Pinching Pennies: How to Save as NYC College Students


Broadway, World-Renowned Museums, beautiful coffee shops and delicious places to dine – these all have two things in common: New York is known for them, and they are known to be expensive. The Economist ranks New York as the seventh most expensive city in the world to live in. This gets even worse for college students, known for constantly being broke. Combining the Big Apple and bored, broke college students creates a complex question: how are students supposed to save money while still having a memorable college experience? 

Eating adds up financially, and while it is a necessary expense, there are multiple ways to cut costs. Commuters can spend lots of money going to the restaurants on campus, and many have turned to alternatives in order to save, such as freshman Sidorela Zefi.

“I usually bring my own lunch so I can avoid spending money on food everyday,” she shared. “Also, student discounts wherever I can.” Don’t ever be afraid to ask if a nearby restaurant if they have a student discount – the worst thing they can do is say no.

Those who dorm have also turned to alternative plans. “Preparing food on your own is infinitely cheaper than eating out all the time, since you just have to pay for materials,” said freshman Brett Anderson. 

People who dorm also often have the option of using their meal plan, especially freshmen, who are forced to get the Carte Blanche plan, giving them unlimited swipes at the dining hall. A trick for these students is to use their meal exchange at a restaurant on campus and put it in their fridge for later, then go to Montgoris, because this doesn’t use a precious premium swipe.

The same kinds of cuts can be made when buying what is often a staple of the college student’s diet – coffee. Just buying a $3 coffee a day adds up to almost $1100 a year. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to give it up entirely. For those who feel that caffeine is a necessity for survival, there are many cheaper alternatives than going to Starbucks or Dunkin’ every morning.

Making coffee at home is the greatest saving solution. USA Today says that if the daily Starbucks trip was surrendered and someone instead bought a 2lb. bag of Starbucks Coffee grind for $10, they would save $277 (minus the cost of the coffee pot). 

There are many other strategies to keep in mind. When splurging on a trip to Manhattan, avoid using Uber and instead turn to public transportation. The E and F trains take you straight into midtown, and there are two nearby stations, the Kew Gardens and the 169th station. The former being reached using the Q46 bus that stops on Utopia Parkway and using a free transfer at the station, and the latter through a short walk. Try to find free events in the city using online calendars, such as the one on or find coupons online when going out. When clothes shopping, try thrift shops throughout the city, such as Buffalo Exchange in Chelsea, to find hidden treasures. 

Being a college student doesn’t mean that you have to sit in your dorm all weekend in order to save money. Instead, just manage your money, keeping all of your purchases in mind, and find some tricks to save a couple dollars for the future.