For me, moving to New Zealand was a change on many levels. One of the ones I’m having the most trouble adjusting to is the higher cost of living.
High Cost of Living
I knew that moving here it would cost more to live. It’s an island which lends itself to much higher costs, and we live in the biggest city here which means things are even more expensive. Add in an exchange rate which is in my favor but makes prices seem higher and I find myself saying over and over again, “That’s expensive.”
I’m from Tennessee. Rent is cheap there, the housing market never was out of control, grocery prices are reasonable, and overall it’s a really low cost of living area. That’s what I’m used to and conditioned to want even though I’ve traveled and lived in other places. Everything gets compared to what is a “normal” price based on my past experiences in a low cost of living area.
I’m trying to slowly adjust my thinking to this new situation, but it’s hard. I’m still stuck on sticker shock and the crumbling of many dreams (we will most likely never buy a house here). Add onto that the fact that I’m relying solely on blogging income right now, along with trying to pay down my debt, and my new financial situation is causing me a lot of stress lately. A lot.
How I’m Dealing With Higher Living Costs
So I’ve decided to do some things to try and help myself out with the “expensive” things. (This post is full of as many questions as statements…)
1. I’m going homemade. Where I can I’m going to try and make things myself. For instance, I love almond butter, but it costs $8.60 for a tiny, tiny jar. So I’m going to make my own. The other day we found a store that sells spices and nuts by the kg:
The almonds were the cheapest I’ve seen anywhere, so I bought some and made homemade almond butter. I’ll save myself a ton of money doing this because I want almond butter but it’s something that is ridiculously overpriced here (because few people buy it). I’m also going to buy spices and nuts where they are cheapest and make my own mixes and things.
While I’m going to try to make more things myself, I haven’t made a list yet of what I can make.
Any suggestions? Do you make anything instead of buying to save money?
2. Use my free time to create.
I enjoy creating things. I loved writing my e-book. I love designing things (even though I’m not the best). I love to craft and make things out of nothing. So I’m going to spend more time doing that in my free time and then sell those things here and on e-bay. Hopefully that willhelp me both use all my extra free time and make some money as well.
Are there any things you would like to see? Anything you want me to create for you? Ideas?
3. Do fun free things.
The other night we were trying to decide what to do with ourselves for fun. Go to dinner? See a movie? Head into the city? The majority of the options available cost money that we just don’t have. But sitting at home doing nothing isn’t very much fun either! So instead we decided to pack a picnic meal and take a mini beach roadtrip for dinner.
I’m thinking we can find some more fun and inexpensive things to do together that will be fun and inexpensive and not just sitting around watching tv. So far what comes to mind are playing games, taking walks, reading.
Any other ideas? What do you for free that’s fun?
4. Limit meals out to once or at most twice a week.
It’s unrealistic to think we will never eat out. That would be really boring and we both LIKE to eat out. So I think as long as we limit it to just the weekends for a meal or two we will help out both our health and our bank account. Additionally, limit those meals in price. Some places here can cost so much it is overwhelming, so I’m thinking we can stick to less expensive places for a while except for special occasions.
How do you handle the expense of eating out? Do you budget for it? Or cut yourself off completely?
5. Keep looking for jobs. I guess transportation and lack of knowing where we will be living has put a damper on my job searching. My friend who lived in New Zealand before had a hard time finding a job, but she did eventually get one. That’s a success story of sorts and it reminds me that while it might not happen right away… it’s going to happen. I’m going to keep looking for online/writing jobs and for part time jobs here in New Zealand. I’ll take anything!
Those are just a few of the things that I think will help. It’s hard because it’s not like we are massive spenders. I don’t spend very much at all, really. But past mistakes and the saving for the future have me sort of stuck in the current situation where I’m struggling. I’m hoping to find a part time job here soon but so far nothing is working out since I’m not technically qualified (visa wise) for a lot of jobs.
I’m not giving up hope though. I will find something for work. Or maybe my blog will become a million time more famous and I won’t have to worry about money problems? One can hope. ;)
What do you do to save money? How do you balance wanting to have some fun and enjoyable things with a small budget?