The Everything Guide to Belt-Tightening

Haircuts for Little or Nothing at All

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., John Allan’s tests out new stylists with free cuts on voluntary models (418 Washington St., nr. Vestry St.; 212-334-5358).

Dirt Cheap
For $15, you can’t do much better than Village Cuts. First timers get 10 percent off (179 W. 4th St., nr. Jones St.; 212-675-6736).

Everyone from hip-hoppers to hedge-funders swings by Frank’s Chop Shop for cuts ($22 to $45) and straight-razor shaves. By appointment (19 Essex St., nr. Hester St.; 212-228-7442).

Anyone is eligible for a cut, color, and style at Bumble & Bumble. Sign up for model calls at (415 W. 13th St., nr. Ninth Ave., sixth fl.; 866-728-6253).

Dirt Cheap
Tuesdays through Saturdays, stylists-in-training at the Aveda Institute give $20 haircuts— all under an instructor’s supervision (233 Spring St., nr. Varick St.; 212-807-1492).

Junior stylists’ services can cost $200, so the $65 cuts at Panyc Salon are a relief (36 W. 17th St., nr. Fifth Ave., fifth fl.; 212-675-7269).

Cut-Rate Luxuries

They’re hardly necessities, but they make the cheaply lived life a little sweeter.

Prince Edward Island Oysters
City Crab charges $12.50 for six at its raw bar, but the same oysters, known for clean, lettucelike flavors, are available at Chelsea Market for half the price (the Lobster Place, 75 Ninth Ave., nr. 16th St.; 212-255-5672).

Blended Scotch
Sure, that $196 bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label comes in a silk-lined box. But the delectably smoky, amber-colored Duggan’s Dew looks equally alluring in a $2 tumbler (Warehouse Wines & Spirits, 735 Broadway, nr. Astor Pl.; 212-982-7770).

Classy Champagne
Balthazar lists a glass of crisp, delicate Georges Gardet Champagne for $12. Uva Wines sells a bottle for $29. For an extra $10, they will wrap it and send it anywhere (199 Bedford Ave., nr. N. 6th St., Williamsburg; 718-963-3939).

Photo: Davies + Starr

Cashmere V-neck

The classically designed, supersoft (and famously cheap) sweaters at Uniqlo give the basic $395 V-necks at TSE a run for their money (546 Broadway, nr. Spring St.; 917-237-8800).

Antique Dinnerware
At this price, a 100-plus-piece set of nineteenth-century French porcelain is a major steal. Put in a lowball bid at the February 5–6 Interiors auction at Christie’s (20 Rockefeller Plaza, nr. 49th St.; 212-636-2000).

Status Watch

Opt for a classy vintage Gruen, which shares the same clock- case design as the $20,000 Patek Philippe—the Rolls-Royce of watches (Central Watch Band Stand, 45th St. passageway of Grand Central Terminal; 212-685-1689).

Doggy Discounts

Four ways to slash pet expenses.

>> Adopt. You can pay $4,000 for that purebred puppy in the window or a fraction of that ($150) at Animal Care & Control (326 E. 110th St., nr. First Ave.; 212-788-4000). >> Buy drugs online. Most pet prescriptions—antihistamines, monthly heartworm creams—are a third cheaper online. Have your vet fax prescriptions to or >> Save on surgery. You’ll spend roughly 50 percent less at the Humane Society of New York (306 E. 59th St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-752-4840). >> Get a sitter. New York’s kennels cost as much as other cities’ cheap motels. Set up a vacation pet-sitting exchange on Craigslist for free.

A (Really) Cheap Lunch for Every Day of the Week

Photo: Robert K. Chin

Nicky’s Classic Bánh Mì
Nicky’s has two things the cheaper Chinatown competition doesn’t have: a couple of tables to linger at and a portobello bánh mì for vegetarians ($4.50 for the classic, $5 for the portobello; 150 E. 2nd St., nr. Ave. A; 212-388-1088).

Piece of Chicken
It’s all about the Washingtons at this Hell’s Kitchen takeout window. Everything from a scoop of black-eyed peas to a good piece of golden fried chicken is a dollar (630 Ninth Ave., window on 45th St.; 212-582-5973).

Super Taste’s Beef Noodle Soup
The ambience may be prison cafeteria, but if a bowl of these excellent hand-pulled soup noodles doesn’t lift your spirits, nothing will ($4.50; 26 Eldridge St., nr. Canal St.; 212-625-1198).

Naples 45 Pizza
Weekdays, from 2 to 5 p.m., the criminally undersung pizza at this midtown trattoria is sold by the giant slice with a soda for $2.25 (200 Park Ave., at 45th St.; 212-972-7001; takeout counter only).

