How to Save Money Living in Los Angeles

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Los Angeles is home to celebrities like the Kardashians, Mila Kunis, and Katy Perry. LA is also home to many people you’ve never heard of, who live in a completely different world than these celebs, despite residing in the same town.

The City of Angels can get expensive, that’s no secret. But did you know you could save money living in LA by doing things like:

  • Being a paid audience member
  • Attending free events
  • Thrift shopping
  • Going to a university campus

Check out these 9 clever ideas to save money when you live in Los Angeles.

Eat Delicious Mexican Cuisine from Food Trucks

Food trucks are a unique, trendy way to get a meal. However, unlike most chic sit-down restaurants in LA, food trucks don’t always have to cost you a fortune. All kinds of unexpected yet intriguing options fill the streets of LA; everything from BBQ sushi to curly fries with gourmet cheese sauce are available for purchase and quick, eager consumption.

But if you’re looking to save a few extra dollars for lunch, you should try out the classic tried-and-true Mexican food trucks. At the popular, El Chato Taco Truck, you can get 5 tacos with meat for just $4. That’s a whole meal you could pay for with the change you find in your couch cushions.

Taste the flavor of other local favorites like Mariscos Jalisco for their famous shrimp tacos, or Leo’s Tacos Truck for their acclaimed Al Pastor Tacos.

Delightful and convenient, Mexican food trucks are a fantastic way to eat fresh, quality ingredients, and a little bit of LA flair, without emptying your wallet.

Cash-in on the Industry

LA is booming with entertainment options, new talents, and constant shows and tapings. Take part in all the action by getting paid to watch your favorite broadcasts live.

Go to the website for Standing Room Only to find local tapings in your area and complete a brief application. Standing Room Only’s clients include programs like The Ellen Degeneres Show, The Steve Harvey Show, and The Weakest Link.

They have a few wardrobe requirements, like you can’t wear wrinkled or torn clothes, tennis or open-toed shoes, or hats. As long as you don’t come right after your workout, you should be fine.

Then all you have to do is sit back and have yourself a few screams, laughs, or a good cry, depending on the content of the program you chose. You may even get the chance to be on the show, if there is audience involvement.

Get a Parking App

When looking for a parking spot on the streets of LA, availability usually takes precedence over price. It is hard enough finding an open place to park, much less a spot that doesn’t cost more than $15.

Save yourself the hassle of driving aimlessly around the crowded streets of Los Angeles and get a parking app. There are so many applications available that help you with more than just finding the cheapest parking. Take a look at some of the most popular applications:

  • SpotHero – actually makes parking spots cheaper and can save you up to 50% on parking.
  • ParkingMate – has a meter timer, so pesky tickets won’t pop up on your windshield and surprise you anymore.
  • Parker – shows you all the available parking in your area, even free parking on side streets, yes, free!

Frequent Free Events

You don’t have to go to an extravagant celebrity party to have fun in LA. There is a huge list of free concerts, museums, events, and festivals happening year-round. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Huntington Library – dive into some history and see some artifacts like a Gutenberg Bible from 1455 or a manuscript of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales from roughly 1400-1405.
  • Homestead Museum – take a tour of a home from the 1800’s or a Spanish Colonial Revival mansion from the 1920s and learn about life before equal rights and the internet.
  • Weekly Free Music – every Monday night the bar and lounge, Bardot, hosts a free concert they call “School Night!” for local music artists. Start the week off right with some rock and rollers from your area.

Utilize College Campuses

I am not going to encourage you in trying to pass for a college student to take advantage of all the discounts, but just know that’s a way to go if you want to save some money.

There are also many more legitimate ways to get discounts on university campuses in the Los Angeles area. The University of Southern California’s Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry offers dental services to the public for a decreased price. Qualified dental students will work on you with the supervision of a licensed professor.

This tip is especially helpful if you are uninsured or have children: stop paying astronomical dental bills and try a University level clinic.

Take Advantage of Los Angeles Shopping

Do not think that the best shopping in LA is on Rodeo Drive, that’s a “Big mistake. Big. Huge.” There are thrift stores, flea markets, and swap meets all over Los Angeles with hidden gems, like vintage clothing, for just a few dollars.

The St. Vincent de Paul Los Angeles Thrift Store is a fantastic place to look for furniture, they are always getting new donations. Visit the Melrose Trading Post for local art, unique handmade crafts, and even live entertainment!

Everything at a flea market or a thrift store is most likely used, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t rare or of high quality. You can build your wardrobe as well as decorate your abode in classic, hip, Los Angeles style without going completely broke.

Get a GPS

If parking is bad in LA, the traffic is utterly unbearable. Get a head start by using your GPS, even if you know where you are going.

When you use your GPS, it picks up any heavy traffic or hazards that may be on your route. Never get stuck in a surprise traffic jam again, just take the side street or alternative path provided by your navigation device. Most GPS’s also have the ability to report any police officers in the area, so you know when you can speed up a bit.

Using your GPS can save you from hours of idling in traffic; it will also save you money on gas you would have wasted during this time. It may even keep your sanity intact as well.

Use a Driver

You know the best way to save money on parking and driving in Los Angeles? Don’t even use your car to begin with. There are so many driving services available now, you can probably arrange for a ride without ever leaving your bed or talking to anyone.

Uber and Lyft are fantastic if you want something a bit cheaper than your local taxi. Bonus, if you are a first time Uber user, your ride is totally free.

When you are driven around you don’t have to worry about finding a parking spot, or deal with the wear and tear that stop and go traffic causes to your car. The minimal cost of the ride is most definitely worth it.

Skip the Gym Membership

Why pay a monthly fee to coup yourself up and run in place on a treadmill like a sweaty gerbil? Los Angeles is filled with beautiful beaches, trails, and free places to workout. Don’t spend your money where you don’t have to.

Go outside and take a stroll along the beach, walking on the sand as opposed to solid ground will give you a better workout. Try the Santa Monica Stairs for a brutal workout that will leave your legs wobbly the next day or head over to Runyon Canyon on North Fuller Avenue for a free yoga class!

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1Loan approval is subject to meeting the lenders credit criteria, which may include providing acceptable property as collateral. Actual loan amount, term, and Annual Percentage Rate of the loan that a consumer qualifies for may vary by consumer. Loan proceeds are intended primarily for personal, family and household purposes. Minimum loan amounts vary by state. Consumers need to demonstrate ability to repay the loan.

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