The rule of thumb is that your housing expenses should be no more than 30% of your income. Most of us are spending closer to 50% of our income on housing. If you’re among them, it will be almost impossible to get out of debt and start saving for your future.
Even if you are at 30% or under, if you have significant debt, this needs to change. You have a couple of options; get a roommate, move in with your parents, or move into a cheaper place (if you are renting).
Moving towns may not be practical for everyone, but if you’re living in an area where housing costs are prohibitive, and you’re in a profession where you’re not ever going to be making enough money there to get under that 30%, it’s something you need to consider.
While it is great to live in the upcoming neighbourhood such as Diego Martin, Santa Cruz and Maraval, if you’re going to be forever in debt and never able to comfortably retire, it’s not worth it. Find a cheaper place, get a roommate, move back in with your parents until you’ve saved enough to make a move.
If your debt is not that high or if you’re in debt now but your career and salary will advance within your field, you don’t have to do anything as drastic as pick up and move, but you still need to cut housing expenses so consider those options mentioned above, but you can also consider another.
If you’re in a desirable location, rent your place out to Airbnb. Even if you just visit your parents or a friend for one weekend a month, you could bring in a couple of hundred extra dollars, and that will go a long way to paying off your debt.
How much you can make with Airbnb varies based on a lot of factors, but you should be able to make an average of $500 – $750 a month.
Getting from place to place is likely our second most significant expense. If you are lucky enough to live in an area with good public transport that might be an option to reducing your fuel bill.
Experiment for one week, if you are a two car family, have your partner do the same. Write down every trip you make. At the end of the week, go over the list. Are there are trips that could be cut out by planning errands more efficiently? Any trips that could be made by bike or by foot? For example if you live in Trincity, must you drive to go to the movies? Walking or riding have benefits beyond just saving money too. More exercise, less pollution, less aggravation.
How many trips could you and your partner combine? Can you carpool to and from work?
If you’re a two-car family who is struggling with debt, cutting down on one car can make a big difference. It might be painful but necessary. It’s convenient to have two cars but how is it necessary? What would you do if one car was totaled and couldn’t be replaced right away? Do that and sell the other car. Not only will you get rid of a car loan but the cost of insurance too.
Next week…food and small stuff