Apartments

If you live in a big city, you know that housing can be extremely expensive. Before I moved here, I paid about $350/month with roommates and $700 in my own place (including all utilities, tv, etc.). Here, an average studio/efficiency in a fairly nice neighborhood is over $1,000, usually not including utilities. I hear that NYC is even more expensive. If you’re dying to live in a big city (and not in the burbs), how can you ever afford this? Be creative! I live with 2 other people in a 2 bedroom apartment. You may wonder how this works. We found an apartment with a dining room, and the rental company agreed to put up a wall and a door, making the dining room into a third bedroom. There is an extra coat closet in the living room, so that’s the closet used for that new bedroom. So, we pay for a 2 bedroom apartment when it really has 3. Split, I pay $850/month with my utilities included, and I’m right own town! Not too bad!

Walking

Before I moved here, my town was very spread out. It was basically impossible to walk anywhere, and no one gave it any thought. One thing I love about living here is the opportunity to walk most places that I need to go. Yesterday, I walked to and from the library at my school. It was a beautiful day, so it was quite enjoyable. Today, I’ll probably do the same rather than take the bus. It’s healthy, and it’s frugal! Taking the metro one way costs about $1.50 and the bus is $1.25. A daily savings of $3 doesn’t seem like much, but that’s a coffee at starbucks or it’s a $15 dinner out at the end of the week. It’s crazy how things add up.

Doing what you love

Today my school had a career day to talk about summer internships for the first summer of our three year program. I have to say it was a little overwhelming! I plan to go into the public interest sector of my profession – needless to say, it pays hardly anything. Summer internships are unpaid. For my classmates going into the private sector, they will make close to $30,000 for the 10 weeks of summer work. I knew there would be a discrepancy in pay between the sectors, but I had no idea it would be that large! While I am tempted to go the private route just for the money, that would go against my passions and goals. It’s definitely hard to do what you love sometimes, especially when doing what you love means giving up on such a huge paycheck. But, I will make it work, and you can too! I know for all summer internships, there are tons of sources for summer funding. If you search Idealist and similar sites, you can find some amazing opportunities. And, if you get a few grants, you can make enough to cover your expenses while working for free during the summer. So check out some of those sources for public interest grants – you never know what you might find! Sticking with your passion and gaining great work experience is priceless.

Happy Hour

Living in a big city while in school can be extremely frustrating. I love eating out, trying new foods, drinking wine and martinis, but that’s difficult to do on a budget…until I learned about happy hour! Just a few metro stops away from me is Bethesda. I’ve heard they have the most restaurants per square mile in the US. Who knows if that’s actually true, but I’d believe it. Everyday, just about every place there has happy hour. You can search online to look at menus and specials to find the places that suit you best. Personally, I like to go somewhere where I can get dinner (not just drinks) and not spend too much. Most of my friends are done with school and have pretty impressive jobs, so sometimes our differences in budget limit what I can do with them. When I want to see them, I just take charge, find a great place online that is affordable for happy hour, and plan the outing. This way, I get to hang out and enjoy great food, drink, and company without hurting my wallet too much. And even with great salaries, they never mind the savings. Just last night, I enjoyed an amazing pizza topped with goat cheese and crispy prosciutto and a glass of pinot noir for a total of $8…not bad for such an amazing meal! So, wherever you live, go find a great happy hour and enjoy yourself!