Personal Finance - Arla Wallace
Arla Wallace is an accounting professional with over 20 years experience. She spent several years working for both publicly-traded and private entities before founding her own business. Today she partners with small business owners so they can focus on operations while leaving the responsibility of staying on top of accounting tasks to her. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Certified ProAdvisor for Quickbooks Online.

Keeping Up with the Cost of Living

Keeping Up with the Cost of Living

If you feel your paycheck is not stretching as far as it once did, you are not alone. While the price tags for fuel, rent, and even groceries have increased, some workers are finding their wages are falling behind. Fortunately, finding ways to increase your income or making adjustments to better manage your expenses can help you combat the rising cost of living, and there are a number of ways to achieve this objective.

Increase in Pay

You may have been fortunate enough to receive cost-of-living adjustments in addition to merit-based increases from your employer. However, for many workers, merit-based increases (based on individual performance) are the only means to higher wages outside of moving jobs. One solution to keeping up with the cost of living is to ask for a cost-of-living raise. Because the cost of living can vary depending on your location, it is best to research pay rates specific to your industry and job. Equipped with the numbers, you will be able to determine if what you have is already better than others in similar positions. Consideration should also be given to any special perks you receive from your employer. These non-monetary incentives, such as pensions, stock options, and employee discounts, may not be available with other employers in the same industry, but may compensate for lack of a cost-of-living adjustment.

Cheaper Housing or Relocation

As a rule of thumb, housing expenses should not exceed more than 30% of a family’s monthly budget. Downsizing to a smaller square footage or relocating to another city may yield a lower mortgage and lower utility costs. What’s more, a smaller home can also mean lower maintenance costs. Before planning a move, use a cost-of-living calculator to view costs that matter most to your family situation. In addition, beware of selling costs. These include closing costs, moving fees, and capital gains taxes. 

Budget to Live Cheaper

Dining out can be very expensive. Eliminating restaurants from your budget can increase the money you have available monthly. Sticking to a budget, planning what to buy at the grocery store, and cooking meals at home is a simple way to improve your financial situation. 

Are you paying too much for car insurance? Shop around for a lower rate. Independent Insurance Agents have access to the best rates available to save you money. By dealing directly with an Independent Insurance Agent, you can get a policy with coverage you need and avoid paying for things you do not need. 

Consumers are willing to pay in excess of $1,000 or more for a new cell phone. Taking good care of your current phone and delaying upgrades can save you and your family money in the long term. If your phone stops working or the technology is antiquated, look for ways to save money on a new purchase. Cell phone providers often extend discounts to buy as well as options to sell or trade-in old phones.