Over the last few months, I’ve received a bunch of emails about what I do to save money while living in the city. Life is expensive, and urban life is especially pricey. As someone who has lived in both Chicago and New York, I said here today that saving in New York City was significantly more difficult–it required a lot more self-discipline and sacrifice. Restaurant statutes and barroom tabs were ridiculous, and rent was absurd. At one point, my husband and I paid $2,650 for a very small one-bedroom illegal sublet in the East Village, really far away from the metro. And believe it or not, that was a deal. One-bedroom suites in the neighborhood were going for $ 3,200( and higher !) at the time.
Chicago is much more affordable( in comparison ), attaining saving a little easier, but creating a budget and sticking to it is easier said than done. So today, I’m sharing some tips and tricks on how my husband and I have saved–and continue to save–while living in the Windy City.
Make a budget.
What’s operated best for me is figuring out what I generally expend my money on, and then deciding how much I’m actually OK with spending on those pieces. I likewise impart myself the freedom to move around–and roll over–funds. If, for example, I know there are several dinners I’d like to attend with friends in the month of November, I might move my’ clothing’ or’ home decor/ furnishings’ funds to the’ restaurant’ category, and forgo those accent pillows or pair of boots I’ve been eyeing. Or if I’d like to buy a brand-new couch, I might roll over my’ home decoration/ affording’ funds for several months in order to save up for it.
Before I started budgeting, I operated on “feelings” only: I feel like I’ve gone out to dinner too many times this month. I feel like I expended too much money on robe this month. I feel like I shouldn’t have gone on that weekend getaway. Now, though, I know what it is much I’m spending on each category. And it feels great. I use USAA’s app to budget, but there are lots of other amazing resources to track spending and keep your habits in line with your goals.
Walk and have taken part in free activities.
My husband Mitch and I spend a great deal of period walking around the city. It helps us got to get out, get exercise, satisfy new people, and is known to our metropolitan better. Walking doesn’t cost anything, and it makes us time to really talk. Some of our very best exchanges have appeared during our strolls around the city! We also prevent a roster of our favorite free activities and stay on top of upcoming free occurrences, adding them to our shared Google Calendar so we don’t forget.( Thrillist has a really great list of free things to do in New York and in Chicago, and TimeOut deters a listing of daily activities in New York, Chicago and other metropolitans. But seriously: Only Google it !) We’ve found that when we have a calendar full of free activities, we’re far less likely to go out to eat or run up expensive barroom tabs.
My best admonition would be to eat before “theres going”( or delivering food along ), map out where you’re going before leaving, try to hit up new smudges as frequently as possible, and participated in this many street fairs as you can.
Picnic in the city’s most beautiful populace spaces.
Some of my favorite–and cheapest–experiences in New York and Chicago have been sitting on blankets in the grass, taking it all in. My favorite places to picnic in New York are Battery Park, Abingdon Square Park in the West Village, Sheep Meadow in Central Park( obviously ), Pier 63 in Chelsea, Washington Square Park, Madison Square Park, and Bryant Park. In Chicago, Mitch and I frequent Trebes Park, Lincoln Park( the actual park ), Belmont Harbor, Montrose Harbor, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, and Montrose Dog Beach.( And we’re ever looking for brand-new suggestions !)
Bring coffee with you.
Coffee may seem like a small expense, but it adds up. Get yourself a coffee machine and some to-go cups. Bonus degrees for being environmentally friendly and carrying a reusable one! Just make sure to deliver a plastic purse so you can tuck it into your carry formerly you’re done.
Live below your means.
I’ve learned that merely because you can swing that nicer suite in a nicer vicinity doesn’t inevitably mean you should. I don’t recommend living in a dangerous area or in a complete loophole to save money.( Cockroaches and rodents are NOT worth it .) But proceeding a couple hundred dollars below your budget can really pad your savings account. Similarly, just because you have the money to splurge on something doesn’t mean you should. I think it’s important to treat yourself every once in a while, but truly take the time to think about those purchases–don’t construction them impulsively.
And live in a place you can afford.
For a long time, I was expending the majority of members of my income on rent, which is the reason I didn’t have a savings account until I was 25.( And even during years 25 and 26, its contents were pretty pathetic .) Looking back, it was reckless. Thankfully, I was never faced with a real emergency, save for the time I went to emergency room for strep throat. But I should have had a safety net, and I should have been contributing some money to a savings account–even if it was only $100 every month.
