Financial freedom. Ahh, the dream.
However, you can’t be financially free in the future if all you do now is spend money. You have to save some of it too!
So, let me help.
Today, I’ll be giving you money saving hacks – some you’ve probably heard before but some, maybe you haven’t. Either way, if you do them, you’ll be beefing up your savings account in no time.
Life hacks to help pay the bills
1. Can’t pay your bills? Call the company.
Bills, all of them, are where a good bulk of our income goes. Utility bills, like water, electricity, gas, and maybe the internet for example, are things that you absolutely have to pay for. If you’re leasing a car, then there’s that too!
However, for some reason, sometimes you just fall behind and don’t have enough cash to pay for them all, or at least not in full.
Call the company.
Be honest about your problems and tell them you just can’t pay for it right away. Chances are they’ll work with you and give you other payment options.
I did this a few years back when I was still paying off my motorcycle. I had just gotten the boot at my job and I had to pay the other bills first with what little savings I had at that time. So, I called the dealer and we worked out a deal where I could keep my motorcycle if I paid half of my monthly bill first and pay the other half the following month.
2. Ask the hospital for a discount or a monthly plan
Note that this will only work if you have no insurance and are paying your hospital bills up front.
Anyway, if your hospital bill is more than you can afford right now, try asking the hospital for a discount or other payment plans.
I hate to say this but although hospitals are there to help save lives, at the end of the day, they’re still a business and all businesses need money to operate.
From there, I can tell you right now that most of them would rather give you a discount or let you off with a monthly payment plan. If you’re lucky, you might even get a deal with no interest. Most hospitals would rather do this to still get money than get peanuts from debt collectors.
Also, whatever you do, try not to pay with your credit card. If you’re having a hard time paying your hospital bills now, the crazy interest rates are going to make it even harder in the future.
3. Pay your monthly credit card bill in FULL!
On the topic of crazy high interest rates… You don’t want that. So, pay it in full. Every. Single. Time.
That being said, I understand that sometimes this just isn’t possible. So, again, a solution is to call the company which, in this case, is the bank.
If you have a valid reason why you can’t pay it in full this month (like some emergency hospital bill for example), then they may waive your interest rates.
Of course, this won’t happen every time you have a good reason. They might also consider your credit score when making a decision, which brings us to the next tip…
4. Skip using credit cards altogether
Let’s set this straight:
I AM NOT AGAINST CREDIT CARDS.
I admit that credit cards are useful and can sometimes even help you save money. But, on the other hand, I’ve seen way too many people fall under the credit card trap. All those fees and interest rates add up quickly if you don’t keep an eye on them.
So, why not use real money instead?
Well, at least for a few things like shopping, groceries, gas, and maybe when you’re eating out.
My mom gave me this advice when I was younger and it’s helped me ever since. She said that if I saw real, tangible money leaving my wallet when I pay for something, it helps me become more aware of where I am financially.
Maybe she was being a little too poetic but honestly, when you can see your own money decrease right in front of your eyes, you won’t want to spend it on anything else.
5. Use LED bulbs
There are different types of bulbs out there and I won’t go into detail why LED bulbs are better because, honestly, I’m no engineer and I’m no expert.
What I will tell you, however, is that since I switched to using LED, my electricity bill went down. Plus, they last longer so I’m also saving money from not having to replace the bulbs as much as I used to.
6. Use old plastic bags instead of trash bags
When I first did my own groceries, I was surprised at some of the prices. I mean, how was I supposed to know laundry detergent cost so much? And, oh my goodness, the price on trash bags are ridiculous!
So, instead of using trash bags on all the bins in my house, I used the plastic bags I got from shopping. These don’t come in the size of a large trash bag, I know, but I don’t need that big a bag for the bin in my office and in my bathroom so it works.
7. Use free messaging apps for your calls abroad
When you use your phone to call overseas, it’s not just your voice that reaches another country; your phone bill goes through the roof too.
Instead, use free messaging apps.
There’s a lot of them out there like Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook’s Messenger just to name a few.
Used car buying hacks
8. Don’t buy a used car from dealers
Look. I’m passionate about cars and I’m telling you, DON’T.
It’s not all of them but a lot of those dealers love money more than they do cars. They’ll charge you way more than the car’s actual price and, you know what? Aside from maybe wiping it from time to time to make it look pretty, those dealers probably don’t know if the car has any hidden mechanical issues. So, you might be making trips to the mechanic more often than you’d expect.
You know who you should buy from instead? Older dudes!
From experience, I can tell you right now that elderly people take better care of their cars. Their cars are generally cleaner, better maintained, and they put less miles on it too. Also, maybe because they have more money saved up, they’re also more willing to negotiate.
