These small, simple habits save me so much each month. 💸
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
Back in May of 2022, Florida was listed as the least affordable state in the U.S. As someone who was born and raised in the Sunshine State, I'm not surprised.
If you followed my hunt to find an apartment, it proves that Florida is incredibly overpriced, especially based on what the average millennial makes on salary — even more so in popular Southern cities, such as Miami-Fort Lauderdale.
In fact, Miami was named one of the most expensive places in the world for a lavish lifestyle. According to ZipRecruiter, to comfortably seek residence in the Magic City, you need to make $53,662/year. The average American in Florida makes less than that, at $48,503/year.
With rent, groceries, entertainment, health and wellness, and emergency funds, the bills add up aggressively. So, as a local, who proudly supports herself, here is a list of things I do to save some cash to enjoy my favorite city!
I cut my grocery costs down...without buying less.
The exterior of Publix.
The best way to cut my grocery costs down was not to buy less but to buy at a cheaper-priced location.
The premiere grocery store in Florida is, of course, Publix and it was a very difficult decision to cut ties with, but my bank account needed some support, spending over $100 on just one person's groceries every week became too much.
So now I choose to shop at discount places like Aldi's. They don't have name brands, but the product is effectively the same. Also, they don't use grocery bags, which is a big reason why costs are so low. What I typically spend at Publix gets cut in half at Aldi's.
This swap saved me money by getting the same amount of food.
I don't live in a fancy apartment complex building.
Associate Editor, Jenna Kelley, holding a set of keys.
Jenna Kelley | Narcity
It's no secret, rent in Florida has sky-rocketed. So, I live in an apartment building, but not one of the fancy ones that include a pool, gym, restaurant, or study room like many in South Florida do.
I used a realtor to find the perfect spot in my budget, which is still kind of pricey but was the cheapest choice after searching for months. Choosing this building was the most feasible and ended up saving me money.
When you don't do your due diligence to find a place, you can end up paying extra for all the amenities apartment complexes have to offer, which is why some highly sought-after one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartments are as high as $2,500/month without utilities.
I make my own coffee every morning.
Starbucks and Dunkin fanatics, I hate to break it to you, but $5 for a coffee drink on the way to work every day equals out to $25 a week and around $100 a month, just for coffee!
You can make it at home and the coffee beans, which could last you a month and a half, cost less than what you would spend in a week.
Check online before you buy anything.
When I was searching for essentials and home decor to fill my apartment, 80% of what I bought was through Amazon. Even Walmart prices didn't match a good Amazon deal.
While you're at the store, head online and see what you can get for cheaper. Saving a few bucks here and there makes all the difference.
Pro-tip: If you have a pet and go shopping at PetSmart, you can go to Chewy's website and find similar products. In doing this, you either find the product for cheaper, or the location will price-match the item as they are in partnership with the company.
I only go out on nights where they have specials.
This is one of the best Florida hacks I can give. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale area has countless happy hours, ladies' nights, or even random events throughout the week that have enticing menu deals.
If you are going out with your friends or significant other, check out what places have the best deals, and you'll save a ton of money! It also makes decision-making that much easier.
I utilize my Air Conditioning strategically.
I live in the hot heat of sunny South Florida. Air conditioning is essential to being comfortable. However, whenever I leave the house, I know utilities are an extra cost that can be cut back.
If you're not using it, don't keep your A/C blowing. Typically, I'll hike it up to a higher temperature, as I know constantly turning the unit off and on also drains some cash.
If I know I'll be gone for a while or even a few days, I just turn it off.
A way to keep out the heat, as well, is to get black-out curtains for your windows and doors that have floor-to-ceiling windows.
I don't shop at boutique stores.
I'm all for supporting local businesses, but not when a crop top costs more than a T-shirt at Forever21, and half the shirt is missing!
Call me simple, but I love a good Macy's deal, JC Penny browse and H&M retail therapy. I'm not against small South Florida businesses, just their price tags are astronomical sometimes.
Sometimes, I only bring cash, so I have a limit on what I can spend.
It's worth leaving your credit cards at home and just bringing cold hard cash to limit yourself on what you can spend. When it runs out, you know you didn't go over budget.
Just make sure you don't spend it all in the first five minutes you leave the house!
I find free parking and walk if I have to.
An easy bill to do away with is parking. All over the city is paid parking, even if it's just five dollars. Sometimes, you have no choice for where you're going, but other times you can go the extra mile — pun intended — and walk to your destination.
Usually, it's as close as going one street over or across the way.
I use streaming services instead of paying extra for cable television.
WiFi bills are more important to me than cable bills. So, I use streaming services, which are less than the monthly cable and you usually get a trial month.
Luckily, I have a WiFi service that provided me with a TV box along with the package I purchased, so this is a money saver, as well.