Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How We Survive In The Most Expensive City In The World

Okay, actually, San Francisco is apparently the 9th most expensive city in the world according to The Huffington Post. But, I mean, it might as well be the MOST expensive! $14 for a glass of wine? Oh dear Zeus.

As you know, The Dizz and I are sharing a STUDIO apartment for $1800/month. Oh, and if we wanted to have a parking garage, it'd be an additional $250/month. We said thanks but no thanks, street parking will do just fine. Though, with our already 3 parking tickets we've received (in just 4 months of having the car) for a total of $275, I'm starting to reconsider.

This is an expensive city, yo. Very expensive. It seems like every month we're just barely coming up with what we need for bills and food and a tiny bit of entertainment so as to keep our sanity.

What with the car payment, insurance payment, credit card payments, rent, cell phones, yadda yadda, it really adds up. Quickly.

We've had to get a little creative with the money situation, especially since losing my job back in October. Here's how we've been "getting by" without digging ourselves deeper into the hole.

1. Ridesharing

I'm sure you've all heard of Uber, yes? If you haven't, well, the gist of it is:

If you need a ride, you open your Uber app on either your iPhone or Android, click the button to request, and then the closest Uber driver gets a Ping! and accepts your requests, picks you up, starts the ride, drops you off, ends the ride, then badda bing, badda boom, your credit card on file gets charged, the driver gets paid electronically, no cash is exchanged, and you're on your merry way.

No hassle of having to call a cab, you can see exactly where your driver is and how many minutes away they are. You can even see their little picture so you know exactly who is coming to get you. In San Francisco, UberX is the cheapest ridesharing service out there and 30% cheaper than taxis!

Since we got our little Hamstermobile, and since San Francisco is huge on this ridesharing business, the deal was that we'd sign up for it. It was actually a blessing in disguise getting that car because when I lost my job, I was able to start driving more to make up for the lack of income!

It's been pretty great, actually. I can just hop in the car whenever I feel like it, make about $30-$50/hour, then turn off the app when I don't feel like driving anymore.

The flexibility is what I love. I can drive the hours I want until I make what I want to make for the day, then I have the rest of the day to do as I please. You know, like, train for that marathon I'm running.

(P.S. If you've never used Uber, I suggest giving it a try! If you use this code (uberMishLovinLife), you'll get your first $10 for FREE. Take note, Uber is usually only in major cities around the world, so check first if it's available!)

2. AirBnb

I think I've mentioned in a previous post about us hosting on AirBnb. We've had experience using AirBnb throughout our 6-months of travel, and we loved it! When we finally got our own place, we figured, hey, why not rent it out a few nights a month. It's cheaper than most hotels, plus you get a "home" feel, complete with kitchen if you're the type that wants to save a little extra on vacation and cook at home!

We're renting out our place this weekend for just 3 nights while we go stay at The Dizzle's sister's house and when we get back, that'll be $417 extra bucks in our pocket. Not too shabby. You can rent out even an extra spare room if you have it! It's a neat way to be a part of this bigger community and meet new people from all over the world. In fact, I think this coming June we're having some Germans come and stay for a few days!

(If you're first time AirBnb users, I looked up this referral code as well! You can get $25 off your first visit! Holler.)

3. The Dizzle's Sexiness

And what I mean by that is The Dizzle is a personal trainer at Crunch and hasn't had any trouble getting the neighborhood housewives in to train. I mean, if I was alone at home while the kids were at school, I'd certainly be motivated to go to the gym if this guy was my trainer. But, I mean, I could be biased.

But in all seriousness, his working at Crunch has been a great contributor to monthly income and without it, we'd be a lot more stressed!

4. Online Shenanigans
I say "shenanigans" because well, it's not like it's a huge contributor, but still, between my blog and his online marketing/websites, a few hundred dollars a month is still nice to have for some extra cash-ola. In my dream world, if we could solely make our income online so that we can travel anywhere and still work, that would be amazing!! But isn't that everyone's dream? ;) Here's to hoping!

