Surviving in New York on a start-up budget

When you are running a start-up, you live on what I like to call a start-up budget.  Just like how you run your start-up, you need to live your life the same way.


You live a minimum viable life.


New York has the most expensive “everything” on Earth.  Food, drink, housing, entertainment, you name it.


But what I love about New York is that it has both extremes and it’s still possible to live a good life on a start-up budget.

Here are some of my tips:


Live with friends for as long as possible

I’m lucky enough to have a mate here, Brian, who has let me live in his spare room for the past few months for nothing.

It’s no Waldorf-Astoria, but that’s the way I like it at the moment.  In fact, I use my living arrangement as motivation to succeed.


Take the subway everywhere

You can get anywhere in New York City on the subway.  The only time you should take a cab is well after midnight.


Accept invitations whenever you are invited

Whether it’s just a BBQ with friends or a bigger function, it usually results in having a great time and getting fed, not to mention probably a few drinks.


Go to events with free food and drink

Lots of free events will put out food and drink, and a lot of the time they even have an open bar for a while.  Eat and drink as much as you can.


Check Foursquare for offers

A lot of bars and restaurants will offer a free drink or another special if it’s the first time you are checking in.


Just last night at our DUNY (Down Under New York) meet-up I got a free glass of white wine.  A mate told me only the other day he planned his whole evening bar hopping to get free drinks at each bar.  I think he got up to 4.


Use Coupons

The coupons I find useful are for everyday things like cheap movie tickets or haircuts.


The most interesting coupon I saw recently was for helicopter lessons.  Only in America.


Eat two meals a day

Unless you can get your hands on some free food, I think it’s OK to eat two meals a day.  Of course, your mum will tell you not to, but hey, it saves a few bucks a day.


Cheap places to eat

My office is in midtown Manhattan so I’ve spent many days looking for cheap places to eat.  My favourite is a place called Mangia on 48th Street between 5th and 6th that sells healthy food by the weight.


On the same block there is a pizza shop that has 99c pizza on Tuesdays or just around the corner you can go to the falafel truck where a meal will set you back only $4.


My favourite restaurant around here is the Heartland Brewery because you can get 3 sliders for $9.  You could say I’m pretty easily pleased.


For some people food is a passion, but for me at this stage of my life it’s just something to keep me going.


There’s always some free entertainment

Whether it’s a band playing at a bar, or a movie playing in Bryant Park, you can always find something to do that doesn’t cost anything.


Lastly, let people pay when they offer

If someone offers to pay for your drink or dinner, accept it and offer to pick up the bill next time you meet up.

Key takeaways:

  • Live with friends for as long as possible
  • Take the subway everywhere
  • Accept invitations whenever you are invited
  • Go to events with free food and drink
  • Check Foursquare for offers
  • Use Coupons
  • Eat two meals a day
  • Cheap places to eat
  • There’s always some free entertainment
  • Lastly, let people pay when they offer


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