Q&A: Recessionista Nicole Lapin on how to save money in NYC
Nicole Lapin, 28, former CNBC anchor and CNN reporter, is the founder and CEO of Nothing But Gold Productions, a multimedia production company, and editor in chief of the website "Recessionista." She lives in Union Square, with her boyfriend, Michael Rubin, CEO of the Internet commerce company Kynetic.
What would you most like to see accomplished in New York City?
I want to see the Union Square Green Market extended to every day.
How would the farmers raise and harvest the produce, if they were selling in Union Square every single day?
They could get more farmers: They could rotate! More farmers and more opportunity.
You're a vegan, and a financial journalist. Do you make a cost-saving case for being vegetarian?
Fresh produce help cut colds, obesity and disease and lowers your medical bills while helping out the local economy. Also, when you're buying fresh produce, you're using cash, which is a great way to limit yourself from spending too much: It's real, and you're holding it. And you're interacting with your community.
Housing is such a big nut for New Yorkers. Any ideas on how to cut costs there?
Everyone says that real estate is about location, location, location. If you get a place that is cheaper, but really far away from the subway, with no laundry, and no place to buy groceries, you could wind up spending more. Walk ups aren't necessarily cheaper than newer buildings if the newer buildings are up to code, have energy efficient appliances and have lower heating and cooling costs. A lot of companies really want to fill those newer buildings, too, so you may be able to negotiate a lower price. Ask for a discount. Ask for something!
Any other money saving tips?
I love nycgo.com - there's a cultural calendar and you can plan free stuff months in advance. And rackedny.com is great for sales, like the Barney's Warehouse Sale. Also, take advantage of hotel lobbies. NY has beautiful, beautiful hotel lobbies. If you're doing a business meeting, just get a carafe of coffee and set up shop in a hotel lounge or lobby. I do this judiciously, and haven't been busted yet. It's a great way to fake it until you make it. You can also use Uber Cars - they're private cars, but cost the same as a taxi.
The city is becoming increasingly inhospitable to young people trying to set down roots, though: The costs are really skyrocketing for average earners.
Searching for cheap things to do in NY has taken me to some really interesting places. Lululemon has expensive clothes, but they give free yoga classes. There's a whole calendar of events you can do on your lunch break.
You were working for the networks, but still hustling on the side. Is the lesson that all journalists these days have to have a Plan B?
I'm a daughter of immigrants. (Lapin's mother was a former Miss Israel.) I have plans B, C, D, E, F, Q, R, S. I started my company because young people need a voice of financial guidance that's not preachy. Never buying a latte just so they can buy a house doesn't resonate with them. You have to think of yourself as someone with billable hours. If that latte gets you to work early and someone notices how hard you're working and gives you a raise, it was worth it.
Is it hard socializing as much as you do with your dietary restrictions?
No way! Not a chance! I go to the Farmer's Market, Whole Foods, and Lucky Duck. I hang out with nice, supportive people. I don't get any grief.
What makes you feel like a New Yorker?
The Morgan Library, but a New Yorker circa 1906