Photo: Mandi Woodruff/Business Insider
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 damn much.
Last year, I turned what should have been a fantastical New Year’s celebration into a night of horrors – one bad money decision after the next.
When all was said and done, I managed to blow $600 over the course of six topsy-turvy hours that, in (hazy) retrospect, weren’t really that fun at all.
A year later, I’m dishing all the dirty details and sharing how I’ll improve my spending strategy this time around.
Like many poor choices do, it all started with a cocktail.
A pair of long-time friends were in town, so I met them at the swanky W hotel in the 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 this was my first New Year's Eve; my girlfriends had flown across the country to have a good time; and I wasn't about to let my busted bank account get in the way.
So, naturally, we ordered a $75 bottle of champagne.
Feeling buzzed on the bubbly, we made our way to a cab and hightailed it uptown to really get the party started.
Here's where I could have saved serious cash. I live in New York City, land of public transportation. The $20 I blew on a cab so I wouldn't scuff my new heels could have been a $2.25 metro ride instead.
And guess what: New York City was actually giving away $30,000 worth of FREE NYE cab fare and metro cards at the time.
Seeing 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 haunt. And by 'haunt' I mean it has literally haunted me ever since.
'Whatever. I've earned this!'
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.
My dad always taught me to get my money's worth, so I battled my way through hundreds of other party-goers and ordered enough watery vodka tonics to take down a stretch limo's worth of sorority sisters.
I was well on my way to wasted before it even hit midnight.
As far as I'm concerned, alcohol is nothing but a gateway drug to financial ruin.
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 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.
Yes, that's right. Let's spend more money so we can justify the money we just lost!
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.
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.
It costs about two bucks, people. Check your bags.
We all stashed our belongings under a nearby table and focused on taking horrible photos of each other that I have made sure no one will ever see.
All seemed well when we retrieved our purses around 4 a.m. and decided to call it a night.
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. (See what to do if you lose your wallet.)
Happy New Year! I'd just been robbed.
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 iPhone that 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.
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
Listen, I'm not here to glamorize drinking (Seriously, it isn't cute).
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. 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.
Yeah, I think I can live with that.