As the cost of living continues to increase, learning how to make your dollars stretch as far as they can is an important part of survival. The prices in Chicago can be significantly higher than other states, and finding ways to make it on $13.00 an hour can be challenging. How much does that equate to? In annual dollars, that’s about $26,000 per year or a little more. While that may not seem like much to work with, there are a few things that will give you immediate savings:
Create a Budget
Creating a budget is the first step in making sure your money is being well-spent. Using a resource like YNAB (You Need a Budget) will help teach you the rules of managing your money. Knowing how to assign a task to each dollar you spend will show you where you can cut costs and save.
Get Creative With Housing
Housing is one of the most expensive items in the budget. If you lack the funds to reside in an area you like, consider getting a roommate or two to help trim your costs while allowing you to enjoy of the area. Food and utilities can also be shared to give you more flexibility with your funds.
Manage Your Meals
Food shopping is another big budget-buster. Planning your meals in advance based on advertised sales can help. Seek out resources that can provide low-cost recipes and join a warehouse club to get certain items in bulk, which will add to your cost savings. Buying generic can be advantageous and can help enhance your cooking skills and experimentation with spices and other flavor-enhancers.
Kick Your Habits
When you’re on a budget, going to the movies every week, or having a latte every day is out of the question. Limiting your extras will not only keep money in your pocket, but you will learn how to make use of the things you already have. Using sites like Groupon or Living Social can help you plan for entertainment at a discounted cost.
Watch The Thermostat
In Chicago, the summer is hot and the winter months can be brutal. Putting your thermostat on a timer will help regulate the temperature in your home and utilize your air or heat only when needed. Using a fan will also help circulate the air in the room when the thermostat is off to keep your temperatures level.
Watch Those Phantom Electronics
Turn off appliances and other electronics that aren’t being used. Televisions and computers left on suck up energy, adding to your utility costs. You can also unplug your DVD player, cell phone charger and video game console for effective results.
Reevaluate Your Policies and Contracts
Look at your insurance and other contracts that have costs associated. If you can get a discount to cut your premium, do it. If you have a good track record, you can increase your deductible to reduce your current payment. This will free up funds that you will be able to apply to other areas of your budget.
Using public transportation can help save money in your budget. Driving an automobile can get very expensive, especially if you have lengthy commutes. Riding a bike can also help in getting exercise and enjoying your surroundings. This is a smart tactic when reevaluating where you can maximize your dollars.
Although making $13 an hour work can be a lot of work, these are simple and effective ways that will make a significant difference in having a decent quality-of-life while maintaining your budget.