Who doesn’t love a good hack, especially when it’s one that actually makes your life a hell of a lot easier? We’ve all seen them in practice, popularly on TikTok or passed down to you by a smart and savvy auntie or friend. They’re ways we can work smart, not hard, decreasing the stress in our lives. They can also save us money and ensure that we’re maximizing our earnings to build the quality of life we want.
Here are a few lifestyle hacks that can help you go from broke to financially free. Try these simple tweaks and see how they’ll benefit your pockets:
1. Practice mindfulness, especially when it comes to food, fashion, and other product consumption.
Mindfulness is defined as “the practice of becoming more fully aware of the present moment—non-judgmentally and completely—rather than dwelling in the past or projecting into the future.” Research has found that Black millennials and Gen Zers are more likely to give in to impulse buying, especially via social, which is something that can definitely affect your bottom line in all the wrong ways.
Also, with impulse buying, you’re typically getting something you’d never planned to purchase in the first place, feeding a need for that instant gratification of getting something that, while it might be the best bargain, pair of jeans, or “limited,” isn’t going to push you toward your financial goals.
The same goes for food. Sometimes we spend recklessly, buying produce we know we aren’t going to eat before it goes bad, or we impulsively eat at a fast-food spot knowing good and well we probably could’ve cooked a much better meal home (with the aforementioned produce).
With mindfulness, you’re able to pause, breathe, and truly meditate on your choice in the moment. Take note of how you feel, why you’re doing what you’re doing, or why you’re having the urge to spend. That way, you might be less likely to continue wasteful consumption habits and save money in the long run.
2. Carry and use cash and stick to a daily, weekly or monthly limit.
Many of us shop with cards and it’s so easy to just tap, buy, and go. If you keep a certain amount of cash on hand–and stick to that limit for when you’re out and about— you’re less likely to overspend. (And y’all know I love a good study to back up what I write, so read that here.)
Now, I know this might not work with larger purchases or things you’d like to buy with your credit card (for those points and that boost to the credit score, sis!) but if you’re simply going out to run an errand, are purchasing groceries or getting your nails done, why not try using cash so that you’ll literally have to inconvenience yourself in order to overspend? Some small businesses even offer discounts for using cash instead of your debit or credit card, so be sure to ask.
3. Only use credit and debit cards that offer rewards or points, especially for larger purchases.
I know, I know. We just talked about using cash. But if you’re a frequent traveler, love to stay in hotels, or are constantly using your card for the same sorts of purchases, it’s a smart move. Airlines, hotels, and retailers offer credit cards that allow you to accrue points or get discounts when you use them, saving you money in the long run if you’re smart about it.
For example, you don’t want to be buying $700 VIP Beyoncé concert tickets on a credit card but struggle to pay the bill—along with your other necessary expenses—each month. You do, however, want to get a credit card that offers perks like pre-sale access, first dibs on the best seats, or one that you can use the points to buy concert tickets with, especially if you’re a super-fan or frequently use your card for entertainment splurges.
Talk with a representative, read the fine print, or discuss the perks of each card with your local credit union or bank to be sure you’re making smart decisions in this regard. (Here’s a great list of top-rated credit card and debit card options to get you started.)
4. Stop doing everything solo and group up.
Again, another contradiction from me. I’m a huge fan of solo anything, but in this case, there’s power in numbers. Whether it’s travel or shopping for household items, when you can, grab a partner or group. Oftentimes rates for hotels and trips are much more affordable in groups, as there are discounted rates based on the number of people. The same goes for hotel and resort bookings.
Also, when shopping for almost anything, why not carpool, combine lists, and buy in bulk? With all the buy-one-get-one-free options or discounts for buying multiple units of something, it’s a good look if you can swing it. Or when eating out, try dining with groups in order to split the bill and costs. It’s a great way to get more social (since that horrible pandemic has disconnected many of us) and to save money in the long run.
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5. Put a 24-hour “hold” on making purchases of all kinds.
Just like hotels do in case you tear up their stuff, you can simply halt pulling the trigger on purchases for a day. Unless it’s a bill that needs to be paid, a necessary expense, or an emergency, give it a day of thought before actually buying or spending money on those small things that add up and can be money leeches.
I actually apply this to almost every purchase decision I make simply because, after journaling and really looking at my bank statements, I found that I tended to shop or eat out when I was feeling anxious, stressed, or sadness.
One day I looked around and found three of the same graphic T-shirt from Target in my closet, four jars of the same expensive protein powder (with two that expired!) in my kitchen cupboard, 10 new wigs of the same texture and length gathering dust on the packaging, and five huge Eco Styler gel containers that I know could last me through the next two years.
Now, when I wait a day, I find that the majority of the things added to my Amazon wish lists or that I just abruptly thought to go to Target and buy just aren’t must-haves, and I figure out how to smartly spend the money elsewhere (like buying a cheap plane ticket to Jamaica, saving up for retirement abroad, keeping an emergency fund for my 9-year-old car, or paying my health insurance.)
And it isn’t even about denying yourself pleasure. If it’s something that you really want and it’s still there to buy the next day (or the next month or year even), it’s meant to be, sis. (I’ve even gone back sometime later to find out an item was on sale or that the same item was listed for a lower price elsewhere.) Practicing a bit of restraint and patience can lead to a major blessing, and I’ve saved a lot of time, money, shame, and space implementing this hack.
As with anything, a «hack» isn’t helpful unless applicable to your end-of-the-day goals, so be sure to just take a look at where you’d like to improve financially, and what life you’d like to create for yourself, and apply these accordingly.
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