How to Live in Hawaii on a Budget
So you want to live in Hawaii, but you're not sure if you can afford it? Does paradise seem like the perfect vacation spot but an impossible place to raise a family? Does $4.60 per gallon of gas and $6 per gallon of milk scare you out of your wallet? Well, believe it or not, living in Hawaii on a budget is possible and within reach. With some smart shopping, wise saving, and frugal living, you can live in a tropical paradise and still afford to eat!
One thing that can save you money when you live in Hawaii is shopping locally. Hawaii has a great system of farmers' markets that provide the best of locally and organically grown produce. Although not always, shopping at farmers' markets can often save you money. Some growers do charge more than the grocery store, and keeping an eye on the prices will help you to know when you will actually be saving money.
Directory of Farmers' Markets in Hawaii
Maybe you already do this, but shopping sales at the grocery store is often the only way to keep the food bill within the budget. Sure, you might not be able to have filet mignon every Sunday night, but there's always a way to save money and plan great meals at the same time. This means being creative, staying flexible, and planning your meals around sales.
Shopping wholesale, whether through Costco or other stores, is a great way to save money on your grocery bill, especially if you have a family to feed. Because these stores are able to provide more products, they are able to keep prices low. But since they often sell in bulk, shopping wholesale isn't for everyone. A Gold Star Membership at Costco is only $50, which can easily be saved back through the year.
Costco Stores in Hawaii
Simple living is key to saving money in Hawaii. This might be new for you, but you'll probably find that life is a lot more enjoyable without all the extra distractions. "Simple living" has a different definition for everybody, but it may mean not going out to dinner too often, or renting DVDs instead of going to the theater, or (must I say it?) not paying for cable. I like to think of simple living in positive terms, however - going to the beach, spending family time in the park, hiking in the jungle, visiting the library - all free things!
Downsizing your personal belongings can be very helpful when you live in Hawaii (it also helps a lot when you move to Hawaii). A part of simple living is having less stuff. Face it, we like to own things, but sometimes our belongings get out of hand. When you live in Hawaii, it's easier to see the excess. With rent and house payment being very high in the islands, smaller homes are more affordable. But the smaller the house, the less room for stuff.
With recent gas prices in Hawaii averaging around $4.50 a gallon, filling up your car can become one of your biggest expenses. One good thing about living on an island is that travelling doesn't usually take very much time. Still, even short trips can add up your gas bill. Combining trips is very important for saving gas. Driving to the closest beaches most of the time can save you some money on the weekend. Having a Costco membership will also save you money on gas.
Hang a Clothesline
Recently, our dryer broke to the dismay of all ease-loving launderers involved. But what seemed to be yet another appliance to hit the dust, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We hung a rope clothesline on the covered lanai, saving us the trouble of fixing or replacing the dryer. With electric bills coming out over $300, this break from the dryer will be sure to save us some money. Many residents in Hawaii hang their clothes outside to soak up the tropical sunshine. Because of the frequent rain showers though, an open-air garage or a covered lanai often works better as a place to hang dry clothes. Hanging your clothes in a place with good air flow will ensure that your clothes don't mildew.
Turn off the Lights
Speaking of electric bills, electricity is outrageous in Hawaii! Turning off lights when you're not in the room and using the windows instead of air conditioning will help keep your bill within reason.
Everyone is talking about green living and eco-friendly lifestyles, but did you know that recycling can actually pay? In Hawaii, a five-cent fee is taken for every beverage you buy at a store. To get back your five cents, take your collected empty bottles and cans to your local recycling station. A nickel may not seem like much, but after a while, the money builds up, and who couldn't use some extra spending money?
Ask for Kama'aina Discount
If you live in Hawaii, you qualify for something called the Kama'aina Discount. "Kama'aina" literally means "friend of the land" in Hawaiian. This discount is usually 15% off your purchase at local stores and shops. Be sure to ask for your kama'aina discount and show your Hawaiian driver's license when you shop locally. Unfortunately, chain stores and most restaurants don't have a discount, but many locally owned shops do.
Spend Free Time
The weather in Hawaii is beautiful year-round, and the outdoors is a playground full of family-friendly activities. Good news, many of these activities are free. All beaches in Hawaii are public and free for all to use, though camping may cost you a permit. Hiking on state land is also free, and the amount of trails that explore the exotic climate is amazing.
Share What You Have
Living Aloha means sharing what you have with your neighbors. For instance, people who live in Hawaii love to share the fruits and vegetables that grow so prolifically in the tropical soil. Much of the land is dotted with fruit trees of all sorts: tangerines, oranges, limes, mangoes, lilikoi, bananas, etc. Share the abundance with others and they will do the same.