Way back in the early days of The Creative Career, I wrote about saving money in the expensive big city. While I still think that the old list is pretty spot-on, another year in the city has taught me new ways to enjoy the city life—cheap bastard style. If ever there was a time to start saving some money and bettering our finances, today is it.
1. Opt for Student Services
I’ve tried everything from $12 student haircuts to free student acupuncture in my day—and while I’ve admittedly moved away from some of these, there are a few student services that are still impossible to beat. For example, Chicago’s Soma Institute offers one hour clinical massages for only $25. Check out the options in your town—you never know what you might find.
2. Milk That Old College ID For All It’s Worth
My college student ID still has a special place in my wallet. Movies, for example, are expensive in Chicago. Might as well save a few bucks when you can.
3. Be Smart About the Bar
It’s hard to go through your twenties without going to the bar here and there, but there are definitely ways to spend less while you’re out. Besides finding specials, I try to limit how much I drink while I’m out (both for my wallet and for my well-being). My friends know me for ordering virgin tonics. If that doesn’t suit your tastes, just swap out a regular water between drinks to slow yourself down.
4. Pack Your Lunch
This one is embarrassingly obvious. I cringe when I track my budget in the months when I eat out too much, which leads me into my last point…
5. Track Your Spending
If you’re holding yourself accountable , you’re less likely to jump on the impulse buys, and you can re-balance yourself where the damage has already been done. I use expensr.com to track my spending—I’ve also heard a lot of good things about mint.com