How I spent a week in New York on a budget of $150

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Manhattan Skyline from the Staten Island Ferry

Okay okay, I’m the worst for budgeting and I was waiting to get paid the week I flew out to New York, it happens, I had a small budget to go on, and I surprised even myself that I survived really well.

I won’t counter in the fact I had prepaid for my accommodation for at HI New York on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

First things first. Buy yourself a subway card. For $30 it gives you unlimited access to the subway in all 5 boroughs of New York, on all lines (except the Airport, LIRR and Amtrak lines) FOR 7 DAYS. This was a lifesaver. The subway runs 24/7 in New York and run frequently and there are stops that will take you anywhere you need to go.

A MetroCard costs $1 but if you want to save money get the unlimited weekly pass for $30 it takes you everywhere in the NYC area, a real lifesaver!
A MetroCard costs $1 but if you want to save money get the unlimited weekly pass for $30 it takes you everywhere in the NYC area, a real lifesaver!

When in Rome (or New York) do what the locals do – walk. Everyone walks in New York. It’s a great way to see the sights, it’s good for you and best of all did I mention it was free?

HI New York hosts every few days “Jerry’s Grand Tour” for $10 you are treated with a walking tour with Jerry, a local from Brooklyn Heights, who volunteers his time to take you all over New York, and I mean all over! This tour lasts 12/14 hours, it’s certainly worth the $10. He will take you to the cheap eateries to buy some lunch and dinner, there is a lot of walking involved, but to overcome the jet lag I definitely recommend this tour.

Some of the MANY highlights of Jerry's Grand Tour
Some of the MANY highlights of Jerry’s Grand Tour

A lot of New York’s attractions are free! Times Square is one of many, and I cannot express in words what it was like to stand in Times Square!

Times Square in all its glory - and free!
Times Square in all its glory – and free!

Here’s a list of a few more

– Staten Island Ferry (free views of Manhattan and Statue Of Liberty)
– Brooklyn Bridge
– Central Park
– Grand Central Station
– Rockefeller Plaza
– 9/11 Memorial
– Dakota Building (For those John Lennon buffs out there)
– 5th Ave
– Plaza Hotel
– The Highline
– Flatiron Building

I could go on, but there’s so much to see in New York for free.

John Lennon's Memorial, Strawberry Fields, Central Park
John Lennon’s Memorial, Strawberry Fields, Central Park
What you can see from Staten Island Ferry!
What you can see from Staten Island Ferry!

Free Tours by Foot was another inexpensive way to see New York City. I did 3 tours with them, and it’s a “pay what you think the tour was worth” motto. The first tour I did was one in the Midtown section which went for 2.5 hours, then I did Central Park (lower) which went for 2 hours and a lower east side which was 3 hours. I did the tour, paid a small fee, although I felt I should of paid more for it. There’s plenty of other tours here: http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/new-york-tours/

Times Square at night, on the Midtown tour with Free Tours By Foot
Times Square at night, on the Midtown tour with Free Tours By Foot
Me in Central Park at the Betheusda Fountain, you may of seen it in many a movie or two...
Me in Central Park at the Betheusda Fountain, you may of seen it in many a movie or two…

Want to go on live TV for free? Check out the many numerous TV shows filmed in New York alone. I went to the Today Show in Rockefeller Plaza. It was an early wake up but to experience American culture at its finest (TV!!!!) it was quite the experience. It is free to enter the Today Show, as well as the other shows the NBC films just nearby, Saturday Night Live and Jimmy Fallon just to name a few. They are free, but you have to get in quick as the tickets get snapped up very quickly!

Me on the Today Show filming in Rockefeller Plaza
Me on the Today Show filming in Rockefeller Plaza

Eating and drinking, I had already armed myself with a stash of supplies before I left Australia, these included noodles, pasta, one pan dinners, porridge – things that are inexpensive, easy to prepare and ok to bring into the United States. Once I had arrived into the country, I declared my items on the forms to the officers who were more than happy to let me enter the country with.

I also shopped at the grocery store, bought some meat, a bottle of milk, a big bottle of water and some soda but when I was there I didn’t have much of an appetite, I guess it was from jet lag, and that I was unwell for the first few days of my trip.

Food is cheap in the USA in comparison to Australia or NZ and I’ve lived in both! I went on a food tour of the Lower East Side as mentioned before and one stand out for me was 5 dumplings, an omelette wrap and a drink – $5.00 after tip! That’s amazing. Another story was in a fruit and vegetable shop in Brooklyn where for $7.00 you got a sandwich, salad of choice and a drink. You need to know where to go look and do what the locals do. There’s plenty of farmers markets who operate daily around the city.

I’m not a souvenir person either, I find that photos create a thousand stories of your adventures.

Anyone else have any tips for budgeting in a big city?

The sculpture that used to be in the World Trade Centre before the 9/11 attacks, it can be found in Battery Park now
The sculpture that used to be in the World Trade Centre before the 9/11 attacks, it can be found in Battery Park now
9/11 Memorial pool of the South Tower
9/11 Memorial pool of the South Tower
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15 thoughts on “How I spent a week in New York on a budget of $150

    1. SNL and Jimmy Fallon seats are done online. No sitting in line at some weird time for tickets.

      Today Show you have to be there by 5:30am, they start filming at 6am

      Like

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