Next Stop? Thrift Shop!

If you’re like me, you have more clothes than you probably know what to do with. And, if you’re like me, you’d rather buy more garment racks and dressers than get rid of them. Luckily, there’s this beautiful thing called consignment where stores will literally pay you cash on the spot for your used clothes.




Good things to know…fun way to show!

I recently visited Buffalo Exchange–one of my favorite consignment stores–to sell and trade the clothes I no longer wear.

I was first introduced to Buffalo Exchange in Charlotte, in an art district called NoDa. Now I’m in NYC where there are five different locations which means five different chances to sell and walk away with extra cash in my pocket.

I recently sold to the store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, though the process is the same at each location:

–They ask for a government issued I.D. and your phone number to put you in the system and keep track of your past sales.

–The store’s buyer then proceeds to take a look at each of your items. They take into consideration noticeable wear, the season of the garment or pair of shoes, the condition of the item (does the zipper work; are the straps stretched, etc.), and whether or not they already have an abundance of A.A. jellies, maxi skirts, or whatever else you brought in. It helps when you familiarize yourself with the stores where you’re planning to sell.


The process!

–They talk you through the process as they investigate and, if they’re nice buyers, they’ll even tell you reasons why they won’t take certain things. Sometimes, they just need to be ironed or lint-brushed. Make sure you’re selling clothes that look like things you would buy off the rack.

–If they like an item and want to buy it from you, they’ll mark the price that they want to sell it for and tell you, “$18.50 for these Cheap Monday jeans.” However they price the item, you’ll automatically be eligible for 30% of the selling price.

–When they’re done looking through, they’ll offer you 30% in cash for the things that they bought, or 15% more in store credit (that’s how they get you). If you sold with the intentions of buying, then store credit is definitely a win!

–BONUS: they refold all of your clothes as they go through them, which is great; most places just throw them back into the bag!

–BONUS, BONUS: If you didn’t get to sell everything, don’t be discouraged! Just take it to another location who may really need your A.A. jellies and maxi skirts! Consigning in neighborhoods like Williamsburg is a major plus. Art districts are known for their thrift and consignment shops. Just make a day out of selling your clothes!

This week, I consigned with two other friends. This can be dangerous because while they’re busy selling, you’re eyes start wandering.


My weakness


It doesn’t hurt to look around, but while you’re window-shopping, be sure to take note of all the styles you see so that you can familiarize yourself with what the stores are buying, and what you could potentially sell during your next closet purge.

Buffalo Exchange accepts lightly used men’s and women’s clothes, shoes, outerwear and accessories–jewelry, hats, scarves and bags.

Here are some other great consignment shops to check out:

Williamsburg: Buffalo Exchange, Crossroads Trading Co.The Clothes TreeBeacon’s Closet

All of NYCFox & Fawn, A Second Chance, Ina, Stock Vintage

xoxo, Kai


I’m not the only one talking about $$$

Let’s try something a little more fun and involved! LINKS! If you’ve been enjoying Save Your Receipts so far, I’ve scoured the internet for more blogs, vlogs, websites and articles full similar concepts that are sure to put money back into your pocket.

Check them out!

1. Are you in debt? If you’ve answered yes, visit And Then We Saved. If you’ve answered no, go to college first, then visit And Then We Saved. Anna Jones, creator of And Then We Saved, has paid off close to 24k in debt in just 15 months and she’s providing a platform to share all–yes, all–of her secrets!

Not only are we getting super-valuable tips and advice, she also provides services that’ll get you back on the path of debt-freedom. Need a push in the right direction, Anna gives you the tools to cut out what you need and what you think you need to spend money on. If you’re ready to take the leap, Anna will be there to catch you. Take the pledge and watch your debt disappear.

2. Are you a New Yorker who often questions why you decided to make the big move (because the car that you sold from back home seems to be bigger than your bedroom in the city)? Well it’s time to stop questioning and realize that your shoebox-apartment isn’t as bad as it may seem when you discover The Skint.

