So you saved up money to make the big move to L.A. but now your savings is slowly dwindling down. Everyone knows the City of Angels is not a cheap place to live, but so many people are still able to live there.
I moved to LA about five months ago and I can confirm how much of a struggle it is to “live comfortably here", unless you are already rich or famous. Resourceful millennials (like me) are able to live here, because we learn how to be smart about our money. We may not make near the median salary, but we are still able to go out and enjoy ourselves. No one wants to be around a cheap person, especially someone who acts cheap that clearly has the money. Therefore, I have always been taught to be reasonable and splurge within your own means. I let myself enjoy what LA has to offer, like exploring new restaurants with friends and doing the occasional happy hour, but I don’t allow myself to spend too much on what I don’t need.
Coming from someone who spends a lot of time managing my money… here are 9 ways to live on a budget in L.A. when you first move and how I survive each day.
EXPLORE: You are in So Cal! There are plenty of things to do that are free. Go to the beach, hikes, free tours, museums, parks, downtown, or concerts. You can seriously never get bored without spending too much money.
Only use A/C for special occasions: It gets extremely hot in California, but gets pretty cool at night. This makes it easier to keep the A/C off most of the time. When I visited my friends in California before I moved here they NEVER had the A/C on, even in the summer! I thought they were nuts, but now it all makes since. You can make it without A/C especially when it isn’t summer and it lessens that utility bill. I moved in the winter, so I have been surviving with no A/C ever since and still going.
Do multiple things with one parking validation: Parking in LA is a pain and you most likely always have to pay to park. Many places do offer free parking validation, so I always look that up before going. Another trick is to use that free parking validation to get more than one thing done. I get 2.5 hours free when I go to LA Fitness. On the days I have other errands to run, I work out for an hour then go to whatever store I need something at after. It saves both time and money!
Watch out for gas prices: You can drive just two minutes in one direction and discover a much higher priced gas station. Just be cautious of the part of town you are in and don’t get gas at the first place you see. I go to the same gas station almost every time I need to fill up. It is right on my way to work and under $3.
Use Facebook Groups or Craiglist: You can use these sites to find furniture, jobs, apartments, clothes, cars, concert tickets, or really anything you are looking for. Anything I have bought I have made sure is new/good quality. I looked on Facebook Groups to find most of my furniture besides my bed! Just search Craiglist LA or Furniture in LA...they have a group for everything.
Limiting eating out: LA natives actually made fun of me because I hadn’t been to so many typical restaurants in California. I normally bring my lunch to work and make dinner. I grocery shop and buy on sale then meal prep for the week. I do go out to eat on the weekends, just not everyday.
Use Coupons: I always look for any deals a restaurant, store, or place has before I go! I check Groupon for things I absolutely need, like oil change, car wash, or a haircut. I find great deals right before I go on vacation if I need to splurge on something like a spray tan or to get my nails done. I got a pedicure and gel from Groupon for $36 last week before I went to Vegas! The nail place also told me I can come back anytime for that same deal. :)
Stay fit outdoors: There are plenty of places to hike or work out outside without a gym membership. You can also find plenty of at home workouts to do anywhere. If you must have a gym membership (this was true for me), then go LA Fitness or 24-hour Fitness. I pay $30 a month for LA Fitness and can go to any location. I get bored doing the same workout routine, so I go to the gym during the week and workout outside during the weekend!
Go out, but don’t buy drinks: People are like how can you not spend money when you go out? For me, it is pretty simple. Yes, I do spend money on an Uber but then I only allow myself to buy one drink at the bar. This means I either buy my own alcohol and pregame or I will only have one drink that night and still have fun! Who wouldn’t rather be out sober with friends then sitting home alone? You can also offer to be the DD if you think you won’t be able to buy just one drink.
Long story short, take the time to research places before you go. You can almost always find a cheap deal, better parking, or something better ahead of time. I am still new to LA, so these are just my initial tips. I am sure I will have many more ways to save to share with you as I keep learning...but for now Happy Budgeting :)
Take an Uber: Sometimes taking an Uber or public transportation is cheaper than paying for parking. It also saves you the time of trying to find a parking spot.