Pro-Tip Tuesday: Lauren Spends Money Like a Pro

11:30 AM

Today's Pro-Tips are coming to you from Lauren of Lauren Spends Money. Lauren is hilarious, savvy, and on a serious budget much like myself. I asked her to share some of her best tips for saving money while living in metro areas like Boston and New York. She's seriously fierce and fabulous and has this down to a science.

Since I moved to Brooklyn two Septembers ago, I’ve become hyper-defensive upon hearing people go on about how the cost of living in NYC is impossibly high and only kids with rich parents can make it here. I make an entry level salary, have student loans and bills and don’t get bankrolled by anyone, and I manage here just fine (with the help of a few paid freelance gigs). New York is not that different from any other city -- if you live here, and you love it here, you’ll find a way to not only stay, but thrive. As a spendaholic, shopping-obsessed epicure, I’ve developed a few budgeteering tips to keep me in the black (even if just barely) while having fun and staying as fabulous as I can. First, always set aside rent and bill money the moment you get your paycheck. Then...

1) Find your favorite bar and become a regular. Once you find a spot you love, always sit at the bar (rather than a table), and make nice with the bartender. Most bars in big cities build “buybacks” into their bartenders’ wages, which means bartenders are allowed to give away so many dollars’ worth of free drinks per shift. Those freebies can and will be yours if you make an effort to be friendly and engaging. Don’t forget to tip, even if your drink is free!
2) Stay busy with free cultural events. They’ll not only get you out of your apartment even if you’re broke, they’ll also usually shower you with free snacks and booze (thanks for the free shrimp tacos and Lagunitas IPA, New Yorker!). If your friends want to go see a movie and the $14 ticket freaks you out (ahem, story of my life), check out local listings for a book talk or gallery opening and suggest that instead. The higher cost of living in major cities provides for these types of events -- take advantage of them and save some cash!
3) Scope out new restaurants, which usually offer discounts during their opening weeks. It’s a great way to try out new places, and you’ll save money on your bill. In New York City, a new restaurant opens about as often as someone rings you up to grab dinner -- so, basically, constantly.
4) Skimp where it counts. I love a lavish Sunday brunch with my friends, and I extra-love several bloody marys. Soon after moving here, I figured out what was important to me -- treating myself to eggs, morning cocktails and gossip once a week, for example -- so I started to cut back where I could. This means cooking breakfast and dinner at home and bringing lunch to work (rather than buying it) Monday through Friday, going to a not-great but super-cheap gym and never taking cabs. Define your own priority luxuries and get thrifty on the rest -- every budget deserves a treat now and then.
5) Open your junk email! Where suburbia has “extreme couponers,” NYC has “extreme Grouponers,” and I’m one of them. A huge city means basically limitless daily deals, which I like to use on things like manicures, haircuts and yoga -- things that would be considered luxuries if I wasn’t saving a mucho on their ticket price. An amazing app called ScoutMob, which is now available in most major cities, offers savings on dinner and drinks at local spots for free (and you don’t have to give the waitress an embarrassing computer print-out either).

So there you have it. Thriving on a budget. Be sure to check out Lauren's blog here! 

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