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What Are The Keys To Living “Young, Broke & Beautiful”?

San Diego native Stuart Schuffman hosts a travel show called "Young, Broke & Beautiful" on IFC focusing on cheap, edgy things to do in cities around the country, including San Diego. We speak to "Broke Ass Stuart" about traveling on the cheap.

San Diego native Stuart Schuffman hosts a travel show called "Young, Broke & Beautiful" on IFC focusing on cheap, edgy things to do in cities around the country, including San Diego. We speak to "Broke Ass Stuart" about traveling on the cheap.


Stuart Schuffman, a.k.a. "Broke-Ass Stuart" is host of "Young, Broke & Beautiful" on IFC

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This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. If people have a lot of money, they're expected to enjoy life. Travel, eat well, look good. But if you're not rich, if in fact you're broke a lot, you're only supposed to dream about having a good time. Not so, says my next guest. His books, website, and new TV show are all about living well on next to nothing. His stage name is Broke-Ass Stewart. Stewart Schuffman, welcome to Midday Edition.

SCHUFFMAN: Hello, hello. Thanks for having me.

CAVANAUGH: This you will just sounds a little un-American, Stewart. If you're not rich, shouldn't you spend all your time trying to get rich?

SCHUFFMAN: That is American, isn't it? No, I don't think so. Money isn't the most important thing in the world. The most important thing in the world is having a good time, and enjoying life. Most likely, I don't know for sure, but I know for sure I only have one life. There might be other ones, but I don't know. So you might as well enjoy it and, not let the monetary thing get in the way.

CAVANAUGH: So on you website you say your research into cheap fun is for busboys, musicians, magicians. Why do you dedicate your work to them.

SCHUFFMAN: I think just 'cause that's where I come from, I guess. I waited tables for the past ten years or more. I've had jobs selling hats, working in libraries, selling things on the street. Just hustling. And so I dedicate it to everybody out there who works, who's working and making money, but also creates. I think that this lifestyle has something to do with making something while -- like art is more important than commerce.

CAVANAUGH: And it has to do with -- the lifestyle you're talking about has to do with the idea that maybe there is not gonna be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Maybe this is it.

SCHUFFMAN: Right. Absolutely. What is the old thing they used to say? You can grow up to be president of General Motors or wave. Yeah, you sure can, but not everybody wants to be, not everybody has to be. You can have this satisfying life without having to chase that golden ring.

CAVANAUGH: So give us an example of a Broke-ass Stewart cheap living tip.

SCHUFFMAN: I was thinking about this today. This is kind of strange, but if you're getting a zit, you can put toothpaste on it. Instead of getting all that stuff. It always works for me.

CAVANAUGH: That's great.

SCHUFFMAN: Yeah, I know, right? It's really simply. And it usually always works. Usually always works? That contradicts itself. It works most of the time.

CAVANAUGH: Great stuff. Tell us a little bit about this new cable TV show, young, broke, and beautiful. It's a travel show, right? So how is it different from other travel shows that we've seen?

SCHUFFMAN: Well -- I watched a lot of travel shows. A lot of them don't want do that much for me. I'm into the weird and the wonderful. I'd rather see people swallowing fire than eating very fancy food. So other than the people that -- I think what Anthony Bourdain does is brilliant. I think he's one of the coolest people out there doing this thing. But watching someone like Samantha brown, the most expensive restaurant, the most expensive hotel. That's not interesting. I want some seedy, under ground cultural things upon we're exploring the under current of what makes a city a city. With that theme, we don't really go to New York or San Francisco or LA. None of the big ones you'd think of. The little off kilter ones like Detroit and even San Diego you wouldn't expect.

CAVANAUGH: Right, right.

SCHUFFMAN: We totally explore the non-San Diego San Diego. Not what people think about it. No surfing, no La Jolla or PB. We do a lot of Barrio Logan, and places like that that people don't think of when they think of San Diego.

CAVANAUGH: Is to write books about how to save money traveling.

SCHUFFMAN: Absolutely. It seems to work for me. As you say, your first show focuses on San Diego. Now, you grew up here right in.


CAVANAUGH: This is not a cheap place to live.

SCHUFFMAN: This is not a cheap place to live. It's still cheaper than where I live in San Francisco.

CAVANAUGH: Did your quest for cheap but fabulous begin here?

