|Even the most basic lifestyle is pricey in Gotham.|
Unlike most cities, even the most basic lifestyle in New York is expensive. In order to make ends meet (or at least attempt to), I’ve had to figure out where to scrimp and save in as many areas of my life as possible. Eating at fancy restaurants 24/7 wasn’t on my agenda when I moved to the city, so in no way do I feel like I’m missing out on much. I do, however, treat myself once every blue moon. Here is a random mix of areas in which I’ve splurged and saved in NYC so everything balances out in the end.
Designer sunglasses (and other accessories)
I look at everyday accessories as investment pieces. A classic Chanel bag, for example, can be used regularly and will last forever (so long as it’s taken care of), whereas a leopard print jumpsuit might not be something you want to wear every day. I’m personally saving up for a new pair of Dior sunglasses I spotted at Bloomingdale’s because I adored my last pair and had them for six years. Even when I kept accidentally breaking them, I didn’t toss them out until I ran out of Super Glue.
On a regular night out, I usually stick to cheap well drinks. But once in a while, it’s worth spending $15-$20 on a cocktail and trying out what NYC’s top mixologists have to offer at some of the city’s trendiest drinking dens. Or, try a classic haunt like Bemelmans or the King Cole Bar at The St. Regis.
It’s so much cheaper to eat crap, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my health to do that. So even though I don’t usually have time to cook, I can buy precut produce and custom salads from places like Fairway and Whole Foods. This is kind of embarrassing, considering I live within a block of both grocery stores, but Fresh Direct (grocery delivery) has also become my best friend.
I spent three summers in NYC limiting my air conditioning use purely because it jacks up my electric bill so much (I’m sure my fellow broke twenty-somethings can relate). What did I learn? It’s SO not worth it. The humidity of New York summers is insane, and I would constantly get migraines while trying to sleep in an overheated room. I’ll pay ConEd whatever they want. I’m not going through that stifling heat and losing sleep again.
Occasional cab rides
Obviously, public transportation is the cheapest way to get around the city. But sometimes, at 4 a.m. I don’t feel like standing on a subway platform downtown and waiting a half hour for the 6 train to take me back to the Upper East Side. So, in this case, splurging on a taxi is worth it to me.
|Occasional cab rides are worth the extra cash.|
I SAVE ON…
I rarely shop for new clothes, but when I do, I’m all about pairing my old $400 Prada wedges with a new $15 dress from H&M. Century 21 also has designer labels for a fraction of the price, and Rue La La offers some great sales for online shoppers.
Manicures, pedicures, and brows
Websites like Lifebooker and Gilt list discounted spa services that can be booked online. Plus, with so many nail and threading salons available in the city, the majority of places price themselves low in order to remain competitive. My manicures usually cost around $10, and brows are $7.
I’d never spend money on a gym membership when I can workout at home. Plus, I like the fact that I can’t use bad weather as an excuse not to make it to the gym – not to mention the fact that I’m saving about $100/month. I’m starting a new at-home program this week (PiYo from Chalene Johnson!) and I’m psyched.
Comedy clubs and Broadway shows
There’s no reason to pay full price for comedy tickets when websites such as Best Comedy Tickets offer free or reduced prices. Broadway Box and TodayTix offer discounts on theater tickets, and if you don’t mind waiting in line, TKTS offers same-day tickets as much as 50% off. Plus, if you don’t need to plan in advance, Broadway box offices sometimes lower their prices for last-minute ticket purchases right before curtain time.
Like the majority of locals, I don’t own my apartment, and I don’t really have any stability in terms of knowing whether or not I’ll have to move once my current lease is up. So it doesn’t make sense for me to invest in expensive furnishings or drop a ton of cash in order to decorate my room (I live with a roommate). In fact, my queen-sized bedroom doesn’t have much aside from a queen-sized bed in it, and I’m good with that.
Having extra stuff also makes the moving process that much more stressful, in case I need to pick up and find another apartment. Ikea tends to be the go-to for cheap furniture and such, but I prefer places like Bed Bath & Beyond and Pier 1. You can also find unique pre-owned furniture and accessories at Housing Works Thrift Stores.
In New York, what’s your splurge, and where do you save?