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Saving Money When You Can In NYC

If I had a dollar for every person who said to me, "Oh my god, you know New York is expensive, right?" before I moved here, I would have enough money to be able to comfortably afford to live here. I know, I knew. I get it, I got it. But nothing can truly prepare you for the debate of groceries and rent versus hanging out with friends on an intern salary. I've trained my entire life of having no money to my name, but I also barely had bills or rent until this past May when I moved into my apartment in Brooklyn. My rent in Cleveland including utilities was less than half of what I pay in New York and I was actually technically making more money at my retail jobs and babysitting. But, I was also living in Cleveland. There's a small (or rather, large) price to pay to live in a place that is inexplicably larger, cooler, and a bit more exciting, but sacrifices, unfortunately, need to be made.

I don't properly budget or have this whole spreadsheet scenario in which I break down my spending. But I do obsessively check my bank and credit statements and say quite a few prayers every month while I do simple math on my phone's calculator anywhere possible. I've calculated how much money I'd have after I paid rent that month just about everywhere: at my apartment, sitting at my desk at work, riding the subway at any given time, while I was out for lunch or sitting down at a restaurant with friends, at the bar for a drink, walking around Central Park aimlessly...I think you get the idea.

I just make sacrifices (no, not those type of sacrifices, what kind of person do you think I am?!) in order to keep my landlord (and I'm sure roommate) happy and allow myself to continue to live in New York City, the only place I could ever see myself living. 

Take the subway or walk whenever you can 

I'm lucky enough that my job does pay for my monthly MetroCard so I get free swipes alllll month long! This means I take the subway 95% of the time unless it is seriously unsafe if I don't. And to be honest, I'm never out late enough to be sketched out and feel the need to take an Uber or cab back to my place. I'll also walk just about anywhere, I really prefer walking to be completely honest. Not that I hate the subway or anything, but I'd be happy if I could just walk to work instead of having to worry about the morning rush hour and squeeze onto a subway car like a sardine. But, I'll do it! As many times a day as I need to!

Eat at home & bring your lunch

This is the one that kills me the most and the one that always makes me cave. I can't cook and I'm really not thrilled by most of the things that I am able to make. This makes lunch and dinnertime a struggle for me, but I push myself through it because the amount of money I can save during the week if I just eat my meals at home instead of going out at lunch or getting takeout every night of the week is outrageous. I spent my first month and a half living in New York buying just about every meal out and trust me, it cost me a pretty penny and made a decent dent in my savings. I'd rather bring my lunch and eat dinner at home all day during the week just so I could treat myself on the weekends if I so desire! Sometimes I'll give myself a day to get lunch out at work, but it's just not an everyday thing anymore, as that is a luxury that I unfortunately cannot enjoy at the moment. And to be quite honest, I'm not sure if it's something I'd necessarily break either when I do start to increase those monthly paychecks. I think it's a good habit to keep up to ensure the savings account can remain in existence and start to become somewhat cushy (or as cushy as a 22 going on 23-year-old's savings account could be).

Enjoy the gem that is happy hour

Going out to drinks with friends? Embrace happy hours! Bask in them! Get you those deals! You don't have to not socialize with people just because you're living your life on a budget. Get a drink or two without feeling guilty about the price. We live for a good deal!

Utilize the fun, free things in New York

While Donald Glover did say it best in his recent SNL monologue, it is more fun to be rich in New York City. However, there is plenty to do that doesn't really cost anything at all. There are free museums, movies in the park, parks in general, the possibilities are endless. All it takes is a quick Google search on what the free things to do in New York are! Honestly, I could walk around New York for hours and not spend a single cent. Even just wandering around the streets is enough for me, but if you're an NY resident, definitely take advantage of that residency discount at The Met for free admission or head over to the MOMA on a Friday evening for the free tickets. Hit up the High Line in Chelsea, the FIT Museum, Brooklyn Brewery on a Saturday afternoon for a tour, the Public me, there's more to do than you'd think that won't cost you a cent. You know, minus your 2.75 MTA fare!

Do things at home!

I know it's not the same, but there are things that you can do at home that might not be 100% necessary to go elsewhere. I give myself at home manicures...okay so I just paint my nails at home, but it saves me money! I don't really go out to movies and would prefer to watch them on my couch or in my bed anyways. It's not nearly as fun and maybe not as effective, but it's the small, unnecessary sacrifices that keep the rent checks coming every month. Seriously.

Go on dates...juuuuuusttttt kidding!

Okay, so expecting someone to pay for drinks or dinner or whatever isn't really fair but...I'm also not not saying that it's a fun way to try out new places. ;)

Top: Zara
Skirt: 1 State
Shoes: Adidas
Bag: Zara
Scarf: Coach via Cleveland Consignment Shoppe
Sunglasses: Forever 21

Photos by Gabby Whiten


  1. Well there sure is no lack of things to DO in NYC!

  2. You are KILLING it as usual. I'm definitely not in New York, but the amount of times that I eat out a week makes a huuuuge difference in how much money I'm spending. But I'm like you bc I don't really enjoy cooking! I'd much rather have someone else make my food for me, knowing that it'll end up good, than me trying to mess with it lol

    xoxo, Cecilia //

  3. I am taking note of all the free things to do in New York so that when I do one day venture over I know exactly what I will be doing! But I feel you big time on the cooking one. In all honesty, I'm not actually the worst cook and can follow a recipe pretty well, but I am also damn lazy and would rather just buy something than do it myself! But alas, it always comes down to money.


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