Saving Money in the Most Expensive City
Money management is one of the most difficult things about being on your own. I think this would resonate anywhere, but after moving somewhere so expensive it has especially sunk in. Although housing is definitely more expensive, the inflation on things like groceries and household items isn't so bad. Fruit and vegetables are actually a lot cheaper here, and overall it seems like we're able to get higher-quality foods for comparable prices. On the flip side, eating out and any kind of event is far more expensive so it's a balance for sure. Below you'll find my tips for how I budget to ensure I still get to go have fun!
- Walk everywhere! When it comes to getting into the city I absolutely take the subway, but once I get there I walk the majority of places I go. I'll take a bus if I'm headed somewhere super far, but it's extremely rare for me to use a taxi or Lyft. Granted, I would love to be able to get carted around the city. The cost just adds up so quickly (and the exercise is a great excuse for eating more ice cream!).
- Cook at home. Between all the wonderful restaurants and all the food delivery services, this sometimes takes the most self control. Thankfully I do like cooking, which makes it easier! I try to make sure if I'm getting food out, it's an experience (i.e. going out to lunch with coworkers vs. picking up a sandwich and eating at my desk). I honestly don't think I could just not eat out, but making sure I'm frugal when I do helps a ton! Another tip for this is checking local deals around town! When we're deciding where to eat on the weekends, we always try to find a place that has bar snacks for happy hour and go during that time.
- Live in the suburbs. I have this wonderful vision of myself living in central San Francisco, opening the curtains of my floor to ceiling bay window, and looking out on the popular-but-not-too-crowded street below. Unfortunately, that isn't in the budget and I'm not sure it ever will be. What is in the budget is a nice apartment in a safe neighborhood, in walking distance to some fun stuff and the subway station. I dread my commute every day, but that's not nearly as bad as dreading overdrafting my bank account to pay rent!
- Space out purchases. When the paycheck hits your bank account, it can be so easy to rush out and get everything on your To Buy list. Don't do this! I've had to make several big purchases because of the move (and because of wanting things, of course!) and I've done my best to make them as far apart as possible. Having a good sense of priority is key. I want another dresser for the bedroom, but I need cat food, so the dresser can wait until the next paycheck rolls around.
- Take advantage of coupons and deals. We have sites here that offer free tickets to comedy nights, apps that give you a percentage off if you order through them, and mailing lists that will let you know when ticket prices for events are dropping. I utilize all of them. It can be a little overwhelming to keep track of what deals are where and when, but it's a great way to go have all the fun for a portion of the price!
Compromising on getting things you want sucks, and budgeting sucks too. What doesn't suck is the feeling of knowing you're in control of your finances and are planning for the future! Yes, I really do want to brunch, but I want an emergency fund even more (and I make some dang good french toast anyway!).