The cost of living in the United States has risen incredibly in the past few years alone and people have found themselves tightening their budgets more often. There are myriad reasons the cost of living is increasing, from scarcity issues to the economic hardships brought upon by the pandemic. Even living alone is no longer a guarantee you’ll spend less money than a full family.
For example, the average monthly rent of a one-bedroom apartment outside New York’s city center is a staggering $1,896. Rent alone can make a significant dent on the salary of an average blue-collar worker.
If you are looking for ways to make your expenses fit into your budget, you may need more than a little help.
Below are some effective ways you could trim down on your costs, so you could have room in your budget.
Move to a Cheaper Place
As previously discussed, rent can be one of the biggest expenses that’s eating into your budget. You should consider looking for a cheaper place to move into if you want to have money left over from your paycheck for savings. It can be difficult to find affordable form of accommodations in city centers and similarly high-value areas; you may need to broaden your search to suburbs and other areas.
Upcoming neighborhoods on the edge of improvement can also be a great place to scout for cost-effective housing. Remember to be flexible when you’re searching. Unless you have a disability or pressing need, avoid street-access apartments because they tend to more expensive. The same goes for corner units and top-floor apartments.
Since the success of Netflix, there has been a huge boom in streaming services and you may be subscribed to more than one company. Although this can provide you with hours of unique entertainment, these subscriptions can also be draining your money. And your list of subscriptions may not even stop with streaming services, since many companies and new businesses now use monthly subscription plans to market their products.
For example, you could also be giving money to an artist you’re supporting through Patreon or you could be receiving weekly meal packages from the various food delivery companies. You need to catalog all of your monthly subscriptions, from entertainment to food and other services and decide which ones are essential and which ones you can cancel. You may be surprised with how much money you’re spending on monthly subscriptions.
Get a Roommate
One of the most popular and effective methods of making sure you can make rent and not pay for all bills and utilities on your own is by getting a roommate. Research shows almost 79 million people in the United states are living in shared household, including approximately 25 million adults who are renting or living in their own house. The trick is to find the right roommate for you.
First, they must be able to live with you relatively peacefully. You don’t want a roommate who keeps you awake at night by playing loud music or a slob who leaves the apartment a complete mess. Make sure you thoroughly vet your roommate and that your personalities don’t clash. Second, you have to ask if they are financially capable of splitting the rent and utilities equally. Roommates who can’t do so are a liability and can get you evicted instead.
So be thorough in your interviewing and double-check everything.
Eat at Home
Track how often you go to a restaurant or buy food at a stall and see how much money you’re spending. You can be surprised with how steep the cost of eating out in America can be.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American will spend approximately $3,000 every year on food outside the house, a huge sum when compared to annual salaries of low-income earners.
If you have the time and the skills, you should try to eat at home as much as possible. Buying fresh ingredients can be significantly cheaper than buying cooked meals and there are now countless websites that can help you through the process of cooking. If time is the issue, you can always look for recipes you can cook beforehand so you or your family can reheat them instead.
Utilities like water, electricity and gas are essential but that doesn’t mean you have to splurge when using them. By using as little of these utilities as possible, you could decrease your monthly costs expenses by a significant margin.
For example, saving water in your lawn is easy if you live in a house with a yard. Simply activate your sprinklers for shorter periods as well as collect rain and gray water for gardening. Investing in great insulation for walls and windows could lead to cheaper gas bills as you don’t have to turn on the heating so much.
Even the act of unplugging appliances and turning off lights can make a sizable change to your electric bill. When it comes to decreasing utility bills, no method is too small.
The cost of living in the United States is high, but you can still make do if you’re willing to sacrifice a few things. You should also be smart and spend your money and energy wisely if you want your salary to stretch, especially in today’s uncertain times.