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Frugal Joy: The IDNYC Card

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frugal joy, flat iron building, new york city

There is no one who knows NYC better than the brilliant and beautiful Laura Paliani.  That’s why when she told me that she had a frugal joy to share, I got excited. I knew it would be good. And it is!

I hope you enjoy her frugal joy and NYC life hack, the IDNYC card. I booked my appointment to get one today!

If you have a frugal joy to share, please send them my way or post your #frugaljoy on social media. Your ideas just might bring a ton of joy to someone else’s life.  Sharing is caring!


If you were to ask any given New Yorker what he or she likes best about New York City, I’d bet that all the museums and cultural landmarks (think: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Brooklyn Academy of Music) would be up there toward the top of the list. But living in a place like NYC is pricey, and not just because of the city’s income tax or (groan) high rents. If you were to try to take advantage of all the cultural and artistic attractions NYC has to offer, your expenses would start to add up — quickly! A Saturday trip to the New York Botanical Garden will set you back $25. MoMA? Same thing. And let’s not forget the price tag on a ticket to the New York City Ballet. Eek!

Never fear. There are plenty of ways to satisfy your cultural cravings without paying off-the-rack prices. Some museums offer free or “pay as you wish” admission at certain times, and you can find tickets to many performances at reduced prices through TKTS. But my favorite way to see the city on a budget these days is a perk available to all New York City residents: the IDNYC card.

You might have heard about New York City’s ID card when it first debuted back in 2015 to much fanfare. For a variety of reasons, NYC, like other cities around the country, wanted all city residents to be able to get a government-issued ID. To encourage everyone to go out and sign up, the city partnered with dozens of cultural institutions to offer free one-year memberships and other incentives for IDNYC cardholders.* Benefits include free museum admission, discounts at museum stores, reduced price tickets to performances and movies, access to free lectures and tours, discounted gym memberships, and a lot more. Perusing the list of participating institutions is half the fun — I discovered a few museums that I can’t wait to visit. And as an added bonus, the IDNYC card can be used as a library card. Free books and movies: the ultimate #frugaljoy.

If you don’t happen to live in NYC, see if your local government offers an ID card program. San Francisco and New Haven, for instance, already offer residents city ID cards, and more cities are considering similar proposals. Even if your hometown doesn’t have a program, you might still be able to get discounted museum and theater tickets at certain times during the week or using your student ID. With spring just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to plan your next fabulously frugal excursion.

* Most institutions require cardholders to activate their free memberships within the calendar year the IDNYC was issued.

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