This post is part of our celebration of Financial Literacy Month this April.
Bright lights, big city, little budget. New York is famous for being fast-paced, exciting and expensive. Yet whether you’re just starting out in the city or you’ve been here for 20 years, it always makes sense to spend smart. For me? I moved to New York City in January after living upstate for three years, and the adjustment has been a big one. As a young professional living in Brooklyn and commuting in to the CooperKatz office in Manhattan, I’m always looking for ways to save money so I can balance having fun and having funds. Check out my top four tips for living large on a little budget:
- Pack a lunch. Packing a brown bag lunch every day can save you some serious bucks, and help save both your waistline and your bottom line from those Seamless orders. If you invest in a slow cooker, you can start your dinner cooking when you leave for work in the morning and make a whole week’s worth of meals at once – winner, winner, slow cooked dinner. Need some recipes? Check out Slow Cooker Adventures or 365 Days of Slow Cooking.
- Take the train or walk. Apps like Uber and Lyft are convenient to say the least, and sometimes hailing a cab seems like the coziest option (especially in the winter). However, these services add up, and if you’re already paying for an unlimited MetroCard you might as well use it. Plus, if you work a desk job, you probably spend enough time sitting down anyway – take a walk instead, and next time you’re feeling a little down at work try these Desk Job Health Fixes.
- Skip the skinny caramel macchiato. Coffee habits are expensive – especially when you’re stopping by Starbucks, Pret A Manger or Dunkin' every morning. Instead, buy a simple coffee maker for home, or invest in a French press to keep in the office. Better quality coffee, no wait in line, and no strain on your budget? Sounds like a deal.
- Get a deal on your groceries. Chances are that if you’re shopping at your local bodega, you’re probably paying up to a 50% markup for that convenience. This is fine if all you need is a quart of milk or some eggs on the way home, but for your regular shopping this can really bust your budget. Unfortunately, grocery delivery services aren’t much better – their prices can be just as high, and fruits and veggies aren’t consistent in quality. Instead, make the trip to Trader Joe’s or Fairway – you’ll save money without sacrificing quality.
Following these tips might not make me rich enough to take on Donald Trump by next week, but little savings can add up in the long run. I’m also taking some of that money I saved and putting it in my 401k. As tempting as it is to spend my money on everything the city has to offer, I know being financially savvy now will serve me for years to come.
Image via Unsplash. Photographer: Matthew Wiebe.
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