10-minute read.
One of the really cool things about living in San Diego are all of the ambitious millennials that I’ve run across. When you connect with someone who can live in the city on a budget, has humble beginnings and they tell you about their hustle and desire to be debt free, you can’t help but cheer them on.

Meet one motivated millennial

I first met Perla Chase at a local meet up and she ambitiously emailed the entire attendee list with her background. Needless to say, it caught my attention. I ran across her blog, YourGirlChase, and I knew I needed to have her on my blog.

At 22-years-old, Perla has hustled her way to making her dream of living in downtown San Diego a reality, and guys, if you live under a rock, San Diego is one of the most expensive cities in America.

If you have ever had the dream to move across country and try out urban living while paying off debt, check out my interview with YourGirlChase. She’s a great gal that is taking debt by the cojones and living the city life.

live in the city on a budget
Living that urban life. Courtesy of Your Girl Chase.
Where did you grow up?
I’m born and raised in San Diego. [I’ve lived here] my entire life.

Big family or small family?
Family of five. I have two older sisters.

I have two sisters too, that are younger. So, what was 16-year-old Perla like?
Oh God. I was a ballerina for most of my childhood. Outside of that, I was a really insecure kid. I didn’t care about school. I barely graduated high school; you couldn’t pay me to care about my grades. I was kind of a misfit.

live in the city on a budget
Keep things minimalist if you want to live in the city on a budget. Courtesy of Your Girl Chase.
If you had your own ‘Treat Yo Self’ day, what would be on the itinerary?
I have a lot of these days actually. I’m a big fan of self-care. I would wake up [around] 11 a.m., since I’m not a morning person. I would work out, do a face mask, and make myself some almond butter toast with strawberries.

 

Super millennial, the almond butter.
A lot of people go with avocado toast, but I’m not really an avocado fan. But yeah, I’d probably go to the beach for a while, take some pictures. I love photography. I’d spend the rest of the days editing. Maybe call up some friends and see if they want to grab some dinner and drinks. Probably somewhere downtown or PB (Pacific Beach). Come home, do another face mask, then just watch Netflix and knock out.

 

If we met up with your friends at a bar and they’ve had a couple drinks, how would they describe you?
Ambitious. My friends always ask “How do you fit so much into your schedule? How are you always so busy but you find time to spend time with us?” They’d also probably describe me as introverted. I can be really socially awkward, believe it or not.

If you want to live in the city on a budget, you don’t always have to skip out on the fun. Courtesy of YourGirlChase.

What do you do for a living?
I work full-time in social media marketing for a company that manufactures and sells art for kids. I work at Urban Outfitters by night. I run my blog, and I’m in the process of starting my podcast.
What’s the podcast going to be about?
It’s going to be an extension of my blog. My blog right now focuses on fashion, beauty, skin care, and those sorts of things. But, my podcast is going to center around topics like mental health awareness, being a young hustler in San Diego, millennial, pop culture and how it influences your self-image. Nothing superficial, it’s going to be about real shit.

 

What made you want to move to downtown San Diego, where cost of living is really high?
I’ve lived in San Diego my entire life, but I’ve always lived in really suburban areas where it’s primarily families. When I was 17, I completely fell in love with living in the city. The fact that you could walk to three different 7-Elevens, the ballpark is right there, I just love the city. I could be a poster child for this city. I genuinely didn’t think I could make that dream happen so early in life, but I did.

live in the city on a budget

Millennial on a budget with city views. Courtesy of YourGirlChase.

What did you have to sacrifice, if anything, to move downtown?
I don’t have a car. My only methods of transportation are Lyft and Uber, public transportation, or the generosity of my friends. I have a driver’s license, but I haven’t been behind the wheel of a car in such a long time. I have terrible driving anxiety, so the thought of doing it makes me want to cringe.

Do you know how much you spend per month on public transportation, Lyft, and Uber?
It varies. I would say on average it’s between $250-300. That’s only because I work outside of downtown. My goal is to find an agency downtown and have a much more convenient job. That would be my dream life right there.

Average amount Perla spends on transportation per month.

Besides the car, what else did you have to sacrifice, if anything?
I have minor sacrifices. I don’t have a gym membership, I mooch off of my ex-boyfriend’s Netflix account, and it’s just minor things. I’m also a bit of a minimalist. Both of my parents are biracial, and they immigrated here from Mexico. Their entire lives, they’ve worked multiple minimum wage jobs, working their way up the corporate ladder to survive. I didn’t grow up with much. I’ve been underprivileged my whole life, but that’s really taught me what I don’t need.

“I’ve been underprivileged my whole life, but that’s really taught me what I don’t need.”

Do you have debt and, if so, what kind of debt?
I have $46,000 in student loan debt. I have two private loans: one’s a Parent Plus Loan under my mom’s name, so I could technically stop paying it and not care, but I don’t want my mom’s credit to get [messed] up. I don’t have any credit card debt and I don’t have a car, so I don’t have any car debt.

How much are your monthly living expenses, i.e. rent, food, and transportation?
I would say about $1,800.

Amount of student loan debt owed

Monthly living expenses

Do you feel like now that you’re living downtown, you have any wiggle room to pay extra on your debt?
I do, and I actively do. My parents always taught me to pay a little bit extra, even if it’s just $10. Right now I’m ahead on all my payments.

