Skip Nav
Job Search
7 Questions That Will Knock the Socks Off Your Interviewer
This Side Hustle Actually Pays You to Shop
Get Ahead of the Game! 8 Reasons to Be Early to Work

Making it Work in the City That Never Sleeps

Making It Work in the City That Never Sleeps

Maybe it's the resurgence of Sex and the City that has prompted all of the profiles of New Yorkers getting by on their salaries in an inflated city, but they seem to be popping up all over The New York Times during the past couple months. The notion of what is fiction and what is reality is written between the lines, though the realities they picture really aren't much different from how 20-somethings around the country try to balance the cost-of-living with having a social life. The most recent piece published in the Times described the money tactics of various NYC newcomers, specifically "those who are neither investment bankers nor being floated by their parents." Discover some of the ways they sustain living in the most expensive city in the US when you


  • Instead of clothes shopping, one NYC dweller refreshes her wardrobe by having her mom occasionally ship some items from the storage bins that she keeps at her parents' home.
  • Sharing tiny apartments with strangers.
  • "Eating cheap lunches and skipping dinners — not just to save money, but so that drinks pack more of a punch and fewer need be consumed."
  • Forgoing salon hair coloring, manicures and pedicures, and waiting to get haircuts in their hometowns.
  • Seeking out B.Y.O.B. restaurants.
  • Stretching lunch into dinner by eating a later lunch.
  • Drinking at home before going out.
  • Flirting with men in hopes of them buying you a drink.
  • One 26-year old woman refuses to give up her Bumble and Bumble shampoo saying, “I don’t do drugstores. I will eat Pringles for dinner instead.”
  • One 27-year old man has simply sworn off impulse purchases and credit cards, cooks at home, pirates wireless Internet, uses Craigslist or eBay for electronics, and buys his clothes from Salvation Army and retains the receipt to write off on his taxes.

Do you see any of your own tactics in those profiled, and do you have any that you feel are unique, like the Pringles girl? Would you ever consider moving to a city knowing that you'd have to make financial sacrifices?


