Do you have a remote job? If so, here are tips you can leverage to picking a location to work from and saving money along the way. Americans in particular face level records of deck. If you can move to a lower cost urban environment (and save more while there) you can improve your financial prospects now, and in the future.
There’s a lot to love about living in a city: the food, the culture, the entertainment, the opportunity to meet new people and be at the center of Where It All Happens.
Of course, every opportunity comes with a cost, and city life has plenty of expenses. Whether you’re paying thousands of dollars every month to share a two-bedroom apartment with three other people or shelling out $15 every lunch break for a superfood salad and an organic juice, the cost of living in the city can add up. Between core living costs, rent, food, entertainment, and other urban indulgences, your costs quickly balloon unless you are careful.
There’s a reason why so many city-dwelling millennials have side hustles; the city is often too expensive for a single paycheck, especially if you’re working an entry-level job while paying down student debt, building up an emergency fund, and trying to afford a little fun. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re looking to save money while living the city life, these tips can help you get started. Working from Home might enable you a bit more time on the side to try these out.
Pay yourself first
You might be looking at your paycheck and your expenses and wondering how am I going to make this work — but before you put any of your money towards rent or bills or concert tickets, put a little bit aside for yourself. (Or, more accurately, for your future.)
Setting aside as little as $25 every month can make a huge difference when you get one of those unexpected, emergency expenses — and they will come up. It’s also important to start saving now so you’ll have money to do the stuff you want to do, whether it’s planning a vacation or moving into a bigger apartment.
So set up an automatic deposit into your savings account every time you get your paycheck, or use one of those apps that pulls cash out of your checking account every time you make a purchase. Trust us: you won’t miss the money — and if you need it, it’ll be right there in your savings account.
Ditch the car
Some cities, like New York and Portland, have excellent public transportation systems. Other cities, like Seattle or Los Angeles, have less robust public transportation but still offer plenty of buses and metros to get you from place to place. Unless you need your car for regular trips outside of the city, you can probably sell it and use a combination of public transportation and rideshare services to take you wherever you need to go.
Think of how much extra cash you might have every month if you were no longer making car payments, paying for insurance, and buying gas. You could put some of that money towards your student loans, some of it towards your emergency fund, and have a little left over for dinner at that new restaurant you want to try.
Pack your lunch
On the subject of restaurants: one of the quickest ways of getting dollars back into your pocket is to stop using them to buy lunch. Yes, it’s a good career move to go out to eat with your coworkers now and then, but getting in the habit of bringing your lunch to work can save you around $300 a month. Plus, food you prepare yourself is generally healthier than food you buy at a restaurant or cafe — that quinoa salad shares its clamshell with a lot of oil and salt! This will save you huge sums over time – especially if you are working from home full time. You will likely eat more healthfully and you will save by buying your own groceries.
Dress for the job you want… by buying clothes that were already worn by somebody who might have held that job! Use a combination of thrift stores and sites like Poshmark and thredUP to outfit yourself without emptying your wallet. (Avoid consignment stores, though — they can often be just as expensive as retail!)
If you’re looking to spend even less on your new wardrobe, get a few friends together for a clothing swap. That gently used jacket your friend is sick of wearing could become your new favorite staple.
Time is money
Living in an expensive city can make it easy to forget one of the most important personal finance concepts: invest for the long term. Although investing might feel like a luxury given the cost of necessities such as rent and groceries, small (but prudent) investments can pay off over time.
Think of some of the best blue chip stocks in the world — what are their returns on a yearly basis? How much did they grow over a period of 30 years? Take a company like Microsoft. Its stock might appreciate 15% or 20% year over year. But in the past 30 years Microsoft stock is up a whopping 50,000%. That’s because money can compound the potential for tremendous gains over big periods of time that simply don’t exist in the short term.
Manage your credit card debt wisely
This can be a challenge, because you are going to be overwhelmed with opportunities — maybe you’ve got a date with someone special, maybe your favorite band is in town, maybe your new best friends are planning a weekend trip and want you to come along — and you’re going to tell yourself that, if you put the money on your credit card now, you’ll totally pay it back later. Hundo P.
Stay mindful of how you use your card, otherwise you’ll be looking at your credit card statements and wondering how the numbers got so high. But if you spend wisely and use the right card — you can build your credit and even get cash back or earn points (depending on your card).
The biggest reason to pay yourself first is to prevent yourself from going into credit card debt later. So go back up to the first item on the list and promise yourself that you’ll do it — because you want to go to that concert, take that trip, and do all of the things the city offers. You might not be able to afford all of the things right away, but if you start saving now, you’ll discover that city life can be affordable. All you have to do is pay yourself first, cut back on your major expenses, and make smart choices about what you can buy every month without going into debt.
And yes, maybe you will end up taking on that side hustle — but you’ll be doing it because you know how to use your extra income to achieve your goals, not because you can’t afford the city life. Working from home will empower you – and give you new ways to earn money and save the money you do earn. Spend wisely, keep earning, and enjoy the city life you picked for yourself.