Being young, driven, and in a major city can be a triple threat. Meaning, you have no experience, you want it all but have almost nothing, and by living in a major city you're most likely spending more than you make, you have to drive everywhere, and you're in somewhat of a way forced to be stylish (which costs money). Gas prices are high as hell, the food costs more than its worth, and you have to keep up with a fast paced lifestyle, but somehow ball on a budget. But not all hope is lost! You can still pull off living on a budget with a little creativity and advice. Lets start with your car budget. Buckle in, because this is going to be a long, but very useful article on everyday life tips that could really help you. Lets begin the budgeting, shall we?
You want to have the luxury of driving your own car, but the monthly payments, along with insurance, repairs, gas, TICKETS (don't get me started on parking tickets in LA), tow fees if you happen to get towed and it does happen UNFORTUNATELY, and of course, accidents. But lets break it down to the easiest and most accessible way to own a car when you're on a budget.
Save up about $3000-$7000 (I know I already lost ya, but hang on for a second), buy a car outright either used from a dealer, personal owner, or better yet, AN AUCTION. I know this sounds harder than what you'd like to put work towards, but once you buy a car outright, you'll save money, be a car owner, never have a car note, and your car insurance costs will be cut in half. Plus, you'll never have to worry about getting your car repossessed for a missed payment. Ask anyone (or maybe you already know from experience) who has had this happen to them, and they will tell you its the worst most devastating event to happen besides a death in the family. Its actually traumatic. So just try to avoid it at all costs, yeah? Before you buy a car outright, maybe you're already leasing one, financing one, or maybe uber is your way around town. So I suggest putting together either a savings account, borrow from a family member and work slowly on reasonable terms of a payback method, or sell some belongings that you have that you don't need, but have sitting around the house thats taking up space. (We'll get into that a little later) When you're broke, every penny counts. So imagine, you have bad credit and you start financing a car. Yeah, $299 a month sounds better than paying $4000 now, but not only are you paying taxes and interest, its most likely double the price than it was on the lot and because you're financing the car, you have to get FULL coverage car insurance. And depending on what state you're in, that could range anywhere from $100-$600 a month. Just a thought. Not including gas, repairs, tickets, etc. As far as auctions go, they're so awesome! But like anything too good to be true, theres a catch. You have to have a dealers license to get the good stuff, and they could most definitely come with mechanical problems when you buy the car as is. So, just make sure you have a really good mechanic, and try to get them to go with you the auction to check the car out before you hop in and drive off.
FINANCING: If you MUST get a brand new car, here is a good solution. Swap-a-lease is a great website because they're used cars, and most of the time you don't have to put money down, they just check your credit and you take over the lease. Then, there is another solution. Lease a car. No commitment longer than 2 years, you get a brand new car every time your lease is up, and if you have issues with it, you get it serviced fo' FREE. Thats a deal. But for people who have budget issues to begin with, they don't have the credit to get a low monthly payment and a nice whip. So, who knows?! Whats in your budget? What can you afford? What do you want, and what do you need? Are they different answers? Are you being honest with yourself? Moving on.
I know you like your space, but hear me out. Renting a room is an amazing opportunity if you don't have good credit, on a budget, and need a roof over your head. In LA, a STUDIO FRIKKIN APARTMENT (with no bedbugs or crackhead neighbors) goes for a minimum of $1000 a month without utilities, a parking space, or laundry included. A room to rent can range anywhere from $400-$800 and you get a full kitchen, a whole house, cool neighbors (roommates; hopefully), and LAUNDRY most of the time and its a fraction of the price. Plus, most only require a deposit, and no credit check. Its month to month, and if you're good at research you can travel around and live just fine rooming it with a few cool strangers every couple of months while you explore on a budget. Maybe cross country road-tripping in your new car you got from an auction! (Wishful thinking? Ok ill stop)
So, you're on a budget but don't want to turn into an american statistic. Get it? Never mind. Ok. So you want to be healthy. But people think "healthy" means expensive. Well. Its not, if you're smart with budgeting ;) Thats what IM here for! <3 So, lets break it down. To survive, you need water, minerals, and substance. Thats easy, if you're a beggar not trying to be a chooser. So lets put together some sort of a game plan that makes sense.
(ALWAYS DRINK LOTS OF WATER RIGHT WHEN YOU WAKE UP)
Smoothies/juice (with or without the following) - Store bought: $5-$8 // Home made: $1-$2 per smoothie
Bananas with almond/peanut butter - Bundle of Bananas: $3 // Almond Butter: $5-$12 a jar (multiple uses)
Granola/Oatmeal with banana - Original/Plain oatmeal: $3 for a large tub
2 eggs and toast - Dozen eggs: $6-$10 // Bread: $3-$7 (Multiple uses)
Cereal with fruit - Box of cereal: $4-$8
Yogurt with fruit and/or granola - Yogurt: $0.50-$2 a cup
Protein shake - RAW Protein: $18 (multiple uses)
Cereal/granola bars - $1-$3 a bar // $5-$8 a box
Bagel and cream cheese - Store bought: $3-$5 // Home made: 6 pack of bagels: $4 / Tub of cream cheese: $4 (multiple uses)
Lunch options: (You can find most of these at most delis, restaurants, cafes etc.)
