No surprise, living in Hawaii is expensive. For many families, being able to afford paradise is not easy.
An Ewa Beach mother of five who works full-time and uses her side business to make ends meet is the definition of Hardworking Hawaii.
Life at the Esperanza household is hectic.
“I work full time. I come home. It’s a full-time–doing house chores, cooking, and doing homework with them,” Gracie Esperanza said about what life is like as a mother of five. “Sometimes as a mom, you don’t have time to brush your hair until you get to work,” she added.
Gracie Esperanza works hard. She’s been with Kaiser for 16 years. Esperanza is currently a unit secretary.
“I transcribe orders. I work side-by-side with nurses and doctors,” Esperanza said about her full-time job.
Her husband is a diesel mechanic. Esperanza said she is blessed that they both have good paying jobs. However, even with both of them working full-time, affording Hawaii is difficult.
“It’s hard. I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy because it’s not,” Esperanza said.
Her oldest daughter goes to the University of Hawaii, which is an added cost for the family.
“We pretty much pay about $8,000 just tuition alone, and on top of that a mortgage,” Esperanza said about the cost of life.
Esperanza said it isn’t always easy.
“There [has been] times that the kids lunch account [is] not enough, and it’s enough with what I do on the side, it’s enough to make it last until the next pay check,” she said candidly.
On the side, Gracie has turned her passion for making lei into a way to earn extra money.
“My most popular [lei] which local people like is the money lei,” Esperanza explained.
She is currently filling about 40 orders of lei for graduation season. However, she works year round and also makes haku lei for her clients.
Esperanza said between her full-time job and being a mother of five, she has to squeeze in time for her side business. She gets to work when her kids are fast asleep.
“It’s not going to make us billionaires over night. Me doing this… my side hustle on the side, it supplements, so if we don’t have enough that month at least we have $200 to go buy groceries or to pay for my kids school lunch,” Esperanza said about why she makes lei.
Despite having to work extra hard to afford Hawaii’s high cost of living, she wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
“We visit in the mainland, but inside of you it’s not home,” she went on to explain. “Inside of you something is missing, but when you come back from vacation, it’s like ‘Ahhhh, this is home.'”
If you know someone who defines “Hardworking Hawaii” send Lauren Day an email at Lauren.Day@khon2.com.