"The problem here is a totalitarian uniformity, a cult-like mentality such that even allies are enemies if they fail to follow the Exact Party Line. " - Phyllis Chesler

Saturday, September 20, 2008

How To Live On The Cheap In NYC

Living in NYC can be hard. Everything costs more money here. Rent is outta hand, with small one room apartments in the outer boroughs renting for $900-$1000 without even a separate kitchen.

So what's a hard-working girl like me to do. Stretch your budget.

Neccesity is the mother of invention....

If you're willing to take a train ride out of your neighborhood or if you have a car a great place to go food shopping is National Wholesale Liquidators.

OK they suck in that store. There is no customer service and it's almost always a mad house BUT it's like the be all and end all of 99 cent and up stores.
Notice there are 24 items on the table and only one of them is not a well-known brand name.


And yes this is what I will be eating for this weeks menu.

D.O.M. will be happy to see the soap and shampoo products I bought.

Another tip which I shared earlier today with him is to go to the store without showering, brushing your hair etc...because people will happily part the way for you and you can get to whatever item you need first. Helps to get through a very crowded store faster.

Favorite find today was the tuna. None of that chunk lite in oil crap. It was solid in water for only $1.29 a can. Woohoo.

Second tip for today comes from being a temp. If you don't know what that is, it's what so many people in NYC do for a living. I work for a temp agency and get sent around to many places. It pays ok enough and I get to see different corporate cultures and basically sit on my ass all day and blog for a few dollars a day.

Many companies put food out for their employees, especially those in the creative industries. No one will think twice if you grab a whole stack of M&M packs and bring them to your desk, not even as the temp. If you score an assignment at a company that has these things in their kitchen -- take as many as you can each day and take them home with you. No one needs to know that sometimes the candy is your lunch, so that you can save your small temp paycheck for your bills instead. Recently I was at a place that had granola bars, pretzels and all kinds of chocolate candy plus bagels each morning and often brought in lunch. They were more than happy to make sure I was included in the breakfasts and lunches and even offered me a free manicure from the woman who comes each week. I partook in every meal offered and made those M&M's last a few days after the assignment was over.

Shit chocolate is a food group anyway isn't it?

Baggies are your friend! Divy everything you bought up into little baggies and make them last for as many days in advance as possible, taking those treats with you to work. That box of cookies in the photo today are going to last me at least 2 weeks and be my sugar wake me upper snack at work. When those run out or I am bored, the little prepacked fruit cups will be my sugary treat for my work day.

I almost never buy trash bags. I'm all about saving the environment as well as my money. So I take those plastic bags that all my goodies came in and I use them for the trash. I throw out that bag every day, so I don't let the bugs have something to eat in my home. The only bags I buy are for changing the cat litter. Those require industrial size. Nothing I can do about that.

If you have a pet, Petco is your friend. It's a larger store and can offer the same items at slightly less money than your local pet store and sometimes they run specials. This week I hit a super find. Since my kitties are special needs I only buy them the top of the line food, Wellness. The bag was already $3 less than my local guy and with it was a FREE item called Pure Delights meaty cat treats. There's over 300 little pieces inside and the bag was 3 oz. Usually this item is $5 but was free with the dry food I had to buy anyway.

And last tip for today on how to live on the cheap in NYC -- BARTER. Do you have a skill someone else wants? Make an exchange. I often don't have the money for a massage or energy session. But since I too am an energy worker I often do exchanges with other professionals. Saves me at least $85 a session and I get to stay in good mental and phsyical working healthly order...well at least I think so, but I guess that is subjective ;-)

Well it's time for me to go make some noodles and peas for lunch.


Jo-Jo said...

This sounds like my life in WV a couple of years back. I have a really funny story involving a cup cake but I will spare you. Great blog!

K. Fields said...

You have some really great tips here! I live in Alaska where everything is sky high in price. There is always and excuse for it too. Like we are isolated from the rest of the states therefore higher postage, we pay higher fuel prices, therefore higher priced everything else... Sigh!
Great Post!

LadyBanana said...

Just wondering, was there ever a time beans were not vegetarian? lol

Da Old Man said...

We have a NWL right near us. Place is packed allthe time. I saw tea there, one time. Wissotsky or something like that. A buck a box. Then, a few months later, it was being sold on QVC, way more than that, and the spiel was that this was the finest tea ever, blah, blah, blah. It really was pretty good tea, BTW.

Chat Blanc said...

OMG!! This is soooooo awesome! Okay, I'm going to babble here. . . first, please don't accidentally eat the soap! hehe, but I do love the tip on shopping without showering. I can so do that! :D

Also, those are crazy good buys. I'm so shocked how much groceries are here, only because there's no competition, but still I could definitely try harder to search out bargains.

And, I'm loving your food selections I have similar tastes so this was a great visual to help me think about creating my shopping list.

Also, chocolate is UNDOUBTEDLY its own food group!!

I've looked into buying Wellness catfood and the only place that sells it here charges an OUTRAGEOUS price for it so I'm thrilled that you got such a great deal! Kitties need what they need!

And finally, I think the baggies tip is supreme! I seriously need to do that.

okay, rambling on about this post is done. :P

Lauren said...

Jojo, I want the cupcake story!

K, must be hard up there. Pretty but hard to live up there for so many reasons. I love NY but I HATE the cold and it's getting cold. Thanks for popping in.

D.O.M., I know that tea!

Chatty, so funny! I was waiting to see which person would plead for me not to eat the soap.

Selections -- here's how it went. Go to food isle and see what's there. Take best item can make do with. Turn and look at other side of isle and do the same. Etc...I'd rather eat sushi.

I think you can get wellness online.