(TRY TO DRINK ONLY WATER. NO SODAS, REFINED OR PROCESSED SUGAR, ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS)
Smoothies/juice // See above
Tacos (lean meats or veggie) - $1-$3 a taco
Salad with your choice of protein (add soup optional) - Store bought: $7-$14 a plate // Home made: $2-$5 Per plate
Fruit salad - $4-$10 a bowl
El Pollo Loco (I personally like this as a fast and super cheap last resort because of their array of veggies and lean meats)
Subway - $5 FOOTLONNNGGGGGG
Light pasta meal
Sandwich and a small bag of chips from a deli/deli style - $3-$10
Lean meat with steamed veggies, and a carb. - $8-$15 (depending on if store bought or home made)
Caesar Salad with soup
Quinoa mixed with garbanzo beans and veggies - $5 home made
Tacos/tostadas with a lean meat or frijoles and veggies with rice/beans - $5-$10
Mozzarella cheese quesadilla with steamed asparagus and tortilla chips/salsa - $3-$7
Vegetarian/chicken chili (bulk made item- recipe coming soon) - LARGE POT PORTION / $15-$30
Dessert options: PRICELESS
Spoon full of peanut butter - $... Do I really have to do the math for you?
Strawberries and/or bananas with a light dollop of Nutella
Bananas and agave drizzled over top
Healthy french crepes (CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE)
Banana ice cream (dairy free; vegan; recipe coming soon)
Small square of dark chocolate -
Veggies and hummus
Lightly popped popcorn, lightly salted
String cheese wrapped in a corn tortilla
Garbanzo Bean poppers (recipe coming soon; SO EASY!)
Rice cakes, almond butter and agave on top
Chips and guacamole
Small serving of fresh french fries
Smoothies (didn't you see this coming?)
So as you can see, there are a lot of options. It may not look like it, but if you discipline yourself enough and get creative, you can really be happy, lose weight, all while saving money and feeling great about yourself. If you compare store bought prices to at home prices, its cut in HALF. Its incredible what money you could save by putting in your own labor, using your own plates and silverware, and creating your own masterpieces. I recommend trader joes for anyone that wants quality, but is still on a budget. Spend $100-200 every 2 weeks and you'll be one happy money savin motha fucka. I promise you THAT.
YOUR SOCIAL LIFE
You wanna go out with the homies, but you don't want to go broke along the way. So, here are great ways to avoid that m'dear!
If you're a female: Uhem. LET MEN BUY YOU DRINKS. Thats what they're there for. Duh. And food when you drink with them enough. It'll happen believe me. Also, if you really wanna be smart, be the DD in your brand new auction whip, and have everyone pitch in gas money. Don't drink Alcohol, instead- drink water, or have people buy you virgin drinks so at least you have something in your hand. That way, you have gas, everyone is having a good time because you're there, and you don't look like a pussy because you have a colorful drink! But no one needs to know its a virgin. Your secret is safe with me. <3
If you're a male: Don't make this a regular thing, because then it will look like you have a sponsor. And thats pretty bad. BUT- once in a blue moon is good for this- but go out with your most well connected comrade. He will most likely have a bottle waiting at the table, and appetizers with a whole bunch of strippers just waiting for you and your entourage to show up. Well, maybe not strippers. But who knows, you might have some really cool friends. I COULD BE WRONG. Plus, you can do the designated driver thing as well. Drink water, be the nice friend that picks everyone up, gets gas money, and still has a great time! OR- throw a bangin party at your house and have everyone bring their own shit. NO BUDGET PROBLEMS THERE.
If you're a couple: Oh the things you can do! We've spoken about food choices already. Why don't you go shopping for some groceries, and make a cute little dinner together, watch a movie at home, and just talk. Nothing crazy, but super special and memorable. Buy .50c pillar candles or, you can always buy one of my candles and since you're on a budget you can use code: ICOMEFIRST for a discount. Thank me later. You can also go bike riding, hiking, a stroll at the park, or, go to a family gathering. They will ALWAYS feed you and give you shit you don't need. But hey. At least you're not buyin it!
CLOTHING AND SHOPPING
Okay. So this is an amazing thing. Because theres this thing called the INTERNET. And it has deals ALL OVER IT. OH! And also, you can get a resellers license fo' FREE if you have a business (wink) and get WHOLESALE items for half the price than what you'd find at the store. I KNOW. IM INCREDIBLY SMART. You cant contain your excitement. I know I know.... Shhhhh.... But seriously, here are some of my favorite online stores for ridiculously low prices but quality clothing:
They have sales, cute clothes, and it will save you SO much money. If you have a passion for fashion, you can also put together some really cute ensembles and impress the hell out of people when you tell them that it was only like $20 in total to dress yourself this morning. I love to see peoples faces. It doesn't take a million bucks to make you look like a million bucks. Its your million dollar mindset.
MONEY MANAGEMENT AND SAVINGS
So, saving money has always been an issue for me, and up until recently I found out a really, really cool and easy breezy way of managing and saving money. I use this app called Qapital. And what it does, is its linked to your bank account, and if you have $100 or more in your account, you can set to either every day or every purchase, you can have a custom set amount of money taken and put aside in a separate savings account every single day automatically so you don't have to worry about it. For instance, I had mine set to $2 extra on every purchase iv made on my card, so I would just round up another $2 on every purchase I made and it was set aside. Once your account (if ever) goes below $100 it will pause the entire savings routine until you're in the safe zone. I then changed my setting from every purchase, to every day, $2, set aside. Its so simple, no brainer, and its what you'd spend anyways on something stupid. As time goes by, you can either set it towards a specific goal like a new car, money for your new place, some new clothes, or maybe just a bunch of emergency money. Either way, its so perfect to not have to pay any mind to it, and you know its always there. You can also put forward any amount you want towards it any time. Throw it $25, $50, $100... Anything helps and it will be there when you need it.
HAPPY BUDGETING YOU GUYS! I hope this article helped you, and if you have any feedback or advice, please let me know! Id love to know your experiences using my advice. Be smart, have fun, and be free.