The fact that New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the world is not new to anyone, right? This is an “inconvenient” truth for tourists and for those who live here. At the same time, the city’s average salary is also higher. Whatever your case, traveling or living here, it’s important to keep this in mind. However, after 9 years living here, I can say that I have already discovered many tricks and ways to save money in different situations. And in today’s post, I decided to list some of these tips. Maybe you already know some, maybe not. And a good tip is a shared tip!
PS: Although I think that the vast majority of these tips are more useful for those who live here, I believe that some can be very useful for tourists visiting New York City.
1. Seated – Are you familiar with cashback? Basically, you get rewards for eating out using Seated. Open the app, browse the restaurants, make a reservation (or choose walk-in). When you’re done, submit a pic of your receipt. Cashback rewards can be more than 30% sometimes! There are so many restaurants and you can also use Seated for takeout and delivery. You can redeem your rewards on the Seated store (you can get gift cards for AmazonSephora, for example).
- Download it using my referral link and get an extra $15 reward on your first reservation! Or use my code laura983
- Seated is also available in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and Atlanta!
2. Too Good To Go – This app was created to help prevent food waste from restaurants The app shows nearby bakeries, cafes, and restaurants with options for a third of the price they normally would. Keep an eye out: some options are “surprise bags”, with a selection of items. It takes a little planning for you to use the app – but you can save a lot! Open the app, see the options near you and keep an eye on the time for collecting the food. You can grab lunch, dinner, or breakfast for great prices depending on the options near you. Also available in other US cities and around the world!
3. Meal Pal – it’s a subscription-based service that allows customers to purchase meals from participating restaurants for less than $6 per meal. Members can reserve meals from any participating restaurant. Each restaurant offers meals daily for lunch. Each plan has a number of credits and each meal costs an amount of credits. They have a plan where you get 120 credits for $139 and another one where you get 70 credits for $89. Depending on your plan, each meal will cost as little as $3.48 or $3,81 per meal.
4. Free English classes – when I moved to New York, I wanted to improve my English. But we didn’t have money to spare: we were renting an apartment buying furniture, meaning we had a lot of expenses – even though Thiago already had a job. So when I heard about the New York Public Library’s ESL program, I jumped at the opportunity. It is a free program, with classes twice a week, totally free. On the official website, you can find information on how to apply – it’s also worth checking out the informal conversation classes, also on the same page.
- Columbia University also offers free ESL classes. Check here.
- Remember that these initiatives are offered to people that live here!
5. Free Spanish Classes – Learn Spanish New York offers free Spanish classes every month as a way to provide an opportunity for students to get involved in the Spanish language. Session content will range from complete beginner classes to intermediate. Classes are fun and interactive 1-2 hour sessions. Walk-ins are welcome (provided there are available spaces). Check more info here.
6. Free French Classes – from September to the end of June, the Saint-Esprit church offers free French lessons on Sunday mornings from 9am to 10am and 10 am to 11 am in classrooms at 109 East 60th Street, next door to the church. They have offered this as a service to New Yorkers since 1884. The application process is followed by a draw of chance. It takes at least 1 hour of full attention and based on availability, the acceptance rate is 50% or less. Applications open in August.
7. New York Public Library e-reader app – you can browse 300,000+ free e-books from the Library. You can download SimplyE – NYPL’s Free E-Reader – which allows you to browse, borrow, and dive into e-books and audiobooks on your mobile device. More information!
8. Private classes – if you have a budget to invest in private English classes (or whatever language you’re learning), you can save a lot of money by taking online classes – compared to, for example, language schools. Here are some platforms that I recommend:
- italki – is an online platform that connects students and more than 10,000 teachers around the world. You choose the teacher according to your goals and interests and you can book individual classes or special packages. And you have the convenience of being able to study anytime, anywhere. And more: it’s not just for English, ok? There are dozens of languages: French, Mandarin, Italian, Korean and more! I’ve already used italki for English and Spanish – oh, and it’s worth remembering that several teachers offer a free or a cheap “sample class”! Click here and register.
