Moving from a rural, small-town area to a decent-sized city near a major metropolis will definitely mean a higher cost of living — especially when it comes to your rent or mortgage payment. What I’ve discovered, however, is that it doesn’t necessarily require a higher cost of living across the board.
If you know how to budget and shop smart, you won’t have to spend that much more than you did before. While saving money might take a little more focus than it did before, it’s still highly achievable.
Here are three tips for saving money on consumables when moving to a large city.
1. Research All the Options
You may not have realized you spent a lot on groceries or other household items before, but you likely had limited options available. Did you mostly shop at privately-owned stores, or retail chains?
With fewer local options, you’ll be blown away at how many more choices there are in a bigger city, and might discover you were paying more for certain items than you needed to. The more dense of an area for competing businesses, the lower it drives prices on consumables.
Take advantage of this by comparing prices from one store to another. It’s often as simple as laying their sales ads next to each other on the coffee table and circling which store has the better deal.
Also, when you’re shopping, start making mental notes on the price of items you use consistently. If you have a hard time remembering these things (like I do), take a screenshot of the price label with your phone, or quickly jot it down in a notebook. You’ll never recognize a good deal unless you know what prices are compared to others.
And, because you have so many stores close to you, don’t do all your shopping in one place. The convenience or gas money isn’t an issue, so determine to save money versus saving time.
2. Prioritize Your Budget
Using the previous ideas, find the cheapest prices available on items that don’t depend on quality. Here’s what I mean; dry goods, paper goods, and chemicals are fairly standard across the board. By saving money on these items, you’ll free up more of your grocery budget for items you’re pickier about, like meat and produce.
Prioritizing more money for quality items, while saving every penny on the rest, should allow you to maintain a comparable budget no matter where you’re living.
3. Tweak Your Household Habits
Let’s say you’ve followed these first two tips, and still can’t eat the way you like without spending more. What are you going to do about it? You can either:
- Cut more from another budget category you can afford to dip into, or
- Tweak your household habits.
The latter is something you should do every once in a while. Are there luxury items you can minimize from my menu while not cutting them out completely? Are you paying attention to unit pricing, ounces, and packaging changes that impact which items are the better deal?
Believe me, I understand that habits are hard to change! Tweaking your household habits doesn’t mean you have to cut out everything you enjoy (like your favorite shampoo) or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, stop making healthy choices (which are often more expensive). Changing out a few items here and there is usually all it takes to bring your budget back under control.
Bigger City, More Ways to Save
View your lifestyle change as an opportunity to draw out your shopper savvy, take advantage of retail competition, and become more in tune with your personal habits. Ultimately, bigger cities offer more options and better ways to save.
Do you live in a big city? How do you save money on consumables?