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Little sacrifices that add up to big savings

29 Sep

Living in New York City is all about tradeoffs — and let’s face it, our generation isn’t very good at making them. But as it turns out, having the strength to reign in your spending in places where dollars add up quickly can make a big difference. Here are 10 temptations and how much you save with your sacrifice:

Not having that last drink: Because you’re drunk enough. Save the $7.
Using a transfer: When you use both the subway and the bus in under two hours, you’re not charged for the second swipe. That’s $2.25!
Buying the store brand: Because duh.
Bringing your lunch: Midtown lunch averages $8, without a drink. Seriously?
Buying fast fashion: For something you won’t wear more than twice, why splurge?
Painting your own nails: Save the $25 mani/pedi for special occasions, and work on perfecting your at-home technique!
Sneaking candy into the movies: Because they never check — and please, $5 sodas? Just plain absurd.
Eating before you leave the house: You’ll be less likely to crave overpriced yogurt or street-cart food if you walk or shop with a full stomach.
Going home to get your hair dyed: Because my expensive NYC stylist recently complimented the full head of highlights my mom’s lady charged me $40 for this summer.
Leaving with enough time: If you aren’t rushing, you won’t drop $10 on a cab.

Bonus: Splitting Internet with a neighbor. Does anyone do this? I’m thinking about it.

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In which Duane Reade sucks a lot less

16 Sep

New New Yorkers, you’re moving at a very good time, drug store-wise. Cue the hallelujah chorus! Duane Reade is remodeling.

Raise the topic of the antiseptic Duane Reade of (almost) yore, and you’ll get New Yorkers surprisingly riled up. Just like Chase ATMs, there’s a Duane Reade every few blocks; we go there because it’s easy. But we were fed up with the hard-to-navigate layout, unfriendly prices (are you kidding me with the $10 for Dove body wash?), precious few sales, stock boxes in the aisles and pore-piercing doctor’s office lighting.

The new neutral-toned interiors, wider aisles, expanded beauty section and softer lighting are huge improvements. (In light of all this, I guess I can make my piece with the clashing typefaces in the new logo.)

Additionally, they’ve installed kiosks in which you can view and order prints of your photos, make cards and calendars and so forth. 4×6 prints are 30 cents each — not bad for next-day service.

Recently I even saw a few new deals, like two for $4 boxes of cereal when you spend $20 or more. Duane Reade also does online RX refills and has a rewards card, but I await a better system for the $5 coupons than printing them on the receipt; I’m always throwing them away. Can they credit my rewards card? Like the revenue from unused gift cards, I bet Duane Reade makes buckets of money off those thrown-away receipts.

Guest Post: Walter Nowinski

9 Sep
Real-life person, new New Yorker and newly licensed city tour guide Walter Nowinski, 24, moved from Metro Detroit in mid-July. Since graduating from the University of Michigan, he has worked in political communications and continues to write and design election materials as a freelancer. Nowinski lives between Union Square and Gramercy Park.
Walter Nowinski

Walter Nowinski

Today, Walter brings us an insightful newcomer’s perspective on five unique and quirky things about NYC life:

New York is a cash-based economy. It might be the financial capital of the world and the birthplace of the credit card, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to use plastic in New York. Shops and bars try to impose minimum purchase amounts or surcharges on credit card users. This practice is illegal, but in New York it is as common as jaywalking. With a little argument, though, you can usually get shopkeepers to back down (they are violating their contract, after all), but if you’re not up for a fight, carry cash.

Starbucks is more than a coffee shop. There are precious few restrooms in the city. Fortunately, there is Starbucks. In the rest of America, Starbucks’ green and white logo is a symbol of high-priced, burnt-tasting coffee. In New York, it means free restrooms. Just be prepared to queue up.

An iPhone is more useful in New York than it was wherever you are from. Its ability to search business listings based on your location makes the iPhone truly priceless here. New York has so many dining and entertainment options that you can never know them all the way you did in your old town. Apps like Yelp! can not only tell you what is close (i.e. your nearest Starbucks when you’ve really gotta go), but also what is good.

You don’t have to be old to do brunch. In the rest of America, brunch is something old ladies do after church. In New York, brunch is served Saturday and Sunday by scads of NYC restaurants. With some offering bottomless mimosas and breakfast for under $20, it’s not just a mid-day meal — it’s the new Thursday night.

Delivery means more than pizza. In most of America, calling for delivery means pizza or Chinese. But in New York, the lack of cars and cut-throat completion means delivers. You want your groceries delivered? No problem. A filet from the steakhouse? Coming right up! Heck, you can even have McDonald’s brought to you.