This “ 30+ Money Saving Life Hacks “ post is created to provide readers simple ways to save more money. The life hacks the author detailed here are based on his personal experiences and of those who are closest to him. This post contains affiliate links/ads. See disclosure policy.
A lot of my friends always ask me for some life hacks. Life hacks, for those who are not aware what they are, are tricks or trips to improve life in terms of productivity and efficiency. Every time I hear the words life hacks, the first thing that comes to my mind is money saving life hacks.
I grew up making things easier for me because my family did not have anything to start with. I should say that life hacks have been part of my life since I was a kid. When I say easier, what I meant by that is that I had to make life better for me.
For example, while my friends had electronic games or consoles like Atari (it was big back then), I had paper boats and paper planes as my toys. I did not complain or feel sorry because I did not have what they had. I found ways to make things worked for me.
In the past couple of years, I have been able to develop or find more hacks that have saved my family a lot of money. Thanks to my friends and family, they are able to keep my mind active by pseudo-forcing me to give them more tips and tricks on how to save money. I love it though. I get to think off my feet and help them at the same time.
30+ Money Saving Life Hacks
Here are some of the money saving life hacks that I have utilized over the years. Some may seem odd but they do really work.
1. Mobile data usage
Running out of mobile data? You know that if you go over your data usage, you’ll meet your not-so-friendly cell phone bills sooner.
Lucky you. There is an app that help you reduce your data usage without reducing how much you use your phone. Enter Onavo.
Onavo helps users manage their usage of mobile data and limits the apps that use a lot of data. Onavo does not just take the liberty at controlling the apps in your phone. What it does is it send you notification when an app uses a huge chunk of your data. You, then, can choose what actions you want to take. These actions include limiting the app to a Wi-Fi, blocking the app, or setting a threshold for data usage for that app and informing you when it reaches that threshold.
Read more at 10+ Cash Back Sites To Earn You Money While You Shop
2. White roofs
My house builder friend told me that to save money on energy, one of the best ways is to paint the roof white. According to him, dark-colored roofs absorb more heat than light-colored roofs. It totally makes sense though.
Just think about this, when you wear dark clothes during summer, you feel hot than when you wear light-colored clothes. This is because dark-colored clothes absorb more heat than light-colored ones.
What does it mean to you and your energy costs? It means that you pay less on energy bills during the summer.
3. Free hotel upgrades
When you book for a hotel reservation, don’t book for upgraded hotel room unless you really need it.
According to my a friend of mine who used to work for a hotel, when you arrive and check in, politely ask for an upgrade and slip a few dollars when you give your credit card to the front desk representative. If the hotel does have an upgraded room available, chances are you will get an upgraded room for free.
Read more at How To Travel For Free Or Close To Nothing
4. Heavy object in toilet water tank
How much water do you consume when you flush your toilet? The answer should probably be more than what you need.
We all were taught when we were young or it is in our nature to flush the toilet after we use. There’s no contention that it’s the right thing to do. But we use a lot of water every time we flush the toilet.
To save water, place a bottle filled with water, a brick, or something heavy inside your toilet water tank. What this does is reduces the amount of water reserved in the tank. So, this means that every time you flush, you are using less water.
5. Toothpaste for minor car paint scratches
Some people hate with all their hearts when they see their cars with scratches. I really don’t pay attention to the scratches. I know some people who get mad when they see even the smallest, minor paint scratches on their cars.
When you do see these scratches on your car, don’t head to the auto store and buy the car paint scratch remover. Go to your bathroom and get your toothpaste. Get a damp, soft towel and spread some toothpaste on the scratch or scuff marks.
Why is toothpaste effective? It’s because it is a sanding tool but the soft, light kind of sandpaper. When you use it on a slick surface, it repairs the imperfections and sands the surface in a way that it evens out the surface problems and polishes the surface.
Voila! You have a nice-looking, polished surface without using the more expensive car scratch paint remover alternative. Just be aware that if the scratch is too deep, don’t expect the toothpaste trick to work.
Read more at 6 Family Bonding Activities On A Budget
6. Plugs, plugs, and a lot of electrical plugs
Just because appliances are turned off doesn’t mean they no longer consume energy. If you have a lot of appliances plugged but are not used, you are looking at hundreds of dollars in additional energy cost per year. According to the Energy Star website, the average US household spends at least $100 each year to power the devices that are turned off. Yikes!
If you are too lazy or tired to unplug everything, you may want to use a power strip. This way, you only need to turn off the main switch and that’s it.
Of course, there are some appliances like the refrigerator that shouldn’t be turned off when you are not using it. If you do want to save on costs of running a refrigerator, move it an inch away from the back. This will reduce energy consumption.
7. Storage containers
Do you buy those cold-cut hams in a container or pasta sauce in a glass jar? If you do, then, instead of throwing those containers and jars out, use them for some other purposes.
You can use the containers as your lunch box, cereal bowl, etc. You can the jar as money jar, pen holder, or something else. The recycling ideas for both the containers and jars are endless.
Read more at 17 Ways To Reduce Food Waste
8. Tire repair options
If you see a nail plugged in your tire, don’t take it off. The moment you do, rest assure your tire’s air pressure will go down dramatically.
What you can do is don’t touch the nail and don’t buy new tires just yet. Go to your nearest auto store and buy a tire plug kit for car. If you know how to use this kit, do it. If you are not comfortable, go to the nearest auto repair shop and ask for the tire to be fixed.
If all the above options have been exhausted, then, that’s the only time you may need to buy new tires. But even before buying new tires, ask the repair shop if you need to buy all 4 new tires or just a replacement for that bad tire.
9. Dishwashing sponge
Prior to me getting married to my wife a couple of years ago, I had spent over $10 – $20 per year on dishwashing sponges. Why? Because sponges are breeding ground for bacteria. Of course, I didn’t want that so I replaced my sponge every couple of weeks.
My wife had and have a better idea.
She cuts the sponge into half. She keeps the one for use and the other half for later. I don’t know why I didn’t think about it before but it works like the sponge is a whole piece.
So, what about the bacteria in the sponge? After every use, she soaks it in water with drops of bleach.
Read more at 7 Tips To Stop Couples From Fighting Over Money
10. Homemade dryer sheets
My wife is addicted to dry sheets. She doesn’t eat them but uses them all the time. You get my point.
When it comes to homemade dryer sheets, all you need are old scraps of cloths, 1 cup of white vinegar, 20+ drops of essential oils of your choice, and a glass jar with lid or a storage container.
All you have to do is combine all the wet ingredients. Place the cloths in a jar. Pour the mixture in the container to moisten the cloths but do not soak them. Keep the rest of the mixture for future use.
The white vinegar acts as a natural softener and the vinegar smell will evaporate during drying while the oil scent will remain.
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11. Frozen plastic bottles
Ever gone to a road trip and bought bags of ice to keep your foods, beers, water, and other essentials cold? I assume the answer is yes.
Instead of buying bagged ice, you may want to freeze your water bottles. What are the benefits of doing this? First, you are saving money by not buying bags of ice. Second, you are also freeing space in your cooler since you are using the bottles. Third, you don’t have to worry about the water getting into your food, which is possible or likely to happen when the ice you bought melts.
You don’t have to buy water bottles just to freeze them. You can use whatever plastic bottles you have in your house.
Read more at 50+ Money Tips To Save And Make Money
12. Extreme couponing without going to the extreme
You don’t have to be extreme couponers to save money on groceries. You don’t have to bring your coupon binder and flip through the pages when you are shopping.
Before you even go out for a shopping trip, visit coupon sites like The Krazy Coupon Lady to get the most up-to-date information on sales and deals for every possible stores in the US. These sites also details deals only found online.
When I started my couponing journey, I used these sites to get the best deals in my area. I have to tell you that I saved more than $3,000 in grocery in 4 years and countless hours because these sites conduct their own shopping analysis.
13. Out-of-season clothing
I can’t remember the last time I bought something because it’s in-season.
One of the best ways to save on clothing is to buy clothes when they are out-of-season. Buy winter clothes during spring and summer seasons. Buy summer clothes during fall and winter seasons. The same reasoning applies to spring and summer seasons.
If you don’t care about not being in-season when it comes to style, shopping during off-seasons will be good for you. I bought all of winter clothes a couple of years ago and still use them year after year. So far, nobody has told me that my clothes look outdated. The truth is, regardless out what people say, I wear the clothes I want the way I want it.
Read more at Personal Budget Categories To Start Your Budget
14. Better rates on flights
While there are a ton of sites that offer deep discounts on flights, there is another trick you can do to squeeze more additional savings.
Every time you search for flights, you need to clear your browser’s cache first. This way, every time you browse, you get the most up-to-date information on the flight’s cost.
