Living in DC isn’t cheap. Sticking to a budget isn’t easy (or always fun). But, there are ways to have fun, look great, and eat (and drink) well without killing your budget or social life!
And after yesterday’s slip-up, there’s no time like the present to remind myself of the importance of a budget :)
Here are my 5 tips and tricks I’ve learned about how to stick to a budget since living in my own place on my own dime:
Manis & pedis at home
Instead of spending $45 a week for a mani/pedi at a local salon, paint your nails yourself! I use to get my nails done wayyyy too often, until my roommate showed me it’s just as easy to paint them at home. It’s the perfect activity to do while I binge watch Scandal! I get just as many compliments on my nails now as I used to when I went to the salon.
Skip speciality cocktails
When you head to the bar or out to dinner with friends, it’s easy to get swept up into the excitement of some “speciality cocktail” the bar is whipping up. More times than not, I get sucked in by the cool name and don’t pay much attention to the ingredients or price. Mega fail! I commonly get my frilly cocktail and end up not liking it, or getting a sugar headache from all the random things they have put into it to make it taste like fruity pebbles (for example). Then, bam! A $13 bill for it. Unless you know that drink will be work every penny, stick with something simple. A glass of wine or a beer will run up a much smaller tab. So then you can enjoy two delicious glasses of wine for the price of one over-rated cocktail :)
Pack your lunch
There are actually two reasons you should pack your lunch for work. One, it’s so much healthier. Instead of getting a sandwich from the place down the street that toasts the sourdough bread with real butter and loads on the chipotle mayo, make a sandwich at home with whole grain bread, light mayo, and extra veggies. Reason two, you save so much money! For the price of one “combo” meal (sandwich, chips, and drink) for $12 every day, you are spending $60 a week just on lunches! That’s enough money to buy groceries for all meals for the whole week.
How can people pay $5 a day for an average coffee from Starbucks? Is it really that much better than your coffee at home (definitely not for me) and is it really that much easier to stand in line for 15 minutes than to wait for 3 minutes as your coffee brews at home? I’m in full support of going to Starbucks with coworkers every now and again as a bonding activity, but you don’t need to go every day! Cut it back to once a week and you will be shocked by how much you save.
Make a grocery list
Now that you are making your lunches at home (note point #3) you will be going to the grocery store a bit more. Grocery stores are a weakness of mine. Everything I come across I want! The moment I walk down the chip aisle I realize there are a new brand of chez-its I have to try and a new flavor of skinny pop…. that’s where I begin to rack up my grocery store bill. When you go to the store, have a plan! Think about the meals you will make during the week. Don’t buy too many fruits and veggies that will go bad before you can eat all of them. And steer clear of impulse buys, like that delicious looking frozen pizza and $4 organic yogurts.
What are your tips and tricks to sticking to a budget?