Save money with these 7 hacks
California is expensive – here’s how to save cash (and stress less)
Feb 21, 2019 · Christina Vanvuren
California is one of the most expensive places to live. According to Zillow, the leading real estate and rental marketplace dedicated to empowering consumers with data, in early 2019 the median price for a home in California was $548,100. People who rent aren’t given a break either, considering the median rent price is $2,750. These prices are about twice the national average; that’s significant.
But for those of us who are willing to accept the higher cost of living in exchange for the things we love about the Golden State (including, but not limited to, In-N-Out Burger, the epic sunsets, and the endless variety of natural landscapes), saving money is the name of the game. Want to stash some cash for a rainy day or for your health insurance deductible?
Here are our best tips for making California at least slightly more affordable for you:
- Ask for a better rate on your auto and home insurance policies. Look online for tips on saving money, and you’re bound to come across several people telling you to ditch the Starbucks and make coffee at home. While that will save you some money, you’re better off looking at the higher-cost items in your budget. Call your auto and home insurance companies and ask if you’re taking advantage of all the discounts and special offers for which you qualify. Twenty minutes on the phone could potentially save you hundreds of dollars a month.
- Ditch cable. For the Californians still holding on to the good old days of cable, it’s time to let go. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon offer pretty much any show or movie your heart desires – at a much lower cost.
- Get preventive health care. Through your insurance plan, you’re eligible for preventive health services like flu shots and annual exams at no additional cost. While it’s easy to skip going to the doctor when you’re not sick, taking advantage of your covered health benefits can help you stay healthy – and save money on treating illness.
Blue Shield members can easily schedule their next preventive exam: Register for your online account, use our Find a Doctor tool, and also download our mobile app to have your plan information with you when you need it.
- Automate your savings. Unless you work for yourself, you don’t see the taxes that come out of your paycheck until it’s time to file. You probably don’t even notice the money is gone. Treat your savings the same way by automating a deposit to go into a savings account every time you get paid. Even if you start with $20 a month, over time, that will add up, and you’ll have a nice little cushion.
- Save what you save. You’re cutting back where you can, but where is the money you save going? Either funnel that straight to your savings account or divide it up between paying off debts and saving for the future.
- Pay down your debt. Debt is expensive: The average interest rate on credit cards is 16.71%, reports USA Today. Not only are you paying back what you borrowed, but you’re also paying hundreds to thousands more on top of that. Additionally, debt and depression are linked, according to a paper written by University of Wisconsin professor Lawrence Berger. His research found that “…household debt is positively associated with greater depressive symptoms,” and that “short-term debt may have an adverse influence on psychological well-being, particularly for those who are less educated or are approaching retirement age.”
Can’t afford huge debt payments? Start by paying an additional 5% of your minimum payment each month. It may not sound like a lot, but every little bit helps.
- Do the usual. Then there’s everything else: Skip the daily coffee habit, eat at home more often, and shop more frugally. You can also get a roommate (or three), move back in with your parents , or start a side hustle for some extra cash. The reason these tips are promoted practically everywhere is because they do help. A helpful way to reframe is to focus on why you want to save money and how it will benefit you and your family in the long run.
Living in California isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it. You can save money in so many ways. The most important thing is that you just get started.
Learn more about Blue Shield of CA wellness discounts!