6 Ways to Live the Chic (But Cheap) College Life in an Expensive City

By Laura Iglehart, Student at Georgetown University

Living in D.C., I understand just how ridiculously awesome living in a metropolitan city can be. I also appreciate just how liberating, chic and sophisticated city life is.

However, my bank account can also attest to the awesomeness of city life. Dinner here, latte there — it all adds up — and quickly.

In order to spare yourself some cash (and some parental grief), navigate expensive city life by following some of these tidbits of advice.

Brew your own java

Coffee chains like Starbucks are infamous for jacking up the price of drinks to counteract pricey real estate. To keep your coffee ritual chic, invest in a Starbucks mug or another cool coffee cup to tote around the city. Plus, for the occasional Starbucks indulgence, you’ll save money when you bring your own mug.  

Hoof it

Not only is walking better for your health than cabs or public transportation, it's free! No sketchy cab drivers to deal with or crammed metro stops to navigate. Pop in your earphones and strut away! Your bank account (and your legs) will thank you later.

Dine in, not out

Cooking for yourself is a great way to control cost and calories. For about half the cost of a dinner out at a moderately-priced restaurant, you can make a yummy and healthy meal for yourself. Get creative and reference cookbooks for new meal inspirations. The best part? Aside from not having to tip, you can cook in your pajamas.

Reuse, reuse, reuse

Bags, bottles, etc. — if you can use it again, do it! In many major cities, there is a 5-cent charge per plastic/paper bag used. It may seem like a miniscule fee, but think about how many bags you use per week … 20 cents worth, 50 cents worth? You could be saving yourself some serious dollars by carrying your own reusable grocery bags. Whole Foods and Trader Joes always have fun and inexpensive ones by the cash registers, but you can also find cool, cheap reusable bags in Urban Outfitters, Paper Source or many other small boutique-like stores.

Milk your student discount

It may only be 10-15 percent, but it cuts costs and can quickly add up to considerable savings. Use it at the movies, J. Crew/Madewell, Chipotle, museums and theaters. When in doubt, just ask!

Happy Hour

Happy Hour can be a fun and affordable alternative to the standard Girls' Night Out. Sharing appetizers over drinks with friends is a casual way to socialize while also minimizing costs. Although drinks are usually half-priced, they can still add up fast.

Image courtesy of Damian Brandon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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