Life in New York is brimming with excitement, culture, plenty of traffic, and, unfortunately, sky-high prices. Boasting one of the highest living costs in the United States, sometimes it can feel impossible to save a few dollars. Luckily, New Yorkers recently met in an online discussion to reveal their best frugal hacks to ease the tension on your wallet!
1. Theater Seat-Filler Clubs
If the prices of live entertainment in New York seem spiraling out of control, no worries: joining a seat-filler club gives you a chance to see shows for next to nothing! One NYC native explains it perfectly. “$99 per year gives you access to get tickets to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, concerts, sporting events, and comedy shows where you only pay a small fee per ticket ($5) that allows them to pay their staff a salary,” she reveals.
2. Take Advantage of Resident Pricing
One of the savviest frugal hacks for New Yorkers is taking advantage of resident pricing, especially when visiting museums! Some places, like the Met, allow New Yorkers to pay “what they wish.” So naturally, if you don't want to spend a dime, you're free to do just that.
3. Visit Local Fruit Markets
Forget supermarkets and grocery stores — visiting local fruit stands and markets in your neighborhood is the way to save money! Smaller bodegas in ethnic communities can yield seriously huge savings on fresh produce.
4. The Bagel Hack
Enjoying a morning bagel is a rite of passage for most New Yorkers, but one enterprising man reveals his hack to save even more on his daily delicacy. “Even before inflation, I would buy a fresh bagel each morning (usually for maybe $1 or so) and use my own spreads,” he confesses. “It saves a lot for bagel addicts, like myself, who eat multiple bagels a week.”
5. Ride the Staten Island Ferry
Not only is riding the Staten Island Ferry a great way to kill an afternoon, but the ride itself is also gorgeous (weather permitting, of course) and very inexpensive. For less than three dollars, you can ride on one of the cheapest modes of transportation in the whole city!
6. Use Electric Scooters or E-Bikes
As the years go by, the prices for a taxi or Uber have slowly crept up, making using those services cost-prohibitive for many residents. Instead of ride-sharing services, consider buying an electric scooter! “I highly recommend either an electric scooter or electric bicycle to get around the city,” says one man. “It feels pretty liberating to get basically free transportation to anywhere in the city, even places the subway can't reach.”
7. Walk Everywhere
If electric scooters are out of your price range, do what most New Yorkers do to save a couple of bucks: Walk everywhere. Sure, walking is the slowest way to transport yourself from point A to point B, but by doing so, you'll save so much money. Remember, keep it slow and steady.
8. Invest In a Portable Washing Machine
Doing laundry is a hassle when you live in a city like New York, but luckily, there's a hack to make it easier — even though it means swallowing an initial cost. “It's an expensive initial investment unless you buy one used, but get yourself one of those portable washers,” advises one woman. “You can put it in your apartment. It'll save you so much money and laundry fees — I usually wash my stuff at night and air dry in the bathroom.”
9. Get a Library Card
New York public libraries are a treasure trove of free things, from movies to books to free events for members. Think about it: Why buy a book when you can read one for free from the library?
10. Tour Your Neighborhood At the End of Each Month
The end of the month means one thing for New Yorkers: It's time to walk your neighborhood and see who has thrown out furniture they no longer want! Countless residents confess this is the easiest way to pick up used furniture in good condition – although you must have a fair amount of luck to find good pieces!
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I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.