Saving money is not as complicated as you probably think it is. There isn’t some magic formula that you have to follow. The money hacks in this post have been working consistently for years. You’ve probably heard this advice before, maybe even from your grandmother. But we all need a little reminder now and then. So, here are the 6 best money hacks of all time. They’re not super fancy, but they can absolutely put more money back in your pocket!
6 BEST MONEY HACKS OF ALL TIME
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With all the apps, and websites, and rebate programs available these days, saving money is easier than it has ever been.
Sometimes all those fancy, and seemingly easier, things we forget about the age old wisdom that has been helping folks save money for generations.
I’m not saying that we can’t use all the fancy new tricks. What I am saying is that those tricks are so much more effective when we use them in combination with these proven money saving methods that I consider to be the 6 best money hacks of all time.
PUT YOUR FINANCIAL GOALS EVERYWHERE
Of course, before you do this you need to actually set financial goals.
But one of the keys to actually reaching your financial goal is to put it everywhere!
You want to see your goal stare you in the face whenever you are tempted to pull out your credit card or relinquish your precious cash dollars for something you don’t need.
What should you use as a reminder? It’s totally up to you! Use something that will motivate you and remind you of your goals in whatever form you prefer.
You can use a picture that reminds you of your goal. For example, if your goal is to go on a vacation to Disney World, you might want to put Mickey Mouse all over the place to remind you.
I like to use post-it notes because they’re so easy to use. I just write a little note that reminds me of what I’m working for.
My current goal is to finish paying off my last bit of debt which is my student loan. So, I hate a post-it in my wallet that says “I hate my student loan!” I see that every time I’m tempted to give in to an impulse purchase and I’m reminded that I want to get out of debt before I want whatever thing I’m tempted to buy.
This might sound over the top. But I’m telling you, it works!
STICK TO YOUR LIST
Instead of shopping for fun or just browsing the stores, you should be shopping with one purpose only: to get something that you need.
The problem with shopping for something you need is that the store is also full of a bunch of other things that you don’t need but might kind of want and could be persuaded to buy.
This is where your list comes in handy.
Your list helps you keep your eye on the prize.
It helps you remember what you came to the store to get. And that you don’t need all that other stuff.
When you “just run into the store for one thing” and you don’t have a list with you, you’ll probably find some impulses sneak their way right into your shopping bag.
Write a shopping list every time you shop. Even if the list just says milk. That will remind you that you only need milk, you don’t need all that other stuff.
You can write a pen and paper list or you can keep it in a note on your phone. Do whatever works for you.
If you want a pretty printable shopping list, you can grab one here.
The only way you can know for sure that you are getting the best price is to compare prices. There are a few different ways that you can do this.
You can compare prices item to item in the store. You want to do this by figuring out the price per unit (like price per ounce or price per individual piece of a product) and then comparing that item to item.
For example, if I’m comparing the price of boxes of diapers, I’ll figure out the price per diaper first by dividing the price of the box by how many diapers are in it. So if it’s a $40 box of 200 diapers, each diaper costs 20 cents.
Once you know the price per unit you can compare different sizes of that product to see if the larger one is actually a better deal (like is the price per diaper in the larger less than the price per diaper in the smaller box.) Usually, larger products have a lower price per item but that isn’t always the case.
You can also use price per unit to compare items brand to brand. Isn’t is frustrating that they come in so many different sizes? Figuring out the price per unit is the best way to know which product is really the best deal.
One of my favorite ways to compare prices while I’m in a store is to pull out my phone and look up the item on the Amazon app. You can even scan the barcode of the item and the app will pull it right up. Amazon doesn’t always have the best prices, but oftentimes they do. So, this is a good benchmark for what an item usually costs.
You can also compare prices store to store and over time. Do this by tracking prices for a while and keeping records to look back on later. Here is a free price tracker printable that you can use to track prices.
Here are all the details of exactly how to track prices.
APPRECIATE FREE STUFF
If you want to save money, you should start by taking advantage of opportunities to get free stuff.
These opportunities are so often overlooked, or looked down upon, but we should be embracing them with open arms and shopping bags.
