Real Talk: How To Live In The City (On A Budget)

Hello friends & fam!

Oh my gawd. I feel like it’s literally been a thousand and one years since I was this excited to write a blog post. Today your girl is going to write about a topic that I feel vigorously passionate about – money.

We’re getting real af today.

Ever since I made the big move to Downtown San Diego earlier this month (which, in case you hadn’t noticed, was one of my BIGGEST life goals ever), I’ve received a ton of questions about living alone and budgeting and credit and the city life and everything in between! Well sir and/or madame, I am finally going to break down how the fuck a little 22-year-old content creator extraordinaire named Perla Chase managed to snag a decent studio apartment in Downtown San Diego.

Please note that this blog post is not my way of preaching or telling you to live any type of way. This is just my philosophy when it comes to handling personal finances and I figure the very least I can do is share it with anyone out there who might be needing some friendly guidance. Finance is an intimidating subject – but girl, I gotchu!

Before I dive in, I just want to give a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has been supporting me throughout my entire journey – I don’t mean with blogging or photography – but moreso just offering unconditional help and legitimately thoughtful advice on how to maneuver my way around early adulthood. These past few weeks have seriously taught me A LOT about what it’s like to have friends. Really great friends.




So, first things first, saving. Saving money is literally everything. I very much encourage every single person on planet Earth to have a savings account separate from their main checking account. I opened a savings account when I was 18 years old and since then I’ve tried my best to only touch my savings for large (AND rational) purchases.

Truth be told, if I didn’t have my savings account – it wouldn’t have even been possible for me to move to Downtown San Diego. I basically spent upwards of $3,000 total in my big move and all of that money accrued from years and years of establishing my savings account or “nest egg” as most people call it.

Opening a savings account is incredibly easy and if my shopaholic ass can maintain one – then SO CAN YOU! Just visit your bank of choice and explore whatever your best savings options are. Personally, the structure of my savings account requires an automatic deposit of $25 per month and limits me to six withdrawals within a monthly statement period (basically every 30 days) to ensure I don’t go ape shit crazy during the Nordstrom Semi-Annual sale.



Next, I’m going to touch on the one thing that seems so simple, yet can get fucked up real quick and that is the wonderful world of budgeting. Yay. There are a thousand and one opinions on good budgeting practices, but here’s what I do:

Worst. Case. Scenario. Budgeting.

Yup, you read that right. I like to plan my monthly expenses and allocate my funds based on the worst case scenario outcome of my paycheck(s). Let me explain – think of yourself as a part-time hourly paid employee. Your income completely depends on the amount of hours you dedicate to your job, typically within a span of two weeks. Let’s say on average you work 25 hours per week, but lately work has been slowing down for one reason or another and you’re only scheduled a 15 hour week. You would have to adjust your spending habits BIG TIME if work doesn’t start picking back up, right?

This is basically the mentality with which I approach money – even if I work myself to the bone, I rarely ever budget myself based on an average or best case scenario, but rather based on the lowest possible income I could be making between my multiple jobs. This makes it easy and realistic for me to constantly add most of my disposable income to my savings account while still meeting the required bills and non-negotiable monthly expenses, like food and transportation.

To simplify it even further – I work the 60+ hour weeks, but try to only spend as if I’m making 30 or 35 hour weeks worth of money. This is the financial approach that has worked for me since I began my first legit W-2 job at 18 years old. Also, keep in mind that in order to seriously utilize this budgeting method, you HAVE to know approximately what your obligatory monthly expenses are in ratio to your monthly income. I will use myself as an example:

$400/month in student loan payments (thanks a lot, FIDM)

$100/month in cell phone bill (thanks a lot, AT&T)

$1,000/month rent for my Downtown SD studio

 $400/month for food and transportation (loose estimate as it changes often)

In case my priority expenses seem a little empty – I’d just like to clarify that I don’t have auto-related budget tips because I don’t own a car. I have a driver’s license, but I’ve never owned a car. My methods of transportation is basically just utilizing Lyft, occasional trolley rides, and the kindness of friends who let me carpool with them. Additionally, I do not have a credit card – which is why I do not pay any monthly credit card debt. Tbh, I’m deadly afraid of credit cards but I am making it a point to actually apply for one this year. #GetYoGirlSomeCredit2018




Ok, this blog post is literally seven pages long at this point so let me wrap this up by covering one of the most important aspects of moving: finding a place to live. I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate to have found a reasonable, budget-friendly studio in Downtown San Diego. My building is a multi-story Victorian style apartment complex that is located in the neighborhood of Cortez Hill. As I just mentioned, I pay a rent of $1,000 per month, including utilities, and the building is not pet-friendly, has a shared laundry facility, and parking spaces are an additional $75 per month expense. They had a required credit score of 600 (which I obviously met) and most property management companies prefer renters to make an income of either 2.5 – 3 times the rent.

There are many great ways to find affordable listings, however, I specifically found my studio on a cool site called Zumper. This was actually my first experience finding an apartment with Zumper, but in the past I’ve also utilized the ever popular Trulia and HotPads. My entire strategy when hunting for a place is relatively simple – yo girl goes on the site and just alters the filters to display a list of available places in a specific zip code and sorts the list in ascending order based on lowest to highest price point. My Downtown studio was actually the third one of the list on Zumper so I legit feel like I hit the jackpot.


Ok guys, I guess this it! I believe that I covered every topic that I was asked either in person or on social media regarding my move. Please do NOT be shy about leaving a comments, sending an email, or sliding into my DM’s on Instagram if I forgot to mention something that you really wanted me to discuss. I love hearing feedback – thank you for supporting and reading my blog. Till next time! 🙂








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