Sometimes I get invited to events that are out of my price range, like dinners at expensive restaurants. I don't earn much and can't always afford to go to these events. I want to hang out with my friends without seeming like a cheapskate. What should I do?

Moneyless in Midtown

Since nights out in New York rarely consist of one stop, why don't you see if you can join your friends after dinner? If they are headed to a bar, even an expensive one, you'll be able to monitor your cash flow better by avoiding top-shelf liquor when you order or that third gin and tonic as your wallet gets thinner. An added benefit of this strategy is that you'll feel less financical pressure since you can easily pay for your drinks separately and at your own pace.

Of course, sitting at home watching TV and waiting for your friends to finish dinner is no fun, so why don't you take control of future events and plan one yourself? If you're worried about feeling embarassed or looking like a cheapskate when you suggest a low-cost meal, don't be. Head to one of the city's more authentic ethnic restaurants in Chinatown, along East 6th Street or in Little Italy, and you'll probably wind up spending less money without sacrificing the fun.