Join The Conversation
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
After actually reading the article, I'm thinking that the subjects of the interview are the freakin' dumbest people in Manhattan. Who the f skips dinner so they can get drunk faster?? It's called pre-gaming!! (Well at least the 24 y/o knows that) And the cheap 27 y/o doesn't sound too bad. He's just frugal in all the other ways but he's a thief for not paying for his own internet.
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
Def! I love Manhattan and would rather live in a tiny studio there than a house in say, Oklahoma. I don't care about space that much, I would never be satisfied anyway because I'm such a total packrat. But having her mother ship clothes is really expensive. I don't think that that's a wise move AT ALL. My roommate this past year was from Alabama and she had to box up most of her clothes and ship it and it was crazy expensive. The girl in the article should rethink where she's shopping because I'm sure she could find clothes similar to what her mother is sending her at a cheaper price. Also, I always love the Facebook events where they tell you that it's DD Free Iced Coffee Day, and 7-11 Free Slurpee Day and stuff like that. And if there's a sale on that's buy one or two and get one free, I'll sometimes try to buy with a friend when we only need one item each. Then we both split the price of the one item we paid for(say buy 1, get 1 free, then we only pay for one. We split the one full-price item)
girlgreen girlgreen 9 years
I'm 23, live in Brooklyn, have been out of college for a year, and already have a large amount of savings. I don't go crazy but I definitely don't deprive myself either! i mostly splurge on clothes, bags, and eating out. Of course I have to make sacrifices too - my current bedroom is the size of my sister's bedroom closet back home. But I'm moving into a much nicer apartment today...with strangers.
acf222 acf222 9 years
I moved to NYC from California when I was 17 for college. I'm now 26. I'm financially independent and enjoy my life in New York. I refuse to live off only rice and beans. Food is definitely my biggest splurge. I enjoy going to nice restaurants at least once a week. So I sacrifice going out to bars and clubs all the time. I rarely get take out...I do a lot of cooking at home. I don't believe in skimping on something you put in your body! Poor nutrition may be cheap, but your medical bills in the future are not!
duffy duffy 9 years
While all of these things sound like something I'd do, or have done at some point in time (well, I never tried serial dating for sustenance...), the one thing I've found that really makes a difference in budget planning is eating out and especially beverages. A $3.50 cup of coffee five times a week starts to show up on your statement - I can't imagine what so many nights of drinking starts to do to you.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I could never live with strangers.
uptown_girl uptown_girl 9 years
Ok, HOLD UP... I've just begun to read the article, 18 BOXES OF HER CLOTHES?!?!?! Are you f-ing kidding me? Who has 18 boxes of clothes??????
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 9 years
Hahaha gabiushka - love that. Maybe she should eat some Bumble & Bumble with her Pringles ... you know, as a side dip.
midtownmaryjane midtownmaryjane 9 years
I live in NY and can tell you that I make a modest salary and have a ridiculously expensive apartment, but still am able to spend money on the things I want (haircuts, dinners, etc)...HOWEVER, the price I'm paying instead is that I have little to no savings account. That seems to be really common with people my age living in this city. We all have the same complaint that it's so hard to save money...but I'm really trying to make a change!
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i've grown up aroudn NYC and lived here for ages since then. it's hard when you're trying to pay your rent and survive. it's really sad, but when i was single, i used to go on dates ALL THE TIME just for the free food. it's sad - really - but a girl has to eat and when you can't even afford that - you know that you're going to go to extremes.
carhornsinapril carhornsinapril 9 years
i live in NYC, and everyone i know who isn't an investment banker or floated by their parents can't afford to live in manhattan. it's that expensive. i live in queens, 90 minutes away, and a lot of friends live in less-desirable areas of brooklyn to save cash.
bengalspice bengalspice 9 years
Koreatown is my other cheap trick: One meal can be spread into three if you concentrate on having the little dishes more than the entree.
bengalspice bengalspice 9 years
I'm not saying it's right for her to pick a product over food, but seriously ... I think I've spent more going through drugstore brands which leave my hair looking crappy [and in one case a rash] than if I had just buckled down and gotten the real deal. My tiny bathroom is cluttered with products my roommate and I don't want to ever try again. I'm betting Duane Reade would lose a lot of money if I took them up on their offer to accept all returns of all products. Salads from West Side Market are my best friends. They cost $3 but pack as much greens as salad places and delis that charge $7 for tossing it.
gabiushka gabiushka 9 years
One 26-year old woman refuses to give up her Bumble and Bumble shampoo saying, “I don’t do drugstores. I will eat Pringles for dinner instead.” Maybe she should try eating better and then she will look better without buying her B&B.
McCubcakes McCubcakes 9 years
I think everyone has their needs/wants. If you would rather spend $100 on a haircut and eat pringles for dinner...i say go right ahead and do it. that's your thing. I, however, have to spend more money on my food than most people (being allergic to gluten is not very cheap...even cooking yourself). So, I live in queens instead of Manhattan (much cheaper rent). And I'm seriously 20 minutes to midtown where I work. It's all about what you are willing to give up to have the things you want. Everyone is different.
