L.A. on the Cheap

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Just how expensive is it to live in this little town of ours? In technical terms, holy $%&#!

Turns out, L.A. is one of the most expensive cities in the world. In fact, according to both Harvard and UCLA, Los Angeles is the most unaffordable city to rent in. You need to earn at least $33 an hour — $68,640 — to be able to afford the average apartment here, according to Matt Schwartz, the President and Chief Exec. of the California Housing Partnership.

It explains why L.A. is also the second worst city in America for saving money. With a median annual income of $46,803, which is well below the national average, and an unemployment rate over 9% (don’t even ask what the unemployment rate is in entertainment), it’s no wonder most folks have a hard time making ends meet, much less having leftovers to put into savings.

But fear not. We’re here for you. When you are able to save, we pay great rates. And when you’re buying a car or home, you’ll be able to take advantage of some of the lowest rates anywhere.

But how about your basic day-to-day living? Well, there are lots of little things you can do to save money that ultimately can add up to big savings.

Get everything free.

Craigslist can be a gold mine, especially for furniture and household appliances. L.A. has bazillions of thrift stores, swap meets and flea markets. Do not underestimate the good stuff you can find there, all on the cheap.

You live in a mecca for free entertainment.

Every day, our city offers a wealth of things to do for free, and they’re great. You can start by checking out all the free museum days. LACMA even has free jazz concerts on Fridays. During summer there are free weekly concerts at the Santa Monica Pier. Art lovers will have a blast at the downtown art walk which happens on the second Thursday of every month. They can also enjoy even more art at First Fridays in Venice. And of course, there’s the always popular Santa Clarita’s Concerts in the Park, sponsored by yours truly, First Entertainment. It’s always a fun, memorable night out that you don’t want to miss. We don’t need to tell you that this town is full of entertainers, and that means there are acts on practically every corner. There are a million comedy and improv shows, usually at super low prices. For example, The Upright Citizens Brigade has shows daily for $5 to $10. There’s the beloved Silent Movie Theatre for low-cost foreign and indie films, usually shown in their original 35mm. And of course, there are free screenings, live tapings of shows, even many opportunities to be a paid audience member.

Eat Mexican food.

If you’re scared of those ubiquitous food trucks, get over it. They’re wonderful. Our beloved taco trucks offer a delicious, incredibly affordable meal. If you happen to enjoy cooking, Mexican is great because staples like avocados and cilantro tend to be cheaper here than in other parts of the country. We also love L.A.’s fresh fruit carts, where you can get a huge bag of chopped fruit with salt, lime juice and chili for only $5. At Whole Foods, you’d have to mortgage your home to get the same thing. And speaking of grocery shopping, L.A. has a trove of fantastic, affordable stores. Who doesn’t love Trader Joe’s? And check out the deals on produce at the 99 Cent Only stores. With our city being one of the most culturally diverse in the world, there are also plenty of ethnic grocery stores, like our beloved Mitsuwa (which has groceries and a Japanese food court), and these stores tend to have lower prices overall, especially on produce.

Watch the deals.

Keep your eye on Blackboard Eats, Gilt City, Groupon, LivingSocial and Yelp, to name a few. We love their restaurant deals, and the spa days have always proven reliable. The next time you want a haircut, fancy night out or a massage, it’s well worth your while to check out these sites. You can usually save anywhere from 30-50% off retail.

Make your own coffee.

This is a big one. According to studies, the average American worker spends more than $5 per day on coffee, or more than $1092 every year. And if you’re under 30, that number doubles. Our advice? Learn to make a great cup of coffee at home. We happen to love Nespresso. Check out their Pixie machine. It makes coffee, that in our opinion, makes Starbucks look weak by comparison. And you can get their machines on Amazon and eBay at big savings. Well worth it.

Save big on your necessities.

We recommend Amazon subscription services for your often-used nonperishable necessities. You’ll be amazed how much you can save. Toothpaste, shampoo, iced tea, deodorant, it’s all there, and at prices you’re going to love. It’s really fun to receive a package every now and then with all of those items you’ve been too busy to pick up yourself.

Take advantage of the interwebs.

With a little Googling, you’ll discover lots of ways to save money around L.A.. One of our favorite sites is LALivingontheCheap.

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With this mere handful of money-saving tips, you can literally save thousands of dollars a year without sacrificing a thing. Best of all, they’re actually fun, convenient and will likely broaden your world.

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