Top Hacks for Saving Money in the Chicago Area

May 22, 2023

Inflation is coming down. Finally! But there are still lots of folks in the Chicago area who are looking for ways to save their hard-earned dollars. At 6% below the national average, the cost of living in Illinois is not the worst, but prices will still seem pretty high to anyone living paycheck to paycheck. Especially on daily necessities such as groceries that can’t easily be avoided.

Still, there are many hacks for cutting down on expenses in the Chicago area, from having a roommate to taking advantage of the library resources. Below are a few other helpful hacks to help you save your dollars:

Consider Living in Chicago’s South Suburbs or South Side

The Orange, Pink or Green lines will take you to neighborhoods where home prices and rentals can be much lower than similar sized housing in north side neighborhoods. Check out RentCafe online for average rent prices in Chicago by neighborhood and you’ll see just how much prices can vary.

Once here, you may still need to take some extra steps to save up for your next vacation. Some of the most obvious hacks can be overlooked if you’re used to a certain lifestyle, so here are some reminders:

  1. Shop at thrift stores
  2. Bring your lunch to work
  3. Buy dry items like beans in bulk
  4. Make coffee or tea at home
  5. Call a friend to carpool
  6. Organize potlucks when socializing
  7. Cook perishable food before it goes bad

Divvy Bikes, Ventra & Metra: Take Advantage of Public Transportation & Walkable Areas

CTA is often a cheaper option for getting around, especially if you buy monthly passes. More people are also choosing to bike, use bike shares, or take Divvy to work and get around. Divvy bike share annual memberships are under $100. Of course, an even cheaper way to get around is to walk places, depending on where you live, and plenty of people do it every day.

Find Cheaper Ways to Drive and Pay for Auto Expenses

Naturally, drivers should remember to park legally to avoid expensive tickets or worse. Some car owners even buy gas outside the city or even outside of Cook County. Statewide gas prices just across the border in Indiana were running about 40 cents lower than in Illinois, which isn’t unusual. But there are many small ways to cut down on driving expenses, from taking shorter routes, driving at lower traffic hours, and cutting back on driving altogether.

Check out your local Currency Exchange for transportation passes and auto services near you.

Explore the Many Parks, Free Entertainment & Low-Cost Food Illinois Has to Offer

From free summer concerts to movies and workout classes in the parks, the greater Chicagoland area is full of free and low-cost outdoor entertainment. But the Chicago area is also known for its incredible range of cuisine from all over the world – much of it at a low cost, as well. So while you’re out enjoying yourself, try out a new sandwich shop! You can usually get a delicious gyro, Italian beef or burrito for a reasonable amount and still feel satisfied afterward.

Ask for Help: Use the Internet and Social Media

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions. You might be surprised at how many strangers love to help. Google searches are great, but posting questions on social media, such as neighborhood Facebook groups, are sure to garner some great tips on where to shop and how to save even more in your neck of the woods. Another great source of information is your local representative’s office.

Prepaid Debit Cards, Auto & Financial Services at South Suburban Currency Exchange (SSCE)

At Chicago’s South Suburban Community Exchanges (SSCEs), we offer a broad range of helpful day-to-day services. People who are trying to avoid overspending on their credit cards should consider using a prepaid debit card, which only lets you spend what you already have. While picking up your new card, here’s what else you can get done at SSCE:

  • Check cashing
  • License plate registration
  • Electronic bill payment
  • Ventra cards

SSCE helps south suburban residents stay on top of their finances by offering many convenient services – all under one roof! Find your nearest location or check out what else we offer online and start managing your finances today.

Two young men relaxing and chatting under a tree.