With the cost of living rising each year, paying for essentials like housing, food, healthcare and transportation is increasingly difficult. Young adults, service-industry workers and seniors on fixed incomes are finding many of their hometowns untenable due to the rising prices.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shelter and gasoline indexes raised again as of November 2016. The shelter index rose 0.3 percent while the gas index rose 2.7 percent. These were not the only essentials to rise. Transportation services increased by 0.4 percent as did medical care services by 0.2 percent.
How Cost of Living Compares Throughout the Nation
Using New York City, New York as the control, Numbeo estimates the cost of living for 139 cities. Even cities within the same state can vary widely when it comes to cost of living, rent and groceries.
San Francisco’s cost of living plus rent index is 12 percent higher than New York’s index. If you live in Los Angeles, the cost of living plus rent drops dramatically to 25 percent less than New York and 37 percent less than San Francisco’s index. In this case, Los Angeles is a more affordable city in which to live and work despite it being the home of Hollywood.
If comparing the cost of living index without the cost of rent, you will find that Honolulu is close to the New York City index figures. Springfield, Missouri and Hamilton, Canada are close to 40 percent cheaper on the cost of living without rent index.
The cost of food is also higher in some areas than others. In San Francisco, the grocery index is 10 percent higher than the grocery cost in New York, followed by New Haven, CT, Honolulu, HI and Santa Cruz, CA. Reno, Nevada has a grocery index of 53 percent, meaning the groceries index in the city is 47 percent less than the index for New York and ranked the lowest on that index.
When it comes to the rent index, not including the cost of living, San Francisco tops the list again at 25 percent higher than rent in New York City. Charleston, SC is at 50 percent on the rent index and cities like Dayton, OH and Springfield, MO are around 80 percent less on the rent index than New York.
Steps You Can Take to Manage Rising Costs
With family, school and career centered in a particular city, moving to an affordable area may be out of the question for you right now. There are a few steps you can take to help manage your increasing expenses.
1. Learn to budget efficiently
Keeping track of your expenses can make you aware of extra spending on items you don’t need. You can use this extra money towards your necessities such as rent, utilities, gasoline and groceries. In today’s technological landscape, you can find several websites, software programs and apps that will keep track of your expenses and allow you to set a budget. Some of these programs will sync to your bank account for an accurate picture of your spending.
Consumer.gov suggests gathering your bills together before trying to create a budget.You will also need to include allotments for other expenses such as groceries, gasoline, school supplies, clothes and unplanned events.
Once you have a visual of where your money is going compared to how much income you have, it will be easier to make better financial decisions.
2. Cut out the extra spending
Multimillionaire Dani Johnson refers to extra spending as the “fat” in the household budget. The “fat” is an item not needed like daily trips to the coffee house that add up by the end of the month. It also refers to services that you can scale back to save more money and manage expenses.
For example, if you are having difficulty with the increases in the cost of living, consider reducing your cable package or removing it completely if you don’t really need that many channels.
3. Share your home with other contributing roommates
You may know someone who is trying to find housing in your city or manage the cost of living while working or attending school full-time. If your house or apartment is large enough, consider asking them to split the cost with you. If you rent, your landlord or management office will need to approve of the arrangement, but it may save you at least 50 percent on your household expenses.
4. Increase your income
Applying for a higher paying job or increasing your skill set to obtain a promotion can help you increase your income to make ends meet, however it typically takes time to gain knowledge and experience to move further up the career ladder.
Try incorporating a household budget while decreasing your extra spending until you hear back about that better paying position.