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Live it Up on a Dime

Is living in NYC leaving a hole in your pocket? Working 40 (plus?) hours a week, just to pay rent and live off PB&J and pasta? B**ch, please. Ain't nobody got time for that.

I'm about to let you in on a little secret - it is absolutely possible to be the underdog in the money market and still enjoy all the city has to offer. So stop slaving away in this city of opportunity.

There’s no need to spend your nights living like a hermit, huddled under the covers with only your Netflix account to keep you company. Here is how to live it up on a dime:

1) Get the right roommate.

I get it - you'd rather live alone. But having roommates (the right roommates, that is) definitely has its benefits. Despite popular belief, you CAN live in a nice apartment, with reasonable rent. It just requires looking around and being patient. Stop paying $2k for a closet, just so you can say you “live” in Manhattan. Pick an up-and-coming neighborhood to live in, such as Bushwick. Even BedStuy has some great areas to live in. Chances are, if you keep an eye out, you can find a nice place with a backyard or rooftop, with two or three cool roomies and ample living space, and only have to shell out $800-$900 a month. It’s possible. I promise.

2) Bodega > Whole Foods.

Whole Foods is great, Whole Foods is awesome. I could easily spend an hour or two just wandering around and filling my cart with organic hummus and fancy pickles… just to then end up at the cash register, blowing through a couple hundred dollars and reminding myself that I have no idea how to properly “adult.” Ooooor… I could just take a quick trip to my local bodega.

There are two types of bodegas. First, you’ve got the tiny, partially disorganized and dirty bodegas you only visit in order to pet the adorable bodega cat and grab some very necessary toilet paper. Then there are the nice, larger ones that have fruits and vegetables displayed on the outside. Here, you can find everything from cheeses to meats to freshly made smoothies. It’s these bodegas that will quickly become your lifeline, especially when you’re stumbling home from the bar and are too drunk to make breakfast (or dinner? Does it count as breakfast when you haven’t gone to bed yet?). You can literally get a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich for three dollars. A delicious Panini, filled with meat and vegetables, won’t cost you more than six bucks. Fruit and vegetables are always on sale and you can fill your fridge for a fraction of what it would cost you anywhere else.

Also, don’t pass up the fruit and veggie vendors on the side of the road. They’re already selling their goods for cheaper than the grocery store and, chances are, they’ll still be willing to cut you a deal.

3) Dive in.

There is nothing wrong with becoming best friends with the bartenders at your local dive bar. Manhattan, in particular, boasts some bomb ass dives. Visit The Patriot Saloon in TriBeca and hook yourself up with house liquor for only $3.50 a shot, or frozen margarita shots for only $2. Their beer and shot combo will only leave your wallet $6 lighter. Yeah - you read that right. And ladies that dance ON the bar will get hooked up with a free shot and much applause.

Another dive bar worth making your new “go-to” is The Iron Horse. Located in FiDi, this bar has an awesome selection on the Jukebox. Both gals and guys can dance on top of the bar and have a wild ride on their famously naughty, wooden swing. Get a beer and burger combo for just $10 and, chances are, you’ll be there until the bouncers kick you out.

These are just a couple of bars in Manhattan where your dollar will stretch an extra mile, but there are plenty of others where you can make it rain, and still have money in your bank account the next day.

4) Embrace the outdoors.

Not everything in the city requires spending. Breathe some fresh air (okay, let’s be real, there’s no such thing as “fresh” air in NYC), and stretch those legs. Walk the highline, enjoy a picnic in Central Park, check out the absolutely, no-money-required, kayaking at Pier 26, the outdoor movies in multiple parks, across all five burrows, and the numerous outdoor concerts, held all summer long. There is absolutely NO excuse to keep yourself holed up inside your apartment.

5) Get Thrifty.

Dress to impress, without having to spend $100 on a pair of shoes. Everyone knows it – even the thrift stores in NYC have price tags that can cause your jaw to drop all the way down to your Jordans. Enter Mes Que Un Vintage, the thrift store of all thrift stores, located at 438 Wilson Avenue, in Bushwick. Walk in this store and it’s likely you’ll end up leaving with a whole new wardrobe. Snag Marc Jacob heels for only $45 (those of you who know Marc Jacobs, know those heels will normally run for a few hundred dollars), a genuine Coach purse for only $40… the list goes on. T-shirts run between $1-$5 and dresses run between $5-$25. This store is literally everything you need to look fly AF.

So, you see, New York City is NOT just for the 1%. It’s a city bustling and buzzing full of life, just ready and waiting for you to explore. Get out there, have fun and, and live it up. And, when all else fails… there’s always Groupon?

Love, as always,

It Girl Friday

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