It City. Music City. Expensive City.
As a fee-only financial planner in Nashville, I understand as well as anyone what an expensive city can do to one’s financial life.
Don’t get me wrong, Nashville is a wonderful city to live in. Like any city, it does have its shortcomings, but it also has a lot to offer.
The bad part is, when a city has a lot to offer, it often comes with a price. I have lived in Nashville for over three years now and have found an effective way to save for my financial goals and have a fun life at the same time.
At quick glance, Nashville has expensive housing, trendy (read: expensive) restaurants and bars, and an endless offering of music and entertainment. Having said that, know that it is my belief that money should not just be hoarded and saved for a retirement goal that is 30 years down the road. I want to use money as a tool to maximize my happiness both today and in the future, which includes saving for retirement (but that’s not everything).
After setting up my budget to save the right amount for my future financial goals, I am left to spend my money as I please. However, just because the money is there in my bank account, doesn’t mean I will spend it recklessly. That strategy would only bring financial pain at the end of each month as I see how easy my money was spread across the city.
Here’s How I Save Money While Living In Nashville
As you might imagine, living in Nashville is significantly more expensive than a smaller city in the Midwest. However, with a few minor adjustments in my way of life, I’ve actually been able to reduce my total monthly expenditures compared to when I lived in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Here are five ways I save money while living my best life in Nashville:
1. Free Events
There’s no denying the fact that Nashville has a lot of events going on. On any given week, open up the latest issue of Nashville Scene to see the hundreds of concerts, parties, and other events scheduled all over the city. Coming from a smaller city, I still struggle to keep up with everything that is going on.
In order to combat Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), I do a little bit of research and find the free events going on that are equally enjoyable to attend. There are neighborhood festivals, outdoor concerts, and art crawls going on all of the time.
From time to time, I will purchase a ticket to a specific artist I want to see, but more often than not I can find a free event to attend to enjoy my weekend.
2. Exercise On The Cheap
If you are looking to branch out of the globo-gym atmosphere, it can appear that exercise is rather expensive. From niche yoga studios to CrossFit to fitness studios run by stars of the 'Bachelorette' show, Nashville isn’t lacking in trendy exercise options.
Over the past decade I have formed a workout habit that is no longer a chore, it’s just a part of my life. Without careful attention, this could be yet another expensive way to spend my time each week. I have reduced this expense dramatically by working out at home and running.
With a few pieces of equipment in my garage (kettlebell and dumbbells), along with my trusty running shoes, I’m able to get in my workout fix and save money at the same time.
My favorite place to run in Nashville is the trails of Percy Warner Park. If you see me out there, please share your water bottle. I probably need it.
3. Avoid Lifestyle Creep
Anyone that has been in Nashville for more than a few minutes can see all of the new buildings being constructed in every corner of the city. These new condos, apartments, and flipped homes can be easy to admire. They offer all of the latest amenities, granite countertops, and Instagram-worthy lighting.
Lifestyle creep is when you gradually increase your monthly spending by buying just slightly newer and nicer things as your income increases. It's a natural habit that can go unnoticed if left alone.
I am fortunate that my fiancee bought her (now our?) house in 2014 when prices were a little calmer. We are in a neighborhood that isn’t the hottest place to be in town, but it fits our needs (and our budget). Do we dream about moving into Germantown to enjoy the walkable neighborhood? Of course.
By keeping a close eye on overall spending, in conjunction with reminding myself of my values and priorities, I am able to easily avoid the temptations of keeping up with the Joneses and living in the hottest part of town.
4. Limit Eating Out
Seemingly every week there is a new restaurant opening up around town. Don’t get me wrong, it’s one of the better aspects of Nashville in my opinion. However, as someone that doesn’t go out all the time, it is tough to keep up with.
Although I don’t eat out all the time, my fiancee and I are intentional about trying new places, as good food in a fun environment is something we truly enjoy.
In order to experience this great aspect of Nashville, we go out once per month to a new restaurant for our date night. It gives us the “permission” to spend more money on good food than we are used to, but it keeps the pleasure in check.
Other than our fun monthly date night, we tend to cook the vast majority of our meals at home. This is one of the main ways I’m able to save hundreds of more dollars per month than my peers, just by eating at home a little more than the average person.
5. Lost Track of Clothing Trends
I’m not sure if it’s just me getting older or what, but I have completely lost track of what is a trendy article of clothing to wear. The benefit of this naivete is more money in my pocket, and a less-than-full closet of clothes.
I have found a few basic outfits for the variety of work and social situations I find myself in on a regular basis, and don’t really branch out beyond that. I am able to wear clothes that are comfortable to me, fit right, and keep my clothing expenses low.
Do I have the latest clothing trend down when I go out to a restaurant with friends? No, but I don’t mind anymore. I have prioritized my financial goals over the clothing approval of strangers.
Budget Friendly Nashville
Just because you live in or are visiting Music City, you don’t have to break the bank. There are endless ways to save money on all this city has to offer. By being intentional with my financial priorities and spending categories, I am able to have fun around the city and take care of my financial future.