The cost of living is something that most homeowners are painfully aware of nowadays. Prices are always on the rise, bills forever seem to be increasing, and what small gains the American workforce make in salary increases seem to get dwarfed by the cost of living increases. Even if you have been lucky enough to receive a raise in this past year, and are now earning more, when you stack that increase next to your ever-increasing bills, it can feel as though you’ve made no progress at all.
According to the United States Labor Department, the cost of living had raised 2.9% from 2017 to 2018, yet wages raised by 2.7%, not even breaking even. For the over 60% of Americans who didn’t get any sort of salary increase in 2018, this rise in the cost of living spells out even more bad news.
If you’ve been feeling the pinch as of late, and feeling as though your bills are rising at a much faster rate than your wages, it’s only normal to want to look for some immediate relief. Rather than find yourself falling further and further behind in your bills and attempts to put away money for savings, here are five ways to drastically reduce your cost of living:
Harness the Power of Solar Energy
One of the most impactful ways to bring down your cost of living is to adopt a variety of green measures in your home. These are energy saving tips and techniques that will offer real savings on your utility bills and of course lessen your carbon footprint on the environment. There are no “wrong” green measures – it’s only a matter of how far you are willing to go with the lifestyle changes.
For those who want significant changes on their energy bills and usage, installing solar panels could be the absolute best solution. Sure, there will be an initial investment required, but the savings that you will realize from solar panels during their 20+ year lifespan will pay for them many times over. At the same time, this clean renewable energy is able to reduce your carbon footprint drastically.
Semper Solaris, found at sempersolaris.com, are known as the best solar company in Westminster, and will work with you to figure out the best solution for your particular needs. This premiere solar company in Westminster understands better than anyone how important quality is to the consumer, as well as the savings that these panels will generate.
You can give them a call, book an appointment, and have the best solar panel installation in Westminster come out, assess your home, your needs, and then figure out the best solution for you. And, of course, as the best solar installation in Westminster, there are even financing options so that there won’t be a hit with initial costs. Solar in Westminster allows you to take advantage of free energy all year-round.
Get Rid of Your Vehicle
Yes, it’s drastic, but if you’re looking for ways to reduce your cost of living, your vehicle has to at least be a consideration. Start by figuring out the true cost of ownership – this means your car payment, insurance, gas expenses for the month, and typical repair and maintenance costs for the year. Is it something that truly fits in your budget? Likely you are talking about thousands of dollars each year.
It’s also important to ask if you can still go about your daily activities without a vehicle. There is public transportation, carpooling, using a ride share service, walking, and even biking, all of which might be able to replace you owning a car. For those that simply can’t go without a car, then there is always the option of downsizing to something that is more affordable in all aspects.
Downsize Your Home
If you want to see immediate results in terms of reducing your cost of living, downsizing your home is the ultimate solution. It could be the answer to all of your problems, and not even require any further steps past that.
Downsizing can encompass a variety of things from purchasing a home that is smaller (smaller price tag and lower utility bills), moving outside a busy city center in order to bring the price down, a home with less property, or a house located in an area that is just on the cusp of being “up-and-coming”.
One thing that may be tempting is to purchase that fixer upper. It’s the old ugliest house on the nicest street trick. Sure, that will reduce the purchase price significantly but there are a lot of variables and questions here. You need to be sure you can afford all the renovations. And what about unexpected issues that always seem to come up when doing major renovations? Will you have a safety cushion of cash to cover those expenses?
So, while buying a fixer-upper could be a great plan and a great way to bring down your cost of living, you need to go into it with eyes wide open and fully informed of what needs to be done to the house. You want to be sure you avoid a money pit situation.
Say Goodbye to Expensive Cable and Cell Phone Bills
When is the last time you took a look at your cable and cell phone bills for the year and tallied them up? There’s a good chance that grand total is enough to send shivers of horror down your spine. And what are you truly getting for that? By getting rid of cable, that alone will save you on average $100+ per month, but you don’t have to stop there. Is it really necessary you have one of the most expensive cell phone plans? Could there be a better option?
A good way to approach this tip is to start shopping around and doing some price comparison with the cellular companies that service your area. What kind of packages and promotions do they offer? Rather than get the most you need, how about look at the least you need.
As for your cable, this doesn’t even have to be a massive sacrifice. Instead you can switch over to one of the streaming services and spend a fraction of the price. You could likely even afford to subscribe to a couple of them and still save a lot of money. Just make sure you have a decent internet plan in place that is ideal for streaming.
Give Eating Out a Break
Finally, there is eating out. Sure, that $20 meal doesn’t seem like a big deal at the time but again, it’s about looking at the bigger picture and adding up those expenses over the course of a month, or a year. You could easily be spending hundreds of dollars a month on eating out without even being aware of it.
Now is the time to embrace the joys, the health aspects, and money-savings of cooking at home. You can pack lunches, bring snacks to go, and truly enjoy some drastic savings.
At the end of the day, there is absolutely no reason to feel trapped in a vicious cycle of bills. If it feels like your cost of living is out-pacing your wages, it’s time to make some drastic changes and cut out a lot of stress.