10 Life Hacks to Help You Free Up Money - Quicken Loans Zing BlogAre you looking for ways you can cut down on expenses and put a little extra money aside? Maybe you’re looking to budget more efficiently, fund that big vacation or save for retirement.

This post is dedicated to little tricks to keep more of your money in your pocket. You can have a little fun with these things, too.

1. Call to Cancel. See How They React.

Savings doesn’t always mean going without. Sometimes when you call to cancel a service (e.g. cable, Internet, satellite radio, etc.), they’re very motivated to retain you as a client. After all, some of your money is better than none at all.

If they’re focused on retention, they may give you a reduced rate for a certain period of time or direct you to a plan that costs less without 37 channels that show 20-year-old movies.

Another good strategy in this situation is to research their competition. Tell them you’re switching to Competitor X who’s offering the same or better level of service for $50 cheaper. Play them against each other. Even if they just offer to match, this works to your advantage. You don’t have to take the equipment back.

2. Cut the Cord

A lot of people are cutting the cord and canceling cable for good. A couple of technological developments happening right now make this very possible.

For starters, you can now get HDTV out of an antenna to watch your local programming. You can also subscribe to multiple services like Netflix, Hulu and even HBO online to get your television for less than you would pay on a monthly basis for a cable subscription.

However, you might run into a problem with sports. Many games are shown on cable, but all the major professional leagues have their own subscription services now. Just be aware you may have to pick and choose sports to make cutting the cord cost-effective.

3. Reacquaint Yourself with Your Local Library

I seem to recall my library as being a place where I went to pick up the occasional book for school. When I went back with my sister to get a book she wanted to read, I probably hadn’t set foot in the public library in four years.

I took some time to browse. While it was good to see they still have books at the library, the CDs and DVDs were a definite surprise.

When I got to the counter, the librarian who asked me if I wanted to renew my library card told me I can check out e-books. It was as if I’d been transported to an alternate dimension. Giraffes might as well have been serving ice cream.

Seriously though, your library may have a lot more education and entertainment options than it used to. It may be worth checking out if you haven’t been there in a while.

4. Lunch at the Grocery Store

I’ve been known to partake of the grocery store sample line a time or two. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I realized a motivated person has many choices, often including dessert, from the sample lines. Why do you think everyone is queued up when you go in there on a particularly busy Saturday? They’ve discovered a secret.

“Of course I’ll try the chicken cordon bleu…Why yes! I think I’ll have a butterscotch cookie.”

It’s important to note that the portions are small. You can definitely make this work for lunch, but not dinner.

5. Pay Attention to Those Receipts

After you’ve done your shopping (and maybe gotten a midday meal in the bargain), it’s time to head to the cash register. However, it’s important to remember the savings don’t always stop when you check out

Many stores add coupons to the backs of receipts now. It’s their way of keeping you coming back for more, but it also saves you money to use those coupons.

6. Get That Deposit Back

Many states charge a small deposit on the purchase of all bottles and cans. You get that deposit back when you bring them back to the store and feed the machine.

You won’t be able to retire early on the amount you get back, but it will give you some spare change for the drive-through.

7. Save Those Ketchup Packets

My grandpa goes to fast food places every so often and orders inside. When he comes back with lunch, he’ll always bring back a mountain of napkins. To this day, I’m not sure how he does it, but we’re never out.

My grandpa is an extreme example, but it proves a point. If they give you four sauce packets and you only use two, stick the others in a drawer. They could come in handy when you run out. You’ll also be well-stocked when the zombie apocalypse causes a worldwide shortage of whatever that stuff is they use for onion ring sauce.

8. Rewards Programs

Many businesses will have rewards programs for their customers. You can shop around to see who gives you the best deal. There are programs for things like credit cards, airline miles and grocery stores.

Although the traditional ones are above, you can find rewards programs for all sorts of things. Every time I go to my local movie theater, they try to get me to join their rewards program. One day, I will go often enough to make it worthwhile.

9. Attend Matinee Movies

There’s not many things I want to roll out of bed before 9 a.m. on a Saturday for, but my thrifty nature will occasionally pull me away from my pillow for a matinee movie. Different theaters will have different times, but if you go to one of the early showings, you can often get a ticket $5 or $6.

It can be super cheap entertainment if you manage to run through without succumbing to the smell of the popcorn stand. Sadly, this is one magic trick I’ve yet to master. I do have a trick I learned in high school for cheap dates though:

If you and your friend are going to drink the same beverage, don’t go with two smalls. It’s often cheaper to get a large drink and two straws. Just make sure you know whose is whose.

The same matinee strategy will work if you go to the theater for a play as well.

