What’s your overall philosophy when it comes to money? Are you a budgeter?
I try to budget and stick to it. I make sure to pay all of my recurring obligations first and immediately and I schedule those to be due around when I get paid or directly afterwards, so I either pay them in person or autopay them, so that all of those are taken care of. And then after that I budget for food, gas and a couple of other things, and then anything else extra -- which you see isn’t very much -- I put it toward savings.
Do you have any tips or tricks for people trying to make ends meet in Hawaii?
Anything that I know is from my mom. My mom is a rockstar. She was a teacher for public schools here for over 40 years, raised four kids, owned a house, has perfect credit. So anything that I know, or any good habits are from her. But I'm nowhere near as good at it as she is. She has even told me that the economics and the finances are much different now for me than they were for her when she was my age. So anything I know I learned from her: Never buy a new car. Set up auto-pay and budget.
But I really don't have any advice for anybody else because I feel like I'm barely treading water most of the time.
How do you think Hawaii can change to make it easier for everyday locals to make it work financially?
I think people would be helped a lot if the state could figure out how to have renters eliminate the financial burden of security deposits. A lot of people can afford rent, but it's very hard to save up a whole month of rent for a deposit. I think that if they could create some sort of public fund, some sort of renter’s fund, then landlords could use that as a source of security if they need it.
That also goes for buying homes. My fiancé and I could afford a mortgage, but can we afford to save up $60,000 for a down payment? No. I think the state and other organizations, government and nongovernment, could be working a lot harder to address those two issues. It’s really the down payments that are a huge burden for people.
Despite the cost of living, are you happy in Hawaii?
Yes! Yes. Hawaii is the best place in the world.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. We are allowing contributors, upon request, to remain anonymous in order to protect their privacy.