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At nearly $80,000 a year, Columbia’s tuition is one of the highest in the country. How can we, as college students, navigate the big city where tourism inflates the price of a sandwich? Read on for these top tips on how to lead a New York life while keeping your wallet happy.

Subway-bus transfer

Because the subway doesn’t run everywhere, the MTA offers free transfers from the subway to the bus and vice versa within two hours of completing your ride. While this is helpful for actual transfers, it could also be helpful if you need to make a quick trip downtown for errands. Consider taking both methods of transportation for half the price.

Free tapings

If you’re looking for something fun to do for free, check out all your favorite late-night shows like “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” or “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.” Most shows tape on weekdays, and there are various processes for acquiring tickets for free. Some shows require you to reserve tickets online and pick them up, and others are on a first-come, first-served basis. Make sure you check out all the requirements for these tapings before planning your trip, though, as sometimes a ticket won’t even guarantee entry.

Extreme couponing

Groupon and RetailMeNot are a deal lover’s best friends. Equipped with discounts ranging from retail, food, entertainment, and more, these applications will help you and your friends get the best deals on everyday tasks. Stay on the lookout for discount gift cards from your favorite stores. While you shouldn’t buy everything with gift cards, getting them from Groupon or RetailMeNot at a discount is basically like getting free money.

Pro-tip: Keep the Honey Chrome extension installed on your computer for online shopping. It’ll automatically scan your cart in checkout for any coupons so that you can save money on those Lit Hum books on Amazon.

Salon volunteer

If you’re a brave soul who doesn’t want to pay $50 for a haircut, check out salons in the area that are seeking volunteer “models” with different hair types. There are hundreds of opportunities in the city and many of them are free or have a low fee. Check out this site for all the listings in New York.

UCB show

What is the best way to relieve stress, you might ask? Laughter, of course! Visit Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in NoHo or Hell’s Kitchen for a variety of comedy shows at inexpensive prices. In Hell’s Kitchen, UCB has shows every night of the week and NoHo has them every weekend night. For free entry, make sure to show up early for the standby line. If you can’t come early, buy tickets online before they sell out.

Focus groups

Looking to make some quick cash in a few hours? Apply to be a part of focus groups in the city. Most take about two hours to complete and can pay upward of $200 per session. You can help businesses better tailor their products to their consumers by offering your opinion. Check out this site to register with focus group companies.

Buy secondhand

The best way to save while shopping is to be mindful of where you buy. New York has an abundance of thrift shops and flea markets where you can get secondhand clothing, books, furniture, and more. Visit AuH2O in the East Village for more upscale options or the massive Urban Jungle in Brooklyn if you’re looking for a scavenger hunt. Wherever you go, there will be tons of inexpensive options.

Columbia discounts

Our University has plenty of offers for students and faculty. These include phone and TV plans, retail discounts, lower ticket prices, and gym memberships, all available through Columbia’s website. Take full advantage of that tuition!

Of course, New York has an abundance of available free or inexpensive attractions including The High Line, Central Park, and various museums. Keep in mind that it can be easy to save on pricey everyday tasks by planning ahead and thinking outside of the box. Happy deal hunting!

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