Our Readers Share Their Best Money Hacks
Everything I know about money I learned by asking someone else. After graduating from college, I challenged myself to face my fears about managing my money by channeling those fears into curiosity. In doing this, I opened myself up to a variety of approaches to personal finance. What’s worked for others hasn’t always worked for me. But having others share their money tips has been a great reminder that personal finance is very much… well, personal!
That’s why we asked you to share your money hacks with us. (And, boy, did you deliver!) Below, you’ll find money advice straight from our readers. Not every bit of advice will resonate with you, but I recommend trying out some of the bits that do. This one’s a bit lengthy so grab a snack, sit back, and take it all in.
// On Budgeting//
“Zero-based budgeting is life! I plan where every dollar goes before I spend it. It makes me feel so in control of my money.”
“Every month, I calculate the daily amount of money I can spend by subtracting what I want to save, all my fixed expenses, and a small emergency amount. I divide what’s left by 30 days, and l love it because it empowers me to make purchases every day or every couple of days that bring me joy. It makes me realize I can spend a few dollars on a happy hour with a dear friend and feel guilt-free, or save up a few days to compile the amount for a new dress or pair of jeans.”
“Weekly budgeting is the most important thing we do to make our financial life easier. My husband and I sit down together nearly every week and go over all our purchases and how much we have left in the budget. We still overspend sometimes, but we realize it in time to check ourselves. The biggest thing about our weekly budgeting is that it enables us to plan for the things that really make our lives better or more fun, like traveling or that special outfit.”
“The day my paycheck hits the bank, I pay bills immediately instead of holding off. Otherwise, the money gets spent in other ways and you’re left managing finances creatively.”
“When budgeting, always give yourself some spending money. Even if you can only afford $10 a week, it serves as a good reminder that YOU are in control of your money and not the other way around.”
“We budget out our meals every week and try to factor in one meal out. Whether that meal is Chipotle or a sit-down restaurant, we’re at least a little prepared and aren’t wasting food or money.”
// On Saving //
“Make coffee. Pack lunch. Go to the library. Invite friends over for dinner. It’s the simple stuff! Definitely not a hack. Oh! And actually take your company up on their offer to let you meet with that retirement consultant person.”
“I just started using the auto-save feature with Chase because I’m not that great at saving money. This will make it easy to save up for upcoming trips or that Floyd couch I really want without even thinking about it!”
“Set up automated monthly deposits to your online savings account.”
“I save the extra money I make (house sitting, etc.) and put it towards my Fun Fund!”
“It’s a simple fix, but opening a new, high-yield savings account. Most people don’t do that because they think it’s too much hassle to switch accounts. But you’re making easy money with interest on a 2.20% APY account, for example, especially when compared to the pitiful 0.01% APY at most big banks! Switch it up, ladies!”
“Start fresh every month. Whatever I don’t spend from the last month goes to savings.”
“Start investing when you’re younger. If need be, withdraws can be made in dire circumstances. But invest in yourself first before you buy something you don’t really need.”
// On Lifestyle Changes //
“Treat yourself without regret or guilt, because if your mindset is limiting, your abundance will also likely be limited.”
“My hack was losing my scarcity mindset that was making me stress about money when I didn’t even have to… and even if I did, stress does not help!”
“I’ve been without a home for many years, so purchasing on-the-go and spending on convenience, even on inexpensive/seemingly practical things, was an enormous money leak. Slow-brewing coffee at home, bringing my favorite treats and hors d’ouvres into my kitchen, and inviting friends over for drinks rather than going to bars has cut my costs more than I could’ve imagined.”
“As soon as you get a paycheck, give 10% of it to a church or organization, and put another chunk of it into a savings account. It really does feel good to share the wealth and it frees you from obsessing about money and overspending. Make it a habit and your budget will thank you!”
“Scrimp for the first two weeks after pay day. This makes scrimping feel voluntary, whereas if I am scrimping in the last week BEFORE pay day, I feel like I have to do it to make it through the month. My way gives me more control.”
“I try to expose myself to media that promotes financial wellness and anti-consumption. This includes websites, podcasts, forums, and Instagram accounts. It helps keep my values in check and reminds me that my purchases cause social and environmental impacts. When I do shop, I almost exclusively go to secondhand stores or focus on sale items.”
// On Financial Tools //
“There’s an app in the UK called Too Good To Go and it helps connect you to restaurants that price their leftovers more than half off at the end of the day. Sometimes when I would be too lazy to cook or if we were leaving and didn’t want to buy more food that would rot, we’d use Too Good To Go, which is so much more affordable and environmentally-conscious than takeout!”
“Buying durable products to keep them out of landfill, like the ones from BuyMeOnce.com.”
“My spouse and I started using 1Password to store all of our passwords and we love it! Now we can easily access all of our accounts from home or work, and we can each log onto each other’s accounts to make sure everything is being paid on time. No late fees or dings to that credit report over here!”
“As someone who frequently drives, the GetUpside app has saved me so much money on gas.”
“I switched to Ally banking with a 2.1% APY. I’ve gotten so much money back in interest this year compared to my previous years, and I’m able to make multiple savings accounts under one platform for things like auto, home, health, vacation, and wedding savings. Having my direct deposit automatically pull into these separate accounts helps keep me accountable and to not overspend.”
For more money management resources, check out our list of Money Managing Apps.
// On Using Cash vs. Cards //
“I know a lot of people won’t be able to do this, but I put all my monthly necessities on a credit card. I don’t touch a penny of my salary and then, at the end of the month, I pay off my credit card and save whatever is left over of my salary.”
“Leave your wallet at home!”
“I don’t use cash often, but I have a coin jar in my room that gets filled up from various cash occasions. I try not to spend money on coffee, but when I have just enough in that cash jar, I’ll save it for a rainy Monday morning on my way to work.”
“I put $100 in cash into an envelope every time I get paid. I forget it’s even there, so I don’t touch it.”
“Automatic credit card cap on a single purchase—my card will decline the purchase or alert me when a transaction is over a set amount. It helps me limit my spending on high price single items.”
Thanks to everyone who shared money hacks on Instagram and through our newsletter survey. Feel free to share any more tips in the comments below!
Celeste M. Scott is the Social Media Coordinator at The Good Trade. She is a writer and photographer who is passionate about film and Internet culture. She can often be found sifting through the racks at her local Savers. You can find her work on her website and Instagram.