Pork-and-Chive Dumplings at Fried Dumpling
Now that its chief competitor, Eldridge Street’s Dumpling House, has renovated and jacked its price up to four dumplings for a dollar, the five-for-a-buck Fried Dumpling deal seems even sweeter (99 Allen St., nr. Delancey St.; 212-941-9975).

Yatagan’s Falafel Sandwich
It might not be the best falafel sandwich in town—or even on Macdougal Street—but at $2, it’s the cheapest (104 Macdougal St., nr. Bleecker St.; 212-677-0952).

La Taza de Oro’s Rice and Beans
Choose your legume (red, black, or white beans; also chickpeas or pigeon peas) and then your rice (white or yellow). The combo possibilities are endless ($3.50; 96 Eighth Ave., nr. 15th St.; 212-243-9946).

Adam Platt’s Best Dinner for Your Dime

The $16 kimchee stew at Momofuku Noodle Bar is deeply nutritious, compulsively edible, and really two (or five) meals in one. Take the remnants home and enjoy them for breakfast, with a fried egg on the top (171 First Ave., nr. 11th St.; 212-777-7773).

Why Pay for Broadband?

Spots with free Wi-Fi and more ambience than your living room.

Bowery Hotel
The network is technically reserved for hotel guests, but until 4 p.m., when the lobby is commandeered by the bar crowd, you can type regally among oriental rugs and velvet settees (335 Bowery, nr. Great Jones St.; 212-505-9100).

Humanities and Social Sciences Library
A speedy broadband connection in the DeWitt Wallace Periodicals Room, absolute silence, and hoards of reference materials. No outlets though (473 Fifth Ave., nr. 42nd St.; 212-930-0830).

Cocoa Bar
The combination of chocolate to heighten the senses and glasses of wine to dull them creates an ideal environment for procrastination (228 Seventh Ave., nr. 4th St., Park Slope; 718-499-4080).

Greenpoint Coffeehouse
A polished but unassuming café with communal tables for mingling and cavernous booths to disappear into (195 Franklin St., at Greene St., Greenpoint; 718-349-6635).

Price Check

Three big grocery stores versus a corner deli.

Illustration by Tony MillionairePhoto: Alamy [shopping cart]; Courtesy of Tide [Tide]; Cabot’s [cheese]

GRISTEDE’S 3 Sheridan Sq., at W. 4th St.
Store-Brand Chicken Breast (per lb.): $5.79
Six-Pack of Corona Extra: $11.69
Tide Original (100 fl. oz.): $11.69
Vermont Cheddar (per lb.): $7.98
One Dozen Grade-A Large Brown Eggs: $4.79
Crown of Broccoli: $2.99

KEY FOOD 130 Seventh Ave., at Carroll St.
Store-Brand Chicken Breast (per lb.): $2.99
Six-Pack of Corona Extra: $9.69
Tide Original (100 fl. oz.): $8.49
Vermont Cheddar (per lb.): $9.99
One Dozen Grade-A Large Brown Eggs: $2.59
Crown of Broccoli: $1.99

FAIRWAY 2127 Broadway, at 74th St.
Store-Brand Chicken Breast (per lb.): $2.89
Six-Pack of Corona Extra: $7.99
Tide Original (100 fl. oz.): $8.79
Vermont Cheddar (per lb.): $6.49
One Dozen Grade-A Large Brown Eggs: $2.69
Crown of Broccoli: $1.50

JIN MARKET 11 Hudson St., nr. Franklin St.
Store-Brand Chicken Breast (per lb.): $4.54 (cutlets only)
Six-Pack of Corona Extra: $11.94
Tide Original (100 fl. oz.): $7.69 (for 50 fl. oz)
Vermont Cheddar (per lb.): $7.99 (Macadam)
One Dozen Grade-A Large Brown Eggs: $4.29
Crown of Broccoli: $3.29

How to Make Your Home a Hotel

By Anonymous

Illustration by Tony Millionaire

Three years ago, I wanted to ditch my day job and work full time on my play. What to do? Rent the extra room in my apartment to tourists! Though I run the risk of eviction, I now make $2,000 a month in cash—and all I have to give up is a little peace of mind. Here’s how you do it: Furnish the room with all of the basics—single bed, lamp, desk, chair, and dresser, plus extra towels and sheets (which your guests, not you, will change). Take digital pictures of the room, and post an ad on Craigslist’s temporary-housing board offering a room between three nights and three weeks. I ask for $70 a night, not unreasonable for a furnished room in a perfect neighborhood (Tribeca). Spell out every last detail in your ad, giving a thorough description of your place, check-in and check-out times, and any kitchen rules. Ask potential tenants to write a bit about themselves, and—this is key—trust your first impressions. Without fail, people unconsciously warn you of their craziness: “I’m looking forward to sampling the B&D clubs in your area,” and “You sound so much more reasonable than the last moron I rented from—may he rest in peace.” These are not your people. Here’s the big surprise: Nearly all 100 tourists I’ve hosted have been thoroughly honest. Many even brought gifts. I spend about 25 minutes per guest, and that includes the five minutes of small talk when they arrive. You’re probably wondering about sex. Yes, I’ve hooked up a few times, but that’s to be expected when you’re housing a large number of attractive and adventurous travelers. Just don’t grope the guests.