5. SAVING where you can

We've had to learn how and where we can save around here and we've had to adjust to a little more frugal of a lifestyle than what we used to have back in San Diego. But, I think we're managing a good balance that allows us to save as well as not feel deprived for any entertainment and fun! Here are a few ways we save a buck here and there:

A) Generic brands at the grocery store! I purposefully look for the Safeway brands now. Whereas before, I didn't look twice and would just grab the $6 pack of cheese instead of the $3 pack! They taste just the same in my opinion and if I can save money, then why the hell not! The other day, I decided to actually look at the "junk" mail before throwing it out like I usually do, and in it were several coupons that I used and saved like $10 at my next shopping trip! It was highly exciting ;) I'm not going to lie, I used to frown upon coupon use, thinking that if I used them people would think I was poor or something. Stupid mentality, I know. NOW? Oh hell yeah, give me that BOGO Free coupon and I'll use it 'till Kingdom come!

B) Movies - We love 'em. We love going to movies and we used to go almost every week! Now? We've toned it down to about once a month. With our schedules being more flexible, we're able to see matinees and save a few dollars. If I can, I'll sometimes bring my own candy from home, too, so I don't have to spend an arm and a leg at the concession stand!

C) We eat at home about 90% of the time. Which is great for our waistlines and our budget. I've never cooked so much in my life! But it's been fun thinking of new recipes and trying them out. Sometimes not so good in my opinion, but fortunately The Dizzle can pretty much eat anything and everything. Plus, with cooking at home, there are usually always leftovers and though I'M not a huge fan, The Dizzle is and will most always eat it for lunch the next day. It's amazing how much money it can save by eating at home! This may not be new news to anyone, but for someone like me, who up until maybe 2 years ago (aka Pre-Dizzle), would always eat out because I was too lazy to cook and quite frankly, didn't really know how to cook. My how the times have changed!

D) Drinking in. Now, I'm sure you know that I'm a very social person. I love going out. I love meeting friends. I love dinners out. I just love it all. But, it's also important for us to have some moderation in that department. We'll usually have 1 night a week that we can go out. Whether it's just us or with friends. But the other nights, we'll get a bottle of wine (fine, two bottles of wine) and stay in to drink. We save a heck of a lot more money and still have a good time.

E) Credit Cards! We have made a commitment to not use our credit cards. Our motto is: If we don't have the money, then we don't buy it. We are in "Operation Pay Down" right now, so we have also agreed to not just pay the monthly minimums. Whatever we make, we put 10% towards the credit card and hope to be debt free by June! It's exciting to see the balance go down. Growing up, I've never had credit card debt, but since moving to San Francisco, with just a suitcase each, things had to be bought, sooooo yeah. Now we're paying it off and quickly! It sometimes sucks when I really want to buy something new, like clothes or a purse, but then I just have to ask myself: Would it be more worth it to put that $200 towards the credit card or to spend $200 on something I'll probably get sick of in a few months anyway? The quicker we pay it down, the less interest will be paid. And let me tell you, those interest charges are no joke!


Anyway, the topic of money is something that is on my mind every. single. day. Maybe it's my Asian roots, who knows? ;) But I'm thankful for a partner that is willing to be supportive on this matter and is on the same page. We both have financial goals and we are both committed to working hard to make it happen. It can be stressful at times, some days more than others, but I think as long as we can see that little light at the end of the tunnel (that teeny, tiny light), we'll be able to appreciate the hard work that has to go in. 

I always say, every couple goes through their "poor phase" so that they can appreciate their financial freedom phase later on. So this is just our poor phase together ;) However, in my opinion, if we're staying afloat in the 9th most expensive city in the world, then we must be doing something right, right?

I'll say it again: Here's to making 2014 a successful year!


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  1. I have never heard of Uber! That is crazy and awesome. What a fun post! Thanks for sharing!

  2. You and the Dizzle are such hustlers! I need to start working on some side gigs asap!

  3. Totally doing the AirBnb thing just to add a few bucks to my poor bank account. Thanks for sharing Mishi!

  4. I really liked this post! I live an hour from SF having to live there sounds so daunting to me! Maybe someday you'd want to go into detail about how to make money from blogging, for all the blogging noobs out there? ;)


    1. Hey Natalie! I just read this post today about bloggers making money and I even learned a thing or two! Check it out, it might be helpful for you!! (Plus, this chick ACTUALLY makes a significant income through blogging, so I'd hate to dole out advice when I'm not truly experienced yet. Ha)

    2. That was an awesome article; super helpful! Thanks :)

  5. I would love to bring in some side hussles! I didn't know UberX was a ride share type thing. I have the Uber app but haven't actually used it yet. I already do what I can with by buying generic, not going out as often, drinking in and having direct deposit to my savings. Even if it's only $25/paycheck it's something.

