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How I Saved My Money to Move to NYC

Moving. Is. So. Expensive. 

I don't need to tell anyone twice, do I? This isn't brand new information, not even to me. I knew well before this move that I was going to need (or at least want) a good chunk of change in my savings account to not only supplement the costs of moving, but to also have a cushion so I wasn't struggling after I paid off all of the necessary fees and got the minimal amount of furniture that I needed in order to make my apartment seem somewhat like a home and not just an empty space that I sleep and eat in.

I want to make a whole comprehensive post on how I finally found my apartment soon, but for now, let's bypass that detail and break down all of the costs of my move (and what I expected from my move). I knew that I had had to save for at least three things:

  1. Security deposit and my first month's rent – I was expecting just first and security (I looked at no fee listings only because I knew I would never be able to afford the occasionally outrageous fee), but I ended up paying a small broker's fee, which was half of my monthly rent. 
  2. Furniture – I tend to err on the cheaper side of furniture, mostly because I don't get emotionally attached to furniture pieces so if I had to let it go, I'd feel better about it if it was super cheap. This meant purchasing for myself and splitting with a roommate: my bedframe, a mattress, mattress pad, bedding, desk, desk chair, nightstand, couch, coffee table, TV stand.
  3. Food and travel expenses – I knew there would be a lot of take-out involved as I wouldn't have kitchen appliances and pots and pans and what not to make my own food. Even now, I have those materials, but the gas in our apartment is still not turned on, so we can't even boil water at the moment. And of course, my MetroCard isn't free. Luckily, I found out mine could be listed as a work expense and reimbursed, which saves me approximately $121 a month.
So, while I couldn't predict the actual amount of money that I needed for this (more money than I've ever seen and lost in my entire life in the span of a week), I knew it was going to be a sizable amount and I'd rather have too much than not enough. Having a cushion was and is still very important to me and it honestly bums me out to not see that number in my bank account that I worked so hard to achieve. However, I did it for a reason and now it's just time to rebuild, right?

But how did I save that money in the first place?

I don't pretend to be good at saving money. If I was good at saving money, I would've had much, much more in my bank account when it came time for my move. But alas, in the year I took to really focus on saving, I bought some things that were important in general, but also just important to me. I had a somewhat pricey trip to California for a week for a dear friend's wedding and to see two of my other friends in LA, about five weeks in New York City in the fall, one too many concert tickets, and just some purchases that I might not deem necessary right now. But at what point do you stop living and only focus on saving? I can't dwell on the money that I "lost" when it has brought and will bring good memories, ya know? 

That's the first way to ease into the savings process. Moderate your spending. Did I stop spending money entirely? Well, no. But I also just cut out the things that weren't necessities to me. Did I need Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts every morning when we had a perfectly good Keurig and Coffee Maker at my house? Well, no. At that point in time, I wasn't really going out of the house much because my main job was babysitting and I just wore athleisure the entire time, which meant buying new clothes wasn't exactly a huge priority to me.

I also have to admit, living at home was a huge help. My parents are kind and wonderful humans who let me move back after I left Cleveland and didn't pressure me to ever move out (I think if it were up to my dad, I'd still be in that turquoise room, tbh) before I was ready. Not having rent or bills to pay for was a huge help in all of this and gave me a chance to rebuild after almost two years of paying for rent and groceries and gas (not that I didn't pay for gas at home, that'd be ridiculous). This isn't an option for everyone, I understand, but don't believe in that negative stigma that people have about moving home after college or after you moved out. You don't have to let your pride get in the way. It's totally normal and will be a huge help, whether financially or while you struggle to figure out what you want to do with your life (two things that I was dealing with when I moved back home).

Spending money on food is one of my least favorite things in the whole word (buying lunch every day is honestly a shot to the heart), so I ate at home as much as possible when I lived there. My younger brother could spend his entire paycheck on Chipotle in a week, but I would just take advantage of what was in the fridge or our cupboards and hope to god my dad was making something good for dinner that night.

I mentioned earlier that I had basically cut out clothes shopping because I had no need for any new attire, which gave me more time to figure out what I liked and disliked in my own closet. Because of this, I sold a lot of my clothes on Poshmark and The RealReal. I took a few bags to a local Clothes Mentor location at the beginning of the summer and after that, I took matters into my own hand. I still sell my things on both of those websites because while it's not going to pay the rent by any means, it's nice to make a sale and have a few extra bucks in your account to either save or #TreatYoSelf with (ideally, it should be saved though). 

And last but most certainly not least, sometimes you just have to say "yes" to work opportunities. Listen, my situation was somewhat rare as I had only two (yes, two) friends at home who were very busy. If I wasn't hanging out with my family, I was probably alone, which made my schedule wiiiiiiiiide open. I don't mean for any of this to sound sad or pathetic, my friends were just spread across the country (hell, the world–don't let this go to your head, Olivia) and it gave me the opportunity to work as much as I wanted to without having to work around my busy schedule. This was a blessing in disguise, as babysitting was my main form of "income" during the ten or so months that I was home. There was a period where I was working on campaigns like I used to during the summer, but for the most part, my money came from babysitting for my uncle and also for another family. 

Even when I was in Cleveland though, sometimes I had to pass up on a Saturday night out to babysit because I knew it was for the greater good of my NYC life. Did I say "no" to my friends every weekend? Absolutely not. You just have to find your balance. You don't have to cancel your life to save money, but sometimes you have to make a sacrifice here and there for your future. 

Saving was hard. Not spending my savings was even harder. That was the roughest part. Putting the money into my account was simple. It was the temptation to splurge when I saw the number increasing that gave me the most trouble. You just have to remember why you're saving in the first place to stay focused. And while my bank account isn't what it used to be, it feels nice knowing that my account isn't completely drained because I took the time and effort to save up for something I knew I really wanted!

Photos by Maddie Bursaw


  1. Great tips, I think if you're starting to save money for a big expense like moving, it's good to start months in advance and just put away *slightly* more than you usually would (like, maybe an increase of 20% more. So if you usually put away $100 every month, start putting away $120). I'm also with you on the furniture. when my boyfriend and I moved in together, we both had almost no furniture because we lived with roommates who furnished our respective homes for us. I mean, we both had beds but that was about it. He wanted really expensive Pottery Barn couches and stuff but I said that we should get expensive furniture when we're married and things are more permanent. Not when we're just moving in together.

    xo Deborah
    Coffee, Prose, and Pretty Clothes

  2. Saving is so hard - and moving is even harder! I hope you love New York City!


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