Cheapskate's Guide To Long Beach
With the rising cost of gas and tuition, students can use all the dollar bills they can get. Check out one DIG writer's advice on places to get the most bang for your buck.
Published: Thursday, May 8, 2008
Updated: Saturday, April 9, 2011 18:04
Bargain shoppers let's cut to the chase: this is a guide to living cheap in Long Beach. But besides price, there are some other things you should keep in mind while trying to live the thrifty life.First off, remember that quality of life will take a back seat in place of trying to get by. Survival isn't the right word, but it's the first thing that comes to mind. I like to think it builds character. Another thing to keep in mind is to think used, not new, and rent whenever possible. Family-owned businesses are best, but also have an open mind towards corporations not named Wal-Mart.
There are many different categories to consider when devising your budget. The most important, in my opinion, is food, so I'll start there. There are two types: foods for home-use that you buy from a supermarket and foods that you eat in the many fine dining establishments in Long Beach.
I like Ralphs due to the Ralphs card system; it saves you quite a bit and there's plenty of locations in Long Beach. Invest in eggs, spaghetti, bread and anything that's Ralphs brand. Ralphs store brand products are cheaper and are good quality, honestly.
Another place that is surprisingly affordable is another corporation: Costco, located on Willow Street in Signal Hill. It's a wonderful warehouse where you can buy in bulk at relatively low prices, thus covering your food for not one, but two and maybe even three weeks if you don't mind the repetition. This is where your parents come in handy because for some reason, parents have Costco membership cards. I use my dad's quite a bit.
When you're flat broke you can hit up Costco for the free samples, another perk of the store. They may not fill you up, but those hamburger samples definitely hold you over. A rule to remember though: always space yourself between your first and second servings, going in a circular motion with the utmost politeness and interest.
Now if you don't feel like eating in and want some fast food, or a low-priced sit-down place, there are plenty of those in Long Beach too. Since you are at Costco, let's start there. They have a great food court where $1.50 will get you a hot dog and a soda. They also have cheap pizza, salads and desserts. Most stores have the food court outside the store so you don't even need a membership to enjoy the cheap, delicious food.
Another fast food place that is easy on the wallet is the Hole Mole taco shop located on 461 Obispo Ave. or 5901 Pacific Coast Highway. They have $.50 potato tacos.
China Chef Express located on the corner of Anaheim and Redondo is another great choice, where $5 gives you a greasy meal so large that you can make two meals out of it.
Little Caesars Pizza is famous for their cheap Hot-N-Ready deal, but if you want an even better quality pizza at the same $5 price I suggest you go to Deli News located in the Target shopping center at Stearns and Bellflower. The Italian family-owned shop makes their own dough and sauce and is a much better deal.
For a good sit-down restaurant, I suggest Peking Wok, located at 6252 Pacific Coast Highway at the corner of Loynes Drive. Their lunch specials run between $5.25 and $7.55 for gargantuan portions of quality Mandarin cuisine well beyond Pick-Up Stix. The atmosphere is nice and it is easily enough food for two meals.
Taste of India is another dine-in restaurant to consider, located at 2620 Long Beach Blvd just north of Willow. Ranging between $6 and $8, this little taste of India offers quality poultry, lamb, seafood or vegetable combos at a fast-food speed. And there's no MSG or lard so you can rest assured that it won't give you a heart attack.
Another necessity to consider is clothes. This is where that used-instead-of-new philosophy comes in. Goodwill, located just south of Anaheim on Redondo Avenue, and Out of the Closet, located on the corner of Anaheim and PCH, are great choices. You can buy a button-up shirt or t-shirt for under $4 and blue jeans under $10. Coats, jackets, socks and even underwear can be found here. The selection and quality are good, but it's those odd designs and t-shirts carrying logos such as, "Life's a garden, dig it," that makes it worth your time. You can also buy practical things at discounted prices such as kitchen supplies, furniture, records, VHS tapes, posters and board games.
For those who want to buy higher end clothes at a used price, there is Buffalo Exchange located on 2nd Street in Belmont Shore. You can even trade in some of your good used clothes (if you're lucky, they're extremely picky) for some extra cash.
And for those who want to buy brand new clothes from a big-name department store, there is a cheap way in accomplishing that too. Go to any Sears, Mervyns or Target store and you can receive 10 percent or more off your purchase if you open a store credit card. In the case of Sears, you receive $15 complimentary credit for your first purchase.
For automobile problems, there are plenty of hole-in-the-wall shops located west of Redondo. They offer better deals with greater customer service than the big companies such as Goodyear and Pep Boys. Go see Jim at Herb and Red's Auto Repair off of 7th Street for personalized car service you can trust.
Finally, there is entertainment. Just like food, there are two forms of entertainment: home entertainment and out-on-the-town entertainment. There are many ways to make your dollar go a long way.
If you want to watch a particular movie or listen to a particular CD, you have to think in terms of renting, not buying. Why buy movies and CD's, or spend more than $4 at Blockbuster, when your local library has them for free, and at worst, a dollar per rental? The selection is surprising, and if you read the opinion section of the March DIG issue, you know my love for libraries.