Jeny Jeny 9 years
I am actually moving to Miami from Houston in 5 months. The place I live in now in Houston is a three story, 991 square foot townhome with my own garage, hardwood floors, central a/c and a bathroom the size of another bedroom easy for $1250. For that price in Miami, I MAY get a true one bedroom one bath with window units and on-site washer and dryer for the neighbors to use as apposed to the one i have now in my own apartment. That is my sacrifice. I love the space I have now but found it's too big for a single girl like myself and am willing to give it up to live across the street from the beach and not have to drive my car anywhere.. I will be biking so that alone with save soo much money on gas and I definitely cook for myself.. I usually only eat out for lunch and that never goes over about $10 and I shop at the cheaper stores in Houston already. If your fashion savvy, you can always make a cheaper top look more expensive with nice jeans, heels, and jewelry.. That's just my story : )
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 9 years
Ugh, actually this article reminds me of my BFF who moved to Boston last year and was so broke, she didn't have ANY food in her cupboard for two weeks and overdrew her bank account 3 times. Did I also mention that she made frequent trips to the Sephora by her work to buy products she DID NOT NEED on a regular basis??? She may be my best friend but boy is she crap with money management! If you budget correctly, you shouldn't have that big of a problem living in a big city and can even afford little luxuries here and there. It's all about prioritizing!!!
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 9 years
I'm sorry, but I don't need B&B to not look disheveled! Also, I wanted to add that there are often lots of cheap/free events (at least in London and I think so for NYC too!) going on daily and on weekends to be taken advantage of.
dcfashionista dcfashionista 9 years
A good friend lives in NYC and she has a time saving money. Her trips to the hairdresser is $100 a pop and the cost to look nice and eat is really expensive there. I did mention to her that she needs to pack breakfast and lunch and take it to work with her. Also, to scale back on eating out and cook more at home.
bengalspice bengalspice 9 years
I dunno ... how many of us can really cook that big of a plate of $3 rice and beans, and make it last for several meals. I'd take that over cooking at the stove half asleep. Also, the girl who can't give up B&B also has a job where she needs to look nice ... If my job required me to look good for customers/clients, I would spend more money on products that work than risk looking disheveled.
A-Journey-To-Wellth A-Journey-To-Wellth 9 years
FIRST OFF I HAVE TO SAY: MY APT BUILDING IS IN THIS PHOTO!!! YAY!!! The blue bridge in the background is the Manhattan Bridge and to the right of it, next to the two brown buildings, is a white apt building -- MINE!! It's considered the Lower East Side right there and where the Bklyn Bridge is in the foreground is leading into Financial District where I work. As for what it is said in this post, it is definitely a huge task to balance funds with living in this city. I moved here in September 2007 and live with a friend from college and a random girl and its pretty good situation. I really try to cook for myself as much as possible, drink before I go out, and go out with male friends who have higher incomes and like to splurge. That 27 year old guy is a total penny pincher and not in the best ways. On his salary he can afford a lot of amenities that someone in the 40-50K range regularly uses/indulges in.
gigill gigill 9 years
I'll add that I definitely don't regret the move at all as I'm having the time of my life, but I'm not going to stay here permanetely as I hate feeling perma-broke. Oh yeah, when relatives/friends come to visit they tend to bring me some clothes from home and I give them some things to take back.
gigill gigill 9 years
I moved to London and can totally relate to this article. Here are some of the things I've done: -swapped a travel card for pay-as-you-go and take the bus. A tube ride is 2 quid whereas the bus is only 90p! -bring in a bagged lunch, try to cook most meals at home and I have a box of cereal at my desk for breakfast. I rarely eat out at expensive restaurants. -book vacations well in advance to get super cheap deals -flatshares are common - I share with 4 other people.
lemonfizz lemonfizz 9 years
I agree with all three of you guys! (Where does the NY Times find these people?!?) Bottom line, rent is expensive here in NYC. You have to spend more of your take-home pay on rent than you might be comfortable with, and that's a drag. But it's ridiculous to skip meals instead of just learning to cook them yourself. And don't even get me started on the idiocy of skipping dinner so you'll get drunk faster! Have dinner at home, have a drink at home, then head out to the bar. Sheesh.
anaisethenry anaisethenry 9 years
I agree with both comments above, I just moved to Manhattan last year... I searched and searched for the perfect, not too small apartment in the East Village, all the time knowing that it would be small, I compromised price and space for convenience and I must say I don't regret moving here. Now I am not saving as much as I used to, but I am living it up on what I make, which isn't too much. I still go out, I still like to shop and once in a while go for a manipedi... it's all about knowing your limits and priorities, but other than seeking out the BYOB places and having a few drinks at home before going out, I've never done any of the other things.
How to Save Money Without Trying
Best Hack For Saving Money
What Is Mystery Shopping?
How to Figure Out If Something Is Worth Buying
From Our Partners
Latest Career & Finance
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds