Save and Invest

I'm living on $60 a week for a month in Los Angeles—here's how

The author, pre-Cash Diet

Moving across the country isn't cheap. I found that out firsthand when I packed up my life in New York City and headed to Los Angeles last month. Between transporting myself and my stuff from the east coast to the west and furnishing an empty studio apartment, I spent close to $2,000. Plus, I had to buy a car, which set me back another $7,849.

That's all to say, after settling into my new home in L.A., I felt the need to cut back — in a big way.

My solution? A "cash diet."

It's as simple as it sounds: I'm ditching my credit cards and limiting my spending to $60 a week, in hard cash. That will have to cover everything besides my fixed costs, including food, gas, laundry, coffee and any miscellaneous expenses, like toilet paper or birthday gifts, that come my way.

For my fixed costs, I'm counting rent and utilities, internet, phone, insurance and a few subscriptions that I'm already locked into: Amazon Prime and Spotify.

I have some experience going cash-only: I lived on $60 a week for eight weeks in New York back in 2017. The money-saving strategy, while limiting and frustrating at times, works: It saved me over $1,000 in just two months.

Could you live on only $60 a week?

Here are a few more specific guidelines for this round of Cash Diet:

1. Starting October 1, I'll withdraw $60 every Tuesday. That's all I have to spend for the full week.

2. If I don't spend my weekly allotment, any extra money can roll over to the next week.

3. I'll carry one credit card for emergencies. And by emergency, I don't mean a Chick-fil-A craving — I mean an actual crisis.

My last week on the cash diet aligns with a pre-planned weekend trip to San Francisco to watch my home NFL team, the Carolina Panthers, play the 49ers. While the trip's big costs are out of the way — I bought my flight using credit card points, sent my brother money for the ticket and will be staying with a friend — stretching $60 while on the road could be tricky.

And I want to enjoy the trip as much as possible: I don't need to eat at The French Laundry, but it would be nice to be able to afford a beer, and maybe even a pretzel, at Levi's Stadium.

With that trip in mind, I'm aiming to save between $5 and $10 a week that will go towards a "San Francisco fund."

Think I can do it? Check back to see how I do living on cash in Los Angeles.

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Here's how much money I spent when I stopped budgeting for a week