DC is an expensive city to live in. My weekend in Williamsburg, VA drove this home when I spent a total of $14.86 on groceries, for 3 adults, for 2 full days of food. Including tax. Below are 5 things I am doing to keep costs low this summer:
- Take the Metro off peak hours. If you can work from home until 10am and leave after 7:30pm you will pay half-price for your fare. Even a few days a week of this will help greatly.
- Borrow from friends, don’t buy. I am terrible at asking for favors, but when I know borrowing something will not inconvenience a friend and will save me a great deal of money, I try to do it. My bike is a case-in-point. I’ve been borrowing it from a housemate in Pittsburgh who doesn’t need it. When my housemate in DC said I could use her spices and cooking oil, I did. I also leave her cookies as a thank you.
- Check your bank balance. Often. Know exactly when money is coming in, when it isn’t, and have a plan to deal with either scenario. This will avoid stress, and make you feel more in control.
- Buy one of something that will make you very happy, not many mediocre things. I’ve been looking for new jeans since January, and I finally bought a pair I love. On eBay. For $3 + $8 shipping. They are in great shape, they fit me, and what I spent in time tracking them down they have given back to me in good feelings. My good quality navy-blue work-pants are the same deal: they fit perfectly, and though they were expensive when I bought them 3 summers ago, they look as good now as they did then. Quality and thought paid off.
- Stay in. DC is a hopping place, and the pizza parlors, bars, operas and benefits are part of the experience. But at a minimum of $3 a slice/drink/coat-check/pretzel, they will also break your budget. Make friends who like playing video games, and have their own systems; blog (it’s free and great for building your brand online); get the cheapest Netflix account and stream TV shows or watch Hulu with friends.
Unfortunately, even if you live in the suburbs and eat rice, living in DC will cost money. While the standard for stipends varies (all of my law-student friends ot $5000 for the summer), you will need a budget and probably a part-time job to make ends meet.
But being here worth it.
Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future. ~Gail Lumet Buckley