9. Get a loan from your bank or credit union
When I tell people not to buy cars from dealers, one of the things I always hear is this:
“But I can’t pay the car in full and the dealer has financing plans that I can deal with.”
Valid point. Okay. But, you know who else has car financing? YOUR BANK! So, get the loan from them instead.
It’ll take a lot more leg work but the interest rates are way lower. When you finally pay it off, you’ll have saved yourself thousands of dollars.
10. Let the dealers compete with themselves
If you can’t get a loan from your bank or credit union and your only hope of getting a car is the dealer, here’s what you do:
- Step 1 – Go to one dealer and ask for their absolute lowest quote. If you can get it in paper, that would be perfect.
- Step 2 – Next, go to another dealer and tell them about the previous dealer’s quote. If you got that in print, now’s the perfect time to show it.
- Step 3 – Let the games begin.
What game, you ask?
Well, dealers want you to buy from them and they’re going to adjust their prices to get what they want. This means that the 2nd dealer is likely going to match, if not beat the 1st dealer’s quote.
After this, you’ll be left with a great deal. BUT! It doesn’t have to stop there.
Regardless of who ends up with the lower price, you can always go to a 3rd, 4th, or even a 5th dealer and make them lower their prices even more.
Rinse and repeat, my friends. Let these devils duke it out among themselves while you collect the spoils of war.
11. Kick them while they’re down
If the above option takes too much work, here’s a simpler option:
Wait it out.
Car salesmen are vulnerable at the end of each month because they’re dying to make their quotas. That’s when you pounce.
When they absolutely need to make a sale, they’re more willing to lower their prices.
12. Pay your monthly bill even after you’ve paid off your car
A few years after you’ve signed your name on the dotted line, you’ll have paid off your car in full.
But, if you want to save money, keep putting away the same amount in your savings account.
It’ll pile up quickly and you won’t even notice it because, if you think about it, you’ve been doing fine without that money in your pocket. Now, instead of it going to a dealership, it’ll be in a bank where it can grow.
Shopping hacks to save money
13. Buy generic brands
If you haven’t realized it by now, then listen:
A lot of things in the supermarket are only expensive because they were manufactured by some well known brand. You don’t actually need all that fancy stuff to get by. Plus, a lot of stuff from generic brands are just as good, if not better than their branded counterparts.
I mean, your trash won’t care if it was put in a Kirkland trash bag or some no-brand plastic bag; your bottom can’t tell the difference between toilet paper with flower prints and one that’s just plain white; and your dog certainly doesn’t care if you got his tennis ball from an actual sports store or from the pet section at your local supermarket.
Keep those branded things on the shelf and buy the cheaper, generic brand option right next to it instead.
14. Shop for groceries online
Shopping online can be a slippery slope. One purchase leads to another and soon enough, you’ll have a closet full of clothes you probably won’t wear more than once.
BUT! That may not be the case with groceries. Well, at least for me but it might work for you too.
I find that shopping for groceries online limits my (well, my wife’s) chances of going over budget. The reason being that online shopping updates and shows us our bill every time we add an item to the cart. This way, if we do go above our budget, we can easily take out miscellaneous items until we’re back in range.
15. Plan your grocery trip
If shopping for groceries online just isn’t your thing, this should do.
So, before you leave the house, check your fridge, your kitchen cabinets, your countertops, wherever you store food, and find out what you need to buy. Then, write it all down on a piece of paper or a cardboard cut out and take it with you to the grocery.
Making a list can help you save money because you’re not just roaming around the aisles and picking up whatever it is you have your eyes on. Writing it down may seem old school but I find it helps me stick to my list better so it might work for you too.
16. Don’t buy the latest phone
Instead, buy the model that came right before it.
They’re cheaper and with the pace at which companies push out new phones nowadays, there really isn’t much of a difference in performance. If there was, then I think it’s certainly not worth the extra 200 bucks.
17. Use your library card to get free stuff
The library is a useful resource for getting all sorts of information. So does googling, I know, but getting yourself a library card isn’t just about getting access to books; it’s about getting free stuff too!
- Use your library card to read free ebooks and audiobooks at Overdrive
- Use your library card to learn new languages at Rosetta Stone and Mango
- Get free lessons for all sorts of modern skills (e.g. animation, photoshop, advertising, etc.) at Lynda
- Try getting free party supplies like cake pans and coffee pots along with cook books at your local library. And, before you ask, yes, some libraries let you borrow these things.
