12 Excellent Money Hacks For Ya

My database of tips is filling up again, so time to pour them out!

Here are a bunch of notes people have shot me in recent months to better help them speed up their savings or stay motivated… Maybe something here will spark joy in your wallets too? ;)


The Scoring System Hack

My focus this year has been to really pay attention to the value my spending brings. I’ve actually added a tab to my spreadsheet (yes, I still use spreadsheets and I love them) where I note everything I buy outside of what I consider living essentials.

I have created a point system that ranges from 1 (shouldn’t have) to 10 (making my dreams come true) and a then a couple middle items for an items I want/need and has been on my list for awhile and I found a good deal on it (replacing 15 year old pans). I also score items that maybe I wouldn’t normally have done, but it was worth it for relationships (happy hour with business partners).

I never really thought of it as happy or unhappy money, but I would say those items that I mark as “shouldn’t have” would be unhappy money or buyers-remorse, and putting extra attention to it and knowing I’ll have to identify it has really helped me avoid some impulse purchases.

Financially Fit Mom


The Stealth Wealth Hack

I take delicious pride in saving when others spend. My husband says I can pinch a penny until it screams for mercy. You would never know it if you came to our house because we look “normal”, but my biggest thrills are extra mortgage payments and maxed out retirement. It’s a beautiful thing.

Right now, I’m going a year without buying clothes, books (I can read the 457 I own already and use the library) and makeup. It’s awesome. I feel so empowered by the control I have over how I spend money! – Lisa


The RoosterMoney Hack

I use an app called RoosterMoney to track my boys’ allowance (base pay), and the odd jobs I am offering to pay them extra for, with pay rates.

I believe managing their money and chores with an app gives them experience in 1) gig economy, where you choose a job and the pay rate, and work when you want to, 2) managing the funds you have, with buckets for spending, giving, short-term goals, and long-term goals (with interest set by me), and 3) the nearly all-digital world they are going to be in when they truly enter the job market.

When I started using this system, I made sure both boys had the app installed and knew their logins, and could send me a text via the app to reset their login if they forgot it. They can make purchases online or in person using a debit card I set up for each of them with my bank, who sends me an email for any purchase over $0.01, so I take the amount out of their Rooster “account”. It’s a bit manual, but gives us flexibility and control, without paying an arm and a leg every month or year.

– Claire

[FYI: Looks like this app also has a UK version, as well as an Australian version too!]


The Car Flipping Hack

I have a friend who flips cars as a side hustle, and the best time to flip and sell a car is around tax time. Great business model, and clears an extra $20,000 to $30,000 per year doing so. – Bryan


The High Deductible Health Plan Hack

For those in good health and that have access to a high deductible health plan, I recommend getting into a HDHP and maxing out your HSA every year.

I have done this consistently since it was first offered and now have $69,000 saved specifically for medical. So far I have been able to cover all my medical expenses out-of-pocket, letting the HSA funds stay invested and grow. I expect to have $125K – $150K triple tax-protected saved by the time I retire in 5 years.

Gene Roberts


The Child IRA Hack

By putting $20 a week in a Child IRA from birth until their 19th birthday, never putting another dime into the account, that child will have over $2 million by retirement…

The problem is, the Child IRA as a retirement vehicle doesn’t exist yet. Lawmakers are calling for expansion, but under current laws, in order for minors to save, they need to have earned income.

– Chris Carosa MBA, Contributing Editor to Fiduciary News and author of From Cradle to Retirement: The Child IRA.

[I actually found this one in a press release, and was SO EXCITED to hear about the Child IRA until I realized it wasn’t a thing, haha… But of course you can still stash away money for your kids in your own brokerage accounts to replicate this idea any time you choose :) Or if they’re old enough to work and earn money on their own, help them open up their own Roth IRA!]


The Motivational Milestone Hack

Since you share all the time, I wanted to share with you our latest milestone:

milestone alert

(1,700,000 NIS is about $469,251)

As you can see this is sent from myself to myself. I actually have an automated system which checks my google spreadsheet to see if a milestone is crossed, and then sends an email to alert me of it :)

Here’s a google doc I put together which explains how to set it up if you’re interested: How to get Net Worth updates like a boss

– Yaacov


The New Camry Hack

This is not your conventional hack, but it’s working out for me. I drove a used truck for around 12 years. I put aside imaginary car note payments each month while I drove the truck. I was then able to buy a NEW Camry LE (basic model) May 2016. It was so NEW it was on the SHOWROOM FLOOR! In addition to a rebate (they were selling them like hot cakes with rebate) I haggled, paid cash for Camry. I have since recouped my costs. Camry only has 30,000 miles! My plan – if all goes well – is to drive the Camry for 12 – 14 years. – Shane


The Smaller House Hack

Here’s one of my philosophies about home size: it is nice for everyone to have their own space, but the larger the house, the less integrated a family can be and the more stuff can accumulate. Smaller space forces more interaction between family members. People lived for centuries in very small spaces – the idea of everyone needing their own bedroom is a relatively modern (last 30-40 years) idea.

There are some good resources regarding smaller house size – and outfitting them with higher priced, thoughtful features: Sarah Susanka’s The Not So Big House book series and site (notsobighouse.com), and Carmella Rayone’s family of five complete with three boys lives in a 665 sf house (www.assortmentblog.com/assortment/665-sq-ft.html)

The smaller the house, the smaller the operating expenses and repair costs and the better the location you can afford. – Libby


The Cottage Hack

Good luck on your house search! I wanted to share one thing I did! I bought about $200k more expensive than I could afford which had a cottage rental! I’ve rented the cottage all 20 years except 2 years when one of my daughters lived there while going to graduate school.