Earn Extra Dough

If there’s such a thing as easy money, this is how you get it.

Photo: New York Magazine

Undercover shopping:
Mystery shoppers anonymously evaluate customer service and can make $20 an hour shopping at Barnes & Noble or eating undercover at Dunkin’ Donuts. Beware of companies that ask for a registration fee. has a list of FTC-approved opportunities.

Focus-group sitting:
Don’t expect to make a career of this, but you can earn anywhere from $75 to $500 for two to three hours of work participating in a focus group for companies like Advanced Focus, which call upon ordinary people to spout uninhibited opinions on everything from toothpaste to magazines. Sign up for a few different companies to increase your chances of being recruited. Try or for a list of bona fide companies.

Always in high demand in New York. Walkers can typically make around $300 for twenty hours of work per week. Experience with pets is preferred, and physical fitness is essential. Go to or call 866-910-5430 to inquire.

Cell-Phone Savings

What you get for $39.99 a month.

Photo: New York Magazine

AT&TFree Minutes: 450
Text Messages ($5 a month): 200
Coverage Quality:* Spotty all over, especially in lower Manhattan.

VERIZONFree Minutes: 450
Text Messages ($5 a month): 250
Coverage Quality:* By all accounts, the city’s most reliable carrier.

T-MOBILEFree Minutes: 300
Text Messages ($5 a month): 400
Coverage Quality:* Coverage gaps all over, from Harlem to Battery Park.

SPRINTFree Minutes: 450
Text Messages ($5 a month): 300
Coverage Quality:* Few complaints, but occasional breaks in service way uptown.

*As found on and

Bargain Hoods

Three brokers pick the areas with the best values for buying and renting.

Photo: Courtesy of Prudential Douglas Elliman

Vickey Barron, Prudential Douglas Elliman
1. Hudson Heights
Way north, but enough pluses—proximity to Inwood Hill Park, slow influx of restaurants, cafés, and services—to attract people priced out of Chelsea and the Village. And it’s much cheaper.
To Buy
75 Park Terrace East
Perry Payne and Heather Laws, Prudential Douglas Elliman A 700-square-foot one-bedroom co-op in Inwood’s only full-service building.$299,000.

2. Upper East Side, east of Second Ave.
Yes, it’s bland. And the perennial construction of the Second Avenue subway line is off-putting. But you’ll get more space for less money than anything due west.
To Rent
330 East 98th Street
Paul Bologna, Century 21 NYC
A one bedroom/alcove studio with a remodeled kitchen and bath in a renovated walk-up building. $1,750 per month.

Photo: Courtesy of Bond New York

Holly Sose, City Connections Realty Inc.
3. Midtown, west of Ninth Ave.
Even though it feels removed, “you’re still close to transportation, and it’s got interesting restaurants and bars,” says Sose. “Some call it ‘Hell-sea.’ It’s got the vibe of old Chelsea but not the price.”
To Buy
432 West 47th Street
Larry Zarr, the Corcoran Group
A large 780 square feet floor-through co-op.$575,000.
To Rent
432 West 46th Street
Adam Rueda, Bond New York
A 450-square-foot rental in an elevator building (no doorman).$1,900 per month.

Photo: Courtesy of the Corcoran Group

Deborah Rieders, The Corcoran Group
4. Clinton Hill/Bed-Stuy
The neighborhood gets a bad rap for being hard to reach, but the apartments—co-ops and condos—are large and airy. “They were designed with artists in mind,” Rieders says.
To Buy
689 Myrtle Ave.
Deborah Rieders, the Corcoran Group
A 1,000-square-foot duplex loft in a former chocolate factory.$499,000.

Photo: Courtesy of Alan Zeitler

5. East Williamsburg/Bushwick
Cross the BQE from the ’Burg and save 10 percent. “The housing stock”—older lofts and frame houses—“is more humble, so [landlords] can’t ask for as much,” Rieders says.
To Rent
1079 Broadway
Alan Zeitler, developer
A 500-square-foot rental with a private roof deck.$1,390 per month.

