1. Don’t do your food shopping at a chain drug store, or any shopping for that matter. Find a cheap grocery store nearby and buy things that are on sale. Chain drug stores are good for emergencies since there’s one on every corner.
2. Find a deli that’s open 24 hours and makes good sandwiches. Befriend the sandwich maker. You will never come home drunk and hungry again. (RIP Happiness Deli. I miss you, Mohammed.)
3. Don’t wear crazy heels if you know you’ll be walking more than 10 blocks. Years will pass and you will get older but it never gets easier. Boots are always a good option.
4. The subway is your friend and is much, much cheaper than a cab. Don’t take cabs, especially if you have an unlimited Metrocard. There’s always a subway nearby and they run all night.
5. Cook your own meals. $8 for a salad is bonkers. If you don’t know how to cook, learn the basics. Pasta, eggs, any type of sandwich, baked potatoes…you get the idea. You can only have ramen so many nights in a row.
6. If you can walk somewhere, do it. It’s therapeutic and good exercise. I think anything 30 blocks or less is doable, especially when the weather’s nice and you’re not in a rush. Get comfortable shoes or your back will ache for months.
7. Pregame. Drinks are expensive and depending on where you go, they may be weak. Don’t pregame too hard, or you won’t make it to the bar (although this isn’t always a bad thing).
8. Always take advantage of a good apartment party. Bring a bottle of something so you don’t look like an ass. Trader Joe’s Wine Shop sells bottles for $3. Seriously. Don’t be an ass.
9. Wear layers when going out in the winter. Cold outside, fiery hell inside the bar.
10. You can wear jeans to a bar. You can wear anything to a bar and no one will care. Save that little black dress for your birthday party.
11. Go to bars instead of clubs. If your motive for going to a so-called A-list club is that you want to dance, plenty of bars have dance floors and won’t charge you an arm and a leg for drinks or a cover.
12. Get a small, over-the-shoulder bag for going out. Clutches get lost, pockets on jeans suck, and no one wants to carry a giant tote bag around a bar.
13. Some parts of town can be scary and smelly and overwhelming but they can also be full of wonders (like 4-for-$1 dumplings in Chinatown.)
14. Tourist destinations are not always the worst place in the world. Try going to a few before you completely rule them out based on other people’s opinions. I am the least patient person on earth and despise crowds of tourists because it’s like they’re always walking through molasses, but during the holiday season I will always go to Rockefeller Center and the South Street Seaport simply because they bring back fond childhood memories and I think it’s fun.
15. You are never above dollar pizza.
16. If you’re going to shop and you weren’t lucky enough to be the child of Beyonce and Jay-Z, thrift stores are your friends. Never be embarrassed to go into a Salvation Army or Goodwill, they always have great finds.
17. Find free concerts and open bars. Flock to them. Go now. RUN.
18. Don’t pay for cable. If you’re lucky enough to have Netflix, it’s all you need. Otherwise the Internet is full of wonderful websites that let you watch shows for free. Also, cable providers are the devil.
19. If you’re lucky enough to live near a park, go lay in the grass when it gets warm out. It’s fun and not weird at all.
20. Starbucks is great for studying. Free refills if you have a gold card. Just make sure you eat something before you have that fourth cup or you will lose all motor skills.
21. Make your own coffee. Get coffee shop java when you need a pick me up on par with taking amphetamines.
22. Ignore catcalling men.
23. Expect to be whistled at if you’re scandalously dressed. Also expect to be whistled at if you’re in sweatpants and haven’t showered in a week. It’s not right, but it’s going to happen.
24. Every once in a while, get on the train by yourself and go somewhere new just to walk around. You’ll pass by all new stores, restaurants, hotels, and coffee shops. It will feel like a completely different world. Lose yourself in it, even if just for an hour.