  6. When you were describing Uber all I could think about is having a scary movie ending when I would be stuffed into someones trunk. I'm too much of a scardy cat to do that!!

  7. Another question-in the pictures the drivers are all dressed up in suits. Is that just if you request the black car service or do you really have to dress up to drive?

    1. Just for black car service! :) Wish UberX, you can wear whatever you'd like and can use your own regular car (as long as it's a 2005 or newer).

  8. That Uber thing is really cool! Wish I lived in a big city to do it.

    My boyfriend and I are in our poor stage too right now. No fun at all.

  9. That was such an inspirational blog! I am so totally proud of you and Verner for not only knowing how to save/make money, but for actually doing it! You make financial struggles sound fun. Love you, Sweetheart :)

  10. We're going through our poor phase too, as I'm in grad school and my husband is a teacher. We live in one of the richest counties in the country, so it's pricey here too. I like what you're saying about appreciating financial freedom when it comes. TRUST ME we will be ready!

  11. My husband's friend does Uber. He made about $500 on NYE.

  12. I appreciate this post sooooo much!! :) :)

  13. I'm definitely going to check out Uber! I live in LA so there's no doubt they have it going on here. Great way to earn some extra cash.

    Growing up sucks. I couldn't agree more. I've been trying to pay down my credit card debt (which really isn't that much because I only put gas and groceries on it), and put some money in savings every month. It's definitely a difficult task, but it'll be so worth it in the long run.

  14. Oy! Blogger ate my comment. Let me try again. One thing I do to earn some extra bread, cheese and dough is mystery shop. Yes, it's legit. There are mystery shops for EVERYTHING. Fast food restaurants, high end restaurants, gyms, hotels, casinos, test driving cars, etc. I wrote a blog post about it not too long ago ( I also like to use the shopkick app when I'm out and about shopping (helps me earn gift cards just for checking into places). I use it a lot at Target.

  15. I've always known how expensive it is to live in San Francisco, but it still blows my mind! My college town in Tennessee at one point was listed as one of the least expensive places to live in the country. I lived in a 2 bedroom/2 1/2 bath townhouse style apartment and my roommate and I paid $650 total. So... $325 each? Your $1800 makes my head spin!

  16. This was extremely interesting to read!! I can't imagine living in that expensive of a city lol. I live in Jackson, MS and I still have to think of ways to save and remain frugal. If our city was bigger, I'd totally start doing the uber and airbnb though! Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom and giving a glimpse into your life and how you manage it! Keep it up!

  17. You still aren't working? Damn girl.

    1. Girl, Uber driving, though fun, is still work! ;)

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. No offense, coralhaze,but I really don't like the judgement in that comment. She's making money in a non traditional way. Maybe people are just jealous but I just can't stand when people think that you're only "working" if you're miserable, going in at the same times everyday, having maybe 10 days off a year. I'm impressed and proud of what you're doing Mish. I'm an expat over in Slovenia and for the last year I've been freelancing and doing a bunch of different things to bring in the bacon (before I was a German teacher at an international school.) While its not traditional, it's definitely way more fun. I love that you're writing about it!

    4. Well I'm glad you're happy Mish! :) & I don't really care what you think about my comment Nikki, no offense.

  18. These tips will be helpful when I move to Sydney which has a super high cost of living too, thanks!

  19. Wow that rent amount is CRAZY but at least it's beautiful there right? I am a huge advocate of using coupons and it saves us A LOT of money. A lot of people who aren't poor coupon because of the challenge to pay as little out of pocket as possible. The biggest secret is to use a coupon when the item is on sale at a store :)

  20. I checked out Uber and I wish they offered that in Vancouver! Vancouver is a super expensive place to live in too and I need to cut down my spending AND pay off my credit cards while being a FT student. I like your motto of "if you don't have the money, don't buy it." I need to use that more - I mean, I've cut down on using my CC but I need to learn to not rely on it so much. Thanks for that advice!

  21. These are great ways to be thrifty! I need to work on my thriftiness. Although I am good at it most of the time, I tend to splurge on stupid things. A fool and her money are soon parted!

  22. this post is great!! i love it..and i did learnt how to save since i'm living in big city too..singapore to be cost here is higher than my hometown and everything made huge different between my hometown and singapore.thanks for sharing.

    xo josephine

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