9 Painless Ways To Save Money In America's Most Expensive City

Regardless of your zip code, it can often feel like the city you call home is draining your savings. But, according to a recent study by Go Banking, that feeling could actually be fact if you live in the Bay Area. The financial site tallied what factors could help or hurt your goal of saving money in a city — like sales tax, median home price, median income, unemployment rates, and gas prices — to determine what towns are the best and worst for stacking dough. No crazy surprise here: San Francisco is the worst offender.

With the proliferation of pricey restaurants and new things to do, going out certainly seems worth the cost, but saving money in the process seems straight-up impossible.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way: If you’re smart about your spending habits, you can overcome even the worst of statistics and see your bank account flourish even while living in an expensive city. From ride-sharing services that cost way less than a cab to produce-shopping at your local farmers’ market, the nine foolproof tips we rounded up ahead will help you save a buck. It may sound like a lot of work, but it's worth it to see your dollar go a long way.      
1 of 9
Photo: Courtesy of Lyft.
Take Lyft Line
Okay, we know ride-sharing services can get expensive, but hear us out. If you opt to use the carpooling feature, you’ll save major bucks by sharing a ride with another person who’s nearby (Lyft says you’ll save up to 60%), and you might make a new friend while you’re at it. Or, at the very least, leave with extra moolah and inspiration for a good tweet.
Advertisement
2 of 9
Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Shop The Cheapest Farmers' Markets
We know you like your weekend trips to Whole Foods, but they’re not cheap. Rather than buying produce at supermarkets, start purchasing fresh fruits and veggies at an inexpensive farmers’ market or local bodega. Of course, not all farmers’ markets are created equal, so you’ll need to dig around to find the ones that offer good deals (hint: in San Francisco, for example, it’s Alemany). And, don’t be intimidated when you’re there. Ask vendors if you can buy items like day-old bread or overripe fruit — you can typically haggle those things, especially toward the end of the day when the crowds have died down.
3 of 9
Photographed by Maria del Rio.
Put Your Apartment On Airbnb
Whether you live in your own pad or share a spot with friends, you can make major money anytime you go out of town by renting your room or your entire place out on Airbnb. There are Airbnb listings in more than 34,000 cities, but each town has its own regulations about the service, so be sure to check with your building to make sure it’s legal to list (like it is in S.F.).
4 of 9
Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux.
Sign Up For Ebates.com
Imagine being able to online shop and get money back along the way. Sounds like a dream, right? At Ebates.com you get cash back at more than 1,800 stores anytime you make an online purchase. Whether you're cruising Nasty Gal, Nordstrom, or even Marriott hotel bookings, you can get money in the bank if you shop through the site. It’s super fast to set up, and the site sends out "Big Fat Checks" every three months or so. Payday!
5 of 9
Photo: Courtesy of Crossroads.
Make Frequent Closet Purges
There's no faster way to make room for money in your wallet and space in your closet than a trip to your local consignment shop. You definitely have to be willing to part with your goods (so prepare yourself for that), but it's worth it. Also, if you don't want to drag your merch around, apps like Poshmark and Threadflip are easy to use from the comfort of your own home.
6 of 9
Photo: Courtesy of Cal Academy Of Sciences.
Take Advantage Of Free Days
Weekend activities can add up. Stop trying to arrange costly Sunday brunches — we know, you love bottomless mimosas — and rally your friends to head to a museum instead. Many of the best art and science museums around the Bay offer free days sprinkled throughout the month (check out a full rundown here). Just expect a big crowd when you go.
Advertisement
7 of 9
Photo: Courtesy of ClassPass.
Take Your Fitness Routine Over To ClassPass
There's no coming between a San Franciscan and their workout. But, if outdoor runs have become a bore, you can still register for group classes and save money. Sign up for ClassPass, where, for just $99 a month, you can take unlimited group fitness classes at the best studios in your city (spots like Barry’s Bootcamp, Bar Method, and even Pure Barre are part of the service). You’ll never grow tired of your fitness regimen again.
8 of 9
Photographed by Julia Robbs.
Air-Dry Your Clothing
Let’s do the math together: If you do one load of laundry per week and opt not to use the dryer, that’s a weekly savings of $2 (depending on how much your current laundromat charges, of course). In a year, that can mean a total savings of $104. How will you get your clothes dry then? Purchase a collapsible drying rack from Bed, Bath & Beyond for $20 ($16 if you use that ubiquitous 20% off coupon!), and air-dry everything in the bathroom.
9 of 9
Photo: Courtesy of ScoutMob.
Use Social Sites For Discounts
Foursquare and Swarm have been awarding users with perks for years. Just check into restaurants and bars using Foursquare and Swarm and you can unlock all sorts of deals. They’re not the only social app getting in on the discounts, either. The ScoutMob app offers goodies like 50% off the tab at select restaurants in cities all across the U.S.
Advertisement