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Four Part Radical Guide to Paying Off Debt and Saving More

This is part four of a four part series. This part is about my 18 favorite life hacks. You should get familiar with life hacks, because they make your life much better, both in the short run and in the long run. Who doesn’t want to make their life better? I for one know I’m always looking for ways to be happier and improve my life. It’s good for the body and good for the soul. I’ve already covered general ideas, living a healthy lifestyle cheaply, shopping smarter, avoiding impulse buys and bargaining. This part is about making do with what you have through life hacking.

Why Life Hack?

Life hacking tries to make your daily life easier, simpler or cheaper. If you try to life-hack most of your home living problems, you’ll also find yourself living life a bit more creatively while utilizing your problem-solving skills.

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My Favorite Time and Money Life Hacks

1. Don’t throw out lettuce that is a little wilted. If you soak it in ice cold water for twenty minutes or so, it’ll freshen up. You’ll save $2 or more per head of lettuce depending upon the type.

2. Lozo.com is like a search engine but for coupons of grocery items. Save time and money searching for coupons.

3. If your company often has catered meals and there are generally leftovers, start keeping Tupperware at your work to take advantage of those leftovers! Your grocery bill will thank you.

4. If you’ve already spent money on new books and DVDs, don’t worry about it. But don’t loan out the item and forget who you gave it to. Then you might as well have thrown your money away. Take a picture of your friend when you loan out any item to someone. Now you’ll have incriminating evidence when that forgetful friend claims you never loaned The Notebook to him.

5. Use the nozzle of an old mustard bottle or another pointed top to put at the end of a vacuum hose to get hard to reach places. You’ll save $5 or more to avoid buying fancy attachments that never work well anyway.

6. Sometimes, you’ll have extra material, but you won’t know how to use it for upcycling or life hacking. Use Pinterest and YouTube to search for ways to use that material. These are also good sites to check for figuring out how to fix things before calling a handyman or going to an auto shop for car repairs.

7. Use Mint.com to help you stay accountable on your budget goals. This is a priceless life hack.

8. Wait until the end of your internet contract and negotiate the price of the contract. Small internet companies, like Clear, are more likely to negotiate a very good price point if you’re thinking about leaving the company. A friend of mine saved $20 per month on her internet bill by negotiating at the end of her contract.

9. Did you know you can bring your own smart phone to Straight Talk and you can even use unlocked iPhones? Their plans are $45 a month for unlimited minutes, unlimited text, 3G/4G data up to 2.5 GB then tempered to 2G speeds, no contract (but auto-refill). This is a good plan for you if you’re not a heavy iPhone user but you like having it. Make sure to switch your data off and on when you’re in WiFi areas to take advantage of free internet.

10. If you have a good relationship with your neighbors and they live close enough, buy one WiFi internet service and split the bill with them.

11. When you’re eating breakfast before work, include a banana in your meal and use the inside of the peel to polish your shoes. You’ll save $4 or more per can of shoe polish, and your shoes will always look amazing.

12. If you’re tired of Apple product chargers breaking at the wire connection to the head of the male fitting part, use the spring inside of a dead pen to protect the attachment. There’s also a special way to wrap the chargers to prevent them from breaking, just ask for free help at your local Apple Store. You’ll save $79 per official charger.

13. If you happen to have nail polish or know someone who does, ask to use some to color code your keys. You’ll save $1 per key that doesn’t need a key cover.

14. Do you have skin issues, like acne, dandruff or toe fungus? Before you go to the dermatologist, try out tea tree oil based skin care products, easily found at GNC, the Vitamin Shoppe and online. Tee tree oil is naturally antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic. It isn’t too harsh on most skin types, even sensitive skin. Try out a highly rated product for two weeks and if it doesn’t work, you’ll only have spent $3-$10 out of pocket. The best scenario is that it works and you save $50 to $150 by skipping the doctor’s visit and treatment. I have four friends, male and female, that have seen this work for dandruff and acne.

  • For acne, use a tea tree oil bar of soap and wash your face once in the morning and once at night. The bar of soap will last you between 3 to 6 months. The price of one bar of soap is between $3 to $5.
  • For dandruff, follow the directions on the tea tree oil shampoo bottles. Price varies depending on brand.

15. Join Threadup.com or start a clothing swap with friends with good clothing tastes to save money on seasonal clothes. Again, just make sure to take pictures of friends with your items so you’ll remember to get it back.

16. If your clothes don’t smell and aren’t dirty, put them back into your closet. Additionally, spot wash small stains and then hang them in a place to dry before putting them back in your closet. Americans typically wear one to three outfits per day and wash the outfits even if the clothes aren’t dirty, a practice unheard of around the world. You’ll save on energy and water by re-wearing you clothes later.

17. You’re probably using a ton more laundry detergent than you need to. And it shouldn’t be a surprise that most laundry detergent companies recommend more than you actually need. You should read your washing machine manual to find out how much you actually need. One bottle of Tide will now last you months.

18. Use a clothing line. If you hate the grass smell in your clothes, hang up several retractable lines next to a full sun window and let your clothes dry there. Your dryer eats energy, so use it as little as possible.

Wrapping it up

There are endless lists of life-hacks out there. Some are just garbage, but some are really worth your while.

Check out the whole series

Part One – The General Overview

Part Two – Cheap and Healthy Eating and Living

Part Three – Shop Smarter

Part Four – My 18 Favorite Life Hacks

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