All of that said, my best advice is to consider your priorities when reaching a decision on an apartment. What’s most important to you? Is it the commute time? The square-footage? The vicinity? The number of roommates you’ll need to live with? For me, it was always neighborhood, so I stimulated sacrifices in the roommate and square-footage areas.
Avoid apartment broker fees.
Thankfully, agent fees genuinely aren’t a thing in Chicago. But in New York, broker costs are astronomical, and often 20 percent of your yearly lease. Instead of “re going through” a agent, Mitch and I use Craigslist, Backpage, and other similar areas to work around the fees. It’s way more work to find a region like this, but it’s way less expensive, too. There are also a handful of no-fee sites out there. Just be careful that the costs aren’t simply hidden in the monthly lease. Know the market!( FYI: Besides Craigslist and Backpage, I applied Prince NYC Apartments and Eberhart Brother to find suites in NYC .)
Be prepared to move often until you settle down.
It suctions, but most landowners will hike up the rent as much as they’re legally allowed to every year. Of course, it’s important to taking into consideration how much hour a move involves, and how emotionally taxing it can be. And it’s crucial to weigh moving costs against the yearly increase. A $25 hike probably doesn’t necessitate a move, for example, as your move will likely cost more than $ 300. But a $200 hike signifies $2,400 more per year. Decisions, decisions.
Don’t invest in expensive furniture unless you’ve acquired a residence.
Not because it isn’t worth it, but merely because you’ll be destroyed when it’s shattered during moves…and you’ll likely end up paying a ton in mends and substitutions. I’d show use magazines, Pinterest, catalogues, and blogs for inspiration, and then finding similar pieces from Ikea, Craigslist, thrift shops, Target, Wayfair, and the like.
Come on. You don’t need it.( And let’s be serious: You’re going to be more productive without it !) Basic channels and the internet are enough. Mitch and I adoration Apple TV, as it doesn’t require a subscription fee. It allows us to reflect what’s on our iPhones and laptop, and is provided by easy be made available to movies and television shows.
Create a timeline.
Living in Manhattan was extremely important to me when I was in my 20 s. I knew that I belonged there from the time I was a young child( I blame my parents) and live there took precedence over, basically, everything else for a very long time. And I have zero sadness. I was also broke for a long time, but I absolutely loved my time in New York, and I wouldn’t trade those years of my life for anything. However, I made a promise to myself that if I was still fighting financially by the age of 27 that I’d make a major change. So I did: Mitch and I moved across the river right before our 27 th birthdays to save money for the future we wanted.( A more significant savings account and a residence .) I cried on moving day–despite the facts of the case that our brand-new home was one stop away from Manhattan–but that tough decision is a big part of the reason we now own our dream home.
Ditch Uber, cabs, and cars–take public transport.
It’s so much nicer to hop into a taxi or Uber, but taking public transport will save you boatloads of fund. It only requires more projecting. On a similar mention, don’t own a car if you can get away with it. In Chicago, we definitely need one, as I drive home forever. In New York, though, we travelled many years without, and it saved us so much. Insurance, maintenance, gas–it all adds up!
Mitch and I use discount locates for inns and flights–like Airfarewatchdog, Priceline, Kayak, Hotwire, Hotels.com, USAA, and Airbnb, merely to identify a few–and we’ve saved thousands of dollars on vacations because of it. We also volunteer our benches on flights whenever possible. If you have a flexible planned, you can volunteer and bump yourself to the night flight in exchange for hundreds of dollars in flight vouchers. Mitch and I did this FOUR TIMES for our honeymoon flight, and terminated up get $2,800 in Delta flight vouchers. Needless to say, we flew for free for a long time. We merely missed the working day of our honeymoon!
And this totally belies my last tip-off, but if you travel a lot and have the flexibility( and own a automobile or can rent one for a reasonable rate ), drive. Of course, this tip-off comes with some limitations. For example, there’s truly no way around flying if you’re traveling overseas.( Duh .) And if you’re going from the East Coast to the West Coast–well, that drive would be absurd. And sometimes flying can be cheaper than driving. And then there’s your schedule: If you merely have four days, you probably don’t want to be allocating two full days to travel. But a six- to 12 -hour drive if you have the days? You can totally be dealt with. I likewise highly recommend a fuel-efficient car. We have an old-fashioned Prius, and that little guy can go forever on one tank of gas!
