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How to Save Money in a Big City


Living in a major city comes with its own set of money-saving challenges. You may need to spend more on transportation, either because you’re stuck in traffic (consuming gas) or because you need to take lots of subway rides. You might pay higher prices for babysitters, groceries, clothes and toiletries. And your rent or mortgage might be a lot higher.

How can you save money when you live in a large city? Here are a few tips.

#1: Plan Ahead

It’s easy to jump into a taxicab when you’re running late and you’re not entirely sure abut the directions. But a little planning can help you save a lot of money.

Give yourself plenty of time to get from one destination to the next. Study where you’re heading on a map, or use a route-planning app. The less rushed you are, the higher the chance that you’ll opt for walking or public transit instead of a cab.

#2: Get Delivery

No, I’m not talking about take-out food. Services that deliver basic household items (like groceries or pet food) often charge the same-or-lower rates than the corner store, because they have economy of scale, and they lack the overhead of a physical building space. It’s a win-win: you save time, hassle, and money, all in one. (That said, always compare prices. I can’t speak for every corner store out there.)

#3: Buy a Fuel-Efficient Car

If you live in a big city in which “congestion” takes the form of vehicle traffic (rather than subways), buy yourself a fuel-efficient car. You’ll be burning gas while you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper conditions, so you might as well burn the least amount of gas possible (Obviously driving in non-congested hours is preferable, but of course your work schedule determines when you need to be on the road.)

#4: Find Outlet Stores

One advantage of cities: You have lots of options. Instead of heading to big-name department stores, look for outlet shops, gently-used thrift store boutiques, or even street fairs in which artisans sell clothing. Not only will you be able to find plenty of these options — in a big city, these are seemingly on every corner — but you’ll also be able to take advantage of the competition by finding bargain prices.

By focusing on outlet stores and street fairs, you’ll be able to purchase clothes that are far cheaper than the brands that they carry in big department stores.

#5: Don’t Dine Out As Much

Your rent or mortgage will be higher than your counterparts in suburban areas; there’s no doubt about that. You’ll need to “pull” from other areas of your budget in order to adjust for this reality.

One idea: Don’t dine out at restaurants as often. If your suburban friends are dining out two or three times a week, perhaps you might dine out only once per week — and when you do, you skip the drinks, or dessert, or you make a “meal” out of just the soup or appetizers. By trimming other areas of your budget, you can more comfortably pay your rent each month.

Kennedi writes on budget fashion, fitness and frugality.

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My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. Good tips, cabs in NYC are expensive. You can save a lot of money by walking or just taking the subway. Like you said, you do need to plan ahead though.

    Another point on #5, there are a lot of discount websites that have coupons for dining, which can save you a lot of money. I haven’t paid full price in a NYC restaurant in over a year.

    • Aldo, Good for you for using the apps! Once you get into the habit of it, it’s hard to pay full price!

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