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My Top 10 Life Hacks

Tuesday, 06 September 2016 04:00
individual reviewing financial data on computer
By Shannon Calhoun

If you haven't already, read my top 10 hacks for car buying and grocercies. These posts were inspired by long-ago advice from my old teacher Mr. Kloke, and my own path to learning to budget. I had a few more tips rolling around in my head I wanted to share with you. So… here!

1. Always order water

How to: By only ordering water at restaurants, you could save major bucks per year. Consider the average cost of a soda ($1.90, nationwide) multiplied by the number of times Americans eat out, on average, each week (3.1), times 52 weeks- $306.28. Keep in mind that that soda probably cost the restaurant around 10 cents.

2. Actually make a budget

How to: You can hand-write it, do a fancy Excel spreadsheet, or use other online budgeting tools. By taking a close look at what you make, what you have to spend (fixed costs like rent, payments, things that don’t change) you will better understand what you can spend in areas like groceries, entertainment, etc… This will help hold yourself more accountable when shopping.

3. Never shop without a list

How to: Whether it’s the grocery store, Target, Walmart, or Toys R Us—always keep in mind what you actually went in for and avoid impulse buys.

4. Be knowledgeable

How to: Whether you are shopping for a car, an apartment, a TV, or a steak, know what prices you can find in the marketplace. Information is literally just a click away—we have no excuse to be lazy, uneducated shoppers.

5. Pack your lunch

How to: By planning your meals before grocery shopping and packing your lunch every day (or almost every day) you can save huge each week (and probably eat healthier). For example, $12 day x $5 days/week is $60, and that’s not even the weekend, coffee, or dinners.

6. Unsubscribe to emails

How to: Companies are legally obligated to offer a way to unsubscribe from emails—typically this is at the bottom of emails. By clearing your inbox of email offer clutter you will help curb impulse shopping.

7. Cut monthly costs

How to: Evaluate whether or not you need cable or satellite TV, or if you need the big channel package. By switching to Hulu or Netflix, you can save big. You can do this for other things, too—like Internet. Also, monitor your monthly utility bills—can you cut back and save?

8. Be properly insured

How to: Make sure you aren’t getting insurance you really don’t need, like full coverage on a 1992 Honda Accord. BUT also make sure you have enough coverage where you need it, so that you don’t end up getting walloped in the long run. Discount insurance dealers are probably offering cheap rates because they aren’t offering quality coverage.

If you don’t have enough coverage, you will be personally liable for the damage you cause, and this can add up quickly to a huge amount.

9. Become your own bank

How to: Make savings a priority, and a habit. By developing a healthy savings account, you can “be your own bank” when an emergency or an opportunity arises, instead of needing a loan.

10. Know your rates

How to: Make sure that you are paying the best rate you can get on all of your loans. If you have had a high interest credit card or car payment for a while, look into refinancing options—possibly with other lenders. (Your credit union is a great place to start.)

Of course, the key to qualifying for good rates is to keep your credit score in good shape.


As a member-owned, not-for-profit financial institution, CAP COM's mission is to benefit every member, every time, every day. If you have any questions about the best way to manage your money, please feel free to contact us, we'd be happy to help. If you are trying to build your credit, CAP COM's VISA Classic, with a low rate, may be right for you.