Open Phones: Your College-Cheap NYC Advice

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

coins, bank (Tattooed JJ/flickr)

It's a couple weeks into the school year, and with tuition higher than ever (see yesterday's widget for proof), college students may need help finding ways to save money, particularly in New York City.

Listeners: Help penny-pinching college students out. What free, cheap, and fun things are there to do in NYC? How do you save money on food, entertainment, laundry, whatever... Call 212-433-9692 or post your tips here!

Comments [25]

Intelligent Poodles from Chelsea

In reference to your other caller, I, too am a "Hiring Manager," and I have to be in NY to find the kind of journalistic\qualitative research & various other skills. When I see a resume that shows someone's college years were some sort of "vocation prep" (usually for finance) then they don't in general have the right broad ability to think & reason that goes with a classic, "liberal arts education"...often a person who has demonstrated a wide array of interests and performed well in them looks much more promising. Plus you are generally going to learn your job "on the job," and there are high level positions that need a person who has been taught critical thinking and has learned to love learning itself

Dec. 14 2012 11:33 AM
scott Bankey from soho

Why not put the bong down for a bit and get a part time job? With a mere 15 hours per week, you will safeguard yourself against leaving college with a mountain of debt, gain valuable real world work experience, and start paying your fair share.

Sep. 19 2012 02:04 PM

Dollar stores can have spectacular values. Ziplock baggies can bought at 1/3 price at the huge, well-stocked store on 47th St. You can get eyeglasses for 1 or 2 bucks. Even beats the $4 ones at Ace Hardware stores.

Chinatown for fruits and veggies.

Chinatown snow peas: $1.29/lb
Anywhere else snow peas: $3.99/lb

Sep. 19 2012 12:45 PM

Clinical trials pay. Not a lot, but they do pay. And they DO need participants. You don't have to have the disease; studies often require "controls."

You can find trials at It can be somewhat complex to get to a trial in your area.

Some organizations facilitate participation:



Michael J. Fox Parkinson's study finder:

EVERY disease should have a site like Fox's. It's spectacular. Within 10 minutes, I had shot off emails to 3 studies, one at Columbia, one at Cornell Weill and one at NYU Med.

Sep. 19 2012 12:35 PM
David from Brooklyn

Don't use your credit card: My upstairs neighbors are still paying card interest and debt from their NYU days, many years ago.

Hang out with your poor friends. Tell your richer friends that you can't eat out because you're poor—they don't know!

Sep. 19 2012 12:15 PM
margaret Schnipper from Prospect Heights

• Lower East Side Chinese noodle shops tend to be cheaper than the known Chinatown restaurants. East of Broadway, south of Delancey.

• Bicycling in NYC is cheap & fun. You can pick up a cheap bike at the flea markets or through Recycle-A-Bicycle. Be sure to invest in the best lock & chain you can though. Plan to spend around $100 on a Kryptonite. Really worth it. And be sure to lock your wheels too. Can run the chain through the back wheel. Can get a cheaper Kryptonite U-lock to lock the front wheel to the frame. And if your seat is a quick release - take it with you or it will be gone in a minute.

• Beacon's Closet & other 2nd hand stores (of quality) can outfit you on a budget.

• Odd-Job Trading has all kinds of things that you might need at deep discounts - from blenders to tights.

GOOD LUCK! It gets easier!!

Sep. 19 2012 12:05 PM
shashinyc from Manhattan

* Buy Chinese/Thai/ethnic lunch specials (usually @$6.95 or so)and take home for dinner. For modest eaters, one special will last for two meals.

* Audience-filling services like Theater Extras, Audience Extras offer cheap tickets to theater, music, dance, lectures for an annual fee (about $100) and about $4 per ticket.

* Shop for food in Chinatown supermarkets and produce markets.

Sep. 19 2012 12:02 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Brian: Yeah, but you only have to pay for the socks & underwear once!

And I agree w/the comments recommending bikes. Like socks & underwear, they're a 1-time expense (& unlike socks & underwear, you can save by buying them used!), plus riding a bike helps you keep in shape.