The website’s homepage describes it best: Free and cheap NY. Every day. Just when you thought that drink prices couldn’t get any more expensive…BOOM! Memorial Day drink specials all around the city! Want to show your parents the art that inspired you to drop out of med school? BAM! Free museums from Uptown to the Islands. The possibilities for savings are literally endless!


This is Shannyn’s pledge– creator of Frugal Beautiful— for the readers of her blog.

Do you dream of living a beautiful life, but worry that such a life would cost too much to live? Not to fear– Frugal Beautiful is here! This blog  is dedicated to making your dream-life a reality! Now, if that’s not incentive to save, I’m not sure what is!

4. Planning on moving to NYC soon? Live in NYC and wondering where all of your money is going? C’est Christine has just the thing for you! Tips and tricks to beat the city’s system. She tells you what she does to save money and makes it easy to decide if it’ll work for you too!

One of my favorite points she’s made was “culture doesn’t have to cost,” especially living in a city as vibrant and culturally-abundant as this one! Constant exploration, a healthy lifestyle and being cultured…all free if you do it right! And, Christine’s here to show you how.

5. If you’re looking for a day-to-day rundown of the most exciting deals all over the city, NYC on the Cheap is your go-to guide! They offer a little something for the New Yorker in everyone: cheap eats, half-priced tickets, NYC’s free things to do, coupons and promo codes, and my favorite right now, birthday freebies!

Another really awesome feature that this website offers is a tab for More Cheap Cities— for the traveler who wants to watch her wallet both at, and away from home. Wherever you may be, never miss a beat (or a deal) when local freebies, discounts and deals are just a click away!

6. One of my favorite blogs is Looking Fly on a Dime. It incorporates two of my favorite things: shopping and saving! In her blog, she introduces a challenge to all of her readers that’s worked extremely well for her: Thrifty Threads 365. This challenge is a commitment to only thrift shopping for an entire year– no buying new/retail clothes or accessories. Sounds like the most exciting money-saving challenge I’ve ever heard!

Patrice, founder of Looking Fly on a Dime, says it best, “YOUR STYLE IS NEVER DETERMINED BY YOUR WALLET.”

She encourages us with success stories and an array of photos that makes saving look extra-fly!

7. Attention Students & Drinkers: Tired of student loans limiting your alcohol fund? Well, Save the Student says “no mas!” Writer, Owen Burek, blessed us with a hefty list of cheap and easy cocktails anyone can make at home. Whether you’re a cutesy-fruity kind of drinker or you’re a “let’s make the pregame the actual party” kind of drinker, there’s a mix for you!

You can show off your new-found bartending skills all over the place when drinks come this cheap! You’ll never have to worry about not having enough for your guests (or not being the life of the party) ever again!

8. Calling all Students (again)! Save the Student is such a great site that I couldn’t get away so easily. I think one of the most important aspects of schooling is knowing how, when and where to get jobs. The reputation of the ‘broke college student’ is still very much alive and though EDUCATION SHOULD ALWAYS COME FIRST, we still don’t like asking mommy and daddy for money at 21 years old. The Jobs and Careers section of Save the Student could literally save you!

Freaked out lately because you realized that you never actually learned about taxes, paying bills and job hunting in high school? It’s time to put those fears to rest. Here, you can get tips on smarter ways to find a job, tax refund info to find out if you have money coming your way, steps to creating your own website, and SO much more.

9. To all of my Pinterestees: have you ever looked into the Money-Saving Ideas on Pinterest? If you haven’t, you’ll want to after reading this! Pinterest is more than just ideas on what kind of cake to bake mom for Mother’s Day and cute V-Day gifts for your bf/gf. They actually have a frugality board that gives you idea after idea on how to save a buck or two.

Some other pins include:

Go off the beaten Pinterest path and create a board for your most effective money-saving tips and tricks!

