Washington is an expensive city. It’s no New York, but it certainly isn’t cheap. For those who fall into the category of “unemployed” or even “underemployed” it can feel frustrating to get a meager or irregular paycheck. Luckily, there are plenty of free and heavily discounted things to do in and around the city when you're on a budget.
Read on for five ways to save money in the DMV.
Learn the Bus System
Most of us are familiar with the metro and appreciate that the trains get us around the city quickly. While buses have to fight through congested streets during rush hour, they’re still a bargain compared to driving and parking or taking a cab. Learn the different bus routes in your neighborhood and figure out which are most efficient for getting you around the area. You can also get stuff done on the bus since you’re not the one driving. Bring a book, study, or use the time to meditate on your day.
Find Happy Hour Deals
If you don’t mind eating dinner on the early side, investigate happy hour specials in your neighborhood. You can eat at popular dining establishments and trendy new places for a fraction of the price. For example, Jaleo just started offering a deal on Monday nights offering hungry diners all-you-can-eat paella for $25 and all-you-can-drink sangria for a surprisingly reasonable $15. Check out this cheat sheet for happy hours every day of the week.
While the transit app battle rages on among the developers, consumers are coming out on top. In an attempt to undermine Lyft, Uber just slashed prices on their budget transportation option yet again. They boast that their prices are 30% cheaper than cabs. Download the app on your phone and when the bus won’t cut it, take an UberX to your destination.
Find Free Shows
In DC, we’re lucky to have tons of free cultural offerings. One of the best is the daily shows on Millennium Stage at The Kennedy Center. Check the schedule here to see what’s coming up. Shows are offered every night at 6 pm. Another fun option is the drum circle at Meridian Hill Park on Sunday afternoons. Bring the kids and a picnic and you can sit and watch the percussionists for hours.
Live Outside the City Limits
DC is expensive, but if you move just beyond the borders of the city, you can live within minutes of a metro without paying a premium. Sure, there are high-end, luxury buildings in Bethesda and Rosslyn , but for the most part, forfeiting coveted DC real estate means lower rents and more square footage.
Even if you’re rolling in dough, living frugally is smart. Washingtonians are fortunate enough to live in a city full of freebies and deals. Take advantage of the tips above to save money where you can so you can shell out the big bucks when it really matters.