Here are some things you can get for 4-6$ (400-500 rubles according to current exchange)
1) A decent lunch- Once you get to the city, you can grab a sandwich, a bowl of noodles, or a plate of pasta all for under 400 rubles, leaving another 100 or so rubles for a drink to re-hydrate you after that long flight to the city
2) Museum- After getting to the city, you want to check out some local spots. You check out Red Square, Saint Basil's Cathedral, the Gum shopping center, and 2 museums. Most museums are around 5$, so we'll put a cost of 10$ on the adventure.
3) Cafes- While you were walking around the GUM shopping mall, you were so mesmerized by the architecture that you stopped at one of the cafes to have a rest. In the majority of nice cafes around the city, a standard Americano costs 100-120 rubles (~2 usd) and cakes/pastries between 200-300 rubles. Yet again, your check only comes out to 400 rubles (5$). Good job, you.
4) Beer- You're ready to mingle, so you hold off on dinner and hit up a bar near Lubyanka. When drinking in bars, you should never need to pay more than 5 dollars for your drink. You can get a big draft beer or a fancy cocktail for 250-300 rubles almost anywhere you go.
5) More Alcohol- Let's say that at the bar you met a really nice Russian friend who wants you to come over for dinner. Never one to turn down a traditional home-cooked meal, you accept. BUT you know that it's impolite in Russia to show up to someone's house empty-handed, so you stop by a grocery store and check out the selections of wine. Yes, that's right, you can buy alcohol at grocery stores. Looking at the wines, you'll notice that they have prices ranging from 200-1500 rubles (3$-20$). On a special occasion I'll go for a 10$ wine, but usually I pick a 5$ bottle of wine. Why? Because there are plenty of delicious 5$ wines in Moscow which are about the same quality as Barefoot in America. If you pick anything from Bulgaria or Georgia, you probably won't go wrong.
6) Breakfast- You wake up at the hostel/ hotel/ friend's couch you slept on and have a growling tummy. Apparently, all you do is eat! You can grab some hot buns from a bread store for just 1$, or you can take your friend to a cafe and get some coffee and syrniki (Russian cheese pancake), buckwheat, or blini (Russian crepe) with toppings. Any of these breakfasts can be consumed in a fine establishment by your hungry body for.....that's right,......500 rubles (4-6$).
7) Haircut- Apparently you picked up some numbers at the bar last night, you wily coyote. If your hair looks like crap from months of travelling, stop and get a haircut before your big dinner date. I got a haircut yesterday for 200 rubles (3$). I paid an extra 100 rubles to have my hairdo blow-dried and another 200 rubles for tip, but that's still within our meager budget of 500 rubles (6$). And yes, the haircut looks good. How rude of you to imply.
8) Taxi- You lost track of time and you're late for your dinner date?! Don't worry, taxis are very affordable. Uber and Yandex Taxi are the most affordable. My average bill for taxis is 250-450 rubles. If you travel long distances ( like all the way across town) you can expect to pay more, though.
At this point you've spent money on lunch, two museum tickets, a cafe, a draft beer, a bottle of wine, breakfast out, a haircut, and a taxi. Your total comes to roughly: 45-50$. That leaves another 50$ for your big date tonight.
Here are some things you can buy for under 10$ each, if you're economical.
Souvenirs, a good dinner, a trip to the movie theater (including drink and popcorn), ice skating rink tickets and ice-skate rentals, a bottle of vodka.......... and so much more.
*Note- the exchange rate does vary considerably and these calculations are based off of rough current rates. Today the rate is 78 rubles to 1$
This post was written for my friend, who is planning a trip to visit me next month. Although I admittedly hope to convince a few more people to come visit the great city of Moscow.