Living Frugally in the Big City

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by jillianjiggs, Feb 10, 2005.

  1. jillianjiggs

    jillianjiggs Well-Known Member

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    We're moving downtown next month to be closer to my new job. It'll be just about 9 blocks to commute! We're paying an okay rate for a one bedroom apartment with a small yard, and we have to pay $50 a car for parking. (I figure we'll be saving the $100 in gas each month anyways) Any ideas on how to live frugally in the big city? Also, I'd love any tips on how to make natural cleaning products for the home, and what you guys use instead of commercial laudry detergent and softener.
     
  2. limhyl

    limhyl Well-Known Member

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    Regarding the natural cleaning products, I make all of my own except laundry soap and fabric softner. I learned how from a book called 'Clean House, Clean planet" and it's very easy. Regarding living frugally, I would reccomend thrift stores, restaruant supply stores (better bulk prices than costco on some things), close out stores (Big Lots, Bargain Street), and making things from scratch rather than store bought. Good Luck! Theresa.
     

  3. John_in_Houston

    John_in_Houston Well-Known Member

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    Don't eat out and don't buy prepackaged 'convenience' foods.

    Those were our biggest budget busters until we figured it out and started buying 'ingredients' instead of 'food', as my wife put it...
     
  4. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    Don't have a Car ride the Bus.Get clothes at Church,Goodwill,or Salvation Army.Buy Day old bread at Bakery.Buy Groceries at Aldi's or Save a Lot.

    big rockpile
     
  5. MichelleB

    MichelleB Well-Known Member

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    The benefits of living in a big city generally mean you can find awesome second-hand/thrift stores. In San Francisco we had Clement Street, a bunch of Korean stores with really cheap but sometimes clever stuff--from cookware to plasticware to cheapo rice cookers, etcetera.

    And it's popular these days for most cities to hold Farmer's Markets when the season's right--so you'll still have access to good food.

    I'd second the restaurant supply warehouses, and I'll up the ante--bakery outlets, dock sales, etcetera.

    Depending upon the city, you may want to ditch the car and find if there's a FlexCar service in your area. http://www.flexcar.com/. I don't have firsthand experience, but I do have friends who have used it.

    Barring that, you might want to arrange to store your car outside city limits and, when you need it, take public trans/a cab to fetch it. Though $50/month parking is inexpensive by some metro standards, it's a lot. You may be able to save on insurance if you're driving it less.
     
  6. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

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    Salvage building supply places are great. You can snag everything from windows and doors to stepping stones for the garden.
     
  7. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Resist the urge to eat out. You only need one car. Join a food co-op.
    I don't know what you like to do for entertainment, but check out the colleges and universities to see what they are offering. You can sometimes get cheap movie rates by going in the middle of the week.

    Say hello to your neighbors. Keep the area around your building picked up.

    For laundry, I use Borax (twenty mule team) and either my homemade soap, flaked, or Shakely's Basic H. For disinfectant, 100 proof booze, I use vodka.
     
  8. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    It's actually funny but it's usually easy to live cheap in a city. Transportation is much less expensive and in many cases so is entertainment. Many times things are cheaper in busy areas due to volume and competition amongst retailers. There's also a lot more free pickins in city areas, as there is usually more people with money that have no place to keep things or just want new and will give away their old.
     
  9. nodak3

    nodak3 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Get 2 or 3 extra spring tension shower rods. Put them up extra high over the tub. Instant clothes line. I use vinegar (1/4 c) and water ( 1qt) for light cleaning, ammonia (1/4 c) and water (1 qt) for heavier cleaning. I will occasionally use bleach if needed. Baking soda for scouring powder, with borax if needed. I can give you a dry laundry det. recipe but really just watching sales and using house brands of detergent is cheaper for me. If you want to help the environment, switch to powder detergent to eliminate plastic container and the cost of moving all that water weight. Learn the sales days and times at all those marvelous specialty shops. Late day artisan breads are often cheaper than homemade. Sometimes the stores have pulled the previous day's produce very early in the morning, and put it in a sale box or cart. Never pay for entertainment--you should have a wealth of free concerts, plays, etc. at schools and churches. Learn who in your neighborhood puts out free coffee and the paper every morning, and make that part of your walk. Happy frugalling!
     
  10. JackieA

    JackieA Well-Known Member

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    The book "The Complete Tightwad Gazette" should be a "big" help. I check it out from the library....
    Jackiea
     
  11. HippyChick

    HippyChick Well-Known Member

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    In the city you can "dumpster dive" for discarded items. I got two cases of canning jars recently. I've also found oriental rugs, furniture, a stain-glass window, and camping gear. If it is someone's home I always go ask just to be safe. I've found sunday evening to be the best time, as most people put out the trash for monday morning pickup.

