Living Well in a Big City: Tips from Alliant’s CFO

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May 29, 2024 | Natalie Symonds

Living in a big city can be exhilarating. The lights, sounds, hustle, endless opportunities—it’s all part of the allure. But with this excitement comes the challenge of managing finances in a landscape where the cost of living can be significantly higher than in smaller towns or rural areas.

Whether you’re a recent transplant or a seasoned urbanite, here are some tips from Alliant Credit Union Chief Financial Officer Mark Lau to help you thrive financially in the city.

Pursue High-Earning Careers:

Focus on in-demand skills. Many high-earning fields are based on highly in-demand skills. “Research and develop skills that are highly sought after in your city and industry. This could involve additional education, certifications or training. Targeting high-paying fields can increase your earning potential and help bridge the gap between income and expenses,” said Lau.

If you are already employed, don’t be afraid to negotiate your salary. “Many professionals underestimate their worth. Research average salaries for your experience and position, and don't be afraid to negotiate your starting salary or request raises based on performance,” Lau said.

Manage Expenses Strategically:

It may seem tedious but track your spending so that you know where every dollar is going. “Monitor your income and expenses to understand where your money goes. Utilize budgeting tools or apps to gain insights into your spending habits and identify areas for potential cuts,” said Lau.

Once you have an idea of what you are spending, you can prioritize needs over wants. Differentiate between essential and non-essential expenses. Prioritize necessities like housing, food and healthcare while being mindful of discretionary spending on entertainment, dining out or impulse purchases.

If rent is simply too high, explore alternative living arrangements. Consider sharing an apartment with roommates, looking for rent-controlled housing or living in a slightly less expensive neighborhood further from the city center. This can free up significant funds to allocate towards savings and investments.

Invest for the Future:

Another tip to set your finances up to live well is to automate savings, “Set up automatic transfers to savings or investment accounts to consistently build wealth over time. This ensures you pay yourself first and prioritizes saving even with a tight budget,” said Lau.

Make your money work for you and explore investment options. “Research and invest in various financial instruments like stocks, bonds, or mutual funds based on your risk tolerance and financial goals. Consider seeking professional financial advice to tailor an investment strategy aligned with your specific circumstances,” said Lau.

A big city offers countless opportunities but requires careful financial planning and discipline. By being paid a fair salary, managing your expenses, and investing, you can navigate the urban jungle with confidence, ensuring your finances remain healthy while you enjoy all the city has to offer.


Read more budgeting & saving tips from Alliant:

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