10. I discovered Vinted my freshman year of college and was instantly hooked. Vinted is a platform for people all over to sell, swap and buy secondhand clothing and accessories! Finally, an online thrifting store! The process for buying and selling from home is SO easy and user-friendly, you’re probably gonna forget consignment shops even exist.

Here’s how it works:

-Sell or swap everything you don’t wear and give your clothes new life.

-Buy or swap any look you can imagine and get the style you’ve always wanted. 

-Chat with people who will not only open their closets but their hearts.

11. Okay Students, one last time! If you’re hungry and broke, which, let’s face it, you probably are, you have to check out Student Recipes. Featuring Recipes with: chicken, lamb, beef, etc., Recipes for vegetarians, parties, busy people, etc. and Drinks…gotta have those. Everything is super-yummy and economically feasible.

They give you step-by-step instructions along with ingredients and calories to guide your next meal, along with an option to submit your recipes and share your finger-lickin’ ideas with other foodies. Whether you’re making a four-course dinner or a chocolate mug brownie, it’s definitely your one-stop-shop for all things cheap and yummy.

12. Not so much of a chef? Here’s a super-helpful article on how to Beat the Supermarkets: 15 Tricks that Really Save Money on Shopping. is a British daily and Sunday publication out of London. As I read this article, I realized that American and Britain grocery stores are not very different from one another, mostly by the fact they they all work so hard at emptying out our wallets. gives us 15 ways to beat the system and get the most bang for our buck. Tips include shopping online, avoiding small convenience stores and organizing your fridge to resemble the supermarket. I won’t divulge everything so check them out to find out the final 12 tips and why these tricks will save you so much money in the end.

13. Mother’s Day is this Sunday! Did that surprise anyone? Then I can guess you haven’t gotten mom a gift yet. Not to fret! Money Crashers is here to solve all of your last-minute Mother’s Day needs with “32 Fun & Unique Mother’s Day Gift Ideas on the Cheap.”

So, I’m not gonna hold you up any longer; go get your mom a gift!

14. Retail me, what? Retail Me NOT! If you haven’t heard of this before, listen up! Retail Me Not is a huge housing-site for coupons, coupons, coupons! Literally any retail store, site or restaurant you can think of has a coupon attached to it and Retail Me Not let’s you know that they’re out there. Every time I go into my favorite stores, I pull up my app (yes, there’s an app) and see if there are any deals or promotions happening at that establishment.

Retail Me Not HACK for students: During back-to-school season, there are TONS of places that give discounts just for being a student! Yay for education! Just bring your student ID around everywhere you go and more often than not, especially at stores in college towns or college neighborhoods, you’ll find yourself a sick deal!

15. The Debt Free Squad from Youtube gives us “Fifteen fun, creative and inexpensive date ideas.” Never avoid having fun with your significant other, or even your friends, because you don’t think you have enough money. There are tons (at least 15) date ideas that surely won’t break the bank. My challenge to you is to try them out for fifteen weekends straight and find that these ideas are, in fact, wallet-friendly! Plan your next date now!

I hope you’ve enjoyed these 15 helpful links that’ll hopefully get you more motivated and more prepared to SAVE, SAVE, SAVE!

Comment and let us know about any other places you may know of that could benefit us on our money-saving journeys!

xoxo, Kai

Experience Life ~Freely~

I took a trip to my backyard this past weekend. No, not the dirt lot behind my dorm building, but the city I live in which I sometimes forget is so rewarding. I have the privilege of studying in one of the most thriving places in the world–New York City.

On Saturday, I played tourist with my Rochester-native aunt and cousin who visited Manhattan for the weekend. Here are some of our highlights from Central Park: 75th Street, and the Chelsea Market.

Central Park: If you’ve never been, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. What you may not know, however, is that you don’t have to pay a thing to enjoy the 843 acres of pure beauty. The “park” stems from 59th Street to 110th Street. One of my favorite hangouts is on the Great Lawn, considered to be one of the most famous lawns in the world, where you can have a picnic, throw a frisbee, have a photoshoot, or watch a show…all for free! It’s located at Mid-Park: 79th to 85th Street.

