If you're anything like me, you love the city. Not to say the suburbs are bad, I raised my boys in the suburbs but there's nothing like the vibe you get from a beautiful skyline, on a summer night, or a downtown cruise as you search for the next coffee shop or eatery; it's my favorite thing to do. However, the city, as beautiful as she is, is very expensive too.
So let's start with your favorite word, budget.
You know your finances better than anyone else. Figure out what you spend money on the most and then decide how much of it needs to be set aside for bills and how much you have left for fun. Be realistic with your decisions but allow yourself a little freedom to enjoy yourself too; after all, what good is it to live in the city if you can't enjoy it.
FURNISHING YOUR SPACE
Save your money, for expensive furniture, on your first home. Not to say an apartment isn’t worthy, but it is temporary; whereas a home is permanent.
Throughout the years you will probably move from one apartment to another; furniture gets damaged. In the meantime get inspired by looking through social media, catalogs, and blogs.
STAY AWAY FROM TRENDS
I know, I know, I see the pretty trends too. It's hard to say no to the latest and greatest but if you are on a budget, you must stay on that budget. However, if you are going to make an investment in clothes, quality over quantity is best.
Make good investments on long-lasting, quality clothes, not on temporary, pricey trends! Purchase high-quality clothes in basic colors—whites, blacks, grays, browns, tans—that can be paired up, in a variety of ways and will last a lot longer than trends.
Coffee may seem like a small expense, but $5 here and $7 there adds up super fast. Instead, invest in a great coffee machine and make your own coffee. This is a long-haul, no brainer.
STOP COMPETING WITH THE JONES'
I spent years paying high-priced rent on city apartments that were way beyond my means, just so I could have what everyone else had; or seemed to have. Looking back now, that was reckless living. I'm not telling you to live in a roach infested space or a dangerous location. What I am saying is that apartment living in the city can be affordable and beautiful, if you do it right. Live within your means, not your neighbors means.
SELL YOUR CLOTHES
I cannot say this enough, selling your used clothes—even furniture and other household items—on Poshmark and eBay may be a time-consuming project but completely worth your time.
DEALS AND STEALS
Simply put: do your research and find those daily specials. From delicious foods to amazing happy hours, cities, especially the big ones, are filled with a great variety of half-off deals. Look around, ask people, and read a little. Follow social media accounts that cater to deals in your city. You'll be amazed at what you find.
EXERCISE FOR FREE
Don't get me wrong, a gym membership—if you can afford it—can be easy access to working out, but it can be very expensive too. If you can't afford a membership workout, for free, in your apartment gym.
Nowadays an apartment gym is designed to emulate an actual gym. It may not be as fancy or as big but you get the same results—FREE.
Or do a little outdoor exercise. The city is great for that, especially early in the morning. You have no excuses.
I know, I get it, cable is ideal for everyone. We all love to sit and watch good tv but what we don't need is a ridiculously high-priced cable bill.
Recently, I purchased Apple TV. I love the fact that it's compatible with all of my electronic devices, plus I get easy access to movies and recently aired television shows; among other things.
Cable is overrated. Keep your eye on the future. Soon cable television will be equivalent to a landline phone–obsolete in most households!
JUST BECAUSE YOUR FRIENDS CAN, DOESN'T MEAN YOU CAN
So Friday night comes around and your phone starts going off with texts. It's your friends wanting to know about dinner plans or drinks at the newest hotspot downtown. As enticing as it may seem, it can get costly, especially if you're doing it every weekend.
An average drink these days is $12-$15 for one drink and you haven't included food yet. Sometimes you have to be mature enough to know when to say no. Living in the big city is truly costly, no matter what city it is, but it's very doable for those who put in the effort.