Your Total Guide On How To Save Money In A Big City

Who struggles at saving moolah? Guilty as charged. I love to live a more fabulous life than I probably can afford to (sorry not sorry). Jokes aside, let’s get real here. I have read many articles on how to save money, but being an uber driver and saving 25% of my paycheck are not what I would consider realistic. I’m young and living in the wonderful-yet-expensive city of DC which means making some #sacrifices. Here are some ways that I save money that I thought’d I’d share with you since I consider myself quite the professional at finding nifty ways to save. (Don’t be fooled though, I can still spend money 10x faster than I can save it). But hey, practice makes perfect.

  1. Download a money saving app. Currently the one I am using is Digit. I like it because it only takes out unnoticeable amounts of your checking account every now and then. As in a dollar or two every few days so you don’t even miss the money. You’ll be quite surprised at how quickly it saves up.
  2. Bring cash to group dinners. We’ve all been to a big dinner where you’re trying to save by only ordering a drink and side item but then the waiter refuses to divy up the check so you’re forced to split evenly amongst everyone there. No Susan, I do not want to pay for your filet when I only got a salad. Bringing cash and being able to put in the exact amount you’re responsible for saves the awkwardness of having to explain that you can’t split evenly when what you ordered was only a fraction of the cost of everyone else’s meals.
  3. Eat before a big dinner and only order drinks and an appetizer OR eat a bite before and split a dish with a friend. If you have serious FOMO aka fear of missing out (I do) and don’t want to miss a fun dinner but can’t quite swing it with your budget, eat before and stick to some drinks and a small bite during dinner. If you’re headed out for a night on the town, chances are you probably don’t want to eat a super heavy meal anyways.
  4. Suggest a fun pregame where people bring some alcohol and appetizers as a good alternative to a costly dinner. $17 for a cocktail? No thanks. What I like the most about drinking at home, is that there is a better sense of closeness when everyone is relaxed in someone’s apartment instead of sitting around a restaurant table. People are always down to skip a big dinner if it is not for a special occasion and it feels way more friendly being in a homey environment. Get some cute cups and plates to spice things up and turn up the tunes.
  5. If you are not drinking alcohol, stick with water as your beverage. When I am eating out and don’t have any plans afterwards, I stick to water. Ordering a tea or soda is just adding on extra unnecessary dollars to your bill. Plus, the more water you drink, the healthier you’ll feel. Win-win.
  6. Budget yourself and look at areas you can improve saving. When I started work full time, I planned out my biweekly/monthly paychecks and prioritized the areas I knew I would spend the most in. Top spending priorities for me are school and being able to go out with friends on the weekends which means I cut back on eating out during the week and cut back my online shopping habits (ouch).
  7. As soon as you get paid, put a chunk of your paycheck in your savings and budget the money you left in your checking. I transfer a regular amount into my savings immediately after getting paid. Putting it into my savings account makes me way less likely to spend it because I’ve made a personal rule that I will only touch that account for emergencies. And no, a sale at Saks does not count.
  8. Get a credit card with cash rewards and pay it off right away. Almost every credit card company has some sort of cash rewards where the more you spend, the more money they give back to you. It is good to build up your own credit anyways so I pay for everything with my credit card and pay it off immediately after I use it to make sure I don’t overspend.
  9. Buy a Keurig instead of buying a coffee at Starbucks and eat at at least ⅔ meals at home. Not to say that I meal prep, but I will make sure I have a decent amount of things to bring to the office and eat for breakfast and lunch. It’s okay to treat yourself with a grande almond milk matcha latte every now and then but $5 every morning is $25 a week and money you could use for something else. When you make dinner at home the night before, make a little extra and bring it into work for lunch the next day. The options for food and coffee are endless in big cities, but consider eating out during the week a special occasion and put that money towards your weekend activities.
  10. Instead of taking a big Uber or cab, trying using Via or Uberpool. I have to admit I was VERY skeptical of having randoms in my car (who wouldn’t be?) but have found this is not as weird as it seems. I mostly share rides with people my age that live around my area and work near where I do. Plus, nobody talks in the car and has their headphones in so you’re not forced to chit chat with a potential weirdo.