The 20 Money Hacks Busy People Swear By

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In today’s fast-paced world, time is money — and there never seems to be enough of either one. But with just a few tweaks to your lifestyle, you can easily free up time in your day and money in your budget.

1. Get Free Shipping and Earn Cash Back

Shopping at cash back and rewards websites can help you earn money and points on your everyday purchases. But savings expert Lauren Greutman uses a hack to save even more money, as well as time that you might otherwise spend wandering the aisles.

“Order online at stores like Walmart and Target through Swagbucks, and earn points that you can cash in for free gift cards to other stores like Amazon and PayPal,” she said. “During your order, select ‘ship to store,’ pick it up for free, and you have just earned cash back on your purchase without having to pay for shipping.”

2. Use Apps to Track Your Finances

Angie Nelson from The Work at Home Wife is a huge fan of using technology to save time and money.

“Sign up for a money monitoring service like Mint or Personal Capital,” she said. “Unnecessary expenses and avoidance of saving can add up quickly when your busy mind is on other things. A quick glance or notification will let you know if you are on track or falling behind.”

3. Meal Plan Like a Boss

A little old-fashioned meal planning can help you save hundreds on groceries per month, said Greutman. It can also save you a lot of time by having your meals prepped ahead of time.

“I like to make a month’s worth of meals in one afternoon,” she said. “For only $150, I can make 20 dinners in just under three hours. I use ingredients from Aldi, and this helps me keep my grocery bill low and my stress level down.”

4. Set Calendar Reminders

Reviewing your accounts is crucial to your financial well being. It can help you keep tabs on your spending and make sure you’re on track to meet your goals. Furthermore, keeping a steady date with your finances can help you spot potential problems early on, before they become more challenging and time consuming to resolve down the road.

“Set a recurring event in your calendar to review your financial accounts at the same time and day each week, month, quarter or year,” said Taylor Schulte, a certified financial planner and founder of Define Financial. “Just like everything else in your busy life, if it’s not on the calendar, you probably won’t get to it. This hack will also help develop a healthy habit, and eventually you might not even need to rely on your calendar.”

5. Sell Your Old Stuff Online

You can also save time and money by selling your old items or items you find at thrift stores, on eBay for profit, Greutman said.

“One way that I make extra cash is to buy name-brand clothing at thrift stores and sell them for profit on eBay,” she said. “I find a dress for $4 and sell it for $50. This is a great way to make extra cash from home.”

On the mobile side – download the free Poshmark App, quickly setup an account, and you can take photos of and then sell clothing, accessories, and shoes.  When someone purchases your item, the app sends you a shipping label to print out and attach to your package.  Simply drop the purchased item off at your local post office, and when the buyer accepts it – you can elect to have the funds directly deposited to your bank account.  Cha-ching!

6. Monetize Your Down Time

Another way you can make money during your free time is by watching videos and taking surveys online on a site like Swagbucks, said Greutman.

“I love taking surveys and watching videos in my down time,” she said. “I may as well be making money while relaxing.”

7. Use Your Credit Card

Teresa Mears, CEO of Living on the Cheap, saves time and money by paying for everything with her credit card. Keeping most expenditures on one account can help streamline your budget tracking and bill paying process.

“I charge everything I can to one credit card, and then pay it off manually once a month,” she said. “I get email alerts for the accounts, like electric and water,  that I can’t charge to the card automatically.”

8. Do a 5-Minute Money Checkup

If you can spare just five minutes each day, Greutman has a money hack that can help make managing your finances a breeze.

“Every morning, my husband and I sit down and do a five-minute money checkup,” she said. “That way, we talk about what we have to spend money on that day, review the budget, and we both know what the day’s money movement is.”

9. Digitally Capture Your Receipts

If you find it difficult and time-consuming to track your spending, there’s a hack for that.

“One of the fastest ways for me to track spending is to take pictures of all my receipts,” said Mike Delgado, director of social media at credit reporting agency Experian. “I use a nifty app called Shoeboxed Receipt and share the account with my wife so we can share receipts with each other and categorize spending easily.”

10. Stop Credit Card Fraud in Its Tracks

In addition to using Shoeboxed to capture your receipts, Delgado said it also helps him to spot any suspicious account activity at a glance.

“Shoeboxed also automatically adds your spending data into a downloadable spreadsheet so you can compare receipt data against what’s reported in your credit card transactions,” he said. “This can help you identify fraud faster — and find any discrepancies in what is reported in credit card transactions.”

11. Make Frequent, Small Credit Card Payments

If you’re struggling with managing your credit card bills, this money hack can help make your life easier. By making small but frequent credit card payments, such as 1% to 2% of your balance every other week, you could get out of debt faster and avoid racking up interest.

12. Turn Your Credit Card Into a Debit Card

Using your credit card to earn rewards and cash back takes discipline. However, if you make sure you don’t overspend and you pay your balance in full every month, this strategy can be quite lucrative. Fortunately, there’s a money hack that can help you build credit and earn rewards without going into debt.

One financial tool, Debitize, automatically sets aside money from your checking account after every credit card purchase, then pays the bill in full when it’s due. So, it essentially helps you use your credit card like a debit card, and takes some of the guesswork out of getting rewards.

13. Round Up Your Purchases to Save More

Automation can also help you stash more money in your savings account. One app, Qapital, lets you set up spending rules that trigger an automatic deposit into your savings account. You can set spending challenges, where if you spend less than an amount you set, the remainder is sent into savings. Another feature rounds up the change from each purchase and puts it into your savings account. Qapital said its average user saves $44 per month with this feature.

14. Get Tax Advice

A tax professional can help ensure you’re filing your taxes properly, and can offer the guidance to address problems when they do arise, potentially saving you a bigger, more expensive and time-consuming headache down the road.

15. Buy in Bulk

Buying in bulk can save you time and money each month, said Deb Shaw, COO at international money transfer service ForeignExchange.com.

“Examine what you purchase repeatedly every month, and buy those products or services in bulk,” he said. “For me, this means household items and food with a long shelf life.”

16. Save Before You Pay

If one of the first things you do when you get your paycheck is pay your bills, you might want to reconsider that.

“The best money hack I know is to pay yourself first: Put your budgeted savings into your account before you pay your bills or make any other expenditures,” said Mike Catania, co-founder and CTO of PromotionCode.org. Saving becomes a priority rather than an afterthought, and can help ensure that you stash your money away before you can spend it.

“It’s a common trope for investors, but it’s equally applicable to everyone, and it has the added advantage of helping you mentally shift into prioritizing yourself,” he said.

17. Call Your Cable Company

A short, single phone call once a year to your cellphone and internet provider could save you hundreds, said Bruce Harpham of Project Management Hacks. Do your research ahead of time to see what various deal packages your providers offer, which can give you a cost range to aim for.

Harpham offered tips to negotiate your cable bill. “In the call, point out how long you have been a customer, point out your good payment history, if applicable, and ask for any special promotions currently offered,” he said. “Patience and a bit of luck is required, but the payoff can be great.”

18. Take Online Courses

If you want to go back to school, but can’t imagine spending the money or the time, Adrian Ridner, CEO of Study.com, said online courses can help you achieve this goal in less time and with less money.

19. Buy an Affordable Quality Car

Nothing beats that new car smell, but the type of car you choose can have a major impact on how much time and money you spend maintaining your ride.

If you’re in the market for a new or used vehicle, stop by First Financial and apply for an Auto Loan with us! We have the same great low rates whether you plan on purchasing a new or used vehicle.* To apply, click here for our online application or stop into any branch location. 

20. Automate Everything

Automating can also help you stay on track to meet your investing and debt payoff goals. “The answer to saving time and money is very simple: automation,” said John Luskin of financial planning website UncleDMoney. “This way, you’re saving and/or investing automatically. You don’t even have to think about it.”

Automating doesn’t mean hands-off, though. You should still keep a close eye on your statements to track your spending, watch for signs of fraudulent activity and make sure your automated transactions are going through.

*Subject to credit approval. A First Financial membership is required to obtain an auto loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. 

Article Source: Morgan Quinn for Go Banking Rates, https://www.gobankingrates.com/personal-finance/money-hacks-busy-people-swear/

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