Here are a few of our highlights:


I candidly caught my aunt and cousin in the scope of my lens. What a great perspective!

A very touristy shot of the fountain at Central Park

A very touristy shot of the fountain at Central Park


A bride? An actress? NY may never know

The Chelsea Market was a blast too. It’s important to know that there is no admission fee to browse through the hundreds of shops, markets and galleries. Not to mention, everything is so visually pleasing. It gets packed easily, especially at lunchtime on a Saturday, but the experience is worth the hustle and bustle. It’s also been named one of the greatest indoor food halls of the world. You could stay for hours getting lost in the beauty of the market.


The Chelsea Market was prettiest when I looked up

I finished off the weekend with a much-needed (finals getaway) bike ride to the Brooklyn Promenade for lunch.

IMG_7745 copy

The Brooklyn Bridge Promenade: Blue skies and skyscrapers for days ❤

Not only does the Promenade provide one of the best views of the city, it has some of the most outstanding array of food options in the city. We sat down at The Paris Cafe and ate to our heart’s content.


The fact that I even captured this picture before the food was devoured was a miracle.

When I think of the times I get to spend with friends and family, versus the money I could be spending just to benefit myself, I realize that these experiences are worth so much more than I can imagine.

One of the (many) selfies taken at the Promenade

One of the (many) selfies taken at the Promenade

If you’re looking for more free things to do to occupy your weekends in NYC, check out The Skint: Your go-to place for “Free and cheap New York. Everyday.”

And if you’re looking to completely escape the city, here are 50 free things to do in all of North America!

What are you waiting for? Your backyard awaits.

xoxo, Kai

Don’t be the bird who cried ‘CHEAP’

I know I preach savings like there’s no tomorrow but I wanted to dedicate a post to some of the things in my life that I am perfectly happy spending good money for.

This is what I call the concept of value.

I believe that people can make conscious efforts to spend meagerly and still be aware of the notion of treating themselves. There are certainly things that exist in my life that I feel aren’t always worth the bargain. Although I’m a huge advocate of savings, you can’t clip a coupon for everything that peaks your interest.

I’ve learned firsthand how the concept of value can really change one’s perspective. And I believe that having some knowledge of what you’re willing to spend makes saving that much easier.

Here are a few of my most valuable items:



I paid $40 at a tattoo & piercing shop in Soho

I’m sure we’ve all heard–or experienced–horror stories when it comes to ineffective piercing episodes. As someone who’s hesitant when it comes to needles, I made sure to do thorough research on the best places (not prices) to get my daith pierced. I couldn’t have gone to Claire’s for this tricky one, though it probably would’ve been my least expensive option.

If I’m gonna purposely put myself in this painful position, better believe I’m gonna get it done right the first time, even especially if that means dishing out some extra dough.


…or really any once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Don’t get me wrong though, $15 lawn seat concert tickets will always be my favorite summertime deal. But it’s rare to catch some of the greats more than once, and so for cheap, so when that’s the case, I’ll wait up all night to get tickets with friends that land us just arm’s length away from our favorite artists.

These type of “experiential expenditures” are worth every dime.

Hair Dye

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

I paid $12 for Clairol Nice ‘n Easy Born Blonde

I’ve definitely gone through my fair share of dyed hair and I’m proud to say that, in the five years that I’ve been coloring my hair, I haven’t regretted an instance yet. As something that’s going to be one of the first things that people notice when they see me, it should look like I put a little care into it.

Thankfully, my hair holds dye really well and I don’t have to redo it as often as some, so when I do decide that it’s time for a new hue or just a touch-up, I make sure to go with the top box brands or splurge and make an appointment with a professional.


For something I get so rarely but lasts for so long, I’d be crazy not to get my money’s worth. For me, pedicures are for summertime and island vacays– now you see why they’re so rare. But when it’s time to revisit my girls at the salon, I go for the whole shebang: French, full set with spa. If nothing else, it’s worth the relaxation time and the mini-pampering treatment.

