Maybe you moved from a tiny town in the Midwest to a sprawling urban metropolis to get a taste of city life; perhaps you grew up in a bustling metropolitan area and you are just now starting out on your own. Either way, making a living in a big city is not an easy prospect, especially if you have a job that doesn’t pay you much. Here are some tips you can follow to make surviving a bit less scary and maybe even a little more fun.
- Budgeting. Be sure to create a weekly or monthly budget and then stick to it. Consider all your necessary expenditures before you figure in entertainment or eating out since those are luxuries you can cut if you have to. Remember that your budget should be flexible. Keep a close eye on it so you can shift funds from one area to another if you need to.
- Savings. This is a tactic that is easier said than done. But like any bitter medicine to swallow, regular repetition makes a difficult chore easier. Your bank account may already be set up to automatically remove a small portion of your checking and shift it to your savings. If that isn’t the case, or if you feel like you can’t afford to put away even twenty-five dollars a month, think about investing in a piggy bank. A cookie jar will suffice. Throw in any loose change as you pass it, or the occasional one or five-dollar bill you have in your wallet or purse. If your job pays you with tips, add a dollar or two every day. You’ll be surprised how fast it adds up.
- Dining out. Eating at restaurants, even the kind that serves fast food is cost-prohibitive for many people. If you’re on a budget, it’s a luxury. Instead of dining out, invite your friends over for pot luck. If everyone brings over a series of small dishes, no one will have to break the bank. As a treat, watch for restaurant specials. Limit yourself to one night eating out a month if you’re feeling particularly desperate.
- Entertainment. What’s the fun of living in a big city if you can’t enjoy yourself? True, entertainment on an epic scale – a Broadway play, for example, or a big-name concert – will set you back. Look online at your local paper to find out if there are any free or inexpensive entertainment options, like a play or a concert. If you want to kick back and relax while watching a movie at home, remember that your local library probably offers a selection of films. And unlike Netflix or Redbox, they’re free.
- Travel. This can be the most cost-prohibitive option of them all! Even driving downtown can set you back over fifty dollars just to park for an hour or two. And your car expenses alone can rack up horrific bills. Consider walking whenever you can, or purchase a bicycle. You’ll save on gas and parking expenses while getting plenty of fresh air and exercise in the bargain.