- Stream a bunch of awesome movies for free using Kanopy and your library card
- Get free meals for your kids at Lunch at the Library
18. Take advantage of rebates and refunds using free websites and apps
So, before you go shopping, make it a habit to check these websites first. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a deal for whatever it is you’re looking for.
Here are some of my favorites:
Life hacks to beef up your personal finance
19. Have a budget… and stick to it!
Okay, this isn’t really a life hack but you need to abide by it nonetheless.
This may take a bit of trial and error to see what works for you but in any case, always (ALWAYS!) put money in your savings account first. It doesn’t matter how small the amount is, just do it!
Anyway, what works for me is I give at least 10% of my salary to my savings account. I never go below that no matter what but I do occasionally give more. After that, I set money for everything else like utility bills, groceries, gas, rent, and the occasional booze with friends and dinner date with my wife.
Yours doesn’t have to look like this so do some experimentation. The most important part is when you find what works for you, stick to it.
20. Open a savings account in a bank with high interest rates
Banks are everywhere but if you want to save more money long-term, choose a bank with high savings interest rates.
You can open a savings account in a physical bank like HSBC and American Express. Both are great options.
OR! You could explore your options online (like CIT, for example). From what I gather, online banks typically have higher interest rates than physical banks when it comes to savings. They can afford to do this because they don’t have to pay the same fees that physical banks do.
21. Use envelopes
…or pretty much anything else that helps you segregate your funds.
My wife and I did this when we were saving up for our marriage. We called up people and asked how much certain wedding stuff cost, made a list, and each item on the list gets a separate labeled envelope.
Every time any of us received our salaries, we put a percentage of it in one of the envelopes until we filled each of them. In about a year, we had all the funds we needed for a small, intimate wedding.
Of course, you can do this trick with anything else. Need to save up for a new phone? Envelope. New furniture? Envelope. New shoes? You get the point.
22. Bigger isn’t always better
And by this, I mean houses.
The obvious reason is that bigger houses cost more. However, the upfront cost isn’t just what makes living in a bigger home less practical.
Think about how much it would cost to regulate the temperature, the cost of electricity, how much furniture you need to fill up a bigger space, and how much renovations would cost in case you wanted to change things up. All these things add very – and I mean VERY – quickly.
Look, I get it. Living in a mansion is the dream. But before you commit, think long and hard about where you are financially. If it seems like you’re forcing it, just don’t.
23. Negotiate with your service providers
As technology gets better, so will the plans of your service providers. Therefore, there’s a good chance you might be paying too much for too little.
For example, your internet connection. Maybe there’s a newer, faster plan that’s also cheaper than what you have now. Cable TV? Maybe there are new channels you’re not getting. Try giving those companies a call.
On that note, maybe they don’t have anything new to offer but you’re just not maximizing what you have now.
For example, Netflix. Maybe your plan is Premium (4 screens at a time) but you only have 2 TVs at home. Switch to Standard instead.
24. Workout regularly
Especially if you’re just a beginner, working out at least 3-5 times a week is going to get you a better body.
Now, you might be asking:
“What does this have to do with saving money?”
Well, it’s more psychological than anything.
The moment you start seeing results, you’ll be more health conscious which also means you start monitoring what you eat. If all goes well, you might even start cooking for yourself more which also means you become more aware of what you need to buy in your next grocery trip.
Also, apart from saving money on food and groceries, you become healthier which means less pills and less trips to the doctor’s office.
25. Invest in a home gym
The gym too intimidating for ya’? That’s fine. You can take your exercise somewhere else.
Jogging around town is fine. Calisthenics at the park is fine too. But me, I prefer doing my workouts at home.
Investing in a home gym will spare you the money for a gym membership and, if you need to drive to get there, then there’s gas savings too. Furthermore, working out at home will reduce your chances of splurging on food after your session so you save on food as well.
You can start small. Bands are cheap and extremely versatile so I suggest you start with them first. If you can add in a few sets of dumbbells, a yoga mat to stretch on, and a skipping rope for your cardio, you’re pretty much good to go.
With just these 4, you can workout your entire body and get a good sweat. Plus, these take little to no space at all.
26. If you get a raise, don’t raise your standards of living
It’s fine if you want to spoil yourself every once in a while. After all, you worked hard for it.
However, don’t raise your standard of living — or, at least not by a lot.
Save a majority, if not all of your raise in your savings account.
So, say for example you got a raise equal to $10K a year. Put at least $7K in your savings account and invest the $3K somewhere else.
You don’t need a massive income or salary to start saving money. I’m sure you’ve heard that a million times by now but it’s true.
A lot of people, including myself, are proof of that and with these money saving hacks, you can too.
Well, I hope this list helped. If it did, share us with your friends!