The fact that pedicures last so long for me makes the investment even more worth it. I know I won’t have to come back for at least another month and when the weather cools down, I don’t have to worry about it at all anymore! This is what you call the perfect arrangement.



I pay $4.75 for a grande Iced Salted Caramel Frap

Ahhh yes…the most delightful beverage before noon, before a long class, before a Netflix marathon. I’m kind of picky when it comes to my coffee, though. As you can see from my picture, Starbucks takes the cake for most money I’ve spent at a coffeeshop. I’m not sure if it’s because everywhere I’ve ever lived, I was in walking distance from a Starbucks or if my mom’s obsession with the company has rubbed off on me, but it’s certainly made the list for most valuable items.

I know a ton of people could weigh in on their likes and dislikes about their company but the fact of the matter is, when I need a pick-me-up, an iced salted caramel macchiato always does the trick.



I payed the shop minimum, $60, at a shop in Charlotte

Lastly, but probably most importantly, I place a lot of value on tattoos. This was my first one and you can only imagine how much time I put into the research and detail of getting these words permanently etched into my foot forever.

I went through many referrals and recommendations to ultimately find the artist who would make my dream tattoo a reality. I refrained from focusing on price, though I did refuse shops whose minimum was $100 or more.

Tattoos and piercings (to bring this full circle) hold very similar value to me. If I’m willing to live with something for the rest of my life, money is no longer a factor in the decision-making process. In these cases, I care far more about quality than any price tag.

So, what things do you place the most value on in life?

xoxo, Kai

Full Wallet, Full Closet: The Mystery is Solved

As much as I love the idea of saving money, I can’t lie, shopping is my ultimate weakness. Anyone who knows me, knows that I can’t resist a good clearance rack or free shipping with NO MINIMUM! I’ve found some steals over the years and if you look inside my closet, you’d wonder where I found the money to buy some of the goodies I’ve accumulated.

I’m grateful to have discovered so many ways to buy the super-cute things that I’m into for a fraction of the cost. From consignment stores to online buying and selling communities, I’ve saved so much money which, thankfully, allows me to continue feeding my habit.

I’ve decided to incorporate my love for fashion and frugality and show you guys just how much money I’ve saved.

Take a look at these comparisons:


$199 Retail


Prom Dress, AliExpress: $90


$99 Retail


Denim UNIF Jacket, Urban Outfitters Clearance Rack: $5


$130 Retail

image1 (2)

Classic Black Timberlands, Pratt Free & For Sale Facebook Page: $15


$78 Retail


Blue AA Easy Jeans, Pratt Free & For Sale Facebook Page: $15


Burgundy AA Easy Jeans, American Apparel Outlet- SoHo: $20


$90 Retail


Red and Blue Birki’s, Goodwill: $3.50 each

Among these five items alone, I’ve saved $434. Just imagine what my entire closet is made of!

xoxo, Kai

$ I get it from my Mama $

I come from a generation of money-saving people. I grew up in a house where we learned not to spend every dollar we made and I’m thankful to my mom, especially, for educating me on the many ways I can essentially keep way more than I earn. I figured it’d be selfish of me to keep all of this valuable knowledge to myself so I took some time to interview my mom, Jennice, on some of the things that I’ve picked up from over the years.
image1 (3)