There are so many easy ways to get awesome, high-quality, usable free stuff but most people don’t take advantage of any of them.
Maybe people think that there must be a lot of work involved in getting things for free. I’m sure some people believe that if something is free it must be junk. But those free-stuff-prejudices are totally false.
You can get good stuff. For free. You just need to know where to look.
One great place to find free stuff is the internet. There are whole websites dedicated to passing along free stuff, like Freecycle.org. Keep an eye on your local Facebook tag sale group and you’re sure to see a lot of stuff listed for free. Now, I’m not saying that you should just go around collecting stuff just because it’s free. But if you see something you need listed for free, that’s pretty cool.
My favorite place to find free stuff? The library! So many people forget about this amazing resource that we have at our disposal. The library is amazing and it has so much more than books. You can often “borrow” tickets to museums or activity centers, as well.
DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON FEES
Can you guess the most common fee that we waste our money on? Late fees!
This really is a waste because there’s more than one way to avoid paying those late fees.
The first, and easiest way, is just to pay everything on time. This requires a little financial organization.
I like to schedule all of my payments for the upcoming month at one time. I do this right after I create my monthly budget for the month.
This makes it so easy to get all of my payments out of the way so I don’t have to worry about them for the rest of the month.
This doesn’t mean I’m paying them all in one shot!
I’m just scheduling them to be paid on the days that work for me throughout the month. My husband gets paid twice a month so some bills get paid out of the first paycheck, and some get paid out of the second.
If you do miss an occasional payment, don’t just pay the fee!
Most companies will happily remove a late fee if you just call and ask, especially if you have a solid record of paying on time.
Everyone makes a mistake here and there. Personally, I totally forgot to make my car payment the month that my son was born. It was going to cost me a $35 late fee.
I called the bank and explained my situation (and pointed out that I’ve been making my payments on time for years!) They removed the late fee just like that.
There are other fees out there that are trying to get you too. Don’t let them!
Never sign up for a credit card that has an annual fee. That is a big waste of money that you’ll have to pay whether you have a balance on your account or not.
If you find yourself already stuck with an annual fee credit card, I think this is the only time that it actually makes sense to cancel a credit card. It’ll cause a small hit to your credit score but (in my opinion) it’s worth it to not have to pay that fee each and every year.
Be on the lookout for account minimum fees at your bank as well.
These fees can apply to your checking account, savings account, or both. If you are having a hard time meeting your bank’s minimum, it is probably time to look for another bank.
You can compare terms of service online and you are sure to find a bank in your area that doesn’t rely so heavily on fees.
Stop paying extra for all the easy convenience foods that you can totally make yourself.
Instead of spending a ton on restaurant meals, take-out food, and drive-thru coffee, start making it yourself!
Sometimes these food expenses can trick you. You think you’re just paying $5 here and $10 there. But all of those small food purchase add up to a huge amount of money over the course of a month.
It is hard to break this tasty and convenient habit, but there are several things you can do to make it easier.
Set up everything you need for the morning the night before. Get your coffee pot (or Keurig) ready and put your travel mug right next to it. You won’t have any excuse for not making your coffee yourself.
You can spend an hour on the weekend meal prepping for the week and have lots of portioned out lunches ready to go. It is so much easier to grab a little Pyrex container from your fridge in the morning than to have to go out and get a lunch once you’re already at work. Not to mention, so much cheaper!
If you spend the day with your kiddos, you can make their lunches ahead of time too. There are so many ways to do this, and it does not have to be fancy. PB & J sandwiches will keep overnight in the fridge and up to 2 weeks in the freezer.
And don’t forget about freezer meals! You can spend one day prepping ingredients, pop them in the freezer, and have dinners ready for the whole month ahead.
The key to breaking the expensive convenience food habit is to set yourself up for success before you (and your family) get hungry.
TRY THESE MONEY HACKS
These tried-and-true money hacks are sure to save you a ton if you actually implement them! Make sure that you know why you’re making the effort to save money by putting your financial goals everywhere. Become a smart and thrifty shopper by sticking to your list and comparing prices while you shop. Take advantage of all the great free stuff out there. And stop wasting your money on fees and food! Your future self will thank you when you have so much more money.
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