Experience
Top
Work & Travel Experience / HOW TO SURVIVE A WHOLE MONTH WITH ONLY 100 DOLLARS 
dollars-savings-money
8 Jan

HOW TO SURVIVE A WHOLE MONTH WITH ONLY 100 DOLLARS 

When you travel to United States for the first time, even when you are returning from your trip as a business traveler or a tourist, it is hard to resist some new and unusual things. The same goes for the experiences- a visit to a museum, an observation deck, a national park, or if you opt for some extreme sports activity- everything has its price. If you do not pay attention, with every credit card swipe you will be less likely to return home with a greater sum of money you had previously planned.

Let’s join forces to make a guide that you will be able to use every time you leave the house. Please leave your tips and tricks in the comments below, and let’s see if we can figure out how to spend less money during our stay in America.

IN SUPERMARKETS

  • Get the discount card at your local supermarket and you can buy items on discount (they are usually marked with a different colour).
  • Often the cheapest items are the least noticeable- check the lower shelves.  Suggested by Milos
  • Go to the supermarkets with a self-checkout. Opportunities are endless.
  • You can label organic fruit as regular at the self-checkout. If you have to scan the bar code or a label, just replace the labels before going to the self-checkout.
  • We assume you can do the same for some other items, but do not go overboard.
  • If you get a chance, go to the supermarket on the weekends during the daytime because then they have a bunch of promotions, so you  may also leave the supermarket full.
  • Buy things like rice- cheap, easy to prepare, of good quality, and has longer shelf life.
  • Pasta and sauces are super cheap, and really tasty. Sauces are often on the discount- buy two get one free, etc.
  • Arizona Ice Tea- in Target you can get it for as much as 50 cents. It has nothing to do with tea. According to the magazine Men’s Health it is the worst drink with this name to be advertised. It tastes great, but do not exaggerate since it is high in sugar.
  • If Walmart is near where you live, good for you.
  • This has nothing to do with saving your money , but  it is a good life hack- you can buy a TV, a video game console, bicycle, etc. Take care of these items and before three months expire you can return it to Walmart and you will get your refund.
  • There is a very cheap package of frozen salmon in Walmart- they say it is really good.
  • There you can also buy cheap water filters that will surely last three months at least. Some filters can be attached to the tap, while others are located inside the pitcher. Thank you, Ana.
  • Market Basket is super cheap and has a bunch of products form the Balkans, which are not cheap.
  • Bananas are cheap, filling and they provide a bunch of energy.
  • Mango- much cheaper than in Serbia, they often have two kinds (greenish-red and yellow), on discount they tend to be just under a dollar. Thanks T
  • Dollar Tree- you can get everything for a dollar. Except that there are things that cost a little bit more. Thank you Dusan.
  • PriceRite- also one of the cheapest supermarkets. Here you can buy items that are about to expire and you can get them half-price.

FAST FOOD

  • A McDonald’s well-known dollar menu- quality is questionable, but you won’t starve.
  • Peanuts in Five guys are for free. Thank you Petar for this info.
  • Free refill- anyone who has ever been in the US knows about this hack. You can drink as much as you can, but do not exaggerate and carry a one and a half liter bottle with you to pour soda in.
  • On some gas stations you can get fresh sandwiches, and for one dollar more you can get a soda too.
  • Get the coupons for Burger King, Pizza Hut, and others at the local library or from someone’s mail.
  • Pizza Hut often has some really good deals, and pizza is really delicious in comparison to the Pizza Hut that opened in Belgrade couple of years ago.
  • Dunkin’ Donuts- get there before closing and all donuts left will be yours. Experience by Milos
  • Online coupons in general- look for coupons on websites like BeFrugal (frugal= thrifty, economical)
  • In shopping malls you can find Chinese/Asian food in food courts- the more of them there are the greater the chances that they will try to persuade you to eat at their place. It is more than enough to feel full.
  • Chinese food is awesome- it is not the cheapest choice, but quality-wise it is more than enough for a dinner and a breakfast the next day.
  • 7/11 or Seven/ Eleven- cheap but really good pizza. Thanks T.
  • Eat24- an app that is similar to our Donesi.com. It belongs to Yelp about which we wrote several times in our Advice section. Thank you Ana for this suggestion.
  • Yelp- in general a really good app that can help you get informed about good restaurants and cafés, as well as some other services/businesses. Sometimes they offer coupons, so take a good look before you set out.

