Live better for less

March 23, 2018

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Average costs of living are increasing in the United States, and pay simply has not kept up with the costs of everything from real estate to doctor visits.


Make smarter money decisions to make your own life more affordable and make the most of what you have. Here are four ways to do so.



Make a big move

Finding an affordable place to live is difficult because of tougher lending standards, builders focusing on high-end homes and tight rental markets.

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Consider relocating to an area that strikes a balance between high wages, low housing costs and strong quality of life.


Midwestern cities like Grand Rapids, Michigan; Columbus, Ohio; and Kansas City, Missouri, are all sensible options.

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Lower health care expenses

Uncertainty in the insurance marketplace and consolidation among drug manufacturers, hospitals and drug stores are all making medical costs less affordable.


Taking advantage of a health savings account or flexible spending account to put away money for medical expenses tax-free can help you save.

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Other options: Buy insurance when you are healthy, stick to in-network doctors and favor generic drugs, which can be as much as 85% cheaper than brand names.

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Slash education costs

Though college has gotten far more expensive, it also pays off more than it used to.

Focusing on a college or program’s “debt to income” ratio can give you a better idea of whether a degree is actually likely to pay off in the long run.


If you’ve already graduated and are paying for student loans, there are ways to cut costs, like speeding up your repayment plan, refinancing or consolidating.


Worried about falling behind? Consider applying for deferment or forbearance, which will give you temporary reprieve from making payments.



Earn more — or need less

A way to make affording life easier is to get a pay bump. But are you already making decent money but living paycheck to paycheck?

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Consider budgeting, re-prioritizing and using shopping hacks to help eliminate wasteful spending while still affording what you need to live a happy life.


Also try carrying cash, which has been shown to be effective at cutting down on impulse purchases.


Though costs are rising, making a few creative tweaks to your financial life can help you spend less time stressing — and more time enjoying life.