When I went back to the land of the waddling dead for the summer I did so with a clear purpose in mind. No, not to see how many old people I could irritate to death, although it was a bonus, but to see if I could sock some money away for the next adventure. Despite the mental and physical toll said summer took on me, in the end, I did indeed achieve the financial goals I was shooting for making the trip back to Hawaii much more easier.
When I was putting together my cunning plans to return to the Pacific I figgered on a certain amount for airfare, food, the bus, and some temporary lodgings whilst seeking something more permanent. I was able to stay within said budget and now it appears I have found a decent enough place to live in for a longer duration. How long depends on a variety of things. Quality of life, how well I get along with the others who live here, and if something more better comes along. But for now, it’s looking pretty good. However…
My last trip out here, and my first was a bit of an experiment. I wanted to not just see the island, but I wanted to get a real feel for what it would cost to live here. I was rather surprised to find I made it the roughly 9 months out here on $48 a day. This included everything from rent to food, etc. While it was affordable, no worse than the Keys, I knew if I was to come back I would need to make some changes.
The majority of my income is fixed and the gravy comes from website work, some ebook sales, which have dropped to zero since the storm, and Amazon Turk. The gravy comes and goes every month and I suppose I could go out and drum up some more web business but I am pretty much over dealing with people and business. A few ebooks about Hawaii might be down the road but for now this is what I have. Just to make it interesting, whatever budget I work with I want to stay within the fixed income part but my goal out here is plain and simple. No matter what, at the end of the month I want to have a positive cash flow. I don’t care if it’s $10 or $20 or $1000. At the end of the month when I ring up the numbers, I want to see some green. As long as I can maintain a positive cash flow, Hawaii will remain home. How to do all this?
Firstly, the rent. I was paying $800 a month for the room in Kihei. This included utilities and use of the the kitchen. While it was a nice place with a good location, $800 was stretching things quite a bit. When I started looking around back here I dropped my max rent to $700 and even $600. Needless to say, in an expensive place like Maui, finding anything decent under $1000 a month is tough. I found many a place advertised but not being here made it unpossible to snag a place when so many others are also looking. I took a chance with Nice Room Bro at $700 a month pretty much knowing when I made the flight reservations I would not have the place when I got here. But ads were cropping up fairly quick so I was confident I would find something, and had my current digs not happened, I would have gone to the Big Island. As it is for the moment, things worked out. The place is nothing fancy and at $600 a month with no security deposit, I can handle it. Darwin knows I’ve been in far worse places.
The other major expense out here is food. Even though I had read many a warning about the cost of food in Hawaii I still got sticker shock when I came out here. The major grocery chains were extremely pricey and made it very difficult every month to stay within budget. I have set myself a limit on how much I want to spend every month and with the lower rent, it will be a bit easier but, I still have to watch myself. Eating out is a luxury, I see a future with a lot of cheap pizza at Costco’s, but Mana Foods down the street and being surprisingly affordable, plus pretty tasty may make keeping the food budget within reason a lot easier. I need to cut back on the food intake after gorging myself all summer on the meat and potatoes, fresh dairy, and all the other crap I was eating. So, maybe, just maybe, I can keep the food budget under control and still eat like a human being. One side note, I was able to work a deal with the landlady to chip in a few bucks every week for things like toilet paper, laundry soap, dish soap, trash bags and all the stuff everyone uses. Makes it more better than having to go fetch the crap on my own.
I have two small regular bills every month. They are not much but on my budget, they count. First is T-Mobile. At $50 a month it’s not a deal breaker but I have to say it has paid off especially for traveling. I will keep it and my Hawaii phone number as long as the carrier doesn’t get cute and raise the price. For those of you over 55 looking for a good deal, go to the link and check it out. Decent coverage, unlimited everything, and tethering!, a big plus. You have to go to a T-Mobile store to sign up but I highly recommend it.
The other bill coming up on a regular basis will be my beloved $25 senior pass for Maui bus. It’s still by far the best deal on the island for getting around. It comes out here to Paia every hour and a half so I can get into town easily most any day as necessary.
Beyond the four aforementioned monthly bills above, I have little or nothing else to pay every month. I picked up some of the usual necessities when I moved into the room. A towel, some bed sheets, some other minor things. I may add a couple more bits of clothes if I find a good deal but overall I am set. I may have to drop some money for address changes and taxes will come due in the spring but for now I have all I need and as long as no emergencies arise, things look more better than they did a few weeks ago.
So, I know what I will be spending, I know what I got coming in. Now the trick is to see if I can make it all end with me having a few more pennies in my pocket at the end of the month. I’ll give it a few months, at least to the end of the year and most likely into spring to see how things go. I’m not under any kind of lease so if I had to leave I could, and unless someone falls and breaks their other hip, I have no plans to return to the mainland anytime soon.
It all sounds good on electrons, we’ll see how things go in real life.