SHOPPING

  • Shop in outlets- if you are looking for some sneakers check if there is your size in Clearance section. Prices are usually more than 50% off.
  • For girls- designer bags like Michael Kors are much cheaper than any other place in Europe or a fake from Turkey.
  • Shop sales, but keep track of the prices beforehand.
  • Shop online.
  • Before online shopping check-out, if there is an option for coupon codes, look for them online. This definitely works.
  • If you see a brand like Navigare, Reebok, etc. try them on and remember the shoe size. Then look for the same brand in stores like Marshalls and TJ Maxx.
  • Marshalls and TJ Maxx often have new items  every week. Take a peek from time to time.
  • Ross- maybe even better than the first two. Tea voted for Ross, thanks Tea.
  • For girls- if you are not sure which size of the underwear you should buy from Victoria Secret, order them  anyway. Try them on once you get the order, if it does not fit take it back to VS store to return them  and you will get your money back.
  • VS often has a bunch of sales, we recommend you subscribe to their newsletter.
  • Payless Shoes- very cheap shoes, you can find brands like Champion. Stefan, from the Facebook group. Tea added that you can shop with coupons if you are subscribed to their mailing list.
  • Ebates- one more suggestion for coupons and online shopping with the possibility of getting some cash back. You also get a 10 dollar gift card just by registering on the website (which is completely free). Thanks Maja for the suggestion.

TRAVELING

  • Couchsurfing- free accommodation. It is necessary that you put a little effort in making your profile look presentable, finding a host that you like or that suits you. Make sure you let them now in advance that you are coming and there should not be any problem.
  • If CS does not work out for you then Airbnb is a great choice. Register now:
  • Some destinations like Las Vegas, have higher prices on Fridays and Saturdays. Pay attention to that.
  • Uber- you must have heard of this service. Install their app on your smartphone, keep track of coupons online, avoid rush hour and it will cost you less than a taxi. In some cities you can get to the airport with Uber, but you cannot get an Uber from the airport. Unless you have a phone numberof the Uber driver.
  • Lyft- the same thing. First seven days, you can get 20% cheaper prices. Combine it with Uber.
  • Bus transport- Lucky Star, Peter Pan, Megabus. Plan on time and you will get a great deal. Sometimes you can even get a ticket for $1 from NYC to Boston. Thanks Milica
  • When you get an idea about the potential prices of bus tickets, Google “Cheap between X and Y cities’
  • Wanderu- it gives you a price comparison of bus transports between cities. One of the first results you get by googling the aforementioned.
  • Train is not a bad option, check Amtrak. Also, Google “how to travel within US with Amtrak”. There are a bunch of great stories from people who traveled across USA with a card that is similar to European Interrail.

 

EVERYTHING ELSE

  • Visit the website Groupon and pick a city you will live in. There are often some good offers, much cheaper than in store.
  • Almost everywhere you can drink tap water. Do not spend money on bottled water.
  • Become a library member. Check on their website what activities you can get for free. There are often some museum tickets discounts. You will have to make a reservation beforehand.
  • In some museums (especially in NY) you do not have to pay the full ticket price, but whatever you want to donate. Some days of the month/week, admission is free. Thank you Ana once again for reminding us.
  • If you live in the apartment in some city, ask neighbours if you can borrow their Wi-fi shortly. In other words, ask them for a Wi-fi password.
  • For some observation decks it is possible to get a cheaper ticket online+ you will not have to wait in the line.
  • You can get free toilet paper, detergent, soap, etc. from  the common rooms in certain cities, if you work there.
  • You can do the same if you or your roommates work in a hotel. Marina, from FB group.
  • Also, hotel guests often leave unopened food and beer behind. Marina
  • TipSee app (tip tracker)- you can keep record of how much tips you get each day. I wish I had known this last year. A great suggestion from T
  • Rent-a-car- it is relatively smart to make a reservation online in some rent-a-car agency that does not have that many cars on offer, because then they will have to give you a car that is closest to what you ordered. For example, Enterprise gave us Jeep Cherokee and we made a reservation for a small Hyundai.

This post is also available in: RS

Slobodan Rudic
Slobodan Rudic

Messing around Work and travel program since 2011. Have been two times a part of it - once as participant, second time from the "other side". Love to travel, explore, eat sweets, drink coffee and read.