5 Budgeting Tips to Live Well While Saving Money in LA

Sunny California offers a lot of excitement and fun, but the strains of budgeting can admittedly be difficult. Los Angeles ranks as one of America’s most difficult areas to save money, which can make matters tough for those struggling financially.

Don’t let monetary fears scare you away, though! LA is an awesome place to visit and live if you learn how to budget right. If you’re willing to make a couple of adjustments, follow some tips and live simply, you can save money and live well in LA. Here’s how.

1. Be Frugal When You Shop

When living in LA, knowing exactly how and where to shop can provide you with enormous financial relief. Buying groceries can be a significant expense, and often the aggravation of shopping around for the best deal can be a strenuous process. To save some money, visit regional farmers markets instead of supermarkets. You’ll discover that they offer better prices, with produce being much cheaper than it would be at a grocery store with a household name. Many of these regional stores also offer rewards programs, which you can sign up for to save a little extra.

Mirror and mid century dresser bought at the Rose Bowl Flea Market held the second Sunday of every month in Pasadena.

As for retail shopping, save yourself some cash by checking out local flea markets and thrift stores to furnish your home with equally nice goods at a fraction of the cost. You can even find a lot of quality items for free if you peruse LA’s Craigslist ads, especially if you’re in the market for some new furniture.

2. Eat Cheap Meals at Food Trucks

There may be times when you’re craving a meal out and don’t feel like cooking. Whenever that desire strikes, consider the affordable and popular option of getting some food from a food truck, such as one of LA’s many celebrated taco destinations.

Renowned as an LA staple, the city’s love for tacos provides you with a variety of options to choose from, including vegan options! If you’re feeling lost, a chat with some local Los Angelenos should give you an insider’s scoop on where to begin.

Skip the grocery store and shop at local farmer’s markets all over LA. If you arrive at the last hour, many farmers discount produce drastically.

3. Rent Out Space or Find Roommates

The most expensive aspect of your budget that you’ll have to worry about is probably going to be housing. Don’t consider buying a home unless you have sufficient resources to justify the cost. Instead, look around for properties to rent, and evaluate the quality of housing deals you’re considering with a tool like Rentometer.

If you’re hoping to save a little more money on housing, find some roommates to mutually alleviate each other’s costs. On the flip side, if you have property of your own, think about renting out some space to ease your monthly payments!

It’s also worth noting that coastal areas in LA are at a high risk of flooding. FEMA is even looking into mandating that owners in certain zones have flood insurance. This is one area where insurance is worth the investment in the long run if something happens that damages a significant amount of your property. Besides flooding, earthquakes and fires are also major reasons to to have quality renter’s insurance.

4. Take Advantage of the Excellent Weather

Overall, though, one of the major perks about being in LA is the incredible weather. With the beach so close and the sunshine often out, take advantage of the free entertainment. Even if you’re not a beach enthusiast, a walk along the boardwalk at Venice Beach could provide you with an enjoyable, refreshing way to get out and celebrate life.

Find free forms of entertainment, like hiking outdoors.

You’re close enough to the mountains that you could even travel outside of LA, enabling you to ski and surf in the same day. Numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation are available, so you may not have to continue spending money on a gym membership. If you’re living in Southern California, make the most of your sunny home and go on a few hikes or find some free yoga classes. Check out the complimentary yoga classes on Saturdays at Ron Robinson in Santa Monica, at the lawn at the new Palisades Village, or donation based yoga at Runyon Canyon in Hollywood. 

You may even find that with so much to appreciate and explore outside, there’s no reason to continue paying for television programming. LA offers a lot of opportunities to pursue recreational hobbies without charge — all you have to do is step outside and look around!

Find complimentary yoga and workouts in your area online, like free yoga and classes outdoors at the new Palisades Village.

5. Use Your Car Sparingly

Although you may be able to get around LA without needing to own a car, it’ll more than likely make your life easier if you have one. Residents’ opinions on LA’s public transportation are wavering, so you may prefer to have a little more certitude and faith in the time it’ll take you to commute or travel around the city. We know many friends who are happy to rid themselves of a monthly car lease payment for Uber and Lyft rides when needed.

That doesn’t mean you have to drive all the time. Jump on a bus if you’re heading to the beach. Free parking can also be difficult to find with so many cars out on the streets, and you may not even know for sure where and when you’re allowed to park. Whenever you can, avoid the headache of driving and receiving parking fines or hefty valet fees by opting to travel another way.

Bike or walk if you need to be a few miles away or consider opting out of monthly car payments and gas money for bus or metro transportation or using rideshare like Uber or Lyft.

Enjoy Life and Live Simply

With a commitment to living simply and budgeting sensibly, you can live well in LA while saving money! It’s worth looking into whether you can make it work, because LA is simply an amazing place to be, whether you’re living the high life or hustling on a budget!

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