Write about how you save/spend money as a millennial living in the DC area while running your own business.
Washington D.C....The nations capital and also one of the most expensive cities to live in the United States.
DC is a city close to my heart and I can't imagine being anywhere else at the moment. Five+ years ago I started my first business here and the longer I stay, the more I love it. (and that's a bold statement coming from a California girl)
Saving money here is no easy task. I've made a few mistakes a long the way so I am going to discuss them as well as how I've recovered from them.
1. Living solo. When I first moved to DC I had a roommate. Eventually I grew tired of sharing a tiny space and decided it was time to get my own tiny space. $2000 a month later, I had the pleasure of living alone but also the pain of paying for everything alone. You don't think about how much internet, TV, utilities, etc is until it's ALL on you. I quickly found ways to cut some of these costs. I never watched TV so I got rid of cable and internet. WHA? Who gets rid of internet? I had a giant data plan on my cellphone so I'd link that to my laptop when I needed to compute at home. That was $109 saved/month. I added a family member to my cellphone plan so I could split that cost 50/50. I only used my heat/AC when it was TOTALLY necessary, thus saving at least $30-$40 a month. I'd create meal plans and plan my groceries ahead so I could "fix" my food costs. Finally, I had an offer to move in with my best friend (Arash) and I said goodbye to solo lifestyle and to be honest, I couldn't be happier. My rent is now $1400 and our utilities split are about $40 per person. I no longer have to stress on my grocery bill and I'm saving over $500 a month!
2. My car. I hate buying cars. I am a woman and I feel like the dealerships are out to get us all. It's stressful and just tediously terrible. When my car was totaled in an accident I was left scrambling to find a replacement. I decided to go with the car "I'd always wanted" and because it was SO specific, I got completely ripped off. I was single at the time and had no one to help guide me in negotiating a better deal. My advice to you is - if you know what you want, take someone with you who is ready and able to battle it out. Otherwise, a car is just a means of transportation, buy something cheap and save your $.
3. Going out. When I first moved to DC we'd go to nightclubs and lounges every weekend, all weekend. Each drink was $15 and holy cow, it really starts to add up! As I've gotten older I've grown out of that scene (my bank account thanks me) and I've found ways to balance going out and saving $. I like to go "out out" one night a week. If friends want to get cocktails twice in a week, I always invite them to my house to do so. I'd rather supply the drinks at bulk than pay $15 for one when an entire handle of Tito's costs $23. Plus, having people over saves me $ in uber/parking. It's a win-win. The one night that I do go "out out" I let myself do whatever I want. You have to live a little!
4. Food. I touched on this a little bit before but I used to hate cooking and thus would go grab a salad out every night. $11 a day for 7 days = $77, $308/month. Well guys, a salad is pretty much the easiest thing to make at home so finally I decided it was time to grow up, get to the grocery store and make things for myself. Not only do I save a TON of $$$ but I get a nice feeling of accomplishment for doing it myself.
What I will spend $ on without question:
The gym. I used to belong to a gym that cost me $22 a month and was open 24 hours a day. Guess how often I went? Maybe twice a week. Now I pay $159 a month for a gym that only offers classes AND who charges you $12 fee if you don't show up. Guess how often I go? 5-7x a week. I utilize that membership like my life depends on it. The result? A more energetic, healthy, fit, and happy version of myself. I don't miss that $159 even for a second.
My groceries. I refuse to eat poor quality food. I shop mainly at Whole Foods (or whole paycheck as some call it) and I don't apologize for it. (I supplement with items from Costco as well.) I think health is your wealth and it's important to eat mindfully (organic, non-gmo, etc)
My point here is, spend money on the things that I won't feel a sense of regret about. I regret that car, I regret living alone for so long, I regret going to nightclubs and spending way too much on drinks.
I don't regret my pricey gym membership, my one night out a week where I do whatever I want, cooking my own meals, and having a roommate whom I share expenses with.
Nobody is perfect but you can improve as you go along.