How to Live in NYC with Zero Expenses
Steve Dean shares his story of after 5 years of struggle and meticulous strategizing, his goal of living in NYC with zero expenses is within reach.
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So I am the other secret Steve Dean in this group as of today, it’s my first time here. I’ll get right into this, about four and a half, five years ago I graduated from college. I read Tim Ferris’s Four Hour Work Week, and and I got really excited because I was like oh shit, I was a political science major. I had expected to have to work many many hours forever, and not make that much money. And then I realised like a four hour work week is actually while very aspirational for a lot of people. I wanted to see if I could 10x it for my goal.
Whereas a four hour work week’s like 208 hours of work a year. My goal was to 10x it to get get myself down to 28 or two 20.8 hours or fewer. Officially, as of this year, I hit 20 hours of work a year in order to meet my expenses for life.
So, what ended up happening over the last five years, was that I had to meticulously track every single thing that I was spending money on. And basically at each point of life expenses I had to think of like ways of getting that down to zero.
So I want to go into a couple of the ones I had to do. Web hosting, easy one. Free hosting dot com I think it’s up to 6 gigs of traffic a month totally free all year long.
Next one was transportation. If you have any friend with a city bike, all you have to do like people move in and out New York on the time. And when someone’s moving they are not keeping their card with them. Just post to Facebook, hey, who has a city bike card, grab it from a friend. You’ll have it for the rest of the year and you can do it every year.
Next, we have food. There are millions of free food events throughout New York. You can just make friends who like to have dinner parties and as long as you have one of those each night, different friends who want to meet people, all you have to do is do the work of supplying people to those parties and they’ll cover the food costs.
There are other ways of doing that. You can go to places that have lots of start-up events; I mean this is probably a perfect example. For co-worker and workspace I found that the impact hub, impact hub New York has a work trade program where you can do things like 20 hours of volunteer work a month in exchange for 24 seven free access to their space. It takes up some time, but I get to do my work in conjunction with that. So I’m really just sitting at a front desk, meeting new people, which is also part of my work. So there are many caveats to this whole thing.
For me, it’s not work, it’s volunteering and an already doing that. Like that’s something that I would already be wanting to be doing, like meeting people in a workspace. There are some more other fun ones we have get into.
I had to craft my job in order to make this happen in the first place, because I didn’t want to have to do a 40 hour work week or work with any company. So I thought to myself, what are the things in which I can always barter in order to get access to other people’s skills and spaces.
So I started teaching myself a few different skills. One of them was dating consulting. So helping people with their romantic life, where everyone needs dating help and relationship help and getting into relationships and out of relationships. Some people call it date working to manage that.
Job help, everyone is either going into or out of a job, or just hates their life in their current job and wants some advice on how to get better. So I did job consulting. Built a start-up around, basically the work hours for me, it’s paid work and that was the only thing I wanted to reduce, like ours, like the thing that you don’t want to have to be doing that you do to live, versus the things that you are so passionate about that you cannot do. So for me, helping people with dating, helping people with jobs, all those things were things I find myself doing every day, no matter what.
Also helping people with apartments and roommates, so finding an apartment and finding a roommate that’s something that people are constantly freaking out about in New York, so I just started optimizing the Facebook algorithm, constantly liking every single status of every friend I met. Adding everyone I knew, everyone I met on Facebook, so that I would always be able to optimize for like this person is in need of this kind of place at this time and this is how I can tag the next person to get them involved. So basically, my life became a series of free services offered to people. And I was building up as much positive comments as possible. Because the next one is where it gets like, the most important one is really like. Where do you live, where do you put things, how do you actually manage the like you, not rent half of New Yorkers expense.
So I’ve been at rent zero for four years now, almost 5 and that’s through two simple processes, most of which no one here would want to do, but one of which could be cool.
So the first one is offering zero cost dog sitting, cat sitting, apartment sitting for no matter what. So it is the most referable thing in the world. Any person who ever needs that service, they just call me and they refer one of their friends, because dog sitting is really annoying in New York. It can cost like upwards three or 400 bucks a week. And for me doing it zero cost is I am on top of everyone’s priority stack when they are thinking referrals, which means I always have a place with a cute dog that as long as I’m walking it once a month – not once a month, once-a-day, several times a day so that works really nicely.
The other one is polyamory, which is essentially loving multiple people, but being part of a non-monogamous community here in New York and across 15 other cities. That means if you are dating seven people, you spend one night a week, with each partner, you have seven nights a week accounted for.
So it’s been really easy surprisingly – that’s the next one, that’s just like Google calendar, share Google calendars.
Health insurance is Medicaid because I make almost zero dollars like I only have to make enough to hit my expenses, and my expenses are currently hovering around five grand a year, and that’s because I eat out a lot. So I can’t store food, so like I don’t really always want to go to free food events, running around. And just like fuck it, I’ll just go and you know, go out and eat with people and I meet business partners all the time, prospective partners, prospective clients. And so it’s really easy to just like getting caught up spending good money on New York food. And so I’m willing to allocate like it could easily be under $1,000 if I took out the food element, like if I didn’t go out that frequently.
Cell phones, there’s a service that my friend Greg found out about where it’s like part of one of those creepy multilevel marketing scams. But there is one good thing that comes with it, I forget what is called but there is this one phone service, where you refer four or five friends, your phone bill is free forever. And so it’s basically like they are getting savings every time you do the work of their business development and marketing.
And I have a list online. If you go to bit.ly/expencezero, it’s a draft yet I haven’t published it yet, so don’t share it, and you can keep it to yourself and that is a listing of each service I use to get all these expenses down.
If you are interested in partner tracking, you can go to bit.ly/allmypartners. It’s a spreadsheet I keep of every person that I’ve been with, everything we had done, all the analytics like on OkCupid match percentages, so I always know like as I progress with different people, is it because we were a good match on OkCupid and if so, I should optimize for OkCupid driven, which is a dating site in New York, I can optimize for those kinds of partners. I found, that actually over time, my 90+ percent matches are the people who remain in my life. The people who I refer most to other people because they are awesome, people who refer me to other clients. It’s kind of amazing to see how that works out.
I don’t think there’s anything else, so I’ll just go over to QA