Quora: how can you significantly cut down your regular expenses?

As a software engineer in the SF Bay Area who is looking to save, how can you significantly cut down your regular expenses?

Peter Stadler

Peter Stadler, lived in San Francisco Bay Area

Answered Fri · Upvoted by Sujin Leek, lives in San Francisco Bay Area (2004-present)

  1. Don’t live in San Francisco. By simply moving even down to Daly City, you can save an extra $1,000 / month without significantly changing your commute for most people. Instead of riding your brake pedal in traffic for 20 minutes, you’ll be driving @ ~45 mph for 20 minutes. The time doesn’t change just the method of getting there.
  2. Get a roommate. Or two. This can be tough for the socially awkward / those who don’t have a built in social network, but there are plenty of ways to gain a roommate and this too can save you $1,000 / month or more in rent. For example: a 1 bedroom apartment may cost $2,500. A 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom place in the same complex may cost $3,500. But now you’re dividing it between 2 people, so instead of $2,500 / month your individual cost is only $1,750. There’s ~$800 in savings right there. A 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom unit in the same complex may cost $4,200, but divided among 3 people now you’re down to $1,400 per person - $1,100 cheaper than if you lived by yourself, AND a built-in social life / gym partners / professional network you can leverage.
  3. Don’t party in San Francisco. SF social life is stupidly expensive. And yeah yeah I know you can find all manner of “cheap” dive bars etc to spend your money at. You’ll still have to deal with parking, Uber/Lyft, and increased costs compared to down the peninsula / south bay (ie, $7 or more for a Blue Moon in SF compared to $5-$6 elsewhere, let alone if you just buy a case at Costco and drink at your house with some friends). Most places will cost you significantly more for a casual night out - $50 or more and it adds up quickly.
  4. Indulge in cheaper hobbies. Gym memberships are relatively cheap compared to golf, but hiking is even cheaper and nothing says you can’t do pushups / pullups / etc on the trails. Kiteboarding is fun, but so is surfing if you’re going to be out on the water, and surfing’s cheaper. Video games, reading, book clubs, etc are cheaper too.
  5. Learn to cook and make your own food / meal prep / buy in bulk. This can chop your food costs down even if you get 2–3 meals a day for free from work - your weekend meals and perhaps dinners / breakfasts can still amount to a few hundred dollars per month. That’s a car payment. Speaking of which…
  6. Cut the car payment. Yeah, I know, you finally landed a 6-figure salary plus stock options and the car is only $65k! You’ve always wanted a BMW / Mercedes / Porsche and you’re tired of your trusty old hoopty Corolla. Fine, you want a “new” / “newer” car with all the bells and whistles because your car is so old it doesn’t even have bluetooth or a backup camera? Don’t want a cheap DIY solution that will add both of those things to your Corolla for like $300 total? Got it. You’re set on buying something new. Go for a 1–3 year old CPO car and let someone else take the depreciation hit for buying new. I promise you, a 2015–16 Honda Civic with the luxury package will still be a massive upgrade over your old 2004 Corolla.
  7. Keep a good driving record. Tickets and insurance add up FAST in the bay area, and California in general.
  8. Network. There are so, so, so many networking events for various groups out here. Tons of them provide free food, free drinks, and connections to recruiters, companies, volunteer efforts, nonprofits, etc. This can fulfill a significant part of your social life while leveraging your social time to still be productive and moving forward with your life and career, while saving you even more on drinks, food, parking, etc - several of the events I’ve attended even provide free Lyft / Uber rides to / from the event because they assume that since they’re offering free drinks, you might not want to drink and drive (duh).

OMG. Why not just turn into a monk and live in a monastery so then you get free food all the time from worshippers. All you need to do is pray.

  1. Never use uber/lyft. Walk, bike, or use Muni.

  2. If you drive - never pay for parking. Only street park.

  3. Grocery shop at Sunset Super or New May Wah. Costco and TJs is ok. Avoid: Whole Foods, Rainbow Grocery, BiRite, Mollie Stone, etc. If you buy anything from Safeway, use a coupon.

  4. Never use uber eats / doordash / postmates etc. 30% premium on food and quality sucks after having traveled 1hr. Cook it yourself

  5. No subscriptions for anything. Don’t nickel and dime yourself to death.

  6. Get married to the right person that is also frugal. Consolidate household expenses.

  7. Don’t get divorced.


You do all that yet you own a top of the line dishwasher… a bit contradictory wouldn’t you say… :thinking:

1 Like

Of course! Embrace your funk. :+1:

Sure… I own top of the line stocks… :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

As if the person eating $20 avocado toasts will listen to the guy on Quora.

Btw I made avocado toasts today; total cost was less than a dollar.

1 Like

Millionaires count money, try to save by following some methods/principles.

If the same item sells at Amazon $20, Costco $18, they shop Costco. Why? it is easy savings, but not misery look.

Regarding dishwasher, top of the brand, it is for quality, reliability and long life of equipment from well known brands or company. It is again usage/cost for higher efficiency.

Bosch is well known for its quality, precision machines, even though expensive. Most of my garage tools are from Bosch.

1 Like


Can we all meetup at your house then? Much cheaper than BJ :slight_smile:

  1. Be happy and content. Find joy in your life. This is most important - this will prevent you from wasting money, buying things on the false assumption that having more stuff will make you happy.

You sound like a prude trying to convince call ladies not to have sex though.

That means you are doing very well avocado shopping. May I ask - what is your source? Even Costco usually sells avocados for 4 for $5. :avocado:

1 Like

Never get your fruits from Costco because they are ripoffs except for the bananas. I get my avocados from Trader Joe’s - $2.99 for a bag of 6. They are smaller than the ones from Costco but still cheaper after you factor in the size. They are not organic though in case you are wondering. I never get organic produce because it’s a sham (especially if you don’t eat the skin - who cares?).


Nothing wrong with making a true splurge here or there. Cut out all the garbage, and buy the stuff that you REALLY want.

Yes sir! Good luck with that dream mansion in Atherton :rofl:

Oops I thought you were responding to my other post… :rofl:

Ohhhhh thanks I learned something tonight - TJ it is. I buy the bananas and grapefruit from Costco.

1 Like
  1. Live in Natherton*. Just steps away from Atherton, but you pay Redwood City prices.
  • Natherton means “Not Atherton” or “Near Atherton” depending on which side of the Atherton border you live on. :slight_smile:

That’s like a man wearing a dress pretending to be a woman though…

You’re not pretending, you just have to walk a couple of blocks over to enjoy the “semi-rural” ambiance. :slight_smile: