Everybody's happy with more money in their pockets, am I right?
Whether you're spending it on something or someone you love, paying off debt, or putting a little aside into savings, a couple extra bucks are welcomed with open arms from me! I'm always searching for easy, practical ways to save some $$$ cash, so today I thought I'd share 20 money hacks that I've found helpful. They're all pretty simple to implement and will help you slowly but surely achieve your financial dreams.
1. Automate your bills so they're always on time
I'm not sure why it took me so long to automate the process myself, but what a relief! If you're like (former) me and sometimes have to pay fees because you forgot to pay your bill on time, take five minutes out of your day and automate the process! You'll be so glad you did. Seriously.
2. Hide money...from yourself
I've done this several times now and I'm happy to report, it's working! Try setting aside small amounts of money in a place you don't check very often. If you find this method works for you too, then try "forgetting" an even larger sum. It's kind of strange tricking yourself into saving money, but hey, it works. I never really think of that stash of money when considering purchases.
3. Continue to use cash every now and then
I'm a fan of credit cards, but still recognize the power of using cash to save money in the long run. I learned this method from my dad who has never used credit cards. He prefers cash because he can literally see and feel his hard earned money leaving his pockets. Makes sense, right? I don't fully subscribe to this method, but every now and then when I want to really cut back on expenses, I only allow myself to use cash for purchases so I'm more aware of what I'm spending.
4. Have fun staying at home
We can probably all agree that going out is fun, but it also makes us spend money like crazy. Just think - dinner at a nice restaurant, a couple drinks at a club, brunch on the weekends, shopping.... you get the point. It's expensive. Instead, try staying at home and inviting friends over for a movie night - you might be surprised at how much you enjoy it! I've even thrown a few themed parties after my favorite TV shows and now it's something I look forward to so much!
5. Cook more meals at home
I know all too well that it's easier to eat at a restaurant or just pick up some food on your way home from work, but again, the costs add up quickly. To save some money, try preparing your own food at least a few times a week. I've found some of the greatest (not to mention highly entertaining) recipe videos on Youtube. Not only is it much cheaper than eating out, it’s also healthier.
6. The 30-day list trick
Are you an impulsive buyer? Sometimes I am. The next time when you feel the urge to buy something you don’t really need, make a 30-day list and add the item to the list. Then, for the next 30 days, you wait. Once the waiting period is up, buy only the one item you kept thinking about and needing that was on the list. Everything else is probably just impulsive stuff you don't need.
7. Get comfy with knowing about money
If the subject of money makes you squirmish, I truly urge you to spend a little bit of time becoming more money literate. I put it off for way too long myself, but am so glad I learned the basics and did the research. It truly does help you to understand your finances and make better decisions for yourself in the long term.
8. Start an emergency fund
Sometimes, life doesn't go according to plan. OK, that's pretty much all the time. But whether we like it or not, it's good to be prepared for when the unexpected happens. To start an emergency fun, you'll need to allocate a tiny amount of money regularly into the fund. The money I set aside in mine is such a small amount, I don't even realize I'm doing it!
9. Exercise at home
You might disagree with me on this, but I'm including it since it worked for me. I took pilates classes for years until an injury made me stay at home for a couple of months. When I finally felt better, I started doing some light exercises on the yoga mat next to my bed. Believe it or not, I never got back to the gym and really began to enjoy doing my workouts at home. I also took up running outdoors which has made me enjoy running more than I ever thought was possible! I love that staying fit doesn't cost me a penny.
10. Track your spending
If you're like me, this is something you've always wanted to do but keep putting off for "later." Well, later is now! There are so many apps now that will make your life easier in terms of saving money and tracking your spending. And once you get used to it and it become a habit, it can actually be enjoyable to track your spending habits. I like the old fashioned DIY route of tracking my expenses on a simple spreadsheet, but I encourage you to try a few different methods to see which one is best for you.
11. Ask questions about money
A lot of people are nervous or ashamed to ask financial questions. Don't be. If there's something you don't understand - just ask. Whether it's about an item on sale, your emergency fund, or retirement, make sure you know everything you want to know. Knowing about your finances is so important. If you're unsure of where to start, I recommend a good ole Google search to get the party started.
12. Connect with a tax accountant
Unless you personally know one, tax accountants can seem kind of intimidating, right? That's how I felt anyway, but after becoming friends with one, I realized there's no reason to feel this way! Tax accountants are a wealth of information when it comes to taxes and money and if you're able to have some friendly conversation with one, I highly recommend it!
13. Cut back on transportation costs
I hate spending money on transportation (likely due to it being one of my biggest monthly expenses). Luckily though, when the weather warms up, I'm close enough to work that I can hop on my bike and be there in a relatively short time. If you live too far from work to try something like that, try commuting with a friend or two - it will cut down on transportation costs and your commute will be less boring!
14. Set a financial goal, reach it, and REWARD YOURSELF!
Saving money doesn't always have to be boring and limiting! Try setting a financial goal - whatever you think is completely achievable if you set your mind to it - and when you reach it, reward yourself with a little something. It could be a nice dinner, something you've been eyeing at the store for a long time, or perhaps even a quick getaway weekend. Most importantly, have fun with it!
15. Enlist your partner to be your financial BFF
Money can cause tension and problems in a relationship, but if you work on it together, it could become a great ongoing project between the two of you. You could start by sitting together reguarly to candidly discuss your spending or even by developing a one-year savings plan. Whichever route you choose, it will do good for your relationship and your wallet!
16. Look for freebies or coupons
Making this a habit could save you thousands! Whenever you want to go somewhere or buy something, check if there is a coupon for it first. It's as simple as that. If paper coupons aren't your thing, try downloading a few apps to help you research before you buy. Some of my favorites are: Groupon, Ibotta, CouponSherpa, and RetailMeNot.
17. Stop buying things you can't afford
This one is tough, but it's true. If we continue to buy things we can't afford, we'll never be able to save money for our futures. There have been a few times where I gave in to buying an item I couldn't really afford and didn't need, and let me tell you, I completely regretted it! If your eyes start sparkling whenever you see the % off sign, walk away ASAP! It's not worth it.
18. Spend less time shopping and more time with friends or enjoying hobbies
I used to spend a lot of my free time at the mall, but now that I've made an extra effort to spend more time with family and friends, I've noticed a pretty big increase in the amount of money I'm able to save each month. There are so many things you can do that don't cost a penny and are still fun - try it!
19. Don't compare yourself to others
Not necessarily a hack, but very, very important. Your life is your life. It isn't anyone else's, so you should never try to compare yourself and your circumstances with anyone else. We all have different spending habits and priorities. So for example, if your neighbor buys a brand new car, it doesn't necessarily mean that he has the money to spend on it, but that's his choice. Focusing on yourself and your finances is a much better use of your time.