Living in a big city is cool. It’s often where the best entertainment options, the highest paying jobs, the financial district, and some of the best colleges and universities are. And a complementary perk is that you can find almost anything at any hour of the day.
But that does come with a cost. A hefty financial cost as land and space in a concrete jungle labels luxury. Living in a big city usually means that your cost of living is rather high. And despite your higher income, you might still find it hard to cover your costs.
The good news is that although it may not be as easy as Hollywood made it seem in many sitcoms, there are some creative ways to cut back on expenses. Try these four practical ways to cut down your expenses and allow yourself some “wiggle room”.
1. Cut down on the big categories
A lot has been said about cutting down the smaller expenses such as subscriptions, clothing, and shopping habits. They’re important, but what often gets overlooked is the much heavier spending categories. Your fixed costs — rent, transportation, and food. Consistently trimming just a little every month on these areas will allow your money to go much farther.
Get a roommate
If your rent is absurdly high, get somebody else to split this cost with. You’re not alone in not wanting to pay such high rent. Avoid moving into a cheaper but sketchier area of the city (they often exist) as nothing is more important than your health or safety. No financial savings is worth that risk.
Find someone you can trust and get along with to stay with. You also don’t want the problem of not being able to collect money from them each month. If it’s okay with the both of you, you can even rent out your couch from time to time and use that money to pay for the rent.
Use public transportation
This way, you don’t pay insurance or road taxes, which can be another set of burden. Our LRTs, MRTs, and Monorails cover a lot of ground and what’s better is that it avoids the dreadful traffic every morning and evening. On top of that, you’ll also get to skip looking and paying for parking, which is a huge headache in itself.
Going car-free is ultimately a good lifestyle choice in a city. You get some exercise after a long day of sitting while saving a few hundred at the same time.
Make your own meals
Wherever you are in a major city, you’re going to smell good food. Especially in Kuala Lumpur. And that makes it even more tempting to eat out. But the truth is that restaurants charge a premium for their services and making your own meals can save you a lot of money.
Pack your lunch before going to work, reduce or eliminate eating out or getting takeout and buy lasting items in bulk when they’re on sale (cookies or canned food).
2. Substitute expensive entertainment
Living in a city means that there are always going to be interesting and fun events, such as a concert or a carnival going on. The catch is that these events are usually really costly. So much so that one night out can cut a deep rut in your bank account.
On the other side of this, is free entertainment. Every big city has free things to do. Make Google your best friend for finding things to do in a city. Try to minimise hanging out with your extremely rich friends who always go shopping and only go to expensive places. If all else fails, just go home, there is no shame in that.
Never be afraid to ask. If you don’t voice out, the other party may never know that you’re struggling. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if it could get you a better deal and save you money.
A good place to start is your landlord. Landlords are humans as well and can usually understand the working class. Who knows, they might even lower your rent for a few months just to help you out while you find another way to cope.
Not just your accommodation, but also in restaurants or when you’re shopping.
Just ask; it really doesn’t hurt.
4. Shop with intention
It’s really easy to get swept up with wanting the latest gadget. Even more so if you choose to walk around the advert-painted heart of a city.
Before making any purchases, write your wishlist down and wait for at least a few weeks before deciding. It makes sure that you really want the item and silences what marketers put in your mind. If you get good at this, it can even help you cut your food expenses, plan your meals and eliminate the impulse buyer in you.
Take it one step at a time, you’ll be surprised at how much of a difference these tiny changes make.
Related: 6 Ways To Stop Impulse Shopping