Anyone that lives in California understands the cost of living is relatively higher than most other states throughout the U.S., yet there’s something about the West Coast that draws people in. The vast ocean waters, the excitement of the nightlife, and the beauty of the state’s scenery make it hard to resist. For those that choose to reside in California, the average salary must be around $95,000.
With the cost of living being so high it’s difficult for some to comfortably reside in California. Luckily, there are some ways to cut the costs of living and save money as you live near the West Coast if you’re adamant about staying.
1. Use OhmConnect to Earn Money
If you are a customer with SCE, PG&E or SDG&E, you could potentially earn back up to $300 cash per year simply for conserving a little energy. OhmConnect is a service that helps electric customers save money on their electric bills in California by disconnecting during what they consider high power hours, or as they call it, #OhmHours. During these #OhmHours, the electric grid works overtime to power everything, so the service rewards customers who take a break during these hours. All you need to do is sign up for OhmConnect and as long as you live in California and have an account with one of the major power companies listed, you can be rewarded with cash back for taking time to cut down the pressure on the power grid. It’s as simple as signing up online, connecting to the app and shutting off the switch when the app alerts you that it is time to power down.
2. Drive a Fuel-Efficient Car
If you live in a small town in California, you may be fortunate to have reliable public transportation to get you to the places you need to be. If you live in a big city however, public transportation can be expensive as well as crowded and uncomfortable.
If you can afford to do so, a good idea is investing in a fuel-efficient car like a Honda Civic or a Toyota Corolla, preferably from the mid-1990’s to help save money on fuel and get you where you need. These cars are not only fuel efficient and inexpensive to run, but they are also easy to maintain and keep on the road for many years.
3. Join a Club
It’s easy to save money on groceries and household items when you join a club to shop at. Clubs offer discounted pricing that just is not available to non-members. While you will need to pay a fee (Usually around $100 to join) you will see the savings quickly when you start shopping at the club. Clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco which are both in many areas of California are great ways to save a little cash when you need to shop.
4. Saving Your Style
Do you love the fact that you can go downtown in your California city and find the latest fashions? The price tags for those trendy clothing items may not be very enticing, but if you know when to shop and work on becoming a frugal shopper, you can save some hefty cash on the styles you love the most.
Take time to shop the seasonal clearance sales and stock your closet up. Check out the holiday sales at department stores and venture into stores like Ross and T.J. Maxx for deep discounts on stylish clothing. Many of the department stores and discount clothing stores offer shopper reward cards where you can save even more just because you have a card.
5. Furnish Your Home for Less
Whether you are a transplant to California or you’ve been here all your life, you are going to need furniture in your home (unless it is fully furnished) and you need to know where to shop. Not many homes come furnished in California which means you are either going to need to spend some money or sleep on a cold, hard floor.
You can often find deep savings with the help of websites like Craigslist or even the Marketplace on Facebook. You should also consider checking out local flea markets, thrift stores and discount furniture shops to find bargains on slightly used, possibly scratched but in good condition furniture.
Shop around and try to avoid buying brand new (unless it is a mattress!) and you can save quite a bit of money on furnishing your living space.
6. Skip the Gym
Fitness is important to California residents. Just look around on any given day and you’re going to see men and women who are in great shape everywhere you turn. Whether it is because of the nice weather, the Hollywood dreams or just being health conscious, people here like to stay in shape.
This often means paying for a gym membership and spending far too much money for results you could get for free. If you have an internet connection, and most people do, you can easily pull up YouTube fitness videos for free and complete many workouts ranging from beginner aerobics to advanced Tai Bo and everything in between.
You can also download apps to your phone for running, watching calories and staying in shape. MyFitnessPal is a great app/site to use to keep track of what you eat and the C25K app is great for couch potatoes to get off the couch and be running in no time at all.
Around your house, use canned goods as weights or head to your local Walmart or Target and invest $100 in a weight bench of you feel like you need to lift real weights. Best of all, thanks to the sunny California weather, there is no excuse to not venture outside for a walk in the park or around the block.
7. Eat Frugally
Just because you’re on a budget does not mean you must skip trying the delicious menu items at some of the best restaurants in California. You just need to know when to dine out during times when the pricing is a little thriftier.
Did you know that even in the more expensive restaurants, lunch menus are usually less expensive than the dinner menu and you can often get a taste for the same scrumptious meals? Many restaurants participate in festivals and free community events and if you are in attendance, you can check out their food at the venue you attend. If you really must go to a fancy restaurant for dinner, then either skip lunch or have a quick shake to tide you over until you go to dinner.
According to the website, thingstodoinsantacruz.com, there are many popular restaurants in the Santa Cruz area who offer great food at very low to moderate pricing. You can find more cheap, yet delicious places to eat in California by visiting the LA Eater online.
8. Educational Outings
Whether you are in Los Angeles, San Diego or elsewhere in the state, you’re going to find that many of the local museums are free to check out.
Places like The Broad or Getty Center in Los Angeles offer contemporary art and remarkable things to do and best of all, many exhibits are free and nothing beats checking out world class art without breaking the bank.
9. Budget Entertainment
You already know about museums that are free, and while California is an expensive state to live in, you would be surprised at how many fun things there are to do here that cost little or nothing at all and are such great fun for all ages.
Check around to see if you can find Meetups for people who enjoy the same hobbies that you enjoy. For instance, if you are an actor, look for meet-up groups online where actors can meet and have a little fun together.
Is photography your thing? Check out some of the free photography groups. There are many groups who meet weekly or monthly that you could become part of. This not only gives you something to do, but it’s a great way to meet new people and have some local friends who enjoy the same things you do.
It’s also fun to find theaters that offer dollar discount nights or other fun family things to do on a budget. Of course, a day at the beach is always a great plan and you can spend hours on end collecting sea shells, swimming or chatting with family or friends without spending a penny.
10. Leg Power
We have already discussed owning a fuel-efficient car, but there are other ways to travel in California and some of them are healthy for your body! We’re talking about bicycling and walking.
What could be less expensive than using a little leg power to ride a bike or walk to and from the store or school? If you are within a good range to walk or ride to the places you visit, then start getting your legs and the rest of your body in condition so you can physically ride or walk instead of spending money for gas and car maintenance to drive around.
It’s not always easy to find a home near work or school, but when you can, take advantage of getting in shape when you need to travel somewhere that is not too far from home.
As you can see, there are many great ways to save or reduce the costs of living in California. It just takes an open mind and a little creativity to come up with some ideas that work well for you. The cost of living may be higher in California but there’s a reason so many have the desire to make it work for them.