We have no idea how to convince your landlord not to raise your rent $500, but we do have some handy tips that might help you meet your monthly budget goals:
1. Buy the unlimited MetroCard
If you take the subway to work every day, an unlimited monthly MetroCard will pay for itself. Assuming there are 21 work days in each month, paying for each ride will cost you $115.50, and the cost of a monthly is $116.50. You’re probably going to use the subway on weekends too, so the monthly is worth it.
2. Be smart when refilling your MetroCard
If it’s more economical for you to pay $2.75 per ride, you probably get frustrated when you end up with $2.30 left on your card all the time. To avoid that situation, press “other amounts” when you refill your MetroCard. You can load the right amount of money so your balance will eventually equal zero.
3. Buy groceries in the boroughs
Groceries will be cheaper in Brooklyn, Queens, or the Bronx, whichever one you live closest to. Go on a weekend because the subway will be less crowded. It might feel awkward to be on the subway with your groceries but your bank account will thank you.
4. Get a grocery store member card
As long as it’s free, it will help you. How much it helps depends on the benefits of the particular store. Keep in mind, though, that those cards are designed to get you to spend more money. So before you buy five DiGiorno pizzas to get the sixth one free, always ask yourself, “Do I really need/want all of these?”
5. Pack lunch
A sandwich from the deli closest your office in SoHo will cost you $7. But a loaf of bread, a half pound of turkey and a half pound of swiss from the grocery store will cost you $10, and will last you the entire week.
6. Avoid bars with cover charges
This one is a no-brainer. There are plenty of options that don’t charge you $10 just to get through the door.
7. Avoid places with drink minimums
Comedy clubs and music venues will often have drink minimums because that’s how they actually make their money. If you’re planning on having two drinks anyway, it won’t make a difference to you. But if you don’t want to spend money on booze, check before you go to make sure there isn’t a drink minimum.
8. Carry cash, or use Venmo
Bars often have $20 to $30 minimums for cards to force you to spend more money, so it’s always a good idea to have cash on you. If you don’t have cash, pay for a friend’s drinks and have them Venmo you.
9. Visit the app store
Speaking of Venmo, there are lots of other free apps which are designed to save you money. Two good ones specifically for New York are Cups, which saves you money on coffee, and Happy, which saves you money on drinks when you go out. We have a full list of the best NYC apps here.
10. Get a library card
Books are great free entertainment, and the New York City public library system has a never-ending selection. While you’re at it, you might want to get a New York City ID also, because it gets you free membership to the museums for one year.
Cover photo credit: Trenten Kelley/Flickr