As a college student in New York City, one of the most common themes amongst students here is that we are broke. Regardless of money from summer jobs or being currently employed, most of us are balling on a budget. Hell, most New Yorkers are balling on a budget. Although I am still a newbie to this concrete jungle, I have picked up a few life hacks that your wallet will thank you for applying to your own life. These budget-friendly tips and tricks do not just extend to those living in the city, but some may be more convenient for those that are in NYC. Regardless of where you live, I promise if you’re a college student, or just someone looking to save money, you will learn a thing or two.
Food and Drink $ Saving Tips/Tricks
First and foremost, I would like to thank TikTok for introducing me to this. I purchased the Pret coffee subscription for $29.99 a month, with the first month free as a trial, and it was the best decision I have made since moving here. You get UNLIMITED coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Any size, any milk, and any flavoring included. If you drink a cup a day that is $1 per coffee. BUT WAIT there’s more, you can get multiple coffees a day as long as you wait 30 minutes between each cup.
2. Cook as much as possible
At the end of the day, the best way to save money on food is by not eating out. If you can, try and make as many of your meals at home and meal prep for the weak so you can pack lunches or snacks rather than buying food while you are out.
A mini tip within this tip is Trader Joes:
I did not realize I could be in love with a grocery store until I met Trader Joes. TJ Frozen chicken potstickers have become a primary food group for me.
3. $1 food
$1 pizza is my absolute favorite part of New York. My roommate and I get $1 pizza almost every weekend in the Lower East Side. There are also $1 hot dogs, burritos, and more at food carts all around the city.
TGTG is an app where you can buy bags from different restaurants that have perfectly good leftover food (either from orders no one picked up, or the chef cooking extra) for just a few dollars. What is cool about this app is that you are reducing waste and it is a surprise every time. It makes eating dinner exciting, and you get to try new food.
Transportation (for those too lazy to walk)
5. Citi Bike
Citi bikes are everywhere in the city and are both convenient and cheap forms of transportation. You can either get a yearly membership or pay around $3.80 per ride. It cuts the time of walking in half and is only a fraction of the cost of Ubers or taxis.
Ideally, I could live by the policy “No Sober Ubers” but I have not gotten to that point yet so instead try these life hacks:
6. Compare Affordable Uber, Lyft and Curb Prices
The amount of money I spend on rideshare apps is embarrassing and should never be disclosed. Nonetheless, if you are like me (too lazy to walk most of the time) then you might as well try and get the best deals out of it. Apps like these can be harsh on your wallet, especially if you are not careful about Surges (when the price gets jacked up). My uber to work typically costs around $11-14 dollars but if it’s raining or I am trying to uber home at 6:30 on a Friday, that ride will cost me at least $30. What I try and always do is compare the prices amongst different apps. I will often save myself from spending an extra 2, 5, or even 20 dollars by comparing prices.
I also linked my Lyft account with my Delta profile, so when I ride I get miles that can be redeemed when I travel. On uber, I use my points to get discounted rides or meals.
(shameful plug: if you don’t have uber/uber eats already use my code alexandram10632ui to get $20 off your first order)
7. Student Discounts
I am constantly googling or asking places if they offer a student discount. More times than I realized local businesses have them. Whether it is for nail appointments, clothes, food, or museums, you would be surprised at the deals you can score.
Do not underestimate Groupon. I got a gel manicure for 60% off, and have scored a bunch of amazing deals for restaurants and other beauty services I was already planning on paying full price for.
I hope one of these 8 life hacks (or are they more tips/tricks?… not important) were new to you and you can apply them to your own life to save a pretty penny. If you have any other life hacks for saving money while in the city, specifically Manhattan, PLEASE comment it down below I would love to hear it! If you liked this post, and want to know more about what I have learned while in NYC check out my post 6 Things No One Tells You About Moving To New York.