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Blog » Money Tips » Money-Saving Hacks for the Big Apple, LA, and More: Stretch Your Budget Today

Money-Saving Hacks for the Big Apple, LA, and More: Stretch Your Budget Today

Big Apple, LA, Stretch Your Budget Today

When you reside in the “City That Never Sleeps” (and its various cousin-cities), don’t let financial crunches rob you of your sleep!

Does the thought of living on a budget in New York or Los Angeles seem to be a far-fetched dream? Think of bustling metropolitans – Boston, San Francisco, or even Washington, D.C. Enjoying the urban culture and accessing the coveted business avenues come at a hefty price! From groceries to housing rent: everything costs exorbitantly high!

NYC remains the most expensive metropolitan in the US and the second-most expensive city globally. Los Angeles follows closely, which has earned it the “least affordable” tag in the country.

While you wouldn’t like to miss out on the lucrative professional opportunities or the urban culture in these cities, would it be logical to drain your earnings to afford a premium life? Strategic financial planning can help you live on a budget. Sounds unrealistic?

Being a little tactical with your money-spending habits can help you stack up your savings even while enjoying the bustling lifestyle. Learn how to stretch your budget with these money-saving hacks and celebrate the urban lifestyle.

How expensive is living in New York City or Los Angeles?

Whether you plan to move to the Big Apple or Los Angeles, luxury and coveted prospects come at a cost! Before we bail you out of the extravaganza, look at these statistics.

  • In New York, the cost of living is 31% higher compared to the national average.
  • Lifestyle in Los Angeles is 51% higher than the national average, making it the least affordable city.
  • In New York, housing costs exceed the national average by as much as 82%.
  • Housing costs in Los Angeles are 19% higher than the national average.
  • The monthly expense for a family of four in New York is $8,832, while that of a single person is $6,195. The figures for Los Angeles are $6,988 and $4,397, respectively.
  • NY’s cost of living index is higher than the national average by 31%.

The cost of food, groceries, healthcare, transportation, and other necessities in both cities exceeds the national average. Back in your mind, you might be pondering whether there’s an affordable way to budget and live in these metros.

We have recommended some money-saving hacks that would cushion your financial burden.

How to save the extra dollar while living in hot US metros?

Thriving in an expensive city calls for meticulous budgeting. Why not save a few extra dollars when you have the provision? Maybe you plan to channel some of these savings to your retirement portfolio while diverting the rest to the money market.

Be prudent with your shopping habits

Saving money starts with shaping your shopping habits. Think of groceries and vegetables. Rather than squandering your hard-earned dollars at sizzling hypermarkets, why not shop from the regional farmers’ market in Los Angeles? Remember, purchasing groceries involves a significant expense. So, knowing where to collect your groceries from would undoubtedly make a difference. You’d get groceries much cheaper at the farmers’ market.

Many of these markets offer reward programs and credit card discounts. Being tactical about how you purchase groceries, you can even end up saving more!

Coming to retail shopping, visit the local flea markets in LA and NYC. Go for the Roadium or Rose Bowl rather than Target or Ikea. There are also thrift stores to purchase household goods and furniture. Then there are Craigslist advertisements and Facebook Marketplace. Shell out just a fraction of the cost compared to expensive stores around the city.

Share your apartment

Housing happens to be one of the heaviest cost overheads in NYC. So, don’t purchase a property unless you save adequately to invest in real estate. Instead, look out for rental accommodation and share your apartment with a few roommates. Consider living with your friends or colleagues to split the rent.

Cheap accommodations are available on Airbnb for you to explore. Also, consider Rentometer or other similar tools to find affordable accommodations. Find your accommodation yourself to avoid shelling out a brokerage. This is usually equivalent to the rent for one month.

On the other hand, if you own a property in Los Angeles or New York City, rent out a portion. This would draw in a monthly income to help you manage other expenses.

Share cars, walk, or ride

First, try not to use your car in NYC or Chicago. In some metro cities, you don’t need to travel too often between places. So, why not eliminate possible parking fines, fuel expenses, or hassles like oil changes? Use public transportation to make significant expenses to ease up your wallet.

For Los Angeles or other sprawling cities, go for shared rides or carpool. At most, when you use your car, respect the parking norms to ditch chances of tickets. Get an inexpensive car and drive only when the situation looks too pressing.

To save on parking, check out free valet parking offers at The Grove and other shopping centers. Get a membership or rewards program to save throughout the month for regular parking.

Apart from ridesharing, go for Citi Bikes in NYC. With ride packages starting from a few dollars, you can easily navigate the city.

Also, familiarize yourself with the popular train and bus routes and get weekly or monthly passes.

Get meals from food trucks

Eating out in NYC can hurt your wallet badly! Ordering your meals online can be equally expensive. For instance, ordering a plate of Thai Curry online with a base price of $14 can cost you as much as $25. This includes high delivery charges, unrealistic packing charges, and higher tips to the delivery agent!