- Elsa Speak – an app focused only on English pronunciation, Elsa identifies your mistakes in pronunciation, fluency, and intonation using artificial intelligence and helps you evolve through accurate and detailed feedback. You can practice wherever and whenever you want. There are more than 1,600 classes and more than 40 topics for you to practice – in addition, the app has classes aimed at business, job interviews, travel, education, etc… You can download the free version and try it out and then subscribe to one of the plans to gain access to more features! Using this link, you have up to 85% OFF when subscribing to one of the plans.
- Cambly – Cambly is the only online English class platform that instantly connects students with native English-speaking teachers. Thus, the student can take live private lessons, by video calls, 24 hours a day. Everything is flexible: any day, any time, just open the app or browser on your computer and start class with a teacher. On Cambly, you choose your subscription according to how long a day you want to take classes (15min, 30min, 60min or 120min) and for how many days a week (2x, 3x, 5x or 7x a week), etc. Important: Cambly is for English classes only. Click here and you’ll get 10 minutes free on the platform. Don’t forget to include the code LAURANYBLOG
9. IDNYC – this card is amazing and free, with a lot of benefits. Every person living in the city can apply – and your immigration status doesn’t matter. IDNYC provides the peace of mind that comes from having a broadly accepted government-issued photo identification. It is a recognized ID for interacting with the New York Police Department (NYPD), gaining access to all City buildings that provide services to the public, qualifying for affordable housing through NYC Housing Connect, proving identity for employment, and health benefits. It can be used as your public library card, to access your own and your child’s immunization records, and to open a bank account at select financial institutions.
Among the benefits, there are special discounts for ballet and other performances, plus free memberships for institutions like American Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn Children’s Museum , Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Museum of the City of New York e Whitney Museum of American Art.
10. the skint – I love this newsletter! It sends daily tips for free and cheap events in New York: food, drink, concerts, movies, comedy, sales, art, and more. There are always interesting ideas and there is also the weekend version. Click to sign up!
11. NYC for FREE Newsletter – this is another great newsletter – an excellent weekly resource to discover top weekly free events in NYC, events on the radar & more!
12. Broadway on a Budget.– this is a super simple website that delivers what it promises: informing you of the cheapest ways to get tickets for Broadway plays and musicals – meaning rush rickets, online lottery, and so on. People living in the city have more time to try their luck – I recommend, in the case of lotteries, putting a reminder on your cell phone every day to try.
13. Resort pass – if you live here, you know the drill: summer in New York City is not an easy breezy. There is a period between July and August that can be very hot and pools and beaches are definitely recommended. Let’s say you want to enjoy a good summer day and you don’t want to take the subway to the beach, you also don’t want to face a public pool – and you’re not on the list of cool people who have membership in private clubs either.Maybe you should try Resort Pass. It is a great option for those who want to spend a good day in a nice pool. There are passes starting at $45! Click here and check it out.
14. Swimply – think about as an Airbnb for pools. People who have a pool at home offer the space for rent on this website. And yes, there are pools in NYC – not many, but there are a few. I think it’s great to rent in a larger group, so it’s not expensive. There are swimming pools with complete structure – including grills and chairs! Get $5 credit on your first booking!
15. pulsd – this platform is like a NYC Groupon, but more exclusive. It has several offers from restaurants to aesthetic procedures, from spa days to performances. Also, it’s worth subscribing to the newsletter, they send offers and ideas by email every day.
16. Rakuten – I don’t know about you, but I love online shopping, because it is convenient and I have more time to find better deals – and, in this case, I can also get money back through Rakuten. You need to create your account and then you add the Cash Back Button on your browser. That’s it! When you open a website with cashback, the button will show you a notification and you can activate the cashback. You get paid by check or Paypal. You can also use the app! Not a fan of online shopping? You can see the In-Store Cash Back offers and select “Link Offer” for the store where you’d like to shop and enter your credit or debit card information, or link the offer to an existing card in your account. Pay with your linked card to earn Cash Back.
