It's no secret that living in New York City is a total wallet drain, but it doesn't have to be. Everyone assumes that big city life means a fat salary, but let's face it, most entry level salaries in NYC barely pay the rent. And with the way the economy is going these days, it seems like more people are unemployed than not.
Here are five tips that got a poor communication major through those first few years with a little dignity and without resorting to ramen every night. Hope they'll be helpful for those of you looking to stick to a budget, too!
1.) Brown bag it. Remember when your mom used to pack you peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fruit snacks? Who says those days have to be over? For a trip down memory lane (minus the surprise lunchbox notes from Mom), get creative and pack your own lunch for work. Going to the grocery store and buying your own salad and sandwich fixings or snack-sized treats can save you upwards of $10 a day. And fruit snacks are still as good as they tasted in fourth grade. Trust me.
2.) Attend free movie screenings and other events. A big part of living in New York is taking advantage of all the cultural opportunities the city has to offer. Even if you're not an A-lister, you can find great ways to experience top-notch art, film, theatre, and music. Chelsea art galleries are always free and open to the public. Scout sites like Goldstar.com to find discount tickets. And never say "no" when your friends invite you to events. Not only will it be a chance to soak up some free libations, but it could also be a chance to see venues you may not otherwise be able to get into (bottle service really cramps nightlife). Plus, you never know who you might meet.
3.) Restaurant Week. When I first moved to New York, eating out was a treat. And eating at a fancy restaurant was strictly reserved for the parental visit. No one should ever pay $100 for a meal, but in Manhattan, even when there's a recession, it seems there's a wait -- even at the priciest and most exclusive spots. If you're habitually practicing tip #1, then you'll have some disposable cash to indulge in Restaurant Week and be able to check out some of the most talked about restaurants in New York at a fraction of the cost.
4.) Sample Sales and Consignment Shops. Fashion goes hand-in-hand with living in New York, but who can afford haute couture on $30,000 a year? Look the part without feeling the financial strain by checking Daily Candy's sample sale listings or visiting Williamsburg and the Lower East Side vintage and consignment shops for affordable clothes and accessories at places. Beacon's Closet and Pippin are two of my favorites. You can even make some extra $$ by selling back some of those old clothes that have been sitting and collecting dust in your closet.
5.) Weekend Getaways. We all deserve a vacation, but flights are expensive and vacation time is limited. Forget Napa and try a Long Island wine tour. Believe it or not, Long Island isn't just home to Juicy Couture sweatsuit wearing soccer moms. Sampling wine is just a day trip away and accompanied by a picnic lunch and good friends can make for a fun and inexpensive weekend getaway. Check out http://www.longislandwinetours.com/.