Living Cheaply but Richly in a Big City

Now that I’ve been in New York City for two weeks, I’ve had a chance to begin exploring this incredible place, but I’ve also taken quite a hard hit on my bank account. Being a broke college student, I have a very tight budget when it comes to personal luxuries, but I still want to enjoy what the city has to offer, from exotic dining to cultural sites.
As far as eating out goes, I’ll have to tighten my belt a little; I’ve already eaten in a few great places, but I’m keeping my eye on cheap places. Here are a few tips I’ve learned so far about living affordably in ANY city for the summer:
Always look for a student rate at museums. The Met and other major museums will always have student rates, so bring your college ID; you’ll be able to enjoy a taste of culture at about half price.
Cook for yourself. It’s great to try new places to eat, but you can’t eat out every day. Restaurants will be a serious blow to your finances, so if you have access to a kitchen, use it! Find your closest grocery store and stock up on easy-to-prepare foods like pasta. Liven up your meals by getting a recipe book and stocking up on fresh vegetables. A friend of mine and I made a fabulous meal just by throwing a few vegetables in a saucepan with garlic and olive oil and putting the concoction on top of some pasta. Magnifique, and it made enough to last us for multiple meals.
Avoid tourist spots. Sure, Times Square is exciting, but if you’re living in the city for the summer, this is your opportunity to explore the lesser-known spots. If you’re in New York, try exploring Chinatown, the village, or SoHo; everything is more affordable, and you’ll feel great for discovering something a little off the beaten track.
Get a Netflix account. If you’ve ever tried seeing a movie in Times Square, you’ve probably experienced the coronary-inducing price of movie tickets there. Movie tickets are another big drain on finances for college students, so if you have a permanent mailing address, consider getting a very affordable Netflix account to enjoy your movies. For $8 a month, you can see unlimited movies; compare that to a $12 Times Square movie ticket for just one flick.

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