    (Hey, I'm not proud.)
     
  12. HilltopDaisy

    HilltopDaisy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The best part of city-living was having a paper route. You can go as small or as large as you want. I started with 34 papers, and at the end of 2+ years I was delivering 150. It teaches you discipline, gives you great exercise, and $$ towards a homestead. I also picked up cans and bottles for the nickel deposit along the way.

    I second staying out of restaurants, and way from convenience foods. Better for your wallet and your health. I found living in the city to be way less costly as I wasn't buying fence posts and hay for the critters yet!
     
  13. jillianjiggs

    jillianjiggs Well-Known Member

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    I wish we didn't have to keep both cars, and it wasn't our plan to have to pay two car payments. We're locked in right now, and we'd lose too much money to try to sell them. We would have had one of the cars paid off this past month, but we had to buy a new car after the accident, and picked out a safe, family car for a reasonable price. (it helps when your cousin owns a used car dealership)

    Now that we'll have a real kitchen, I won't mind cooking so much. It'll be nice to make a big casserole and freeze the leftovers for us to take to work for lunch. We'll be able to walk or bike most places (and hopefully lose a couple pounds in the procees), but most of the big box stores we'll have to drive to. They're too far to manuever with our flea market cart, and they won't let you take more than one bag on the bus. :confused: We'll have a little yard, though...so I think I'll still be able to grow a zuke plant, a couple cucumber plants, and maybe a couple gourd plants. They might give us some late summer shade.
     
  14. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Lots of ways to live cheap in big cities.

    The main one is repeat my experience. Buy your house, when nobody else would, even using confederate money. :no:

    I bought a house during the raging days of busing in Boston when neighborhoods where falling like dominos for less than a year's pay. Couple that with an engineer's ability to make a heating plant that is essentially free heat. I never had a house payment over $125 and that included the taxes and paid it off in 8 years. My neighborhood never busted. Some real flinty characters some of them old timers.

    Buy your chow on sale. Buy a lot of what you like. My local grocery chain goes in a cycle, certain things come on sale at a predictable time. Dog chow is 4 weeks, tea can be every other week. My favorite soup sells for $2.39 a can. On sale which is about a 6 week cycle can be as low as $0.89. I am a total chow hound. Enough to live a long, long time, just about everything bought at rock bottom prices. Pasta can be as low as $0.15 a box. :waa:

    Same for other goodies. You must know exactly where to get each item the cheapest. I have a life time supply of various things bought for damn near nothing. Shaving soap, energy saving lite bulbs, shower curtains, socks, underwear, etc. etc. Basically you need a house to store the stuff and must understand concept of shelf life.

    If you really want to be frugual understanding spending as buying a standard of living, not money or the price of something. My methods, means I rarely have to shop very often. The local super market I can walk too. Comes down to know your needs, buy in bulk, super low to satisfy those needs over a long period. Being independent of all wants and needs short term. Whatever you want at the core is probably in the cupboard in bulk.

    Understand any need as to who provides what is required, quality, and best price. I spend very little money to actually live, maybe on average $500 a month for all my total basic needs, food, heat, house, cars, insurance, everything, including web, phone and TV. For me it is not being tight or super money aware, it is more a habit. If I really want some service many times I can trade off something I can get, have or can do. Really living well for very little money is more a lifestyle that a fad something one Does. You actually can help many people and do many things that does not directly benefit yourself. Sad part in many big cities the new breeds are nothing but parasites and any help simply brings dependence, misery, hassles and no thanks.

    Garbage day in a big city. Ah, that is shopping at its finest. Lord, they throw away brass, aluminum, stainless, all sorts of goodies in endless variety, motors, batteries, little packs of money waiting to be picked up. Bagged fuel in sacks, mix with a little wood, instant heat. You must be adept at living off the land. In the cities the land is overflowing with goodies. Just ask those fat racoons. I will miss Boston on garbage day. A good fellow can make a lot of money with a little technique, maybe I should write a book. Isn't even shameful, never be afraid to ask does that TV work, what about the microwave or blender. Damn vacuums are hot sellers on Yard Sale day. So many goodies, so little time.
     
  15. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Take advantage of all the free things: library programs, outdoor concerts, etc..Start housesitting--most folks don't like to leave their homes alone while on vacation. You can grow/raise a lot of food on very little property. Check out the Journey to Forever website where they support themselves and sell food on their city lot. You can use kiddy pools (find holey ones people are throwing away) or you can plant in plastic feed bags, etc.. Join a food coop and swap a little time for food. Don't buy anything new--clothes, furniture, etc..Some fool is throwing away/giving away quality things--you just have to look for them.
     
  16. nodak3

    nodak3 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yeah, garbage picking. Once we picked up $200 in change in a dumpster.