How to shop in NYC without breaking the bank

Business Insider, Huffington Post, CBS News and every single real estate blog ever lists New York City as one of the most expensive cities to live in. Although I don’t have any officially legit stats, I can tell you that there is no reason anybody should have to pay $3,500 for a one-bedroom, then split that one bedroom into three (source: my first New York apartment). I’ve since moved on from that nightmare, but I do have friends paying $3,500 for a studio and $3,800 for a two-bedroom.

The point is… living here is expensive. Luckily, there are so many ways to save money shopping online. This is a list for those of us who can’t help but get glossy-eyed when walking past the boutiques of Soho. For those of you who plan your entire year’s wardrobe on the amount of your tax refunds, this list is for you.

In a city with 8.4 million people, I personally prefer to online shop, saving me time, money, and peace of mind. My two personal favorites are Tobi and Gilt. Tobi often has holiday sales (get ready for cyber Monday), offers 20 percent discounts to new members, and prices range from $20-$50 for everything, including dresses, tops, swimsuits, and shoes. Tobi clothing items currently make up about 20 percent of my wardrobe so it’s safe to say I’m obsessed. Gilt is especially deadly for me because they have a mobile app that alerts you whenever a new sale starts (noon) and they carry a ton of great designers whose clothing I couldn’t usually afford.

For those of you who are brave enough to venture outside the comfort of your homes, here is a little breakdown of my personal favorites by neighborhood.

Financial District

My first New York apartment was located on West Street, aka the tip of Manhattan. I had heard things about living in FiDi, mainly that there was nothing to do there. So when I first moved (without a job), I made it my mission to find anything exciting I could. I remembered once upon a time when I was in college venturing downtown to visit a Century 21 and returning home with five bags of sweaters so I set out to find 22 Cortlandt Street in search of a deal. There it was in all its glory, six levels, sunglasses, handbags, socks, hats, literally everything you could ever want and all at the right price.


If you ever happen to be in Soho aka the land of the unaffordable, fret no more for I have found the solution. Repeat after me: Necessary Clothing and Brandy Melville.

My friend discovered Necessary Clothing – located at 442 Broadway (Howard & Broadway) on her daily walk home from work. After she switched jobs (and walking routes) she discovered Brandy Melville – located at 44 Prince Street (at the corner of Mulberry and Prince). In addition to these two gems, if you’re ever looking for some jewelry, check out the vendors right across the street, not only do they accept credit cards but ask for Gita and she will give you a great deal (shhhh).

Upper East Side

I highly suggest you come downtown, besides the occasional H&M, I’ve never bought anything from this area, butt here is a Magnolia inside the Bloomingdale’s on 59th and 3rd that’s worth going if you’re in the area.


Despite being a total tourist trap, midtown has a few places I like to visit during my lunch break. There’s everybody’s favorite Forever 21, Urban Outfitters (during a sale obviously) and Mango, which always seems to have 30 percent off on tops. In terms of lesser-known stores for jewelry, I love Cinderella Club. Don’t be intimidated by the never-ending walls of jewelry, or fooled by the fairy tale name, this store literally has everything: headbands, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, toe rings, and yes tongue rings as well… if you’re into that.

Union Square

If you’re in Union Square, there is only one place you should be and that is Nordstrom’s Rack. Shoes, handbags, underwear, pajamas, they even carry beauty products and perfumes so there’s really no need. Unless of course you need a great pair of shoes, then I would highly suggest going to Strawberry. Both of course are located on 14th street right outside of the Union Square Metro.

Happy Shopping!