Switch to food trucks for meals at a reasonable budget. Burritos and tacos taste delicious! Try these out for dinners in Los Angeles rather than spending double the amount purchasing meals online. Taco trucks are popular throughout the city, and you can grab a plate for a few dollars.

Occasionally, if you decide to eat out, fast casual dining would hurt your wallet less than sitting down. This way, you can enjoy a restaurant-dining experience with plenty of options.

Coming to coffee, try to brew yours at home. In You’drdly get a cup in NYC at less than $2. A cold brew or latte can cost around $5. Considering two cups a day, you would be spending more than $100 a month with the basic one. That comes to $1,200 a year, which you can save by preparing your own coffee.

 Managing entertainment and nightlife

While it’s easy to fall for NYC and LA’s alluring nightlife and entertainment avenues, it pays to go the cheap way around. Restaurants, bars, and nightclubs look appealing, but you’d be draining your potential savings. Why compromise your long-term goals when you have alternatives to keep you engaged?

Ditch the hype of expensive concerts and events that involve cover charges. Even tickets at Broadway cost hundreds of dollars. NYC has plenty of talent that you can engross yourself with for free. You have Prospect Park in Brooklyn and Brooklyn Bridge, where you can enjoy free strolls, bike rides, and tons of entertainment.

Then there are free cultural events across the city dotting the calendar. Don’t miss out on the months of January and February to catch the Chinese New Year in Flushing and Chinatown. Also, you can enjoy the Feast of San Gennaro, located in Little Italy.

Rather than becoming a regular at city bars, why not host house parties? By bringing in friends, you can also cook your meals at home, which can potentially save you a lot.

 Get an NYPL card ASAP

Being a bookworm has its benefits in terms of money management. Your obsession with books may keep you engaged in the Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, or Queens Public Library. Of course, library cards and memberships wouldn’t cost as high as concert tickets!

Besides, members can access different events and museums across the city. There are botanical gardens and society museums where you can enjoy the privileges of being a cardholder. You can also borrow free passes when you take your friends along to these recreational places.

Visit the Culture Pass website for further information about the library card and reserve one.

Bank on local rewards programs

Well, do you take advantage of your credit card reward programs? A prudent approach on your end can save you hundreds of dollars.

Why not make every dollar count by participating in grocery store and pharmacy loyalty programs? Making in-store purchases or online payments through specific credit cards can bag you handsome discounts. Also, have you considered capitalizing on your credit card reward points?

Loyalty programs at popular stores can also fetch you discounts and cash-backs. For instance, regular customers at Vons often receive a discount at Shell station per gallon. Let these rewards accumulate, and put them aside in a savings account.

Again, Rite Aid Wellness members can earn dollars as rewards that they can spend later at the store.

Energy Savings

So far, we have discussed negotiable expenses in the hottest metros that can make your costs manageable. What about non-negotiable bills like utilities or gas?

Maybe, you’re already curtailing costs with energy-efficient appliances. Consider talking to your gas provider about discounts. Edison and Southern California Gas enable their customers to qualify for a discount.

Embrace intelligent shopping habits and go for free stuff as much as possible. Even if you’re earning a six-figure salary, it pays to be strategic with your expenses. Why not plan long-term and invest in assets as you curtail unnecessary costs? With a calculated approach to your lifestyle, you won’t feel the heat of the extravaganza!


Can I think of raising my family in New York or New York City?

Well, New York may not be the best place to raise your family unless you are financially well-established. The cost of living in the city is among the highest in the world. However, if you are tactical while managing your finances, NYC has some of the best localities in the country to raise your family. Prioritizing safety, quality housing, and the availability of green spaces, NYC would be a great place to live with your family.

What is smart budgeting in a metro city?

Smart budgeting defines the secret to effective money management in a metro city. Try to automate your savings from your income. Try to save on your commutes and meals. Use a cycle or walk down locally rather than counting on your car for short commutes. Also, try to save on your housing rent.

Where can I keep my savings each month?

As you stack up your monthly savings, put them aside in a high-yielding savings account. From time to time, review your savings and invest for your mid-term and long-term goals. For instance, investing in stocks or mutual funds can help you grow your assets. You can also invest in asset classes like bonds, REITs, and annuities.

How can I earn extra income in a metro city?

Creating multiple sources of income in a metro city makes lifestyle easier. Consider investing in real estate and renting out the property to earn a consistent monthly income. Also, start a business during your leisure hours besides engaging yourself in your primary profession. Consider other passive income options like blogging or investing in dividend-paying stocks.

What are some affordable localities in Los Angeles?

Los Angeles has some of the safest neighborhoods in the country, which are affordable too. These include Paramount, Cudahy, and Carson. Also, you can check out suburbs like North Valley, Crenshaw, and Victor Heights.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Ramil Ugot; Pexels; Thank you!

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Deanna Ritchie is a managing editor at Due. She has a degree in English Literature. She has written 2000+ articles on getting out of debt and mastering your finances. She has edited over 60,000 articles in her life. She has a passion for helping writers inspire others through their words. Deanna has also been an editor at Entrepreneur Magazine and ReadWrite.

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