Work Out for $6.25 a Month

Photo: Courtesy of City of NY Parks

The annual fee at the city-run recreation center in Chelsea is jaw-droppingly cheap: $75 (just $10 for seniors). The facilities aren’t shoddy: separate cardio and weight rooms, a full-size basketball court, and the crown jewel, a six-lane indoor pool (430 W. 25th St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-255-3705).

Fun, From Free to Cheap

Photo: Courtesy of BAM

Semi-recognizable faces (Aziz Ansari, Todd Berry, Chelsea Pereti) deliver $5 laughs at Rififi (Mon.–Fri. 8 p.m.; 332 E. 11th St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-677-1027).

MoMA’s free Fridays are appallingly crowded. But right next door, the equally free American Folk Art Museum is comparably deserted (45 W. 53rd St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-265-1040). Same with the International Center for Photography, a five-minute stroll away (1133 Sixth Ave., at 43rd St.; 212-857-0000).

Monday brings the start of the Public Lab at the Public Theater, a series of seven new works by an eclectic group of playwrights, all worthy of sampling for just $10 a seat (425 Lafayette St., nr. Astor Pl.; 212-340-0849).

Now through March 1, the “Inbound” dance festival at Joyce Soho features nine companies, two world premieres, and $12 to $20 tickets (155 Mercer St., nr. Houston St.; 212-431-9233).

The BAMcafé stages free live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Drinks could be cheaper, but the strong acts and supper-club ambience are worth it (30 Lafayette Ave., at Ashland Pl., Ft. Greene; 718-636-4139).

Nightly Beats, No Cover

RSVP at Supreme Trading
Downtempo early on; a barrage of louder stuff later (213 N. 8th St., nr. Roebling St., Williamsburg; 718-599-4224).

Disco Down at Happy Ending
Disco, of course. But also Britpop, indie, and new wave (302 Broome St., nr. Forsythe St.; 212-334-9676).

Thiaroye at Baraza
An international set grooves to salsa, reggae, and Afro-beat (133 Ave. C, nr. 9th St.; 212-539-0811).

Cheeky Bastard at Hiro Ballroom
Say “Shaw Promotion” to gain free entrance, then pray for a James Murphy appearance (371 W. 16th St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-727-0212).

Trash at Home Sweet Home
A recently relocated classic. RSVP to (131 Chrystie St., nr. Delancey St.; 212-226-5708).

Royal Oak
Cheap bottles of the house brew Sweet Ups to go with hip-hop and eighties anthems (594 Union Ave., at Richardson St., Williamsburg; 718-388-3884).

Smiths/Morrissey Night at Sway
Still-smoky dance floor lets partyers live out their Manchester fantasies (305 Spring St., nr. Greenwich St.; 212-620-5220).

Avoid Taxis, Get Exercise

Photo: Courtesy of Adidas

Both the men’s Adidas Anzo Low walking shoes and the women’s Privo Floats strike the balance between comfort and flexibility, support and plain good looks (Anzo Low, $70 at Paragon Sports, 867 Broadway, at 18th St.; 212-255-8036; Privo Floats, $80 at Harry’s Shoes, 2299 Broadway, at 83rd St.; 866-442-7797).

The Touro bag carries like a versatile messenger bag but feels like a backpack ($40 at Victorinox Swiss Army, 136 Prince St., nr. West Broadway; 212-965-5714).

The warmer you are, the longer you’ll walk. Ultra Force thermals give you an extra layer of cheap insulation ($20 for a two-piece set at Uncle Sam’s Army Navy Outfitters, 37 W. 8th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-674-2222).

Photo: New York Magazine

Rather than taking your chances on a clunker from Target, opt for something painstakingly built at Recycle-a-Bicycle. For less than $200, you can get a classic, Raleigh-style “grocery-getter” with coaster brakes (75 Ave. C, nr. 5th St.; 212-475-1655).

The super-strong Kryptonite EV 2000 Mini bike lock is small enough that it won’t weigh you down ($60 at

No matter the cost, all helmets meet the same basic standard of protection. The Giro Indicator is cheap, relatively attractive, and will keep your noggin out of harm’s way ($40 at

The Stench of ‘89
The Upside to the Downside

Contributors: Molly Bennet, Sarah Bernard, Ira Boudway, Arianne Cohen, Michael Alan Connelly, Catherine Coreno, Kaija Helmetag, Ben Kawaller, Sadia Latifi, Aja Mangum, Kari Milchman, Rob Patronite, Emma Pearse, Robin Raisfeld, S. Jhoanna Robledo, and Lauren Salazar.

The Everything Guide to Belt-Tightening