Cut the Cost of Paradise with a Little Creativity

Living in Hawaii isn’t easy on the wallet. We’ve all seen and heard the reports that we live in one of the most costly states in our country. Consider the average prices of some of these common items in Honolulu, according to the Expatistan Cost of Living Index:

♦ Basic meal for two in neighborhood pub – $42

♦ Monthly rent for a 900-sq. foot apartment in expensive area – $2,274

♦ Monthly utilities (for two in a 900-sq.-foot home) – $218

♦ Four rolls of toilet paper - $4.23

♦ Two movie tickets - $24

♦ Monthly gym membership in business district – $49

These numbers contribute to more and more island residents living paycheck to paycheck, without sufficient savings for emergencies or retirements. CNN Money recently ranked Honolulu as the sixth most expensive place in the United States to rent, reporting that the median rent of $2,496 requires that renters spend almost 40 percent of their income to cover housing. 

Financial problems can have such a great impact on stress levels, relationships, medical conditions and overall well-being. The good news is that learning a few cost-saving hacks can go a long way.  There are many creative ways to save money, which help many residents get by. Cutting costs in different areas of your life can save you money for the necessities. It can also simplify your life and make you realize that less can be more. Some creative ways to save money include: 

♦ Re-use your old bottles and containers.

♦ Shop at garage and rummage sales.

♦ Bring home lunch to work or school. 

♦ Buy after the holidays when items are on sale.

♦ Make your own cleaning products.

♦ Look for happy hour specials at restaurants.

I asked our Well-Being Hawaii team what they do to save money. Here’s what they said: 

Denise Lau:

♦ Use swagbucks.com or listia.com to do offers, watch videos, take surveys and earn stuff. 

♦ Sell your unwanted things on eBay. 

♦ Consider finding a roommate. 

♦ Download apps like Cartwheel by Target or Starbucks to save money and earn incentives. 

♦ Do odd jobs, like walking dogs, delivering newspapers, and house-sitting. 

Jamie Nakasone:

♦ I compare prices for certain items at retail locally versus online. There are some pet supplies and herbal supplements I buy online because they’re cheaper. I feel guilty because I’m not “buying local,” but when you live in Hawaii, you have to make decisions to save money. 

♦ Certain stores allow you to order online and pick up at the store, avoiding shipping costs.

♦ I use the public library for print books, e-books, and audiobooks whenever I can. 

Neal Iwamoto:

♦ I make it a point not to drink soda or juice during the week and just make it a weekend treat. Not only does it cut costs but also the amount of sugar I consume. 

♦ I recycle my cans and bottles to get some cash back in hand. 

♦ My daughters are lucky to have a niece who hands them down clothes, books, and toys. Having a relative who is willing to give hand-me downs saves us money and the girls look forward to receiving them.  

Ashley Tsuji:

♦ I go to websites of stores or products I use often and sign up to receive special deals. I have a special email that I use just for these purposes in order to keep my regular email free of clutter. 

Fernando Pacheco:

♦ I eat from my backyard, whether a papaya, herb, or chili pepper. It’s satisfying knowing I’m eating something I grew and I save a trip to the grocery store. It’s also fun throwing the organic scraps into my worm bin, which creates vermicast compost to go back into the garden.  

Craig DeSilva:

♦ Work a second job.

♦ Make my own meals to avoid eating out all the time.

♦ Carpool when I can.

♦ Buy things only when they’re on sale as much as possible.

♦ Wash my own car, which means my car is dirty all the time!

Christa Hester: 

♦ If it makes sense to you, live with family. I pay my parents a low monthly rent and also have a few friends who live with their parents or grandparents rent free.

♦ Sell your car and buy a bus pass and/or bike.

♦ Shop at places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Savers for great deals on secondhand items. 

Robyn Kuraoka:

♦ Participate in work/office salad potluck. 

Do you have a creative way to save money?  Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page!