Sep. 19 2012 12:01 PM

Buy beans. I lived on beans when I was in graduate school. I had about 20 different types of beans that I would rotate through with various assorted spices. I'd let these summer while I was writing my dissertation. Beans actually taste better the more you cook them. I spent 6 weeks one summer in New York City (went to grad school in Ithaca) apartment sitting in a friend's apartment and lived happily on $70.

Sep. 19 2012 12:00 PM
Jessica from San Francisco

Instead of buying books, the professors put them on reserve at the library. Go to the library, sign them out and read them there.

Sep. 19 2012 11:59 AM

If you want grocery stuff like meat and veggies. It's better to go to queens and south Brooklyn to Asian markets since those things are much much cheaper than while foods or readers Joes for meat and veggies

Sep. 19 2012 11:58 AM
Robert from NYC

Who are you kidding, they all have credit cards that their parents pay. I live in the middle, literally, of NYU dorms and they all shop with credit cards and you know darn well they aren't paying the bills. I was in line a Duane Reade's and the student in front of my bought a pack of chewing gum ONLY and paid for it with her credit card. When I got up to the cashier I asked her about that and she said the store's policy is that even if the customer only spends a penny she has to accept the credit card!!!

Sep. 19 2012 11:58 AM

Special Talks, openings and lectures on campus often have food and beverages before and after, as do many club meetings.

Sep. 19 2012 11:58 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

Drink in your room, instead of the bars--safer and cheaper.

PLEASE don't go to the art openings in Chelsea on Thursdays--they are already full of students who trip from gallery to gallery, not caring about the art, but lapping up the free box wine. Not pretty.

If you have to eat takeout, split it with a friend--the portions are almost always too generous anyway.

Ride a bicycle, save loads on escalating MTA prices!

Carry a refillable water bottle.

Sep. 19 2012 11:58 AM
JD from Manhattan

Take advantage of all kinds of free art and entertainment. Push cart coffee. Make time to walk. Go to Happy Hours. For god's sake, don't go to restaurants and bars and not tip the servers. That's how we make a living!

Sep. 19 2012 11:57 AM
nkh from nyc

1) Don't wash your clothes or wash them less often. Hang them on a drying rack to air out any smells. Hang them in the sun by an open window if you can.

2) Brush your teeth with baking soda. Less toxic and cheaper than toothpaste.

3) Shop for clothes at thrift stores.

Sep. 19 2012 11:57 AM
Chad L.

Prosperity Dumplings on Eldridge street, 5 dumplings for a dollar. They also sell them frozen. It's no leafy greens, but it's better (and cheaper) than fa(s)t food places. Got me through some lean times right after college.

Sep. 19 2012 11:57 AM
Demetri from NY

Get a sturdy bike and an apartment in a cheaper rent area. Eat at home.

Sep. 19 2012 11:56 AM
mick from Manhattan

If you are not living in a dorm, eat Chinese food with heavy focus on vegetables and ask for no oil. It's usually cheaper than buying equally healthy food in a supermarket when you consider waste.

Sep. 19 2012 11:56 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

DON'T EAT OUT!!! Restaurant food is both more expensive and far less healthful than home cooking. You should also take lunches with you.

GET A ROOMMATE. That way you can share cooking chores and save money.


SMOKING AND DRINKING COST BIG BUCKS. Alcohol and tobacco are VERY expensive and cause health problems as well. Good way to save money and be alert in class Monday mornings.

Sep. 19 2012 11:55 AM
Sam from astoria

Get a bike!

Sep. 19 2012 11:54 AM
Mimette from NY

Recipe: Fairway: black bread, peanut butter, bean sprouts, salsa - yum! and balanced

Sep. 19 2012 11:53 AM
ben from NYC

Buy a bike and a good lock! It's money you have to spend up front, but can save you a lot in no time if you start biking everywhere instead of buying Metrocards.

Sep. 19 2012 11:53 AM
christina from upper west side

Get 30-45 days of underwear and 30-45 days of socks. that way you only really need to do laundry once a month.

Sep. 19 2012 11:51 AM
Roy from Queens

Don't apply for a credit card. Watch cable shows on the Internet. Live at home, unless your parents hate your guts.

Sep. 19 2012 11:49 AM

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