10. Gift Card Sites

Thankfully, no one has ever given me a gift card to Pottery Barn. I know in a couple of years when I’m getting married and looking to move into my first place with my beautiful bride, I’ll rue writing this because we’ll be registered there or something.

As a single dude in my mid-20s, I just don’t think I’m in their target demographic.

However, there are sites online where I could sell such a gift card to someone else at a slight discount to benefit us both. I’ve converted a gift card I wasn’t going to use into cash and gotten a deal on something I’d use.

Do you have any cool strategies for saving money? Share them with other readers in the comments.

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This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. I have Amazon prime that I use for viewing, free music and books. I also find if I need 1 item or 2 items it is easier to order and stay out of stores to not impulse buy. It saves time too, since I work full-time and 2 part-time jobs. Also, research future purchases online before ordering. Another time and money saver. I buy quite a few professional wardrobe items online on resale sites, new or nearly new items at a fraction of the cost or shopping time.

  2. This isn’t really news, but you can try to walk, instead of driving, or look into public transit options. Of course, this isn’t practical for everyone, but remember that it saves on gas, even if you already own a car anyway. I bought a $30 bike on an app called LetGo too. It gets me out and active. Depending on where you live, your neighbors will have tons of garage sale-worthy items you can browse right from your phone. They have a free section.

    My mom and sister also have this dieting rule where they immediately cut their dinners in half, and box it up to eat later. They do it for portion control, but it also saves them money.

      1. Carpooling can save money, too. I carpooled with a co-worker for the 45-minute commute, saving half the cost of gas. It turned out that our company pays us $100 a month (each) for freeing up a parking spot in the crowded parking lot! It doesn’t work every day, but it works for us 90% of the time.

  3. One of the ways mentioned cutting cable altogether, but you’d have a problem with sports. You can get Sling tv on most devices (Amazon fire stick, roku, etc.) and it has different live tv packages you can include sports as one.

  4. I recently did my monthly sundries shopping with cash. I knew exactly what I needed and because I didn’t have enough cash to splurge on anything extra, I got in and out with the two items I had planned. The last time I went in for ONE item, I left with four bags of things. I did use all those things, but I came up short on funds at the end of the month. Cash in my pocket goes further because I know it has to last. I should come out ahead this month!

  5. 1. Throw out catalogs-I am often tempted to buy the things i see in the catalogs that arrive at my house in the mail, i start to realize what i am missing. So when the catalogsarrive, they go directly into the recycling bin without opening them.
    2. Make a list- i make a list prior to going shopping (whether its for food, household items or clothes)
    Then i try to stick to my list.
    3. Plan ahead, Shop big, shop less often – there are items i KNOW i buy every month, so when i need to go shopping for household and personal items, like toothpaste, hair gel and cleaning supplies, i buy in “bulk” what i will need for the month. I do this with the plan that i will not have to go shopping again for a month and thus not be exposed the temptation of all the stuff i see and want at the stores. The less exposure to stuff, the less i buy, the more i save.
    4. Buying stuff won’t really make you feel better- there are
    People who buy things To reward
    Themselves or to soothe their troubled souls…. find a non material, FREE experience as a reward or “soul balm” . –
    – Amazon, hulu, netflix (whichever you subscribe to) all offer free inspirational viewing options.
    -Get out and exercise,
    -invite a friend over for a visit,
    – do something nice for someone else,
    -pray,
    – listen to the Bible on the free phone app.
    -count your blessings, wrote them down.

  6. If you’re an Anthem member, you can earn up to 15% cash back at more than 12,000 retailers nationwide — and you get to keep any other rewards program you already have on your registered card. Register through the PayForward app
    or online at payforward.com. Link any eligible credit or debit card
    that you already have and start earning rewards right away. Shop in store and online.

  7. Another way I try to save money since I rely on hiring a handyman for some of the smaller jobs I used to do is by bundling several small jobs, many of which can often be deferred for a few weeks without any major detriment to my standard of living or my property. It is often more economical to get a handyman for a few hours work consisting of several small, but necessary jobs than it is to call him (or her) six times for six different short jobs. Not only do you get more for your money, you also do the handyman the courtesy of making less trips allowing for a scheduling of visits in blocks of time instead of squeezing you in at the end of the day on the trip home or a pass-by between jobs

    If your handyman has a minimum charge such as a minimum of one hour’s rate, you definitely will come out on the side of savings. This also works with a lot of professionals as well since many can handle several small repairs in the minimum charge time. I just pass along an itemized list when I make the initial call. I also try to give exact manufacturers details on repair items so they have the right parts when they come. .

    1. These are excellent tips, Foster! It’s definitely something for people to keep in mind when they have any kind of contractor or handyman work to get done.

      Kevin Graham

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