Stuart Schuffman is living on a shoestring in San Francisco — and you can too. He’s happy to share the wealth of knowledge he’s acquired on how to live frugally and yet still enjoy the Bay Area’s thriving arts and entertainment scene.
Just go to brokeassstuart.com.
The 34-year-old initially launched his website to sell his creative magazines (or “zines”) and T-shirts when he arrived in San Francisco in 2002. Since then, he’s expanded his site to become an arts and culture destination, especially for millennials.
Brokeassstuart.com competes with the likes of 7×7 and SF Weekly, with articles on everything from the best dive bars and cheap restaurants in San Francisco, to financial and dating advice.
“We’re kicking ass right now,” Schuffman says. “I’m the most productive and focused I’ve ever been.”
He’s feeling so good, in fact, that he’s throwing a “bar mitzvah party” to celebrate his 13 years in the city. The event, which begins at 8 p.m. Sunday, May 24 at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco and is open to the public, promises plenty of entertainment. It’s not only a fundraiser for his website, but it’s also where Schuffman plans to announce his candidacy for San Francisco mayor. Live music, DJs, circus performers and a “DIY yarmulke station” are a few of the other treats on the menu.
Schuffman grew up in San Diego in “a kind of Jewish neighborhood,” attended a Reform synagogue and had his bar mitzvah at the typical age of 13.
He graduated from U.C. Santa Cruz with a degree in American studies — which helped him become a critical thinker, he says, and prepared him for “how to be a waiter” after college.
“Honestly,” he adds, “my degree helped further my questioning of everything, which is a very Jewish thing to do. The Talmud is all about questioning.”
He has published three travel books, had his own travel show (“Young, Broke and Beautiful”) on IFC, and has written “for every rag in town.” Schuffman claims more than 17,000 followers on Facebook and nearly 16,000 followers on Twitter.
He is host of “The Kinda Late Show with Broke-Ass Stuart,” recorded live with an audience at Doc’s Lab in San Francisco and airing on YouTube every few weeks. He also hosts and emcees other events. “I even do weddings and bar mitzvahs,” he says on his website.
Despite his constant hustle and successes, however, he’s not exactly flush with cash. He bartends on the side to help pay the bills.
“I don’t need to be rich,” Schuffman says. “I just want to get to the point where I can make enough money off the things I create.” San Francisco’s high cost of living makes his dream that much harder to achieve.
But he’s not afraid to ask for help. Or money. “I’m not ashamed to ask for anything,” Schuffman says.
He recently crowdsourced over $30,000 from more than 600 people through IndieGoGo, to help keep his site afloat and pay his writers. He reached his goal in the final few hours of the campaign.
“The idea is to raise money to grow brokeassstuart.com,” he says. He likes the idea of being his own CEO: “I don’t want some [venture capitalist] from Silicon Valley breathing down my neck,” he says.
Although his work isn’t overtly Jewish, Judaism “informs everything that I do. I’m a supporter of the arts, of labor and politically progressive ideas. I think those are all Jewish ideals,” Schuffman says.
“It’s about 5,000 years of inherited guilt,” he jokes. “It’s about Passover and what it means to be a human being.”
Schuffman said he’s surprised he’s never openly been made fun of for being Jewish and living frugally.
“It’s amazing that I haven’t had a single joke said to my face on living cheaply,” he says. “Stereotypes are stereotypes.”
Broke-Ass Stuart’s Bar Mitzvah Party, 8 p.m. May 24, Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F. $15. www.rickshawstop.com