Many people make new year’s resolutions to be better with their spending habits. Each purchase is a choice, and for many, they see they need to be more disciplined. But self-discipline isn’t easy. Compounding the issue of spending is Austin’s affordability. As much as local politicians talk about affordability, you’d think it’d be cheap to live in Austin. But it isn’t, so making your budget stretch can be difficult. Still, it is possible.

To help you make it happen, here are 10 ways Austinites live on the cheap and save money. Perhaps you’ve tried some, but even for the thriftiest penny pincher there’s always another way to save.

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10.) Go to free events

Photo: Flickr user Davidlohr Bueso, creative commons licensed.

Photo: Flickr user Davidlohr Bueso, creative commons licensed.

If you find yourself hearing about awesome free events the day after they happen, make the Austin.com community calendar part of your weekly routine. It’s a one-stop-shop for all the information you need to keep yourself entertained, and many of the events there are completely free! Now you have no excuse to stay in all the time. Get online, then get out there!

9.) Take advantage of Cheap Renewable energy And tax breaks

Photo: Flickr user Cummings Properties, creative commons licensed.

Photo: Flickr user Cummings Properties, creative commons licensed.

The City of Austin is serious about being green — so much so they’ll give you money to offset the cost of your personal green initiatives. The Austin city government has several incentive and rebate programs to help you go green. Check each program’s rules if you qualify for help getting energy-efficient appliances, a home composting system, solar water heaters and much more.

8.) Volunteer to work at music festivals

Photo: Flickr user Ralph Arvesen, creative commons licensed.

Photo: Flickr user Ralph Arvesen, creative commons licensed.

Austin is known for its world class music festivals. Unfortunately, admission to those festivals costs roughly and arm and a leg. But there is a way to get in free. Both SXSW and ACL give free or discounted admission in exchange for volunteer work keeping the festival running. It can be difficult to land these coveted volunteer gigs, so look into these opportunities now to be ready when the time to apply comes.

7.) See if you’re eligible for reduced fares with Capital Metro

Photo: Flickr user Steven Polunsky, creative commons licensed.

Photo: Flickr user Steven Polunsky, creative commons licensed.

Austin’s public transit authority Capital Metro offers half-price fares to senior citizens, Medicare card holders and certain individuals with disabilities. The Reduced Fare ID Card Program has an application process that takes a few days to complete, but once you have your card, it is good for two years.

6.) Go to A Cheap happy hour instead of partying at night

Photo: Flickr user Viva Iquique weblog, creative commons licensed.

Photo: Flickr user Viva Iquique weblog, creative commons licensed.

If you want to rock and roll all night and party every day like KISS, it’ll cost you a pretty penny. Rocking and rolling all night can get expensive quickly, but if your work hours will allow, partying during the day can be done on the cheap. Drinks and eats are much cheaper at happy hour than at any other time, so check out Eater Austin’s Happy Hour Map to see which of your favorite Austin restaurants offer early evening discounts.

5.) Pick up your reading material from the library

Reading is pretty cheap entertainment as it is, but what if you could be a bookworm for free? It’s easy. Just check out books from your local library. The City of Austin has about two dozen branches, so there are bound to be a few in your part of town. Find a location near you today!

4.) Work from home Or A Coworking Space

Photo: Flickr user Marcin Krzyzanowski, creative commons licensed.

Photo: Flickr user Marcin Krzyzanowski, creative commons licensed.

How many hours per week do you spend in Austin traffic? As the voiceover guy on the Wolf Brand Chili commercials said, “Well, that’s too long.” More and more employers are discovering just how attractive work at home options are for some people, while others are working remote work options in the many coworking spaces popping up around town. Working outside the office isn’t conducive to all jobs and all people, but it may be right for you. Talk to your boss about eliminating your commute and moving the workplace onto one of those new, super-fast Time Warner Cable Internet connections, or a coworking space near your home.

3.) Ditch your car all together

Photo: Flickr user Emilio Labrador, creative commons licensed.

Photo: Flickr user Emilio Labrador, creative commons licensed.

More so than any other major city in Texas, Austin is taking steps to become a more walkable city. With new bike lanes, sidewalks, and bus routes, living without a car keeps getting easier. If all the places you frequent are on a bus route, consider ditching your car for a bus pass. You could save a small fortune in gasoline and insurance alone. And that’s just one of the many awesome things you’ll discover after switching to CapMetro.

2.) Go Cheap when dining out

Photo: Flickr user Katherine Lim, creative commons licensed.

Photo: Flickr user Katherine Lim, creative commons licensed.

Dining out is a luxury, but it doesn’t have to be extravagant. Austin has great restaurants in all price ranges, and you can get cheap eats all over town. Check out our lists of amazing meals in north, south, east, west, central and downtown Austin.

1.) Downsize your trash can

Photo: Flickr user Michael Cote, creative commons licensed.

Photo: Flickr user Michael Cote, creative commons licensed.

Every homeowner with city trash service gets a 90-gallon recycling bin for free. Homeowners pay trash collection rates based on the size of their trash carts. When citizens increase the size of their trash can, they pay a fee plus the higher rates associated with the new cart. Citizens can downsize their carts for free. Take a look at your trash habits to see if more recycling can save you money each month. And if you run a business, The City of Austin even offers rebates for reducing waste!


Feature photo: Flickr user Pictures of Money, creative commons licensed.

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