Can You Save Money While Living in Orange County? – OC Weekly

 (Photo by Marty O’Neill on Unsplash)

California can be a fun and exciting place to live, but Orange County is particularly expensive. In fact, it is one of the hardest places to save money, so if you are financially struggling, you might be looking for ways to save. Still, it can be a great place to live if you understand budgeting and aren’t afraid of making some adjustments.

Start Building Credit

You need credit for many things, whether it’s getting a car loan, buying a house, or going to school, and in Orange County where things tend to be so much more expensive, you might find it is even more necessary to be able to borrow money for big purchases. Being without a credit score, or credit invisible, means you won’t be able to get the cash you need for these purchases, and if you can get anything, it will not be at a good rate. If you do not have a very long credit history, this is a great time to start actively building your credit.

Save Money When Shopping

Knowing where to shop and how to do it will relieve the strain on your finances. Even groceries can be expensive, and it might be stressful or time-consuming to shop around for deals at different stores. Consider visiting your local farmers markets instead of going to the grocery store. Because of Southern California’s warm weather year-round, you will often be able to find locally grown produce throughout the year. Farmers markets often have better prices than grocery stores, and you will find produce tends to be cheaper than name brands sold at grocery stores. If you arrive near closing time, you may find discounts on the produce because it will have been sitting out all day, and the sellers will not want to take a lot of leftovers home with them. 

You can save money on home goods, clothing, and other retail goods too. Consider shopping at your local thrift shops instead of going to larger retailers. It might take longer to find something you are looking for, but it can be very rewarding when you do find a nice piece at a fraction of the cost of a retail store. Look on Orange County’s Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace listings to find deals on nice items as well. Sometimes people sell their clothing or home goods to make a little extra cash to cover the high costs of living. If you have a friend with a truck, you can get it delivered to your home for free after you purchase it.

Eat at Food Trucks

You may find yourself craving something when you are out and do not feel like cooking it yourself. While restaurants are pricy in Orange County, you may be able to purchase it from a food truck instead. There are many popular taco trucks and even cottage food entrepreneurs who have emerged on the scene because of how popular they are in the area. You can even find trucks that specialize by diet, such a vegan and gluten-free. 

Rent Out Your Space

Housing in the Orange County area is significantly higher than the rest of the country, and it is likely going to be where most of your living expenses go each month. You may need to wait a little longer than the average American before buying a home, and it is best to wait to do so until you have enough resources to do so. It is generally recommended to be able to put down at least 20 percent of the home’s price as a down payment and keep your total housing costs at less than 35 percent of your total after-tax income. You can save money on housing and hopefully get into your own home sooner by getting roommates to split the cost of housing. If you are looking to move, you could move into someone else’s space they are looking to rent out.

Get Outdoors 

Southern California is known for its excellent weather, and the sun shines much of the time. The beach is also nearby, and even if you don’t like going in the ocean or laying out in the sun, you could still enjoy some time along the boardwalk. With beautiful weather much of the year, there are plenty of free forms of entertainment, including the mountains outside the metroplex. If you wanted to, you could go skiing in the morning and swimming in the ocean on the same day. Exercise comes in many forms, and with so much to do outside, you can likely find ways of getting some exercise in without hitting the gym. From hiking to swimming to mountain biking, the opportunities abound. Consider canceling your gym membership if you have one and try getting outdoors more. Going outside also has more benefits than staying indoors all the time, especially if you get out of the pollution of the city and into the fresher air outside city limits.

Don’t Use Your Vehicle Too Much

Depending on where you live in Orange County, you might be able to get around without having a car. However, it’s more likely that having one will be easier than always relying on public transportation. Having your own vehicle means getting around the city and commuting into work may be faster. On the other hand, you may be happy to get rid of your car payment and just pay for ride sharing services. You do not have to use your vehicle all the time if you decide having one is still more beneficial. If you are going out for a recreational activity that does not require you to be there by a certain time, the bus might be just fine. In many parts of the area, it is hard to find parking at a reasonable price because there are so many other cars out. As with other large metro areas, you may not even know where you should or should not park during that time of the day. Taking public transportation can help you avoid valet costs and parking fines.

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