One of my favorite pictures with my mom from a few years back

Kai: Who inspired you to be so frugal?
Jennice: My mom talked me into living frugally because she’d always instilled in us that you work for what you get and “a penny saved is a penny earned.”
K: What tips do you have for people who may not have the encouragement to want to save money?
J: Start small and you will be amazed at the amount that you acquire.  Once you realize that, you’ll be encouraged to save even more! Remember, “inch by inch is a cinch.”
K: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about saving money?
J: Well I guess as the old adage says “put something away for a rainy day.” The older and more mature I got, I’ve definitely had my share of rainy days and it’s always good to know that there were some savings there to get me through.
K: What’s your best budgeting method for people who may be saving for something really big?
J: I would say the best budgeting method would be starting with like dollar a day or even 50 cents per day which your bank can set up with you directly. For younger children who get an allowance, like you [Kai] used to do, use the envelope method– separate your earnings into categorized envelopes and only pull from the respective ones when spending money.
K: How do you resist the temptation of splurging?
J: At first it can be difficult at times, however, I  try not to find myself in situations where I will be tempted to splurge. For instance, if I’m by myself in a mall or retail store, I will go directly to the clearance rack and not hang out by the items in store that are new and not discounted at all. I am also willing to shop out of season.
When I want to splurge with food, I will go out with a friend and share an expensive meal or do half-priced apps, 2 for 1 deals, restaurant week, etc.
K: Where did the idea of “save your receipts” come from?
J:  *laughter* Because I enjoy shopping so much, so whenever I would have an opportunity to benefit from a price adjustment or just decided that what I bought was not worth it or not what I needed, I would have just the right thing for a no-hassle return. Especially if I found it somewhere else cheaper!
K: What’s the best deal you’ve ever gotten? 
J:  That’s a tough question! I get so many good deals that I really can’t say what my best deal ever was. I’d have to say when our family giving up our airlines seats because the flight was over booked in exchange for 4 round trip tickets that were worth 400 dollars each. We only would’ve had to have hung out in the airport for a couple of
hours to take the next flight. It was definitely worth it!
K: So I know you’re like the thrift store junkie, but do you have a favorite thrift store?
J:  Any thrift store is my favorite! I always take into consideration which ones have a standard price for each article of clothing as opposed to pricing according to what they may consider more quality or more valuable.
Consignment stores are always great too because you can trade in your stuff and use the money that you’ve earned to spend on what there they have in their inventory.
K: Do you like to tell people about your money-saving secrets?
J: I do share because I’m excited about my finds and deals. Also, I know that my friends and family shop in different places and we’re different shapes & sizes so hunting for great deals won’t be a competition among us. *laughter*
Also, with some close friends and family, we will pick up items that we know others would like because the prices are always so low!
K: Where are five places anyone can go to get a good deal?
  • Matinee movies which run about $4.50-$5 depending on the city, or better yet, the dollar theater!
  • Outlet malls and stores–you’ll find the same things you do in the mall but for so much less.
  • Getting full-hour massages at your local massage schools will only cost you between $25-35/hr.
  • The hop-on hop-off sightseeing buses in major cities where you pay once and can get on or off as much as you’d like without having to pay for a cab.
  • And, as always, thrifting. It may be a little time-consuming but the pieces that you walk away with are one of a kind. Make the investment!

xoxo, Kai

Don’t Be Spring Broke

If you’re in school in NYC, I’m sure you’ve been counting down the days before spring break, 2015. If you didn’t have plans on leaving the city, don’t buy that impromptu plane ticket to Florida just yet! During March, there are tons of exciting things happening right outside your door.

Here’s a link-list of fun and inexpensive events going on in the city next week that’ll make you feel like you actually went away on vacation:

So, get some friends, get some drinks and get some sun! It’s about to be a spring break to remember!

xoxo, Kai

Ways to Not Make Snow Days Blow 

So if you’re from the city, you know how bi-polar this weather can be. I swear, yesterday was 45 and sunny, now…this.

It’s beginning to look a lot like spring.

I feel like I’ve seen snow everyday of my life for the past five months.
It’s March and New York City and my hometown, Charlotte, are currently experiencing a 40-degree temperature difference. Every time I think New York is over its cold spells, mother nature sends us another storm warning. I admit, I wasn’t always prepared for these impromptu snow days but I have found copious amounts of ways to dress as if I were. 
I’ve got a few tips and a ton of links for you to get through your next six-month winter in NYC.
1) Shop online! Stores typically clear their floors of out of season and out of date items as soon as new shipment comes in. No one wants to browse a store full of things they can’t wear until next year. That’s why online shopping exists–that, and for the lazy person living in all of us. If you go to that same store’s website, you’ll find a nicely organized sale section where you’ll find boots in April and bikinis in October. 
H&M gets my vote for one of the best sale sections for shopping out of season. Items get marked down over 50% everyday and it’s just heavenly!
Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 11.42.13 AM

This is not a joke.