SCHUFFMAN: As a person? Or --


SCHUFFMAN: I don't know. For me it's always been more like a lifestyle than it has been an absolute mission. It's been -- I just know that I didn't really care about expensive clothing, I didn't really care about these fine things. I cared about really experiencing things. And having my eyes own. So I guess so. Maybe it's in my DNA. It's part of being a wandering Jew. That urge to explore, you know? So I don't know. The idea for Broke-ass really came out of -- after college, I was broke and working in a candy store, and I said I want to be a travel writer, so I just had to make myself one. I made a 'zine, I made my first 'sine. It was Broke-Ass Stewart's guide to living cheaply in San Francisco. I was working in this candy store, and a kid from my neighborhood who was two years older than me, he and his wife walk in, and I hadn't seen him for years, and as we're leaving she goes here's my card. And it said she was a travel writer. And I said, I wanted to be a travel writer. So I decided to become one. And here I am.

CAVANAUGH: Where did you grow up in San Diego?

SCHUFFMAN: I grew up in University City, north of Clairemont, east of La Jolla.

CAVANAUGH: But your first show is not about University City. I spend a lot of time as you say in Barrio Logan. And you mention it's a place you never went to when you were growing up here.

SCHUFFMAN: When I was growing up, it was pretty dangerous. There was a lot of gang violence. And I was just in barrio Logan yesterday. And it's a trip seeing it. It's at that point now where the gentrification is moving in really fast. And they're about to build this thing called Mercado -- something Mercado. So they're like, oh, here's a Latino neighborhood. Let's put a Spanish name on this development so it'll be more acceptable. But it's actually gonna totally change the neighborhood 100%. Condos, restaurants, shopping in the middle. So it's been slowly on its way. But that's where it is now. It's a safer place than it was. But the community is gonna be interesting to see there years from now.

CAVANAUGH: I'm speaking with Stewart Schuffman, he goes under the name Broke-ass Stewart, and he's the host of a new cable TV show that's going to premier next Friday, Young Broke and Beautiful on the IFC channel. So what else about San Diego has changed that you really focused on?

SCHUFFMAN: It's funny. I haven't really lived here since I was 18. And I'm 30 now. My parents are still here. So I come back. But I haven't lived here lived here. Everything has changed in a way. I've changed and the world has changed. San Diego, there's more traffic than there was. When I was growing up, Pacific Beach was a pretty cool place to be. And it was like punks and hippies and thrift stores. Now it's like testosteroned out college kids getting into the fights on the street. So things change. It's just the nature of a city.

CAVANAUGH: So for the show, what is it that you looked at besides bar low Logan?

SCHUFFMAN: We focused on subcultural things. We went to a show in somebody's backyard, a punk show at this place called the yard. And it's this under ground place that happens underneath a freeway so nobody can really hear it. And there's big punk showed. I ended up getting a tattoo out in this place called two roses, in bar low Logan. We went to the backyard circus. I don't want to ruin anything because there's so many little surprises in there. The funny part, I didn't think it was funny, but it made great television. I was on a skateboard and totally wiped out. They're like, oh, this is great television. I was, like, screw you guys. This hurts!

CAVANAUGH: You say your show is about showing people the grittier side of cities, is there a grittier side of San Diego?

SCHUFFMAN: Absolutely.

CAVANAUGH: Okay. Where?

SCHUFFMAN: Things like punk shows in backyards and Barrio Logan is grittier than -- there's things that are there that a lot of America does not think of San Diego. They don't think of barrio Logan when they think about San Diego. It's the border. It's the absolute border.

CAVANAUGH: People kind of think of that thing, like going to a backyard circus or something like that is the kind of thing you have to do if you have no money. Where your mind set comes from is the kind of thing that you want to do because it's better to do than a lot of things you could do if you did have a lot of money right in.

SCHUFFMAN: Absolutely, absolutely. The money shouldn't matter. I mean it does, but it shouldn't matter. You can do so many cool things in your life and see so many great things and meet so many wonderful people. And money isn't important in that. Of for me, that's what enriches my life. So you could tell me I know these guys who -- they have this weird acrobatic act. And yeah, let's go see that. Go it a party with a bunch of clowns. Yeah, let's go do that. As opposed to it's another cocktail party at somebody's fancy apartment. That's mundane.

CAVANAUGH: This is a side of San Diego -- in fact, all of the cities that you're gonna profile that a lot of the people who live in these cities don't even know about, is that right?

SCHUFFMAN: Absolutely. That's gonna be so exciting to have people see their own city and be, like, I didn't know that was there!

CAVANAUGH: Can anyone learn how to live like this? I mean like broke and beautiful? How does it work?

