Trying to maintain a reasonable lifestyle in a big, expensive city can be challenging. There are so many sights to see, so much food to taste, so many activities to experience. In short, there are many ways you can spend money in the city that staying within a reasonable budget seems like a Herculean task most of the time.
If you feel like you’re always running short, it’s time to reevaluate your spending habits. You could be spending more money than you need to, hence why you feel like you’re not making nearly enough to support your life in the city. If you want to save money but without living a freakishly cheap lifestyle, here are some budgeting tips that you need to know.
1. Find more affordable housing
Housing is probably the biggest expense that you have right now. And if you live in an expensive city, rent can be crazy high. Hence, housing is the first expense that you should try to cut down. This doesn’t mean you should move into a dingy apartment that’s half the price; there are lots of ways you can make housing more affordable. For example, if you live in London (where rent is crazy expensive), you can opt for affordable hostels in the city center.
Granted, there are some sacrifices that you have to make along the way (e.g. living with a roommate, having to share a common bathroom, living farther from your workplace, etc.), but if it means cutting down your rent by a significant amount, then you should definitely grab the opportunity.
2. Stop eating out and ordering in
If you eat out or order in more times than you cook every week, you’re likely spending more on food than you have to. The cost of convenience can bite off a big chunk of your budget, and let’s not forget how expensive restaurant meals and takeout can be in a big city. Thus, if you want to save money, you’re going to have to cook more at home. Aside from being easier on your budget, cooking at home is healthier than takeout and dining out.
3. Find cheaper alternatives for entertainment
Entertainment is another big cost in the big city. Happy hours, movies, weekend trips, shopping–these can quickly add up and decimate the budget you have planned for yourself.
Look for cheaper or free alternatives for entertainment. Instead of going to the movies on weekends, go during off-peak days when tickets are cheapest. Watch movies or read a book at home in lieu of going out and blowing money on drinks. If you want to take a trip, look for discounts on transportation and go to free or cheap attractions. There are many ways to entertain yourself without hurting your bank account; remember that having fun doesn’t always need to involve money.
4. Avoid lifestyle inflation at all costs
Lifestyle inflation is one of the most common reasons why living in the big city gets crazy expensive. When people move to the big city, they want to fit in, and this can mean getting the latest phones, dressing in the trendiest fashion, and ordering expensive coffee every morning.
That said, avoid lifestyle inflation as much as possible. There are some instances when it is necessary to upgrade your lifestyle to make living in the city easier, but be careful not to go overboard. You don’t always need to fit in with the rest of the crowd.
5. Get a bike
If you don’t want traffic to eat up a good chunk of your day but don’t want to suffer through public transportation either, use a bike as your main mode of transportation. Aside from being a great way to save money on gas and fare, you’re also doing your part in reducing carbon emissions and getting exercise from it.
Living in an expensive city is tough, especially if you have a limited budget to stick to. Nevertheless, making these lifestyle modifications can significantly reduce your expenses every month, but while still making city life enjoyable.