I do this every single time I’m online buying for tickets for me and my family. One time, I saved around $900 when I bought tickets for my wife, daughter, and I for our trip to the Philippines.
15. Credit card fine print
If you don’t like to read credit card’s terms and conditions because you think that issuers’ print them to cover themselves, think again. There are benefits in that long, seem-to-never-end document. One of these is insurance coverage.
If you buy an item using your credit card and it breaks, it is possible that such purchase is covered under your credit card’s term and conditions.
When my laptop stopped running for no reason, I called my credit card and was sent to the insurance company. After giving all the information and the receipt of the new purchase, the insurance company sent me a check for the whole amount of new product purchase.
Read more at 8 Effective Ways to Analyze Credit Cards
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16. New, big dollar bills
There’s a study that states people will spend more just to get rid of their old bills. Now that you know this fact, look at and ask yourself if you do the same thing. I admit that what this study contends is true. Since knowing this fact, I have consistently asked for new bills every time I go to the bank.
So, the next time you go to a bank, ask for new dollar bills.
Aside from the fact mentioned above, try to keep $50 or the Benjamins (i.e. $100). I am also guilty of what I am about to say. I tend to spend those loose change and small dollar bills. What happens to the $50 or $100 bill I have? I tend to keep them in my wallet and use everything else first.
So, what’s the lesson here? The lesson is get more Benjamins.
Or don’t bring cash at all. That’s also a good idea.
17. Christmas shopping (not in December)
The reality is as much as you want to save money in December, you really can’t because you have gifts to buy, food to buy, etc.
Instead of buying all your gifts in December, that is, when all the sales and discounts are virtually close to inexistence, you may want to do your Christmas shopping all year round. This way, you are taking advantage of all the sales every season and every holiday.
I highly suggest to avoid buying in December when the demands for products are higher than the supply. What’s the result when the demand is higher than the supply? The result is higher prices of products.
Or if you are the clever, practical person like me, I would create my own DIY gifts, which are more personal and more valuable to the people I’m giving them to.
Read more at 12 Ways To Save On Groceries
18. Car shopping
While you are itching to buy a new car, wait until the end of the month.
Most car dealers have quotas to reach, which means that they are more than willing to bargain with the customers to sell their cars.
As a matter of fact, some of these car salesmen would be willing to take a loss just to meet the quota. It never hurts to wait until the end of the month to buy your car unless you really need it right away.
In cases when you really want to buy one right away, make sure you check all the car dealers to compare prices of cars. Tell the salesman that you’ve gone to different dealers and you have all the information what they provided you in terms of price and additional perks. See if you can get more for what you are going to pay for a car.
19. Free DVDs and books
So, you are wanting to watch movies recently released on DVDs or want to read books. Before you go to stores and buy them, stop by the public library, first.
Public libraries don’t just have academic books like they used to. Public libraries have become a house for books, DVDs, magazines, computers, games, newspapers, etc. If the library doesn’t have the material you want but libraries in other locations have, be sure to ask the staff on how you can check out the material without going to the other locations. Chances are, the library will get it for you.
Got no internet or don’t want to pay one? Simply visit the nearest public library in your area and use their internet access there.
Read more at 9 Things You Can Live Without
20. Coffee at home
Can’t resist the urge to drink you favorite cup of coffee? No problem.
Instead of going to specialty coffee shops, you may want to brew your own coffee at home. You don’t need to spend at least $3.00 a day just to drink your favorite coffee. You can do it right in the comfort of your home. It’s cheaper to do it this way.
On average, a cup of coffee made at home will cost you around $0.25 a cup, which is way less than what you will pay if you buy the coffee from specialty stores. If you think you can’t match the flavor that you get from these stores, think again. You can go to your grocery stores and get your flavored creamers, coffee grounds, flavored syrups, and other things that stores use.
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21. Waiver on charges
Some businesses like banks, credit card companies, and utility companies will charge you for late payments and other forms of transactions. These are legal charges but it doesn’t mean that they cannot be waived.
We make mistakes. Sometimes, we forget our due dates because we are busy.
If you always pay your bills on time, ask for a waiver. Chances are these companies will waive fees just because you are a good paying customer.
Read more at The Financial Costs Of Procrastination
22. The art of asking
A lot of us are so fixated with paying what we see on the tag price of a product. We are so fixated that we just take the price as it is.
To get the most out of a product, all you need is ask for a better deal. You don’t go to a car dealership and just buy a car without negotiating the price. The same rule should apply to almost everything.