17. Honey –another super useful plugin to install in the browser. It notifies you if there are discount codes available for the website you are shopping and, on the checkout page, you just click on the plugin button and it will insert and test the coupons for you. I already got a lot of discounts that I wasn’t even expecting.
18. Buy Nothing –Facebook groups to get free stuff from the neighborhood. Just find your community and click. The embedded link will take you directly to Facebook, where you can request to join your local group by clicking on ‘Join Group’. Once you have clicked on “Join Group,” Facebook will present you with 3 questions to answer. Please answer all three questions so the group’s admin can approve your request. The Buy Nothing Project asks you to join only one Buy Nothing Project group, the group where you live, so that you can literally “give where you live.” This builds resilient community connections that see people through all of life’s challenges. I got some stuff for free like a toaster – and a baby bouncer for a friend – and I’ve saw a lot of great stuff.
19. Sample Sale – Sample Sales are sales with much lower prices than those we see in the traditional “sales” of stores. Sample Sales are for brands to get rid of products they don’t wann anymore – we are talking about good and famous brands. Usually, these are products from past collections. Also, sample sales don’t take place in stores – it is usually in special locations for sample sales. Another detail: Sample Sales last a short period of time – it can be from 1 to 2 days to 5 or 6 days. There are several places to check sample sales and my favorites are the ShopDrop app and ChicMi. You can also keep an eye on the website of 260 Sample Sale, one of the largest Sample Sales organizers in the city.
20. Bilt Credit Card – New Yorkers pay a lot in rent – and what if you could take advantage of that? Bilt is a program that allows you to pay rent with a credit card without incurring the typical transaction fees. Since you’re already paying a significant amount, why not get some perks? You can use your Bilt credit card to pay the rent and, through the Bilt Rewards program, you get points for each dollar spent on rent. These points can then be redeemed for various rewards like travel, shopping, or even a down payment on a home.
And don’t worry about the landlord that only accepts checks – you can set up that on Bilt. So, it doesn’t matter if it’s a bank transfer or a check, Bilt got you covered.
Quick Math: If you’re paying $3,000 per month in rent, and let’s say Bilt gives you 1 point per dollar, you’d get 36,000 points per year. Depending on the redemption options, that could be a round-trip flight, several hotel nights, or hundreds of dollars in gift cards.
Bilt also gives points on other purchases – like dining and shopping!
21. Payment in Installments – using platforms like After Pay, Klarna e Affirm, you can pay your purchases in up to 4 installments – some are even interest-free.
22. ClassPass – ClassPass is a subscription-based service that grants you access to various fitness classes and gyms on their network. Instead of committing to a single gym or studio, you pay a monthly fee to ClassPass and receive a set number of credits. These credits can be redeemed for classes at different participating venues, from yoga and pilates studios to HIIT and boxing classes. It’s good for people that don’t wanna stick to only one studio and they offer different plans.
23. NYC Care – NYC Care is a health care access program that guarantees low-cost and no-cost services offered by NYC Health + Hospitals to New Yorkers who do not qualify for or cannot afford health insurance based on federal guidelines. It is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive initiative to guarantee health care for New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status or ability to pay.
- You must have been living in New York City for six months or longer
- Must not qualify for any health insurance plan available in New York State
- Not be able to afford health insurance based on government guidelines
- Learn more.
So, what do you think about these tips? Hope you can use some of them! And if you have any tips or tricks to save money in NYC, let us know in the comments!
Content creator and journalist in New York City. Here, I share lifestyle, beauty, NYC tips, thoughts, and the struggles about living in the most amazing city in the world! I’m not gonna pretend to be another person: I’m a Brazilian immigrant and I think this is my soul, it is part of who I am. I hope you enjoy my content! Follow me on Instagram!