Living in California is more expensive than it was in Minnesota, and not just because moving out of my parents’ house means I have to pay monthly rent like the rest of you.
Gas prices are higher. Certain food items, like eggs, are no longer available to me for free from the backyard. And although Minnesota isn’t exactly free of government intrusion, I’m pretty sure there were fewer fees and taxes on life back there.
Still, I’m adjusting well. I enjoy this novel life. So to adapt to the financial change, I’ve made small adjustments I hope will add up to save me some money.
First, and of doubtful legality, is shutting off my car at stoplights I know are going to take several minutes. These kinds of lights are almost nonexistent back home, but out here, I’ve already found several within a mile of my house.
I imagine, without having done the actual math, that I save myself a few bucks each month by not letting my engine idle for three minutes at every other stop light.
(Please don’t tell the cops. I still haven’t figured out if I’m allowed to do that, no matter how practical it may be.)
Then there’s the classic dilution trick: filling the shampoo bottle with water when it’s halfway empty — and usually more than once.
I tried clipping coupons, but I found it’s rare to find coupons for fresh vegetables and organic meat, which comprise 95% of what I eat. I buy things on sale when I can, but my highly specific, fresh diet puts a crimp on that one with food items.
Initially upon moving here, I held the noble intention to bike everywhere that I could — anything, that is, within a couple miles. Sadly, that was a bit more of a commitment than I could make.
I settled on the compromise of never driving to the park that’s only about a third of a mile stroll from my front door, and combining errands into one trip whenever possible.
Recently, a friend introduced me to a source of income that was both within my wheelhouse — in other words, didn’t make me want to puke at the thought of trading my time to do it — and could potentially pay my rent each month. I won’t share it here, because frankly, I don’t want the competition, but I assure you, it’s both legal and perfectly pleasant.
Ultimately, there are two ways to deal with higher costs of living. You can skimp, find shortcuts and make smart decisions with your money when possible, and I’m doing that. However, there’s also the option of expanding what you bring in to cover it.
The latter is a more expansive, positive modus operandi, and I see no reason not to do both. After all, if I’m always looking to cut, save and avoid spending, I’m giving out an energy of lack, and I’ll start to see more lack wherever I turn.
But using a combination of the two — well, that’s balance, folks.