Ah, home sweet home. You’re happily kicked back in your new home and you’re slowly but surely getting used to the new city waiting to be discovered all around you. Unfortunately, your new stomping grounds can come with a high cost attached if you’re not careful with your finances. That cost can continue to trip you up long after you’ve stopped reflexively giving out your old address or phone number by mistake. Here are a few tips to keep your wallet as comfortable in your new home as you are.
Potential Pitfall # 1: Groceries
Even if you’re the king or queen of takeout, sooner or later you’ll need a few staples for the fridge. In your first few weeks after moving, get to know your local grocery stores and note prices for common items like bread, milk and eggs. If you have a handful of items that you can’t live without (for me, it’s a particular brand of pesto) take a peek at those as well.
Sure, spending that extra $1.50 on a gallon of milk might not seem like a big deal, but when you consider that cost accumulating every week for a year, it’s a luxury tax you don’t need to be paying. If your local grocery stores offer a shop-at-home option, make use of it: not only can you comparison shop a few stores right at your desk, but picking up or getting delivery for an already-assembled order keeps impulse purchases to a minimum.
Potential Pitfall # 2: Car Insurance, Gas, & Parking Costs
If you own a car, it’s easy to forget that these costs definitely change when your address does. Insurance costs can vary wildly depending on your new state and city—sometimes in your favor, sometimes not. It’s worth it to obtain a few competitors’ quotes to make sure you’re not getting hit with an unnecessary insurance hike.
Certain smartphone apps like GasBuddy can direct you to the cheapest gas stations nearby. Keep your eyes out for ads on classified websites like Craigslist for nearby parking space opportunities if spaces are in short supply in the immediate area around your building or home.
Potential Pitfall # 3: Other Transportation
If you don’t own a car, or don’t drive it often, you’re likely taking advantage of public transit options in the area. If you’ve moved for a job, make sure to ask your H.R. department about potential savings on transit passes (many companies, especially larger ones, have negotiated discounts on bus and train fare for commuting employees). If you’ve moved for school, the same rule applies: student discounts can save you a bundle!
If you only need one-off rides now and then, consider using phone apps like Uber and Lyft, both of which often offer discount codes. If you prefer your own wheels, unique car rental services like Zipcar can be an inexpensive alternative to owning a vehicle and paying for parking and insurance.
Potential Pitfall # 4: Socializing
Naturally, you’ll want to make friends and start setting up a social network in your new locale—that’s great! What’s not so great is looking at your wallet after paying for a round or two. If you’re planning to go out and don’t want to look like a cheapskate, scope out websites for bars, look for cost info in Yelp reviews and hunt down promotional nights and specials before ever leaving the house. Bring a set amount of cash with you so you’re not tempted to overspend, and make sure to eat before you head out to eat so that you can savor small plates or tapas treats without a growling stomach driving your menu selections.
Potential Pitfall #5: Passing Stores on the Street
When I was living in New York City, it never ceased to amaze me how easy it was for a simple journey from point A to point B to get interrupted by stopping to make a purchase along the way. In cities in particular, you tend to be surrounded by new shops and culture that seem new and exciting. Sometimes just the fact that they are there in front of you makes them tempting.
In walking cities especially, it can be easy to get distracted by the things you are passing. Rather than maintaining tunnel visions and keeping yourself from looking around and actively participating in your own journey from A to B, you can work to avoid distractions by setting a certain amount of time for yourself to get somewhere, only carry a certain amount of money with you, or just practice having the discipline to say no to your urges to shop when shopping was not your intention.
Get Out There!
Your new city is full of exciting new restaurants, entertainment and sights to discover, and if you’re conscious about where your money is going, you’ll enjoy them that much more. No one wants to frantically check their online balance instead of streaming another season of a favorite show on Netflix, so save yourself the fiscal anguish and use these tips to keep your bank account balance….balanced!
Ross Cameron is a full-time day trader and owner of Warrior Trading which he founded in 2012 as a live trading chat room emphasizing education and idea generation. Before he achieved success by trading stocks, he taught himself many ways to save money on a day-to-day basis. Today he continues to trade in his chat room and teach trading courses, and lives with his family in Vermont.