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Old 04-25-2010, 05:27 PM
 
306 posts, read 571,526 times
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What's so expensive? Is it just the cost of everyday items, like food? The prices seem higher at the grocery stores here. But maybe it's just me. Maybe it's I'm shopping in little ****holes like Safeway and not going to bigger groceries stores outside Dupont. What do you think? I am going back "home" to upstate NY and bringing my furniture here in a U-Haul. I am contemplating loading it up with tons of non-pershible groceries from Wegmans. I figure it could save me in the long run. Thoughts?

Also, if I make a $41k salary before taxes (I haven't gotten my first month paycheck so I'm not sure how much it is), how does this sound:
$775 - rent
$75 - utilities
$55 - cell phone
$600 - student loans
$500 - out to eat/groceries
$10 - metro (work commutes are paid by job)
$0 - health insurance (covered through job)
$0 - laundry (my apartment has its own washer/dryer inside)

I want to save as much as I can. Honestly, I know no one in this city and I work 10 - 12 hour days. During the weekend, I kind of want to sleep in, veg and do laundry. I hope I'll make some friends and go out or date, but I don't expect a bumping social situation. The up side is I could save money, right?
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Old 04-25-2010, 06:09 PM
 
Location: Baltimore
1,340 posts, read 3,678,890 times
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Not going out does save money, that's for sure. I went out the other night and spent $100 easily. Bars are EXPENSIVE here.

Food could be expensive too. Safeway kind of is a big grocery store. Giant might be a little bit cheaper, but other than that, prices only go up. Harris Teeter is more expensive than Safeway and Whole Foods is more expensive than Harris Teeter. Don't really know much about Trader Joes.

I live in the city and get by fine making $44k. I explained in another thread about how I probably make even less than someone like you though. I have a few extra insurances and other things being a fireman. Send me a message if you have any questions.
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Old 04-25-2010, 06:35 PM
 
Location: Fort Worth, TX
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The usually good job market. Club fed = club can't get fired. It's also a pretty "happening" city.
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Old 04-25-2010, 06:45 PM
 
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Another thing top consider are the higher taxes. DC has high income and sales tax rates, and your insurance rates (especially on a car) will be high. I live in Arlington, which admittedly does not have the character or vibrancy of DC, but living just across the Potomac saves me a bundle in lower taxes, insurance, cheaper groceries, cheaper gasoline, etc. While I would love to live in DC, being a 15 minute metro ride away from the action is fine by me when I think of all my monthly savings.
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Old 04-25-2010, 06:50 PM
 
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Smaller grocery stores will almost always cost more. They can't buy in bulk and there is a greater chance the food will expire before someone buys it. Giant and Safeway will be cheaper.

I think you need some discretionary budget too. For example, your health insurance premiums are paid, but what about deductibles, co-insurance, and copayments? Even if you are healthy you should have some cushion for accidents. What about a clothing budget--dry cleaning, shoe repair, replacing items that wear out?

There is so much entertainment that is free in this town, that is a great category to slash the budget. Go to music performances at the Kennedy Center or take in Jazz at the Sculpture Garden, instead of going to bars.
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Old 04-25-2010, 07:32 PM
 
20 posts, read 82,326 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ffknight918 View Post
Food could be expensive too. Safeway kind of is a big grocery store. Giant might be a little bit cheaper, but other than that, prices only go up. Harris Teeter is more expensive than Safeway and Whole Foods is more expensive than Harris Teeter. Don't really know much about Trader Joes.
Here in NYC, we usually call Whole Foods "Whole Paycheck" for good reason. Trader Joe's tends to be the cheaper of the two, but as the OP suggested, I will also be sending myself some bulk non-perishable items to help keep down the costs.
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Old 04-25-2010, 07:35 PM
 
Location: DC
3,276 posts, read 10,371,442 times
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I grew up in Philadelphia, so the prices here weren't so bad for me to get used to. However, what really hits you here is rent.

For food I've found that if you want to save money you really have to shop around. Trader Joe's is usually good for produce, wine (if I spend more than $5 on a bottle it's a splurge), meats, and stuff like nice cheeses. Shoppers (I go to the one in Potomac Yard) is good for deli meats and processed foods (canned goods, etc). If you get a good sale then Safeway or Harris Teeter can beat both of them. The Safeway by me just reopened so they're having crazy sales.

If you're not going out that much, you'll save money. Or, if you do go out, I've taken to going for happy hours and only having few cheaper drinks and then saving nicer stuff for the bar in my living room. Lately I've been noticing that my credit card bill is ~$300 lower than usual, and I honestly think it's because I got busy with grad school and don't go out to dinner or for drinks as much as I used to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanZ View Post
living just across the Potomac saves me a bundle in lower taxes, insurance, cheaper groceries, cheaper gasoline, etc.
Not that I'm doubting you, but my roommate and I were just discussing the differences between living in DC and VA (we lived in Alexandria for a year and then moved into the city). We were pretty surprised that we didn't really notice a big increase in any of our expenses, except for rent. I remember my taxes on my paycheck went up a bit, but nothing horrible. I think my car insurance went up about $60/year. My roommate claims to have not even noticed the difference. Gas is definitely cheaper in VA, though most people I know with cars in DC buy their gas in VA anyway. Until recently I bought all my groceries in VA anyway, but with all the sales they've been having there's not a huge difference. Alcohol is definitely cheaper in VA, though.

I just thought it was odd how we both hear about the big differences between VA and DC, yet neither of us noticed it much. I don't know if it depends on your income level, insurance company, or what, but none of it was really noticeable.
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Old 04-25-2010, 11:16 PM
 
306 posts, read 571,526 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HurricaneDC View Post
The usually good job market. Club fed = club can't get fired. It's also a pretty "happening" city.
Clearly read the title and 0% of my post. I am not asking what causes the high cost of living. I am asking what constitutes the high cost of living, i.e. how does it affect me and where are the areas I'll easily burn (or save) money.

Thanks everyone else. I think I will load up on groceries. I hope my budget is solid. The $600 in U-Haul rental and flights is going to suck, as well as my down payments on my new apartment. But after I get through this, I hope I can put away as much as $500 a month. We'll see!
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Old 04-26-2010, 06:39 AM
 
Location: DC
3,276 posts, read 10,371,442 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muffincake View Post
I hope my budget is solid.
If you can get rent for $775, the rest of your budget looks about right to me. Just be sure to keep some wiggle room in there if you can, as things invariably come up. I put aside $400/month into savings and money market accounts (which I call my "travel fund"), so it's out of my main account and therefore out of my mind, while still easily accessible if I need it.

Does anyone in your family have a Costco or BJ's membership? My roommate has a Cpstco membership through her mother, and I have a BJ's card through my parents. You can go shopping there and either buy non-perishables or find someone to split the perishable things with. Costco is metro-accessible, not sure about BJ's (I only know about one).
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Old 04-26-2010, 07:26 AM
 
Location: Standing outside of heaven, wating for God to come and get me.
1,382 posts, read 3,210,508 times
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I drive out to Walmart every Sunday to make groceries. $500 a month on food and eating out is very, very expensive. You should be able to eat pretty decent and healthy for under $300 a month.

Also, You are going to spend $600 a month on student loans? How much do you owe?
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