Don’t be afraid to tell guests you can’t afford their plans.
I love having pals and family come to stay. But guests can be expensive! When we lived in New York, we invariably had guests, and they nearly always wanted to do it up during their one big weekend in the Big Apple. Totally comprehensible for them, but Mitch and I struggled to keep up financially weekend after weekend. Eventually, we realized that we shouldn’t feel guilty for telling special guests that we couldn’t accompany them to expensive suffers, saloons, and restaurants. And everyone completely understood. We simply met up with them subsequentlies!
Find out about barroom and restaurant deals and specials.
If Mitch and I amble past or been talking about an establishment we’d like to visit, we ever ask whether they have daily specials. The restaurant might have a great deal on burgers on Monday nights, for example, or dismissed guzzles on Wednesday nights. We keep track of them in our phones, and sometimes use sites like Small Tabs when we need help finding deals.
Party at your apartment–and at your friends’ suites.
I’m not saying you should never used to go and suffer the city’s nightlife scene. But hey: Put those high rents to good use! I’ve had some pretty great nights at friends’ drinking Trader Joe’s wine and eating Two Bros. Pizza. Total bill? Like, $10.
Granted, exercising outside sometimes becomes impossible in the winter, but gym memberships can be ridiculously expensive in the city. In the past, I practised outside from April until November…and then bought yoga packages for the months of December, January, February, and March. It intention up being route less expensive than a yearlong gym membership!
If you work from dwelling, project from home.
As an experiment, I ran from coffee shops alone for a week last year. It expenditure me roughly$ 7 to $10 per period, as I generally bought a coffee and a snack. That’s $ 35 to $50 per week in savings! Don’t become a hermit, though. It’s important to get out every so often. These days, when I’m looking for a change of scenery, I is currently working on a friend’s apartment, and treat myself to one day per week in a coffee shop.
Pick up inexpensive pastimes.
Mitch’s favorite inexpensive hobbies are biking and reading…and excavation are author, playing the guitar( inadequately ), and photography.( Equipment is expensive upfront, but the act of taking paints rates nothing! I spend a few cases hours every weekend shooting for fun, and I adoration it .) Our hobbies bring us great exuberance, yet normally rate us very little.
Buy in majority from eBay or Amazon.
This might sound silly, but Mitch and I buy products like plastic baggies, bird-dog treats, and garbage bags in majority, and our bills are a lower as a result. It goes without saying that you need storage space to buy in bulk, but if you have it, use it.
It might be more fun to shop in person, but online customers generally find better bargains, and are less likely to shape impulsive decisions.
Shop at discount food stores.
We only shop at Aldi and Trader Joe’s, and oh my goodness, guys. Our grocery bills are a third of what they would be if we shopped at trendier stores. Also, scaped bodegas. Seven bucks for a jar of peanut butter or tube of toothpaste? Please. Instacart, AmazonFresh, and Peapod( and the like) for the win.
Invest in wardrobe staples , not trends.
On the wardrobe front, I’m a firm adherent in excellence over quantity. I try my best to simply buy parts that I’ll know I’ll be able to wear again and again, and that I can pair with the rest of my stuff. When I do fall completely in love with a trend, though, I make sure to sell another article to make up for some of its cost.
Sell your material.
Probably my favorite tip-off of all. Guys, I can’t even tell you how much stuff Mitch and I sell on Craigslist and eBay. Old furniture, age-old engineering, age-old clothing–you identified it and we sell it. It takes a lot of time, but it’s totally worth it. I necessitate, this month alone, we constructed more than $ 800 on Craigslist sales! Simply set aside a couple of Sundays per month, and make it fun. Turn on a movie, pump the music, pour yourself a glass( or two) of wine-coloured, and have at it. And be sure to read my Everygirl article about how to sell your material on eBay!
What tips do you use to save in the city? Comment below!
This article was originally published on Kelly in the City. Kelly lives in Chicago with her husband Mitch.
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