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New York: How To Make the Most Of It On A Budget

New York: How To Make the Most Of It On A Budget

After just having returned from a month in New York, I am definitely in love with the city. The big problem is that the Big Apple is also certainly a place that will take a big bite out of your savings if you ever decide to go there.

I’m certainly no millionaire and I managed to not only love every minute of my time but to also leave without a mountain of debt to face now that I’m back home. Here are some easy-to-follow tips for you to be able to do the same thing.

New York Living

Depending on how long you are planning to stay in the city, accommodation will almost certainly be your biggest outgoing. The best solution, and the one I was incredibly lucky to benefit from on my first stay there, is to find a place through a friend. Getting somewhere for free is a real long-shot, as everybody in the city suffers to pay the rent to some extent, but it is not impossible. Utilize your social media channels to tell people where you going and when. You never know how happenstance and a great stroke of luck might help you live it up in a two bedroom new build in Williamsburg.

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If you can’t find a friend to give you a hand, check out Craigslist. Americans use this a lot more than the rest of the world and you can often find better deals on here than those that appear on Airbnb. If you don’t mind sharing, there are also quite a lot of decent hostel options, but for the cheapest prices, you need to understand that you will be sleeping with around 16 other people in a dorm every night!

Embrace Deli Culture

During my first week in New York, I was a little bit wary of the endless options of delis offering freshly made sandwiches. This was a big mistake on my part as I soon learned that delis are the best way to eat really well without burning a hole in your pocket.

Eating out in New York is incredibly expensive by European standards unless you are happy to eat fast food for the duration of your stay. This might see you saving a lot of money, but it certainly won’t do your health much good.

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With most supermarket products also being a lot more expensive than they are in all of the other places I’ve ever been in my life, a good deli is a perfect place to get yourself some freshly made food at a price that isn’t going to want you to start missing meals to save cash.

Walk

New York is enormous and the underground service whilst being extensive is almost pretty jam packed and quite pricey at $2.75 per trip. Bearing this in mind, the best thing to do is to first buy a weekly Metro card so that you can travel as much as you like for $30. The subway is essential because of the sheer size of the city, but nobody wants to spend half of their holiday underground.

For me one of the most enjoyable ways to truly experience the city was to simply walk for miles through its endless streets. In Manhattan, you can easily jump off the subway and then stroll around Central Park before wandering the highly exclusive uptown parts of Fifth, Park, and Madison Avenue before diving down into tourist territory around Times Square.

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Chelsea, Greenwich Village, Union Square, Chinatown, Little Italy. All of these places are so varied and interesting that to really make the most of your experience you should just allow yourself to wander and see where your feet take you. Not only will you begin to feel like a part of the city, you’ll also not be spending any money by doing so. Clocking up the miles on foot is also great for your health.

Culture Vulture Tips and Tricks

New York is arguably the most important city in the world. For this reason, it’s also home to some of the best art that can be found anywhere. Unlike London, where almost all museums are free, in New York, you have to pay your way. This is annoying if you’re on a budget, but it’s not completely true.

The majority of the major museums do have admission fees, but in brackets, you will see that the stated price is only the “suggested” one that you should pay. If you are not flush with money, there is absolutely no shame in paying the person on the ticket office exactly what you can genuinely afford to pay.

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Another huge advantage that culture vultures have in New York is that this is a city where the art world is also incredibly active in terms of buying and selling. This means that in Chelsea you will find gallery after gallery featuring works by some of the world’s greatest living and deceased artists in small exhibitions that are completely free of charge to enter. In one afternoon, I saw small exhibitions by Rothko, Nan Goldin, Ai Weiwei, and William Eggleston all without spending a dime.

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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