How to Feel Classy When You Have No Money

Are you unemployed? Do you have a limited (or no) income? Do you reject the idea that people should know that you have no money? Well, you’re in luck, because I’m here to tell you how to feel special as your bank account dwindles.

First of all, put a bra on. No one takes a woman seriously if she hasn’t even put a bra on today. Change out of your pajamas—maybe even put on a skirt. As part of the “fake it ’til you make it” regiment, dressing the part has a huge impact on your point of view. You may no longer have direct deposit, but you’ve got a pencil skirt. Wear it.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s time to drink. You may not have enough money anymore to buy $20 bottles of wine on a weekly basis, but you can’t afford to look cheap. That’s why you’ve got the white wine spritzer.

Trader Joe’s sells boxes of cheap (and not horrible) Chardonnay at $10.99 a pop. Buy yourself one. Not only are you getting over three bottles of wine for the price of one low-end wine, you’re going to water it down anyway, so the taste doesn’t really matter. From Target (or any other chain grocery store) purchase a 10-pack of La Croix seltzer water (preferably a complimentary flavor—I chose mango, but I’ve noticed passion fruit and even lime work well). Most white wine spritzers call for club soda or even ginger ale, but we’re cheap, so we’re taking a step down. Add half a glass of chardonnay, half La Croix, a handful of ice, and a few berries (if you’re extra cheap, frozen berries work just as well—I used fresh blueberries), and call it a day. Voila—class in a cup.

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After you’ve made your white wine spritzer, set the mood. You’re wearing a pencil skirt after all, you can’t listen to just anything. Billie Holiday radio is a wonderful start, and most sites offer it for free if you don’t mind the ads. iTunes has a pretty good catalogue, Spotify is weak, and Pandora is fairly consistent. If you’re struggling with Billie (which, who are you? GET OUT) other choices include Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, or Mildred Anderson (if you’re feeling particularly melodramatic, “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me” is wonderful). More contemporary artists are Jamie Cullum, Madeleine Peyroux, or (the classics) Michael Bublé and Norah Jones. The one things to keep in mind when you’re classing it up? Jazz is not an option. You cannot replace it with Mumford and Sons or Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. It is a nonnegotiable. (Unless, of course, you’re replacing it with Nicki Minaj, which I probably couldn’t argue.) 

Next, make yourself a meal. BudgetBytes is a great place to start (last night I made the Southwest Mac ‘N Cheese), but Pinterest is also full of classy recipes on the cheap. In fact, for the most part, cooking for yourself is pretty cheap. Is eating homemade truffle butter every night cheap? Not so much. But canned foods are hidden well in pantries, and if you want to class it up a bit, the lovely gentlemen at Sorted Foods make high end cooking easy and impressive. It’s all in the presentation. Work hard in the kitchen, feel classy.

Finally, spend the rest of your evening reading. Best way to read extensively? The library (argue that you’re supporting local nonprofits—without you, we’d lose all of our libraries!). Almost every county library has an online catalogue that makes it easy to search and request almost any book, usually available at your local library within a week. Not so big on reading? Many big cities (Minneapolis included) are part of an audiobook sharing program that makes downloading an audiobook for free to your iPhone or Android easy and painless. Just enter your library number, download the OverDrive app, and start listening. If your library isn’t quite with the times, podcasts are a great way to keep learning while you’re cleaning, or driving or riding the bus (shhhhh—we don’t do that! We have Uber!). Some of my favorites include This American Life, RadioLab, The Moth, The TED Radio Hour and The New Yorker Fiction podcast. Remember, you want to exude a sense of intelligence and cultural prowess, and getting in touch with NPR never hurt anybody.

And remember, class is a state of mind. Exude it enough, people have to believe you sooner or later. Good luck!

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