How to save money in New York without really trying

In the continuous struggle to save before I spend, I’ve set out to create a list of cost-cutting initiatives that may help my savings account break five figures by year’s end:

1) Babysit. Babysit. Babysit. Frankly, this isn’t all about the tax-free earnings; it’s about the coveted family kitchen. As anyone who has ever babysat can attest, a common parental adage is “Help yourself to anything that’s in the kitchen.” In other words, that $20 gourmet smoked salmon from Dean and Deluca is entirely yours for the taking. In this manner, you both earn and save, in this case on the cost of groceries.

2) Befriend your local barista. As a loyal Gimme Coffee!, Starbucks, and Balthazar customer, I have developed quite a rapport with my favorite caffeine-suppliers. And that has major payoffs. Take, for example, last Sunday when Gimme Coffee’s credit card machine broke. Jose, my favorite Peruvian barista, turned to me and said, “Pretend like you don’t have cash… that way I can give you a free coffee rather than turn a loyal customer away. Oh, and here’s a hibiscus doughnut, on the house. ”

3) Blog for anyone who offers non-traditional payment. If you are lusting after the Banana Republic Mad Men collection, go write for a fashion blog. Then when you walk into Banana, drop that you’re a blogger, have some samples ready to show you’re legit (even though you probably aren’t), and begin to indulge in the benefits of the “courtesy outfit.” Remember, though, there is only one type of review, and that’s a positive one.

4) Limit your restaurant indulgence to once a week. The exception, of course, is when a parent or friend (a.k.a. “dinner daddy”) offers you a no-cost dinner. Said free dinners are not a part of your food budget calculations, and in fact, should be pursued in the never ending quest to enjoy quality high-cost food.

5) Stop buying individual bottles of diet coke EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Since I am a weakling, incapable of carrying a 12 can box of diet coke up the stairs, I have chosen to spend $1.75 a day on my calorie-free soda indulgence, which over the course of the year adds up to a whopping $638.75. And frankly I am too poor to have such an expensive indulgence. I already indulge my coffee addiction; I simply must sacrifice the one of lesser significance.

And if all else fails, fill out your tax forms so you are taxed to the absolute max during the fiscal year. Then when 2013 rolls around be prepared to enjoy in the wonders of the almighty TAX REFUND. At least that’s my backup plan. So here’s to a year of zero deductions!

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