New York isn’t known for it’s affordability, mostly because it isn’t an affordable place to live. (Crazy thought, right?) Living here is tough. It’ll chew you up and spit you back out, and when you land, your pockets will be empty and you’ll find yourself wondering why you moved here in the first place. Living paycheck to paycheck, working multiple jobs, living in a shoebox, dealing with roommates, it’s all part of the process.
Me, I’m still trying to find a balance between living my life and keeping my bank account from tanking. I haven’t had a savings account since six months after I moved here, which, yeah, would’ve been really helpful this past year, but what can you do? New York is one of the greatest cities in the world, and there’s a million things to do here at any given moment — naturally, I want to experience what the city has to offer! But I need to remind myself to only window shop when walking on 5th Avenue. You know what I’m sayin’? It’s all about moderation.
I’m trying really hard to be better about my spending habits these days. After wracking up a ton of medical bills the last five months (plus the cost of training stuff before that), my bank account and credit cards aren’t in the best shape. But here are a few of the things I’ve been doing to help keep my spending in check!
- Unsubscribe from all those pesky mailing lists. Getting emails every day telling me those shoes I want are on sale is not helpful. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Make a list of things you absolutely need (i.e.: rent, utilities, gym membership, groceries). It’s okay to spend money on those things! They’re practical. They keep you alive. They keep you healthy. That’s what we want. Try to spend less (or nothing) on the things not on the list for a month and see how much you save.
- Go through your bank/credit card statements with different colored highlighters (i.e.: pink for eating out, green for shopping, etc.). Sometimes it helps to visually see where all your money is going, and helps you make better decisions going forward.
- Always take out your spending allowance in cash. This is a big one! Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
- And ask for smaller bills! You feel like you have more money available, even if you don’t. Visually, it just makes you feel better.
- Also, save that change. I throw mine into a jar and then once or twice a year cash it in and then use it to buy myself something.
- Freeze your credit card. Literally. Did you see the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic? She put her credit card in a block of ice and kept it in the freezer. It’s not the worst idea.
- Google cheap/free things to do in your city. You’d be surprised how many options are available to you.
- Tell your friends upfront that you’re on money lockdown. That way you don’t feel as bad turning down plans that are out of your budget, or maybe your friends will adjust so you can come.
- Go through your stuff. Downsize. Do you really need a laptop, an iPad, and an iPhone? No. Sell some stuff! Take your clothes to a resale shop and make a few bucks. I made almost $200 selling my unused crap.
- Get a weekend job. If you don’t mind hustling, it’s a quick way to earn some extra cash and get some potentially great discounts (depending on where you work)!
- Get a library card. It’s cheaper than buying books.
- Coupons. Do you watch Extreme Couponing? Because I do and I am OBSESSED. Granted, it’s pretty much impossible to pull off those feats in New York City, but I definitely look over the sales at my local grocery stores to see where I can get the most bang for my buck. If ground turkey and sweet potatoes are on sale, you know what I’m eating all week. Plan your meals around sales. It requires a little more effort on your part, but you save a ton.
- Rent a movie at home, rather than going to the theater. You can invite more people, everyone can bring a dish to pass, and you can stay in your pajamas.
- Same goes for dinner. Or brunch. Cooking at home is always cheaper (and healthier).