I’m now retiring, renovating and moving into the cottage and will be renting the main house for income. I’m in an excellent neighborhood and school district so the house is highly desirable. I love the SF Bay Area and want to travel, this way I can afford to travel and land back in this wonderful area I use as my home base.

I’m on a corner lot so the cottage is on one side of the lot and the main house is on the other. In fact, I’m now going to be seeing different neighbors every day because the cottage is oriented toward the side street. – Laurie


The Sobriety Hack

My best hack I would call “The Sobriety Hack.” Not for everyone, but I have saved over $2,000 to date since July 2017, averaging about $25 or so per week! It’s a steady stream of passive income without question… that money would have evaporated if I still drank. Another upside with this hack? Productivity levels go way up too. – Shane


And for all you parents out there…

The “How To Get More Sleep” Hack ;)

I pick up extra cash here and there doing research studies. While trying to figure out what treat I wanted to spend my recent $20 earnings on, I realized all I wanted was sleep. As in, I legit would pay $20–or more–to get more sleep.

I’m a single mom with teenagers and little kids and I NEVER get enough sleep. I offered my oldest the $20 if she made sure that everyone did their chores, packed their lunches, gave the youngest ones a bath, got them off to bed, and turned in the teenagers’ phones by 10pm.

I took a bubble bath and fell asleep by 8pm. Probably my most favorite way that I have ever spent $20… and you can bet your sweet booties that I will do it again.

– Wendy


Got any secrets you do??

Pass them along and we’ll make you famous the next time around! :)

Here are 76 more hacks to consider in the meantime 👍

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  1. Kate April 4, 2019 at 6:12 AM

    I love Shane’s “Sobriety Hack”! I’m 1936 days sober and even at a VERY conservative average of £15/day drinking that’s a saving of… £29040. OMG! THAT IS SO MUCH MONEY!
    And Lisa with her “Stealth Wealth Hack” will be very impressed with my fancy name brand designer earrings I got yesterday on Ebay for £11. Like, 10% of the original cost!

    1. J. Money April 4, 2019 at 6:50 AM

      Woww over 5 years sobriety – that’s huge!!! Congrats!!

  2. Freedom April 4, 2019 at 8:04 AM

    Actually you can fund your Child (Minor) IRA paying them for working around the house (e.g mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, babysitting his/her sibling) All legal

    1. J. Money April 4, 2019 at 9:52 AM

      Yup!! So long as your kids are old enough to actually *do* work :) I know some people like to fudge it a little but too risky for my blood…

  3. Rho | Their Money Goals April 4, 2019 at 8:50 AM

    The automated email net worth is everything! I’m so technologically unsavvy, so I would have never come up with something like that. Updating our spreadsheet manually, though, we’d notice if we reached a milestone. (We broke the negative $100k mark last month btw! Almost to $0 lol)

    I would have been too nervous to do the cottage hack. I’d have thought about what I’d do if I couldn’t rent it out and would have been too scared to buy something outside my price range.

    I wish I could do the sleep hack, but my oldest is 2, and I think there are laws against leaving him and his 1-month-old brother to fend for themselves lol.

    Thanks for sharing these!

    1. J. Money April 4, 2019 at 9:54 AM

      Your comment about reaching for $0 reminds me of something Jason from the old Dividend Mantra site once said: “I realized I was worth more as a baby than I am now!” Haha…

      All a part of the journey ;)

  4. Adam April 4, 2019 at 9:01 AM

    That HDHP/HSA trick must be the most overlooked tax advantage ever. Once I convinced my wife it was worth looking into, and she agreed that we could invest any funds beyond the $10k annual max, we’ve been watching it skyrocket. Her employer has even been chipping in since inception! To be fair, we’re in mostly excellent health, so that helps a lot. In eleven years when we retire we conservatively figure it’ll be worth at least $120k… and with no further contributions, fifteen years after that when we can take penalty-free withdrawals at 65, it ought to be worth a cool quarter mil. Aww yeah.

    If you haven’t read it, Brandon’s treatise on the subject is magnificent:

    1. J. Money April 4, 2019 at 9:58 AM

      Oh wow – I didn’t realize you could eventually draw from it penalty-free! Dang!!

      And I’ll second that Mad Fientist article, and really *all* articles from his brain.

      Was just rocking his t-shirt yesterday actually, haha…

  5. Rho | Their Money Goals April 5, 2019 at 7:54 AM

    It’s so true. We went to an event hosted by the middle schoolers at our church, and as we were sitting talking to them, it dawned on me that their net worth is way higher than ours. At the time we were at least negative $200k in the hole. Yikes!

    1. J. Money April 5, 2019 at 1:11 PM

      Haha – it happens!

  6. Chris @ Mindful Explorer April 5, 2019 at 1:28 PM

    Carmella Rayone’s family of five complete with three boys lives in a 665 sf house

    Thanks for this great link, I am currently enjoying a bunch of the posts over there now :)

    1. J. Money April 5, 2019 at 1:38 PM

      I was sucked in too the other day :)

  7. Ken April 7, 2019 at 11:23 PM

    I love the sobriety hack, my son is five years sober and has used something like this to save his first house down payment.

    1. J. Money April 8, 2019 at 6:42 AM

      Go son!!

  8. Sarala S. Sarah April 11, 2019 at 7:38 PM

    Whoa the CHild IRA that sounds like a brilliant idea! Think it will ever get approved? I also wish actual retirement classes were taught in classes. I had a science degree and didn’t get my first financial lesson until I was 21 and at my first job, I casually started searching on the internet. Wish I knew about Roth IRA’s sooner, I would have invested early if I was more informed! Hindsight 20/20 right? :)

    1. J. Money April 12, 2019 at 6:37 AM

      Pretty good you caught on in your 20s though!! I didn’t even really get it until my early 30s :)