Worried that living in Hawaii is too expensive? Here's how to save money.
General: DIY / How-To
General: Kid Friendly
Living in Hawaii is expensive, and it's one of the Top 12 Reasons Not To Live In Hawaii we suggest you don't live in Hawaii. But what if Hawaii is your dream place to live? Do you just give that up? Of course not, you just need to learn how to save money while living in Hawaii.
This article is geared more for those who live in Hawaii rather than those who are planning a vacation to Hawaii. If you're looking for ways to save on a trip to Hawaii then be sure to read Hawaii Vacationing On A Budget, Best & Cheapest Time To Book & Travel To Hawaii, and Make Your Impossible Trip Happen With These 10 Tips To Save Cash.
Unless you're renting a home or condo, an investment in solar is one of the best you can make. Even as the red tape gets thicker and the incentives go down, solar just makes sense. Not only can solar save money and offer you some independence of the sometimes shaky power grid the islands have, it's also just the right thing to do.
It can be expensive upfront, but so is electricity when purchased from the power company since Hawaii electricity tends to cost over three times the national average. While power company rates are guaranteed to increase over time, solar electricity is completely free. It's common for homes to run up huge electric bills, that can be $500 to $700 or more in hot summer months, so this can be the biggest bang for your buck. Even if you need to take out a loan, many solar setups can pay for themselves in just a few years.
2: Better Energy Use
Solar or not, making better use of the energy you get into your home is an easy way to save big. Fans don't lower temperatures, they only cool you down when you're in front of them so turn them off when you're not in the room (same thing for lights). Opening windows and letting the cool tradewinds into your house is a great way to keep things cool while keeping the AC off and saving money. Close blinds and shades when sunlight hits windows directly.
Replace old incandescent bulbs with newer LED bulbs that use a tiny fraction of the electricity that their old school cousins use. Do laundry early in the morning and then hang your clothes to dry rather than using a dryer. Install a timer on your hot water heater so it only heats the water at times you use it (morning / evening) or consider a solar hot water heater.
Unplug the so called "vampire energy" devices when they're not being used. Not sure what those are? It's anything that draws a small amount of electricity even when off (like cell phone chargers, game consoles, printers, etc). Want to get serious about it? Get yourself an inexpensive Kill-A-Watt Meter #ad to see what's using juice even when off.
3: Shop Locally
Try shopping at a local farmer's market for your groceries and other goods. Not only can this be cheaper than a store, which likely has to import most of the food they sell, it's also a great way to help local businesses and farmers as well as keep your money in Hawaii. What comes around, goes around!
4: Shop Online
We like to shop locally whenever possible and when it makes sense, but there are plenty of times that it doesn't make sense. Often because the local price will be insanely high or you just can't find what you want here. When that happens, turning to Amazon Prime #ad can be a good option. While Prime won't get you free 2-day delivery on everything, it will get you free standard delivery on a lot of things Amazon sells. It can often be huge benefit and it's a great way to price shop to see if a local store is cheaper, a tiny bit higher, or way off.
5: Sales & Coupons
Keep an eye on the weekly shopping papers and coupons. Look for sales, clip coupons, and save big. Don't be lured in by stuff you don't need, but instead know what you want and keep an eye out for a sale. Many stores in Hawaii have clearance tables where they get rid of stuff that's being replaced by something newer and many amazing deals can be had if you keep your eyes open.
6: Costco Is Your Friend
Not everything can be purchased from a local farmer's market so get a Costco membership. They're not expensive and the savings from getting your groceries and other home items here will pay off that membership in no time. In fact, shopping at Costco (or a Sams Club) is probably the easiest way to save big.
7: Live Simple
Ever heard the old saying that "the best things in life are free"? Nowhere on earth is that phrase more true than in Hawaii. We have endless beaches, hikes, waterfalls, and other outdoor activities to keep us entertained year round. Sprinkle in weather that's virtually perfect every day and what more do you really need? Skip all the chotchkies for your home (except for this awesome stuff) and don't be a slave to fashion. You don't need the latest iThing or Corinthian leather covered and diamond studded hoverboard. Stick to the basics, most of which are completely free.
Okay, I'm not suggesting you skimp on a full kitchen in your house and go for a hotel-sized kitchenette nor would I ever recommend you hop on the goofy tiny house craze. But you probably don't need as much space in Hawaii as you had on the mainland. Forget about McMansions with 4 car garages, you don't need that stuff here, and probably can't afford it here. Pair down as much as possible by selling or donating stuff you don't really need.
Once you realize you don't need all that stuff you have you're new mindset will help you stop buying other stuff you don't need. It's like the circle of life for retail purchases. And if you're one of the many people who pays to keep stuff in public storage, quite possibly the greatest scam on earth, go get your stuff and sell it right now. If it's in storage you don't need it.
9: Ride Bikes / Use Public Transportation
Does your family really need two or more cars? Or are you able to commute on a bike or using public transportation like TheBus or Honolulu Rail Transit? Maybe you can even walk! Even if you don't give up your second or third car, not using it is a great way to save. Buy a bike and ride to places rather than driving whenever possible.
10: Kama'aina Discounts
Before buying anything in Hawaii, see if the store offers a kama'aina discount. This is a locals only discount, often requiring a Hawaii ID or driver's license for proof, that can help you save big bucks. It's a great way to save especially when you're doing touristy activities which often have great kama'aina discounts. It can't hurt to ask, so ask!
11: Grow Your Own
If you have any place to grow your own food or otherwise have access to fruit trees (etc) then use those resources. Try growing tomatoes or a pineapple in a pot, it's easy. Buy your herbs as plants you can use and keep growing. Pretty much anything grows in Hawaii so give it a try. If you grow too much, share it with friends and neighbors and they will likely do the same.
Also, contact local farms and see if they offer a CSA program. These programs allow you to pick up a large bin of fruits and/or vegetables that the farms grows (every week or two usually) for a set monthly fee. You usually don't know what you're getting but will likely be able to make use of most things. Whatever you can't, share! These can be cheap ways to get a lot of veggies.
12: Second Hand
Buying second hand is a great way to save money. It can be from a garage sale, online classified ads, or from a place like the Salvation Army or Goodwill store. Considering how many people are always leaving the islands, there is often an abundance of stuff to be had at low prices. From clothing and electronics to sports equipments and furniture. It's all out there for a fraction of the price it was when new.
Enjoy tasty sea creatures in your diet? Then you've come to the right place! Not only do you have an entire ocean to fish in, you also don't need any fishing license to fish in the ocean (as long as you aren't selling the fish). Grab a pole and some bait and catch your own food. How does it get any cheaper than that? For more on that, be sure to also read Hawaii Fishing Information & FAQ.
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