How to Navigate NYC on a Budget

You can’t, but here’s some tips and tricks regardless.


Need some perfume? Head into Sephora for a quick spritz.

Need to top up your make up? Head in and ask one of the shop assistants, they will happily do it for you.

Unless you are like me and you are terrified of being caked in make up by a stranger, there are a million and one testers for your use.

Run out of foundation? No worries, head in and ask for a tester – you are allowed to walk out with three, which is fine when there is a Sephora on every corner of Manhattan.

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Free Events

Not to blow my own trumpet, but I appear to have become savvy when it  comes to free events and activities in the city.

How? The pure need of not wanting to waste a day but also not spend a penny.

I’ve seen Aluna George and Mark Ronson live.

I’ve had many free drinks and snacks.

I’ve gone to talks about AI and kayaked on the Hudson River.

Through volunteering I’ve attended a Burns Night celebration at the University Club of New York and I’ve rode on the back of a golf buggy through Times Square while helping out with the Tartan Parade.

There’s freebies all around you, you just have to know where to look.

(Pulsd and Facebook are always a good place to start)

Class Pass

Do you want to go to the gym but can’t afford the $200 a month price tag?

Do you have more than one email address? Or feel like creating another one?

Good, maybe you can get a couple of free memberships to class pass.

Don’t forget what name you put it under though….

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Meal Pals

20 meals through Meal Pal equals $6 a lunch, this is REALLY good for NYC prices as usually lunch costs between 11-15, so you are getting the same lunch – for less.

Top tip: if you ignore their emails fog long enough they will make the deal even better, and maybe throw some freebies in there.

Sun Beds

(Yes, I know they are bad for you)

You can join Planet Fitness for $10 a month and use the sunbeds any time you want for as many times as you want. Seeing as the cheapest sunbed at my shop is $15 – this is an incredibly good deal.

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Movie Pass

WAS a good deal, now I believe it is in debt and is only allowing people to go and see 3 movies at the cinema a month when originally it was unlimited movies for $10 a month – so maybe check the reviews on this one before jumping on board.


I am not good at complaining about things, but if you are good at complaining about things you will almost always get it for free. So, if you aren’t happy about something it nearly always pays off to say why.

For example, Ubers, food delivery services, online retails such as ASOS and of course in restaurants.

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Mountbatten Events

As part of the Mountbatten Program they always put on events, from Bingo to watching the World Cup, from the Royal Wedding to watching the sunset over Manhattan – there is always something going on.

So if you do end up doing the Mountbatten program, look out for the freebies. (There’s nearly always free food and drink too)

First Timers

Had a wax at the salon already? That’s okay go to a new one and get their first timers deal…then another one….and another one.

50% off at the hairdressers for newbies? TAKE IT, hairdressers are SO expensive here especially when adding on the 20% tip.

An example of this, I have not had my haircut in a YEAR.

You can also apply this to gyms or other forms of exercise such as yoga.

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Free Museums

The museums are always free at some point, you just have to know when to go.

I believe MOMA is a Friday evening…

Others are free all the time, such as the National Museum of the American Indian.

Making your own food

It is actually cheaper when you can be bothered (I usually can’t).

Trader Joes is your friend, Morton Williams is not.

(Also, Trader Joes $3 wine – you are welcome)

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Happy Hours

Cubby Hole – $2 Margaritas on a Tuesday

13th Step – $1 Beers on a Tuesday / $9 pitchers everyday / $5 Moscow Mules Fridays

Just Google, and they will come.

Work food

My office always has free food, you just need a whats app group with your friends who are spread across the 30 floors to let you know where it is.

Whether it’s a pizza party on 22, or a Whisky tasting on 15 – there is always something going on.

People used to bring in Tupperware for extras, I was jealous of these people.

Join employee groups, I joined Pride at Work, Women at TR and the Black Employee Network. Not only did I meet new people, attend fantastic events and did volunteer work I also was fed very well.

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Work freebies

There’s always someone with a key to the events cupboard.

Whether it’s a flask, a stress ball, notepad and pens or the midtown uniform of a fleecy gilet there are always freebies on offer that come in good use.

Restaurant Week

$26 for three courses at lunch and $42 for dinner at some of your favourite (but spenny) New York restaurants.

Honestly a great deal if you know where to go.

Because watch out, sometimes it’s cheaper not to do restaurant week.

Pre – Drinking

Pre drink before you go out, this is just common knowledge, but you can learn more about train juice here – Why Wont You Let Me Drink


So, I have covered food, drink, events and activities, the one thing I haven’t covered is….. clothes!

Well, if I knew how to get free clothes I would be an absolute genius, but I guess the next best thing are the vintage shops.

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One thought on “How to Navigate NYC on a Budget

  1. LOVE this. I want to up and move to NYC now, seriously. We’re off there on a Holiday in November though so I’ll be sure to put some of these tips (tricks? hacks?) to sue 😉

    xx Bry Jaimea |

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