By Drew Villano

They may not be things you particularly care about—yet—but they’re things you can do at zero cost, so they’re worth considering. Below, I present the top four things you didn’t know you could do for absolutely free in NYC.

Pet Care

Image courtesy of Drew Villano

Image courtesy of Drew Villano

Are you a hoarding, hermit of a cat lady who’s aiming to neuter every stray in the city by setting up hundreds of traps to catch every feral cat and spay them before returning the animals to their natural habitat (the parking lot)? Then this information will save you thousands of dollars.

Free spaying/neutering services might also come in handy if you ever decide to adopt a pet, or know someone who wants to. While spaying and neutering operations can cost hundreds of dollars, there are multiple lesser-known (yet reputable) services that will do this for free. Check out:

Free Spaying/Neutering AND Health Care For NYC Pit Bulls Via the ASPCA

The Toby Project, Providing Cheap-To-Free Spaying/Neutering

ASPCA’s Mobile Clinic

Grocery Shopping

Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The words “dumpster diving” wrinkle many a nose, but more refined folks who can get past their knee-jerk “ew” reaction know that there’s treasure down yonder in the trash pile.

Summertime makes it more difficult to justify eating ten slices of pizza that have been sitting in a garbage bag by the side of the road, but tons of perfectly edible food gets disposed of year round.

Many businesses dispose of large quantities of perfectly consumable food in clean, otherwise empty garbage bags. You just have to know what to look for. Dunkin’ Donuts tosses all the uneaten donuts at the end of the day. The bread bakery puts out giant bags of fresh, unbought bread that will go stale by the next morning. All the food is clean and separated. Grocery stores are a different story.

Still grossed out? Try wandering into a pizza place, donut shop or bagel store five minutes before closing. Politely ask if they’re throwing any food away and you’ll probably end up with a free meal straight out of the oven.


Image courtesy of Drew Villano

Image courtesy of Drew Villano

I cannot promote enough, probably because the site is burned into my memory after years of having poor drug addict friends who obsessed over it on a daily basis, constantly searching for the next free place to drink, never tipping, and always successfully reaching level ‘Shitfaced’ within the two-hour time frame that an open bar usually constrains itself to.

There are also multiple sites which list all events and art openings in the city. If you’re willing to spend a little, head over to the gritty for next-to-nothing drink specials in your area.

Acquiring Furniture, Other Household Necessities

Image courtesy of Drew Villano

Image courtesy of Drew Villano

Craigslist’s “Free” section is a bit of a madhouse, but you can score some really excellent stuff if you’re quick about it. The trick is to answer right away, include a contact phone number, and try to have a car handy.

But let’s get back to my roots: The garbage. In NYC, many crazy and/or stupid people throw out truly amazing antique furniture in excellent condition. Especially in the richer neighborhoods.

Find out what night the garbage goes to the curb in the nicer areas of your borough (I can’t give away all my hoardy secrets). Wait until 9-10PM. Travel to said neighborhood. Drive around (sorry, but there’s no way you’re riding a bike home with an art deco style dining room table) looking for treasures.

Just don’t take any mattresses; the ASPCA will not spay/neuter your bed bugs for free.

Featured image courtesy of The Mindful Word

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