There are some pretty expensive cities in this country. If you live in an area where the food, housing, transportation, and the overall cost of living is pretty high, you may be wondering how you can save or get ahead.

If you’re trying to pay down debt or just boost your savings rate, it can be hard to do this when you’re paying so much money just to live and get by each day.

However, there is always an opportunity to lower your expenses no matter where you live. Here are some simple ways to save money in an expensive city.

Get a Roommate

If the cost of living is high in your area, consider getting a roommate to split the rent or mortgage with you. An alternative to this would be to get a smaller place. However, in some areas, a studio or one-bedroom apartment may not be much less than a two-bedroom residence so you may save money with a roommate.

While you and your roommate can split the cost of the rent, you can also split bills for electricity, gas, water, garbage, etc.

Use Public Transit to Save Money in an Expensive City

In some cities, it doesn’t make much sense to have a car. Cars are expensive and it costs more money to fuel them, insure them, and repair them.

Plus, in large cities like Chicago, you have to pay a monthly fee just to park your car outside of your own home. In this situation, owning a car may be more hassle than it’s worth.

To save money, you can sell your car and start using public transit. If you live in a very walkable area, you can also consider walking to nearby stores or using a bicycle.

Giving up your car could save you thousands of dollars per year.

Take Advantage of Free or Cheap Entertainment

The advantage of living in a big city is the fact that you often have so many events and attractions at your fingertips. If there is never a dull moment in your city, it can be tempting to overspend on entertainment and events.

On the flip side, you can probably find a few awesome ways to entertain yourself for free each month. Look into free museum admission days, local festivals and street fairs, events at the library, community events, and so on.

For date night, there may even be a free comedy show night in your area or happy hour at a popular restaurant. Keep updated with what’s going on in your area so you can plan your entertainment around some free events and experiences.

Look For Deals

You can save money on just about anything. All you need to do is keep your eye open for deals. Coupons and discounts can go a long way. In a large city, there are likely more retailers so this can work to your advantage.

Use coupon sites to find coupons that you can redeem online or in stores. You can also subscribe to some of your favorite stores or places to receive notifications about sales and other offers. Most stores and restaurants have a rewards program of some kind so you can save money if you use them wisely.

Buy Used Clothes and Furniture

This is something I’d recommend if you’re trying to stick to a budget regardless of where you live. These items can be so expensive, and you can save a lot simply by buying them used.

We always check out thrift stores and garage sales for gently used clothing items when we need them. This is great to do when you have kids as well. My son is constantly growing, so it really makes no sense for me to spend a lot of money getting him name brand clothes.

I usually find the same brands at the Goodwill for much less than what the department store is selling them for.

If you’re looking to furnish your house on a budget, check the Facebook Marketplace or other secondhand stores for gently used furniture. About 70% of the furniture in my house is used and no one would have guessed. We bought our kitchen table, TV stand, living room couch, bedroom dressers, and bookshelf all used.

This eliminated a lot of financial stress when we bought a house because our house payment and bills increased by quite a bit.

DIY As Much As You Can

There is so much opportunity to spend money on luxuries and conveniences when you live in a big city. If you want to save money, it’s best to avoid temptation by DIY-ing as much as possible without wasting too much time and energy.

Instead of hiring someone to do your dry cleaning, do your own laundry and get on a schedule each week. Recently, I was even recently tempted to hire someone to clean my home. I know a lady who does a great job and only charges $75 to clean a 3-bedroom 2-bathroom house like ours. This isn’t super expensive which is why I was tempted to hire her to come 2-3 times per month.

However, I decided to just create a chore schedule so we could clean our own home and save the money instead. I like to do dishes while I cook to avoid excess time spent in the kitchen. I also give my son a few chores, and we clean up during the week so we’re not stuck catching up all weekend long.

Other things you can DIY include grocery shopping, light repairs around the house, cutting your own hair, mowing the lawn or shoveling snow if it applies, and cooking at home of course.

If you want to save money in an expensive city, it’s not impossible. It just takes some effort and creativity. Create a budget and decide how much money you need to live comfortably. Then, focus on cutting some of your biggest expenses using the tips I mentioned above.

Do you think you could make it in a big city and still save money? Why or why not?


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