How long can $100 last in New York City? Comedian Frankie Hoy has spent much of November trying to figure that out.
Hoy, 27, has gone viral — and amassed over 100,000 followers — on TikTok in the past few weeks as he documents a financial experiment in which he tries to stretch $100 as far as possible.
In every video, he chronicles his daily spending and savings adventures. Sometimes that includes showing viewers how he makes homemade coffee from his van, which he lives in. Other times, he shares where he picked up an affordable slice of pizza. In some videos, he documents the complimentary meals he gets from his catering job.
The purpose is to be transparent about where he spends money and where he is able to save money. He ends every video by providing his remaining total. In a few instances, he has even shared the days when he has spent no money at all.
Hoy posted his first video of the series Nov. 4 — he bought a $4.34 coffee and a $3.36 gallon of water. Soon, thousands of people began following his journey.
“When I was getting 50,000 [views] I got anxious. I was like: ‘Oh, my God. I don’t know any of these people.' And then it became hundreds of thousands, and I got anxious again,” Hoy said. “It’s just been a roller coaster of being anxious and then not being anxious, but most of the response has been positive.”
Before he posted his financial experiment, Hoy, who moved to New York from Perris, California, a year ago, would post his stand-up comedy and sketches he performed in. Now, he primarily posts videos related to the experiment.
The experiment has resulted in two positive outcomes, Hoy said. He has become more financially savvy, and he has grown an audience on TikTok. Some of his videos have amassed more than 1 million views.
The first time one of his videos blew up, Hoy was at an open mic comedy show. He had no idea why his phone was pinging so much until he opened TikTok.
“I got all these comments like ‘I’m invested.' And I was like, ‘In what?’ And then I opened it, and I was like: ‘Oh, thank God. It’s my video,’” Hoy said.
Because of the experiment, he said, he has also given up drinking alcohol, which has helped him save money. He has also learned to curb some of his late-night cravings, like ordering a whole pizza. Instead, he tries to make smarter decisions, like ordering from Too Good To Go, an app that helps restaurants sell unsold food to customers at discounted prices.
Beyond learning how to stretch his money, Hoy said, the response to his experiment has been exciting.
"I'm really happy I got people interested in following and people to see my stand-up, but I really enjoyed the vlogging part of it," Hoy said.
It has also been cool to see such enthusiasm from his followers, Hoy said. Some have latched on to some of his catch phrases, like his old-timey way of saying "New York City" or his stretched way of saying "dee-lish-ous." He said he has even been tagged in videos in which others attempt his challenge of stretching $100 as long as possible.
"i quote 'new york citay' 'delicious' 'for frEE' 'the big city' etc. on the daily," a commenter wrote on Hoy's Day 24 video.
On Tuesday, Hoy posted his Day 26 update, saying he had $6.96 left. But he's not worried. His catering job has helped him save some additional money. He has also recently started selling merchandise.
Already, he has sold four shirts at $18 apiece, which he said means he could soon tackle his next $100 experiment.