rushed for the exit at once.

I spent half an hour jammed between two sweaty drag queens and making peace with the Lord because I was almost certain I was going to suffocate and die.

We tried to make things spending more.

We all knew we'd just blown 150 bucks on quite possibly the biggest NYE scam ever, so we hit up a nearby bar to try to salvage our evening.

I easily added another $30 or $40 to my running tab for the evening as we hit the dance floor.

At one point our bartender materialised with three bottles of champagne in his hand and passed one to each of us. This is the part when things begin to get blurry.

Turns out clubs are perfect for pickpockets

I was feeling burned after the first party, so I refused to pay to check my coat and bags at the bar. Why I would do this I'll never know.

Instead, we all stashed our belongings under a nearby table. All seemed well, and when we were ready to move on a couple of hours later, they were still there waiting for us.

But something was off. I dug inside my clutch for my cell phone and came up with a tube of lip gloss and nothing else. No wallet. No cell phone. No I.D.

Happy New Year! I'd just been robbed.

I spent New Year's Day cleaning up my mess.

By the time I got on the phone with my bank and called in the lost card, whoever stole it had already charged more than $400 in monthly metro cards.

I was also out about $50 in cash and the $200 iPhone I had purchased less than a month before.

Because I called the bank early, they were able to erase the fraudulent charges from my account and sent me a temporary debit card.

Not that I had any money to spend anyway, but it was a nice gesture.

Let's add that up, shall we?

Champagne: $75
VIP tickets to hell: $150
New party dress: $75
Cab fare: $20
Coat check: $5-ish
Tab from bar No. 2: $40
Lost wallet: $70 (Cash + value of wallet itself)
+ Lost iPhone: $200

Grand Total: $635

Here's how I'll be doing things differently this year.

This night will be forever burned into my memory and was the wake up call I needed to get my finances back on track last year ---- and a little reminder that even adults can be swayed in the wrong direction by peer pressure from time to time.

The scary part is it could have been much, much worse.

Here's how I'm doing things differently this time around:

Party skirt: $12
House party: Free.
Appetizer to share: $10
6-pack to share: $10
Cab fare: N/A (Walking)
+ FindMyiPhone App: Free (Just in case!)

Grand total: $32.

I think I can live with that.

Always learn from your mistakes...

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