What were some things you did to help prepare you financially for your big city move?
I started planning a very long time before I moved, and I knew I would have to purchase new furniture and appliances. I would scour the internet for the cheapest possible items with the best reviews. I saved up for Amazon Prime, which saved me $190 in shipping for a mattress. Aside from that, I just started making little changes. At one point I was going to a gym, and that’s $120 a month, so I cut that out. I purchased some resistance bands and a kettlebell and I work out at home. I get discounts on clothes by working at Urban Outfitters, and I don’t really buy much else.

Learn How to Pay Off Debt By Putting A Budget In Place

What are some things that people are spending money on that you’re shaking your head at?
I would say all these random subscriptions to things. Even if I didn’t have my ex-boyfriend’s Netflix account, I wouldn’t get one. You can find entertainment elsewhere. The only one I would advocate for would be Prime, since it helps you with groceries, and you can even watch TV on Amazon Prime. Anything else, like those beauty boxes are such a waste. You really don’t need a new lipstick every month. And that’s coming from someone that has a beauty blog. People would be surprised with what they could cut out.

 

What are some alternative things you do for fun to save money?
I do free things. I go to the beach with my friends or meet up at somebody’s house and get a Domino’s pizza and just watch TV. I became okay with not being active. I sit at home, work on my blog (which is completely free), and do things like read a book, work out, and work on myself instead of spending money on getting drunk. It’s not the only fun thing in the world. If anything, it gets old fast, and that’s coming from a 22-year-old.

live in the city on a budget

A free day outdoors is pretty beachin’ if you ask me. Courtesy of YourGirlChase.

What are your top two tips for finding an affordable place to rent?
#1
Know your budget. Know what is the max you could possibly spend on rent and utilities, and don’t lie to yourself. I had to be really honest with myself when I became completely self-sufficient. Even right now, I stop and I wonder if after my lease is up, if they raise my rent, could I still afford it or would I have to move in with a roommate.
#2
Keep your options open. I live in downtown San Diego, but my studio isn’t very glamorous at all. I live in a Victorian-style building; it’s maybe 300 square-feet. I have a mini-fridge, not even a full fridge. People would assume it’s a glamorous lifestyle, but it’s definitely not.
How did you find that place?
I actually found it rather quickly. I did a generic Google search of “cheap downtown studios.” I found a website called Zumper, that I guess nobody has ever heard of because when I ever mentioned it to people they’re like, “What is that?” I actually thought it was a scam because of how cheap it was, but I went to the viewing anyway and it just worked out.
zumper rentals
How much is your rent?
$1,000 a month, including utilities. I really won the lottery.  But, like I said, my studio isn’t glamorous whatsoever. I don’t even have an AC unit, we aren’t allowed pets, and there’s a washer and dryer downstairs that’s really sketch. I have homeless people constantly yelling outside my window.

 

How did you manage expectations with yourself? Were you thinking that it was going to be what it is, or were you expecting more?
Well, I’m a big realist, ironically. I’m an optimist, but I’m also a realist. When I saw the place, all I saw was a big project. I saw something that I could make my own. I literally have a mattress, a chair, a desk, and clothes and that’s about it. It definitely met my expectations, but I found it to be really fun. If you’re planning to live downtown with a limited budget like myself, then I wouldn’t expect much.

“When I saw the place, all I saw was a big project.”

How much is your income?
Working at my social media marketing job, I make around $41,000 a year. Working in retail, I make somewhere between $10,000-15,000 a year because I only work there part-time. For my blog, I took a hiatus, so for the past couple months I haven’t made a dime from it, but at my peak I was making an extra $200 per month.


So we’re talking $55,000+ and you’re making downtown work?
Yup.

I’m sure that you do, but do you budget?
I do budget, but I don’t have spreadsheets or Mint. When I was in high school, I told myself that I wasn’t going to let a piece of paper rule my life. I believe in responsible indulgences, so as much as I put things away into my savings account and make sure to make responsible purchases, I believe life is short – I’m here for a good time, not a long time.

Is it important for you to pay down debt, or experience new things like living in the city? Or do you prioritize both?
I prioritize both. I’m a ‘you can have your cake and eat it too’ bitch. I’m not about leaving things out. I definitely have turned down amazing, beautiful experiences like going to certain music festivals because I’d rather pay my debt, and I knew that if I went I wouldn’t have the money to pay off my debt. I just make rational decisions. Sometimes you have to turn down going out with your friends, or getting a bowl of Chipotle, or going to a party, or buying a new outfit. But if you have the extra income, I don’t see why you shouldn’t go and have fun.

“I’m a ‘you can have your cake and eat it too’ bitch.”

Any parting words of wisdom for those reading this?
Don’t be afraid of hard work, and don’t be afraid to dive in, especially at a young age. We are so lucky in this generation that there is an infinite amount of ways to make money. You can make money starting a blog like I do; you could run a Depop Shop; you could do freelance work; you could get a remote job.

A long time ago, I saw this meme that said “Beyonce has 24 hours in a day and so do you.” Millennials need to seize the opportunity that we have right now, that other generations didn’t have. I have the luxury of having a marketing job and working in fashion retail and having a blog. I hope millennials would take a look at their parents or grandparents, or even people just five years older than us, and then look at the opportunities you have in front of you. It’s not impossible; you just have to go after it.

Give Perla a follow over on Instagram at @yourgirlchase and check out her blog at yourgirlchase.com. Be sure to tune in to her future podcast on iTunes, YourGirlChase: the Podcast.

Ready for your big city move? Start planning with the Budget Toolkit.
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