How to Save Money While Living in D.C.

If you’re like me, you have a budget.

If you are also like me and live in one of the top ten most expensive cities in America, your budget is also tight.


Rent or shoes?

Groceries or a fancy gym membership?

Tuna sandwich or elaborate poke bowl with questionable-looking avocado that is still more expensive than its west coast equivalent?

Sometimes the choice may feel harder than it has to be. However, living in a city like D.C. and still fattening up your savings account is doable with discipline and some small, totally-worth-it sacrifices.

Here are some tips for enjoying a full life as a city girl on a budget:

1. Make a list, check it twice – Dedicate Sunday mornings to grocery shopping and ensure that you have everything you need to keep you well-fed and happy throughout the week. Divide your grocery list into meals to plan out your week. To lower the temptation of eating out or abusing UberEats,  I make sure that no meal takes more than fifteen minutes to make.

2. Studio hop – When I moved to D.C., I was not excited about the $120 monthly price tag for a gym membership to the athletic club closest to my apartment. Who would be? I found that I could get some pretty solid or reduced cost workouts by searching for first-timer specials in the area. After maxing those opportunities out, I downloaded ClassPass and still have my fitness life in check for up to 70% off the price of each studio class I take. Since I don’t have an unlimited budget, I take two classes per week and workout at my free apartment gym for the remainder. Since there is no commitment to a studio, I can opt out or skip a week when money is tight.

3. Always pack a lunch – D.C.’s dining tax really sucks at a whopping 10%. I have found that waking up fifteen minutes earlier than usual or skipping makeup allows enough time to make a quick sandwich, wrap, or throw together some leftovers from dinner.

4. Limit eating out and drinking – Since I moved to the city, I have only gone out to eat once per week. Between work, working out, and my side hustle, I don’t really have time to go out for dinner and drinks. Thankfully, I save money doing so.

5. Download apps – There are plenty of apps that are designed to save you money. From saving money on workouts through ClassPass to saving money on flights through Hopper, I have saved a pretty penny.

6. Free things to do in the city – As much as I complain about D.C.’s cost of living and bad weather (why is the temperature high at 7 p.m.?) the city is full of free things to do. From world-class museums to walking through the National Mall, entertainment can be done on the cheap.

7. Unsubscribe from newsletters – I had to unsubscribe from newsletters that only encouraged mindless online shopping. Now, I usually only buy the things I need when I need them. This has been major, but I still treat myself every now and then.

8. DIY: Make your own coffee and do your own nails every once in a while. It’s really that simple. Over time the little unnecessary things add up.

Do you have any additions to this list? Comment below and let me know your money hacks!

Stay gold,


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