Anyone who lives in San Francisco or New York can tell you that city living is expensive. If you’re not already established in your career – or your new city – you could find that your money doesn’t go nearly as far as you might expect. With housing costs significantly higher than other parts of the country, and ancillary costs like dining and utilities often being higher than normal as well, a monthly paycheck can quickly be consumed when living in the city. If you’re new to your career or have recently moved into town, here are ways to save money while living in the city.
9. Make a Budget
To help you properly manage your money, use a budgeting app like Mint to keep track of expenses and income. You can set a budget, pay your bills directly through the app, closely monitor your expenses, and see where you may be able to save money. With simple graphs outlining where your money goes every month, you can keep better track of your spending, and in the process, start saving money for a rainy day.
8. Take Advantage of Free Activities
Many cities offer free parks, free museums, free beaches, and a myriad of other free attractions. Take advantage of these! Whether you’re going out with friends or out on a date, consider things that are free (or at the very least, affordable) in order to save money. Remember, “free” doesn’t automatically mean “cheap” or “bad.” After all, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is often regarded as one of the finest in the world, and it’s completely free.
7. Don’t Buy Coffee, Bring Your Own
A daily trip to the coffee shop around the corner can easily cost you $30 per week or more. Make two trips a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon? Well, you could be spending upwards of $200 or more per month on coffee. Obviously, this is a ridiculous expense if money is tight. Instead, purchase coffee in bulk at the grocery store (i.e., beans, not Keurig) and bring your coffee to work. Not only will you be saving money, but the odds are good that you’ll find the coffee is better too.
6. Live Someplace You Can Actually Afford
If you don’t have money left over at the end of each month – or don’t make enough to cover expenses and put money away into a savings account – then your monthly expenses are likely too high. One of the best ways to save money is by living someplace well within your means. Don’t break the bank simply paying your mortgage or rent every month. Instead, aim to pay no more than 30 percent of your paycheck on housing – this should leave you with plenty leftover to pay for other expenses.
5. Make Saving a Priority
Again, if you don’t have money left over at the end of the month, your expenses are too high. You should be able to put money away every month, either into a retirement fund or a savings account. To help ensure that you are putting money away on a regular basis, divert some funds from your paycheck at the beginning of every month, rather than at the end. If you have money in your account, there will be an urge to spend it. Instead, take money out right after you get paid – that way, even if you spend all that you have in a given month, you’ve already made your contribution to savings.
4. Live Within (or Below) Your Means
For individuals looking to save money, it pays to be frugal. This can be difficult living in the city, as there are so many distractions vying for your dollar, but try to resist the urge to hit up the latest hot restaurant or nightclub. A single night out can cost as much as you earn in a day or three, so be mindful of what you are spending. Not that you can’t indulge every once in a while, but don’t make a habit of it. If you are going broke or having to use your credit card to get by simply because you live outside of your means, then the solution is simple: spend less.
3. Ditch Cable and Use Public Transportation
When it comes to cutting expenses, there are certain recurring bills that you can simply eliminate altogether. If you have cable television, get rid of it. Instead, consider a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu. In one fell swoop, you could save yourself $100 or more per month. And consider ditching your car payment and opting for public transportation instead. If you absolutely need a car, you can always take a taxi, hail an Uber driver, or simply rent a car. But most cities have ample public transportation options to choose from, particularly on the east coast. If you don’t absolutely need a car, don’t pay for one.
2. Sell Stuff You Don’t Need
To boost your savings account, consider selling items that you no longer want or need. True, you may get pennies on the dollar for your original investment, but if you sell enough, you could find yourself with money in your pocket and less clutter in your apartment. Old clothes, DVDs and CDs, board games that no longer get played, unused and unwanted furniture… all are good options when it comes to getting rid of things. To sell unwanted stuff, consider using Ebay, Craigslist, or a local goods store that buys and sells used items.
1. Pick Up a Second Job
Of course, the obvious way to put a little extra money in your pocket is a second job
If you are crafty, Etsy might be a good option for you. Or you could pick up freelance work on Fiverr or Freelancer.com, both of which have new opportunities posted daily. For those of you who would like to start your own business but don’t know where to get started (or what to sell), companies like Amway offer a great gateway into entrepreneurship. Alternatively, you could simply pick up some hours here and there at your local coffee shop! Consider your options and choose the one that’s right for you.