Between 2004 and 2012, I lived in New York City, made around $30,000 a year, and saved over $100,000.
It was enough money that, when the time came, I could hand over the piggy bank as a down payment on my first apartment.
I was able to save so much while making so little because I did my best to minimize bad choices, like trying to keep up with the New York Joneses, and maximize good fortune, like an inheritance from my grandmother. Both mattered a great deal. So did seemingly incidental things, like settling down with someone thrifty.
Here are the five most important savings tips I learned in those eight years.
If you're going to partner up, do it wisely
Love advice seems like a strange start to a story about saving, I know. And yet, nothing will deplete you faster, emotionally and materially, than getting stuck with the wrong person, or dating when you actually want to be single. Besides, love and money are usually entangled from the start, one way or another.
Ben, who I met in college, was a big-hearted, thoughtful guy who was right for me, and I sensed from the start that part of what made us compatible was that we both prioritized the same things, like security.
That meant we didn't take impulsive trips to Vegas, or even to Florida; we kept impulse buys of all sorts to a minimum. He didn't ask for expensive gifts from me, and I never expected jewelry or flowers. We found affordable ways to say "I love you." He once found me a perfect book of poetry at The Strand that probably cost $5 but meant more than 15 bouquets.