When you go to a store (whatever store it is), ask if they have better deals for the products you want or best alternative to those. Ask them what they think about the products. If we are referring to credit cards and utilities, ask the customer reps what you or they can do to lower your bills.
I can’t tell you how many times I lowered my bills just because I asked for better deals. The lesson here is that it never hurts to ask.
23. Store-brand options
While you may be tempted to buy branded products at your favorite grocery stores, you should buy the store-brand products. Not only they are cheaper than their branded counterparts, they work just as good or they fulfill your needs just the way the branded ones do.
When my kid was still an infant, we opted for store-brand formula. We chose it because, according to her pediatrician, the contents or nutrition is comparable to its branded counterpart.
Read more at Ways To Living More Comfortably On A Tight Budget
24. Discounted gift cards
Instead of using your credit cards to pay for your purchases use gift cards. If your credit card has reward points, cash back, etc. for purchases, then, it’s a better reason to buy gift cards. Why? Because you get double benefits by doing this.
Go to discounted gift card websites to buy gift cards. You not only get to buy discounted cards, you also earn points, cash back, etc. by using your credit cards to purchase such discounted gift cards.
25. Health insurance perks
Always take time to visit your insurance’s website to get the most up-to-date information regarding your health insurance carrier and coverage.
Many health insurance plans offer discounts or reimbursements for wellness activities. Benefits do vary from one insurance carrier to another.
In 2015, my wife and I were able to get a $150 VISA gift card just by completing our online health/wellness assessments.
Read more at How Well We Live Off On Under $31,000/Year
26. Clothesline dryer
While it is convenient to use electric dryer to dry your clothes, it is not as cost effective as the old, traditional way of drying clothes (i.e. old-fashioned clothesline).
If you have a backyard and space to create a clothesline, then, create one. You will save at least $100 every year by not using too much electric dryer. Basically, use nature to help you save money.
27. Grocery shopping (first rule)
The first rule in grocery shopping should be “don’t go grocery shopping when you are hungry”.
Sound silly but it is based on a study. According to two studies led by the Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab research team, going to the supermarket when hungry may lead you to buying high-calorie foods.
Although the study points out that hunger negatively affects short-term food choices, my personal take (not that I’m an expert on this matter) is if you go to the grocery store hungry, you could be buying more junk foods. These types of foods can and will add up to a big grocery bill.
Read more at 6 Tips For Living On One Income
28. Water before meal
Dehydration triggers a false sense of hunger. In this case, you should drink water first before you eat.
You may remember that when you were younger, your parents would tell you not to drink first because you would get full right away. The truth behind it is that drinking water helps you eliminate or minimize a false sense of hunger.
The only time I can think of that it’s better to eat first is when you are eating at a buffet.
29. Big carts at the grocery
The next time you shop, don’t get the big carts. If you are not too lazy, then, it is best to carry a shopping basket.
Our mind works against our will when we carry big carts. How? Our minds tell us that we need to put things in the basket to make it full. Sounds crazy? Take a look at yourself.
When you go to store, you may know what exactly you need in that store. Unfortunately, many times, you come out there with more stuff than what you intend to buy.
30. Free haircut
If you are somebody who doesn’t care what style of haircut you have or if like a simple haircut, then, you will save more money by cutting or shaving your own hair.
Buy an electric razor, which costs around $20 – $30, and use that to cut or shave your hair. If your better half is ok with helping you with cutting or shaving your hair, then, by any means let him/her do it.
Read more at 10+ Money Rules Kids Need To Learn
31. Fashionable cloth diapers
For those moms and dads who want to save a ton of money, you may be better off buying cloth diapers versus disposable diapers.
While it is more convenient to use disposable diapers especially when on travel, it is not as economical as using cloth diapers. Yes, it may be best to use disposable ones while on travel. But when at home, it is a money saver to use cloth ones.
My wife and I bought 50 pieces of cloth diapers for around $75. We’ve been using those for 3 years now and they still look new like we just purchased them yesterday. In 3 years, we have only spent around $100 for diapers.
What other money saving life hacks do you or have done? Please share your thoughts and comments below.
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Allan Liwanag is a personal finance blogger who paid off at least $40K debt in 3 years by adopting simple and extreme saving techniques while ensuring his family’s needs were taken care of. An analyst by day and dedicated blogger by night, he loves to share his thoughts – based on his research, personal knowledge, and experience – on topics related to family, life, and money. Allan lives with his family in Maryland, USA.