From The Lips Of A Local

Each week we feature a different local, sharing their unique experiences on what makes NYC the best place, ever.  Hey, we never said New Yorkers weren’t cocky.  

This week we’re delighted to be chatting with the queen of leading a frugal and fabulous life in NYC, Stefanie!  



Name: Stefanie O’Connell

Occupation: Short Answer: Musical Theatre Actor.  (Check out my latest work on the newly released “How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Musical” Album!)

Long Answer:  Actor, Singer, Dancer, Blogger, Freelance Writer, Babysitter, Personal Assistant, Virtual Assistant, Trade Show Hostess, Teacher, Server…. Whatever pays the bills.

New Yorker since: August 2004.

What hood do you live in? East Village. “Little Ukraine”.

Where do you get your morning coffee? I brew at home with grounds from Fairway or Trader Joe’s.

Restaurant you’d be really, really sad bordering on clinically depressed if they closed: Just one?  It’s too hard.  Here are my top three:

1.      Taqueria Diana- new(ish) taco joint on 2nd ave between St Marks and 7th, I have a bit of an addiction.

2.      Café Rakka- on St Marks between 1st and 2nd ave, my favorite Greek Salad.

3.      Thailand Café– 2nd ave between 5th and 6th, The “Rama Garden” is my go-to; plus cheap, fun cocktails.

Every tourist must visit:  The Brooklyn Bridge/ Brooklyn Bridge Park.  Totally unoriginal, but I love it.  Even as a local, I can’t get enough.  Oh, and you HAVE to see a Broadway show.

NYC trend you’re currently loving/hating: LOVING Citibike.  HATING… public smoking and littering.  Not new or trendy, but drive me CRAZY!

Favorite way to while away a (non-workday!) NYC afternoon: Wandering the streets of the village, east or west, and discovering all the hidden gems- boutiques, community gardens, bakeries, etc.

NYC’s best kept secret: The resources at the New York Public Library!  Not exactly a secret but there is so much more going on there than people realize.  Not just free books to borrow, free everything- CDs, DVDs, periodicals, ebooks, mp3 downloads, fitness classes, special events and exhibitions… seriously, check it out.

And a special question just for you…living in one of the priciest cities in the world, what’s your best money saving tip?

Write it down!  You can’t hope to get ahead if you don’t know your spending vs. earning ratio.  Use a spreadsheet or free budgeting tool like  Once you see where you’re money is going, you can start adjusting and “trimming the fat”.  Sorry Starbucks, I’d like to retire someday; I’ll drop in on my birthday.


Stefanie blogs about fun and frugal NYC living at  You can also follow her on facebooktwitter, and pinterest!


Want to be featured as the New Yorker of the week?  Drop us a note at! 





  • Mike says:

    What a fantastic post and that’s why I’m so thrilled I found Jess’ blog. I’ve never been to NYC (I live in Reno, Nevada) but I’ve been more infatuated with it than any other city in the world. So, it’s a total (wonderful) trip to be able to hear/read firsthand from real New Yorkers! I love all of your tips and I was trying to picture each mini-adventure in my mind from the Brooklyn Bridge to the boutiques and bakeries. So, when I do make it there one day I will be looking to have a personal guide ahead of time to take me to all of the cool places! Thanks for making me smile, Stephanie and thanks for sharing your friend with us, Jess! :)

    • Used York City says:

      I love Reno (have grandparents out there!) Let us know when you make it out here and we’ll be sure to guide you to all the great places!;-)

  • I love reading these. They are so interesting

  • I love this series. Makes NYC real for those of us who only visit very occasionally!

  • Thanks Linda! I love all things Trader Joe’s… except the line 😉

  • A girl after my own heart: I brew my morning cup of joe from Trader Joe’s, too :)

    And I gotcha on the Starbucks tip. So expensive and unoriginal.

    Best of luck on your acting career, Stefanie!

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