When it comes to financial advice, tips like “cut out your daily coffee!” and “don’t eat out every night!” make the list every time. But let’s face it, skipping your Starbucks latte isn’t going to save you hundreds each month or pay off your credit card bill.
The truth is that most of the time, $5 won’t even make a dent in your debt repayment. Usually, it just gets spent somewhere else instead.
So, how can you save big money that will actually help you to reach your goals? Well, to save big you’ll have to make big lifestyle changes. Think of it this way: you aren’t dropping a habit, you’re changing the way you live.
Here’s how to lower cost of living in five different ways, like a true baller. The bigger the change the bigger the potential savings.
1. Try a Shopping Ban
Seems like a no-brainer, right? Just think of the hundreds you spend each month online, at the mall, or at the grocery store and you’ll see why shopping is such a money downfall.
But when I say “don’t shop” I’m talking full Little House on the Prairie. No need to make a grocery list if you don’t go to the store at all. Learn to garden – plant fruits and vegetables year-round in planters if you don’t have a yard. Use your produce to make healthy meals at home and compost the leftovers for fertilizer.
If you’ve got access to a sewing machine you can go even farther. There are thousands of online resources that can teach you to alter, repair, or make just about any piece of clothing you can imagine.
Or, if this is too extreme, commit to a “no new clothes” challenge or shopping ban for a year and see how much you’ll save. This might be an easier way for you to learn how to lower cost of living when it comes to spending less.
2. Get a Better (Paying) Job
No one likes to talk about getting a better job, particularly if you’re happy or like the place where you work.
However, job hopping is actually your best chance to increase your annual salary and earning potential according to this article from Fast Company. And a higher salary equals more money for paying off debt!
On the flip side, getting a better job can also lower your cost of living in other ways, specifically with health and dental benefits. By taking part in company insurance plans or other employee benefits you can cut down a number of extra bills you’re paying while reaping the rewards of a group plan.
3. Get Rid of Your Car
Take a second to think about how much money your car costs you a month. It’s not just a car payment: you pay for repairs, for parking tickets, for insurance, plus you’re at the mercy of fluctuating gas prices.
If you happen to live in a metro area with public transit, you can significantly lower your cost of living by selling your car. Find someone to carpool with to work, start biking, or take public transportation to live the car-free lifestyle.
Going without a car offers you so many ways for you to work on how to lower cost of living in other aspects of your life. Aside from the obvious money you’ll save by not having a car, you also lessen the temptation of going out to eat or going shopping as well.
4. Lower Housing Costs
Housing is often the largest expense in a person’s budget. After all, we all need a place to live!
But do you really need a guest room? If you have rooms that you aren’t using, you could be losing money each month to costs associated with energy consumption and other utilities. Especially if your home is not properly insulated and ventilated.
If you have more house than you need, it may make sense to downsize to a smaller home or condo to snag a lower rent payment, reduce your utility bills, or lower your mortgage costs.
Or, if downsizing isn’t an issue, you may want to consider finding a roommate to reduce your living costs. A roommate can help pay rent and utilities.
Live in a super trendy area? Consider moving to a less trendy area where rents are more affordable. You’ll then be able to funnel the extra cash to your student loan debt.
5. Move to a Cheaper State
This is the most drastic for you to consider how to lower cost of living, but it can lead to the biggest potential savings. There are many states that are super cheap to live in.
There are seven states where residents do not have to pay state income tax, which means they can keep more of their paycheck: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.
These states are cheaper to live in because the cost of living is lower: housing, groceries, and other necessities. It’s similar to how living in the city costs more than living in the suburbs.
However, big urban areas offer more job opportunities than smaller towns, so people are willing to pay a premium to live there.
When looking for a cheap state to move to, consider the median household income and median home price to get a feel for what to expect price-wise. It could be that you can buy a home that fits your needs for significantly less – meaning a cheaper mortgage payment every month.
There are also a handful of cities in the United States that will pay you to move there via tax credits and other economic incentives according to Kiplinger.
If you have a job that would do well in that area, or if you have the luxury of working remotely, it may be worth it to take advantage of these opportunities in order to lower your cost of living while saving more money.
The best thing about starting fresh in a new state? It can be a great way to get started on any of the other lifestyle changes listed above. And once you’ve begun to lower your cost of living, you’ll truly be able to turn over a new financial leaf.
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