I’ve never been that awesome at saving money. If I have cash in my pocket, I make sure it doesn’t get too comfy in there. Every Friday after getting paid, I always conveniently decide it’s a perfect time to buy concert tickets or shoes or a projector screen or something else that costs money. I like eating out, going to movies and buying plane tickets. In a nutshell, saving money and I are acquainted, but we’re not that close.
But I’m going to tell you how I manage to save more money in Maui than I did in Austin, Texas, and why it’s really not that hard. First, some perspective.
Cost of Living in Austin, Texas (2013 Statistics):
- Median Household Income: $59,554
- Median Home Price: $204,600
- Unemployment: 5.5%
- Cost of Living: 8.9% above national average
- My Income: Approximately $2,500 – $3,000/month
- My Rent: $530/month, all bills included (Sharing a 1 bedroom, unfurnished apartment close to downtown)
Cost of Living in Hawaii (2013 Statistics):
- Median Household Income (2012): $66,259
- Median Home Price: $665,000
- Unemployment: 4.5%
- Cost of Living: 78% above national average
- My Income: Approximately $2,100 – $2,800/month
- My Rent: $560/month, all bills included (Sharing a bedroom in a 3 bedroom, fully-furnished house in Kihei)
Theoretically, I should be saving less than I was able to save in Austin, seeing as how I make slightly less and pay slightly more to live here. What I’ve found, though, is that I spend way less on entertainment in Maui, which really cuts down on my daily costs. Part of that is due to almost nothing being open after 10pm, and part of it is that there are so many free or cheap things to do here that I usually spend my money on activities rather than clothes, food and cocktails, which a giant portion of my money went to in Austin (Oh, Mexican food. I miss you so). Another giant chunk of my expenses used to go towards vacations. New York for Christmas? Yes please. Road trip to New Orleans? Hell yeah! Girls trip to Barbados? Oh, alright. And don’t get me wrong, I definitely intend to keep traveling, but I live in flippin’ Maui! Instead of planning how to escape to somewhere beautiful and exotic and different, we just moved there. And that is pretty priceless. Let’s break it down.
Personal Expenses in Austin:
- Gas: $100/month
- Restaurants: $250/month
- Groceries: $200/month
- Misc. Entertainment: $200/month
Personal Expenses in Maui:
- Gas: $50/month (I drive very little here and opt for the bus to get to and from work)
- Bus Pass: $45/month
- Restaurants: $150/month
- Groceries: $250/month
- Misc. Entertainment: $100/month
While I’m not spending a whole lot less here, keep in mind that the weather is nice year around, which means I don’t have to spend money on indoor activities when it gets cold outside, because it doesn’t. When we want to have an adventure, we go for a hike in Iao Valley (free entrance to Iao Valley State Park for residents), whale watch from a kayak ($35 for a full day, 2 person kayak rental), surf (bought 2 surfboards on Craigslist for $140), swim/lounge at Big Beach (free), hike to a waterfall near the start of the Road to Hana ($20 in gas), snorkel at Turtle Town ($15 – $30 per person to own gear), or hook up our newest purchase, a giant projector screen, and watch movies on our lanai while eating $2 tacos and drinking self-made Costco adult beverages. Simply put, it doesn’t have to be expensive to live here and still have fun. Try not spending a dime after 10pm for a while and see how much you save.
Also, even though my tax return tells me that last year I only made only 1/3 of what I normally make in a year (5 months of living and not working in Costa Rica will do that), I have more money in my bank account than I did this time last year. Maybe it’s true… mo’ money, mo’ problems. Or maybe it’s okay to live in smaller spaces, have less stuff and go outside as much as possible. I’ll let you decide.