Peter Stadler, lived in San Francisco Bay Area
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…
- 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.
- Keep a good driving record. Tickets and insurance add up FAST in the bay area, and California in general.
- 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).