Nordstrom is also gets super sale-happy at the end of the season. P.S., if you haven’t heard of The Rack, you’ve already missed out on a big chunk of existence. Do you want a $98 Pleione Houndstooth Jacket for $15? Sure you do!
2) Thrift your winter apparel! Walking into a thrift store in June means you could potentially leave with a pair of snow boots, a pair of high-waisted shorts, a leather jacket and a crop top. There are no rules and there is certainly no wrong way to shop at a thrift store. You buy what you want for super cheap and leave with a smile on your face. 
Some of my favorite thrift stores in the city are Green Street Consignment in SoHo, Buffalo Exchange in Brooklyn in Williamsburg and, of course, Goodwill. I bought the cutest lavender jumper-dress from Green Street last December for $8. 

3) Shop out of season! No doubt, when you’re in the midst of an upcoming blizzard in the middle of winter in NYC, you might want to go out and buy a puffer coat with extra down, but ideally, that same down coat will be sold in March, for half the price, as stores start getting ready for spring.

I buy winter scarves, faithfully, year round and when the temperature starts to drop, I’m always prepared. Three years in a row, my mom bought my Christmas Uggs in the summer for a fraction of the cost they are when people actually start gift shopping.
image1 (1)

My babies are still holding strong.

Adding these effortless tricks to your lifestyle will change your life for the better. By the end of the year, you’ll wonder how you were able to buy so many Christmas gifts and still have enough money to buy your summer wardrobe 😉 
 xoxo, Kai

Fit or Financially Stable?

$5 from Goodwill for an accurate, digital scale. SCORE!

$5 from Goodwill for an accurate, digital scale. SCORE!

I think we can all agree that New York City isn’t the worst place to live if you’re trying to stay in shape. Between walking (literally everywhere) and the innumerable healthy food options all over the city, it’s not impossible to have your ideal summer body year round.

What many people may not realize, however, is that this is also completely possible without spending $100 a month to work out in a (let’s face it, self-esteem-crushing) gym, having way more month at the end of your money. For college students, the struggle isn’t as bad with gyms on campus but between school, work and the attempts of having an actual social life, who really has the time?

There are two main things that I’ve invested in since moving to New York that have made life in the city much more easy and frugal.

A kitchen and a bike.

Now, I know you’re probably confused about the kitchen part– well, as a college freshman, we didn’t have kitchens in the dorms and my meal plan was rather scarce. This made it very hard to eat the way I wanted with overpriced dining hall food and the Brooklyn restaurant life where burger joints live right next door to salad joints. As a second year, I’ve made the beautiful transition into a real, New York-style dorm complete with a full kitchen.

Obviously, it's grocery day.

Obviously, it’s grocery day.

I grew up accompanying my mom to grocery stores, watching her tactfully choose food that would stretch and last the entire month. She’s pretty much a pro at getting the most bang for her buck and don’t even get me started on the coupons! Now, when I do my shopping at Key Food, I always remember tips like:

  • Make a list
  • Buy the store brands
  • Shop with cash so you won’t go over budget

And probably the most applicable to me… NEVER GROCERY SHOP ON AN EMPTY STOMACH!

The beauty in having total control over what you get to eat is what makes staying in shape much more manageable (and fun!). Chicken, for example, is one of the best meats for you and can last so much longer than you think. Jerk chicken, brown rice and cabbage is a fan-favorite in my household. Here are some recipes for tons of fun chicken meals you can try. Making your own meals is, by far, the easiest way to manage your diet and do it meagerly.

Now, let’s discuss the best way to get to said grocery store. I’ve found that, in my two solid years of being a New Yorker, biking is probably one of the best decisions I’ve made. I bought my bike on Craigslist last year for $70, which is a total steal if you know anything about a good bike! Not only does it make me feel like I’m the queen of leg-day, I get places much quicker and much cheaper.

Meet Joey Jr. Named after a previous set of wheels, my Pontiac from home.

Meet Joey Jr., named after a previous set of wheels, my Pontiac from back home.

Don’t get me wrong, when places are in walking distance, 98% of the time, I’ll walk. It’s just something about cutting a 45-minute-trip to 15 minutes that really is appealing. Saving $5 subway fare and time? Can’t really beat that.

I’ve recently started an internship in the city that I’m excited to start riding to when it get’s warmer outside. I’d be saving roughly $100 a month and getting a pretty fierce workout in the meantime.

During the summer, my favorite places to bike in the city are the Hudson River Greenway and Coney Island via Prospect Park. Not only is it a beautiful ride, but seeing all of your fellow bikers taking the ride with you is super-encouraging and worth the leg-burn. tells us 23 more reasons why biking in the city is the best!

So, the next time you think you have to sacrifice being frugal for being fit, think again!

xoxo, Kai

Less Bread, More Dough

It’s only right to begin this series with one of my favorite things on this earth…food!

The lunch that I eat too many times to admit.

Resist your urge to eat lick the screen.

If you know me, you know that pizza is my first true love, and you’d think that living in Brooklyn for two years would make me tired of the cheesy, heavenly goodness. Well, fortunately, the invention of 99 cent pizza joints is making this more and more unlikely.

I go into Midtown-Manhattan about five times a week for my internship and I’d have to say, the hardest part of my day is always deciding what to eat for lunch. Between 12 and 2 PM, there’s practically a million hungry New Yorkers scurrying the streets to find something that will tide them over for another five hours. I watch lines form outside of Starbucks’ and wrap around food carts like macchiatos and chili dogs are going out of style.

On my first day, I was overwhelmed with options, to say the least– that is, until I came across a sign that had to have come from the heavens.

99 Cent Pizza

I made a bee-line to the front door where I was greeted with even more proof that there is in fact a God:

1 slice=99¢, 2 slices and a soda=$2.75, 18″ pie=$8 and FREE DELIVERY!

This will buy you two slices and a soda or water from the 99 Cent Pizza on 40th.

This will buy you two slices, a soda & my happiness from the 99 Cent Pizza on 40th.

It was obvious when I stepped inside that I was not the only one who had half an hour for lunch, $2 in my pocket and a stomach that wouldn’t shut up. I stood in a line that seemed to have gone way faster than a McDonald’s drive-thru– the transaction process was so smooth.

-How many slices?

-Two, please.

*Pizza guy swiftly slides two slices onto a plate*

*Hungry guy casually puts two dollar bills on the counter*

-Thanks, man.

-Anytime… Next!

Now, I completely understand the concept of treating yourself, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s that noon, on a Monday in Midtown might not be the best time to do so. I’ve had to find my way around the system. I don’t try not to eat pizza every lunch break, but it’s good to have as an option when I know I’ll be swiping my debit card rather vigorously in the coming-weekend or when I indulge and take a taxi because it was just “too cold.”

It’s totally possible to have pizza without all of the extra dough.

If you’re not a fan of pizza, or simply just watching the carbs (which is certainly more believable), there are still plenty of lunch options for you!

If a juicy burger is more your style, you’ll want to check out Blue Collar in Williamsburg, where you can bite into the best burger of your life for no more than $9. Literally.

Feeling a little Mexican-y? Taquitoria in the Lower East Side will make you feel differently about taquitos once you’ve had three for only $6.

And you just can’t beat six dumplings for $8 at Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings, especially when they’re made daily by hand!

What are some of your go-to lunch spots?

xoxo, Kai