SCHUFFMAN: I don't know. I have no idea. I just say yes. In most situations, maybe it's positive thinking, maybe it's some hippie stuff, but just say yes. There's gonna be times -- the economy is messed upright now. People don't have jobs. And it's easier for some people to do it because I don't have a mortgage I don't have a car, I don't have kids. But there's also resources out there. The book I put thing, great ideas, it doesn't matter where you are in your life, whether you do own things or not. There are so many resources out there to help you get through your life without stressing about all that money. And one of the things I always do is I don't use my credit cards unless I have to. I don't spend more than I have. And occasionally I might have to -- if I have to get a plane ticket some place and I can't afford it, I don't have the cash, I'll put that on there. But I don't buy unnecessary things because I don't need them.

CAVANAUGH: A lot of people are thinking that these days I think.


CAVANAUGH: It's just the way of the world now.

SCHUFFMAN: But the American system is build on that.

CAVANAUGH: Consumerism.

SCHUFFMAN: Yeah, and that's one of my biggest things, I'm anti-consumerist. I don't -- I like to have things that are nice, but I don't really actually let myself have nice things 'cause I ruin them. But I buy what I need and then I don't worry about the rest. I don't know. Maybe that sounds convoluted and --

CAVANAUGH: No, but I think to a lot of people it sounds really young, as in young, broke, and beautiful. Can you become too old to be young broke and beautiful?

SCHUFFMAN: That's a good question. It's a question I get a lot of truthfully, it's all a state of mind. My dad's in his mid-60s and he's still young, you know? You're only as old as you make yourself. And the broke and beautiful part is all a state of mind. If I woke up tomorrow and sold 30 bazillion books, I'd still be doing the same things. I'd still be going to sketchy bars with sketchy people and eating greasy spoon diners. Because that's things I'm interested in. I'm interested in people. And the people that are in these places more than just that rich stuff. I'm a little hung over like I said earlier. So I'm not that sharp today. I apologize.

CAVANAUGH: No, you're making sense to me. We'll go back to the idea of a tip kind of a thing. Because there member some things that you see people spending too much money on all the time. What is it when you see -- do they spend too much money goes to the movies or going some place or doing something or buying something that always clicks in your head and you say, you know, they don't need to do that.

SCHUFFMAN: I think everybody has their thing. For me, I don't really care if I have nice new clothes all the time. But I do like to eat out. So everybody has their thing that they spend money on. . And that's fine. Everybody needs to treat themselves. But knowing what that is, and you can minimize the damage on the other parts. I like to eat out, I like to go out drinking but because of that, I don't spend money on clothing or gadgets. It seems as long as the stuff I have that works enough, I don't need -- so everybody can -- has the thing that's more important to them, once you know what that is, you can figure out the rest. There are also little things. Here's a great tip. For example, if you rent a car, if you have a credit card, most of the time you don't have to get insurance for your rental car because your credit card, most banks cover that experience. Tips like that. Or like how to negotiate and get your cable bill down. I just did that the other day. I got a new package where I got more challenges but I cut my cable down by like 30 bucks a month. Little things like every six months and just be, what kind of new deals do you have going on? And you can totally get into a new deal. They're always offering things. Just say, hey, I'm considering -- let's say you have comcast or whatever.

CAVANAUGH: We have Cox cable, time warner.

SCHUFFMAN: Let's say you call up Cox and say, I'm thinking of switching to the Dish. They have a complete department called the retention department to help keep you there. So you can negotiate your cable bill.

CAVANAUGH: I can see that, the operators at Cox just lobbing us today.

SCHUFFMAN: They're like going into like scramble mode and what do we do now? That I know the secret!

CAVANAUGH: Are you finished taping your shows?

SCHUFFMAN: Yes, we are. We're done taping.

CAVANAUGH: What's next for you then?

SCHUFFMAN: I have no idea. Hopefully many more seasons. I always get to this place when I finish a project, right now I'm finishing a bunch of projects, where afterwards I kind of deflate. Like ah, what do I do now? And I don't know. I think I'm gonna do another book at some point soon. But not the type of Broke-ass Stewart stuff I've been doing. I'm kinda a little burnt out on that right now. I want to do some more -- I don't know what the right word it. Just nonfiction or memoirs, just stories. I want to write stories. But also I want to do more television, this is fun.

CAVANAUGH: I've been speaking with writer Stewart Schuffman, he's taking his Broke-Ass Stewart franchise to television on the IFC cable network. The show young, broke, and beautiful premieres with a show about San Diego that's this Friday at 11:00 PM. Thanks, Stewart.

SCHUFFMAN: Thank you.

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