Friday, July 30, 2010

How to Live Cheaply in New York: Entertainment

This is part of a series of living cheaply in New York. See previous posts: Grocery shopping, Housing

Here's the best way to spend less on entertainment in New York: don't go out.

Just kidding! Well, sort of.

In the land of $14 cocktails, it can be tough to find cheap things to do. Here are some free, cheap, and ways-to-make-it-cheaper options.

Summer in the city is really the time of free. Of course, Central Park is always free. There's the River to River Festival (free concerts), Summer Movie Series (free outdoor films), free outdoor theater (what I call Shakespeare in A park), free outdoor fitness classes (I do yoga in a park near my home every week -- FREE!), free or pay what you wish museums (not just in the summer!), free show tapings--the Free Things To Do in New York City issue of Time Out New York has a lot of great options (I got a subscription -- you guessed it -- free). There are free things in the winter as well, like free skating in Bryant Park (if you have your own skates), and of course, wandering around and people-watching is always free.

Also, the library! The New York Public Library has locations everywhere and a fabulous reservation system. The Queens library is not quite as extensive, but I have found things there that I couldn't find in the New York branches. DVDs, CDs and books, all for free and then I don't have to try to figure out how to get rid of them. What could be better?

There are a lot of cheap options for entertainment as well. Discount movie tickets are available from Costco and many employers. Happy hour specials abound across the city, and there are a lot of apps and listings around town. shows free and cheap yoga and Pilates classes around town -- many other sites offer a similar service for their specialties. I joined a couple book clubs for cheap entertainment -- meetings are often held in our homes and we have a little potluck (as Isaiah Mustafa points out, libraries offer books for free en masse!).

Not cheap but with options
Restaurant Week gives you the chance to try high-class restaurants at a fraction of the cost. I haven't tried Groupon myself, but I hear good things about it. I have tried gift certificates, which are awesome as long as you follow the instructions carefully. There are Entertainment Books available that provide coupons for a lot of different things, and Yoga Passbooks give you discounted entrance to a lot of yoga classes. Broadway shows offer discounted rush or lottery tickets and there's always TKTS.

It's totally possible to live a frugal but highly entertaining life here in New York City. It's a little more difficult than going to the most convenient option (bar down the street, full priced movie or show) but it's definitely achievable. And if, like me, you derive entertainment from saving money, well, your options are almost unlimited.

How do you save money on entertainment costs?


  1. I don't know how cheap your discount movie tickets are, but AMCs here also have $6 matinees before noon on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. I LOVE going to the movies but especially during Oscar/prestige season it can get expensive. Not free, but better.

  2. I'm loving this series! There are tons of tips that transfer over to DC where I live :)


Thanks for commenting!