Living Cheap in Chicago

Spend a week or two in Chicago and you’ll quickly realize your wallet isn’t as fat as it used to be. Gone are the days of $1 pitchers of Natural Light followed by $1 slices of pizza before heading home after a night out at college. Even just getting to work on the train costs me well over $100 a month, and that doesn’t count the rides I slept through without the conductor punching my 10-ride pass. So this summer, I’ve started looking for ways to enjoy Chicago without going bankrupt.

Ever since catching Dave Matthews Band at Tinley Park, I’ve had an insatiable urge to catch my favorite bands playing a live concert. Whether it’s at the side stage of an Arkansas festival or at a crowded House of Blues in Chicago, seeing bands perform live made my love for music grow. Problem is, I can’t afford to see as many concerts these days. Luckily, Chicago is full of free shows throughout the summer. Instead of driving hours to a camping festival in the middle of nowhere, I’m taking the L over to the Taste of Randolph Street Festival to catch two of my current favorite bands, Bright Light Social Hour and Lettuce.

Courtesy of Taste of Randolph Street

One of the best parts about Chicago is the food, hands-down. I’m the kind of person that can’t turn down a trip to Portillos or a slice of deep dish from Lou Malnati’s. But after a while, it starts to take a toll on my wallet. Since I started working downtown, I’ve tried to take advantage of all the free food around, and trust me, there’s a lot of it. Several days a week, 1871 hosts “Lunch & Learn” events where people come in to share their success stories and tips while we snack on some free food. And for when you can’t find an event with free food, there’s always a McDonald’s just down the street!

If you want to find some free events to go to yourself, take a look at this schedule to see if anything interests you: