Monday, February 08, 2010

My Money Weekend

I was out and about in Brooklyn this weekend, and that always provides fodder for thoughts about money.

On Sunday, I went out for brunch with Sweetie and Mortimer. Brunch is something I always have problems with-- I think it's a nice time to have a social meal with friends, and I always enjoy the food, but it pisses me off that it's so expensive! Brunch has to be the restaurant meal with the least value for the customer and the most profit for the restaurant.
We went to Sidecar, a great restaurant in Park Slope, where I paid $11 for "migas," which is scrambled eggs with guacamole, chilis, cheddar cheese, tomatoes and tortillas. It was absolutely delicious, but spending $11 for gussied up scrambled eggs just seems crazy!

After brunch, we went strolling through Park Slope for a while. At one point, we ducked into Ollie's cafe so I could use the bathroom. We didn't buy anything, but on the way out, I found a $5 bill on the floor. It wasn't obvious who it might belong to and I was tempted to keep it, but instead I stuck it in the tip jar.

Our next stop was the Brooklyn Flea, which has moved indoors for the winter, at the fabulous location of One Hanson Place. This is the old Williamsburg Savings Bank building, a striking landmark when you see it from the exterior, and even more fabulous within. The main lobby of the old bank seems to have been almost completely preserved and the flea market wares are spread out in front of and behind the old teller windows, and on thick glass counters that still have holes for inkwells, where people used to endorse their checks and fill out deposit slips. It's just a gorgeous space, with cathedral-like ceilings and elaborate windows. The rest of the building has been converted into condos, but I'm not sure what they do with the lobby space when the flea market isn't there.

Once you get past the architectural appreciation, the flea market is a blast. There are lots of great vendors with jewelry, vintage clothes, records, books, art, furniture and all sorts of random stuff. And "random stuff" is my favorite! I ended up spending $32 on a variety of old tobacco and medicine tins, which I collect. In a way, this seems just as crazy as spending $11 on scrambled eggs. I mean, what am I going to do with these tins? They'll just sit on my shelf with the rest of my collection, making it even more of a pain in the ass to dust. It's so purely materialistic to buy stuff that has absolutely no purpose... but I just love them. I love looking at them and wondering where they've been and who owned them, and I love the old-fashioned designs. In the larger scheme of things, $32 for a bit of decorative pleasure seems quite reasonable. Which makes $11 for the pleasure of eating a yummy brunch pretty easy to rationalize too!

Speaking of food, that's the other fun thing about the Flea-- there are quite a few food vendors. I don't know how Mortimer managed to be hungry again after his omelette, but he got a plate of pupusas. I found myself wishing I had room for a lobster roll, or some Greek pastry, but only managed to sample a bit of a pickle and some salted caramels, and Sweetie and I each had one mini chocolate-pistachio cupcake, which cost $1 each.

After the Flea, we walked along 4th Avenue to get home. I am always amazed at how much new construction there is along there-- over the last few years, it's changed enormously as they've knocked down some smaller tenement-style apartment buildings and replaced them with these massive high-rises. Every time I go by there, I feel like I notice something new that looks almost ready for people to move in... and I wonder how long it will take for all these buildings to fill up. I have no illusions about selling my apartment easily in the next few years-- hopefully I won't need to. I still think I could rent out my condo for a little more than it costs me each month, but seeing all these big empty buildings reminds me I'll have more and more competition, closer to Manhattan than I am.

The latter part of my Sunday, of course, was spent watching the SuperBowl. And for the first time, I wondered if any of the shots of the crowd would show some friends of mine, Richard and his partner. Are they big Saints or Colts fans? No, quite the opposite. They don't care about football at all, but one of their fabulously wealthy clients invited them to the game and even flew them down to Miami in a private jet. One of our other friends said Richard made over $2 million from his business last year, and I don't doubt it. It's kind of fun to observe the way he lives and the luxuries he enjoys, some paid for out of his own pocket and some by his clients. I'm happy for him, but sometimes it makes me smack myself and wonder why I don't have his life! I realized recently that I'm not jealous of his lifestyle per se-- I'm jealous of the fact that he is so successful precisely because he is doing exactly what he loves and is passionate about. That's what gives him his drive and makes him good at what he does. I think he would do it no matter how much he was paid. I am fairly content with my job, but I don't love it the way he loves his-- I wish I could find that perfect combination of satisfaction and financial success.

Whew-- all that squeezed into one Sunday! Now back to my Monday...


harnett accountants said...

What a great idea for a blog. I know I'm a little late but will watch your progress with interest. By the way - I think your brunch was good value - it's not just the consumption of fuel for your body, it's a pleasurable meal with a friend and a treat for yourself. What would you blog about if you didn't buy stuff?!

evy said...

That brunch is a bargain compared to what I paid in Vegas last week- $39 with unlimited champagne.

Anonymous said...

Good for you for putting the $5 in the tip jar. Generating goodwill with no cost to you: priceless.

K said...

I love going out for brunch. I like the leisurely feeling of a weekend early afternoon, I like brunch food, and I like the fact that for under $20, I can generally meet friends at a pretty decent restaurant and be served food and dawdle over coffee.

That said, if it's just me and my SO, I usually cook at home to save money. But it's great for catching up with friends.

Anonymous said...

Good read.. I look forward to your posts as it offers a different perspective living in NYC. I live in the city as well and do feel the pain of $20 brunches and $80 dinners.

Btw.. love the brooklyn flea...havent been there this winter, but its great fun in the summer (pupusas, asian hotdogs and watermelon juice!!!!!!)

Life Insurance BC said...

Thank you for all the great posts from last year! I look forward to reading your blog, because they are always full of information that I can put to use. Thank you again, and God bless you in 2010.

Cheryl B. said...

I donated most of my teapot collection this year. Wish I had the money I spent on the darn things instead of the tax deduction.

Very nice of you to put the $5.00 in the tip jar. I am afraid I would have kept it.