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I hear a lot of people say they can’t save money or pay off their debt because of where they live. The jobs are in the city and that’s where the rent is high so I get why you would say that.
But I live in a city and we were able to pay off $78,000 of debt in less than two years. With no handouts, gifts, or help from our parents.
I live in St. Petersburg, FL, a suburb of Tampa. It’s a beach town with expensive waterfront properties and a booming tech city downtown with high rise condos going up as I type.
According to Expatistan’s cost of living index, the Tampa area is the 57th most expensive area to live in, in North America. I admit it’s no San Francisco but I am adamant that if you pick the right city it can help your debt payoff more than hinder.
Being frugal isn’t all about getting free food and doing free things. It’s also about finding ways to save on things you’d normally pay full price for without thinking. They don’t make big dents but those little practices add up.
Here’s how we save money on things we need to maintain our debt payoff momentum without compromising max fun levels.
Free City Resources
So it’s not all about free things but I can’t NOT start with my favorite thing about living in the city: Free Stuff!
I’m so thankful to live in a city that offers its residents so many free resources. We have a library with free books, CDs, DVDs, even Kindle downloads. Free events means I don’t have to sit at home Saturday night to save money and there’s always a pick-up game of soccer or frisbee at one of our well-maintained parks.
This is stuff you just will not get living in the middle of nowhere. Our city helps us be frugal and have a life.
In-Store Cash Back
More stores mean more opportunities for cash back. You should be familiar with getting cash back online but you can get it in stores now too!
Ebates offers cash back at a variety of stores for just linking your card. Of course, this is only frugal if they’re stores you shop at anyway (i.e. this is not an excuse to buy that Crate&Barrel couch, no matter how beautiful it is.) Luckily there are plenty.
- Buy Buy Baby
- Bed Bath & Beyond (feel free to use a 20% off coupon too)
- Face Values
Also if you sign up through my referral link (This one right here) you’ll get $10 to spend on a purchase of $25 or more. Keep your purchase as close to $25 as possible and that’s a great deal! It’s good on any Cash Back deal including their online retailers like Amazon and Groupon. But it expires so wait to sign up until you’re ready to use it.
Rebates on Store Brands
Every Frugal Frannie knows buying the store brand is cheaper than name brands unless you’re Krazy couponer.
And even with coupons, you can usually get better deals buying store brands. The perk of being in the city is proximity to a wide selection of stores with their own brand. Don’t like the Walmart brand paper towels? I can go get the Aldi or Publix brand down the street.
I maximize those savings with Ibotta. It’s the only app that gives cash back on certain store brand items (labeled as “Any Brand” but we all know that means I’m buying the store brand.) And you can always find a $.25 cent rebate for uploading “Any Receipt.” So just by shopping at one of their partner stores and not buying any of the advertised products I get a quarter!? OK!!!
If you want a $10 bonus (FREE MONEY YES PLZ) all you have to do is click this link to sign up with my referral stamp of approval and redeem 3 brand name rebates within 10 days. For a free $10 you’re still saving money even when those rebates are on name brands.
Lots of Chains That Accept Discounted Gift Cards
Probably my favorite life hack is buying discounted gift cards for everything. It’s like walking into a store and knowing I instantly get 3%, 6%, or 25% off everything.
Gift Card Granny is an aggregate of gift card resellers. You can find the best deals there then head to the other sites to buy them. You can see the history of discounts for each retailer so I wait to buy when the cards are at max value.
I can buy gift cards for gas stations, grocery stores, Walmart, Amazon, and all the other places I shop. And the great thing about using gift cards is that they don’t affect coupons. I’ll periodically look for gift cards on Gift Card Granny if I find a really good coupon for a place. MAXIMUM SAVINGS EFFORT.
Do Surveys While You Wait
Living in a city inevitably means waiting. Waiting in traffic, waiting in line, waiting for the toilet (or on the toilet.) Which means time for surveys.
Surveys aren’t my favorite way to earn money but they are a legit way to earn free gift cards to sites like Amazon. You can read more about my favorite sites here, but in-order they are:
Honestly, if you only have time for one, do Swagbucks. In addition to surveys, you can watch videos, play games, and shop for cash back to smaller retailers. I found a few locally owned businesses that I can get in-store cash back at that Ebates doesn’t support.
So Many Opportunities For Making Money!
Here’s my favorite one. I know making money doesn’t directly fall under frugality but I found for me personally I spend less money when I’m busy making it.
My favorite way is hosting guests through Airbnb. We’ve been doing it for several months and have been booked almost solid since the day I posted the listing. You can make awesome money in the city.
If you don’t have a spare room you can drive for Uber. That best buck for your time is during events, around airports, and early in the morning when there aren’t as many drivers. I also love the concept of driving UberEatsUberEats or for Amazon Prime Now because I like driving around things more than people.
Speaking of Amazon Prime Now, living in the city grants you the opportunity to have things delivered. Prime memberships are dangerous if you don’t use them wisely but can be valuable if you’re working.
Ultimately your time is worth more making money than saving it. If you have the opportunity to make $100 but have to go grocery shopping then make the $100 and get your groceries delivered.
This is a concept many frugalistas forget. Don’t leave good money on the table to save a few dollars.
If you don’t have Amazon Prime then InstaCart and Shipt are comparable.
So don’t say you can’t save money and spend less in the city. Don’t make spending money a hobby and you’ll game the system with ease. It just takes a little planning and organization to save money on all the things you need.