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The Money Hacks Carnival: The Best Crazy-Simple Money Hacks Edition

12/03/2008

Welcome to The Money Hacks Carnival at Ask Mr. Credit Card.com!

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This edition of the Money Hacks Carnival features some of the easiest “Money Hacks” available to us today. Every tip included here is a way to “work the system”. In other words, how to get insane deals, earn money for yourself every time you spend it, and basically just make out like bandit every time you go shopping.

It’s hard to get by without spending any money at all (though there are people who do it) so my philosophy is, If I need to spend money, I want to spend the least amount possible, and get something extra in the bargain.


Money Hack #1: Get Cash Back From Your Credit Cards

Credit cards can be dubious financial tools – especially if you don’t know how to work the system to your benefit. Let me also say that I completely respect people who live a credit free lifestyle – sometimes it is better not to use credit cards at all.

However, I have found that my credit cards are one of the best financial tools that I could ever have. They are a small, but constant source of cash back and rewards because I pay my balance in full every month and don’t charge more than I can pay back in one billing cycle.

Here’s the lowdown:

I use my American Express Blue Cash card to get 5% of my expenses back each month on my groceries, gas and drugstore items and 1% back on everything else. That’s like getting a 5% discount on nearly everything I .

When I combine that with coupons, rebates and in-store sales there are actually times when I get things for free, or even earn a little money ing them. Can you imagine getting 5% off of almost everything that you in a year’s time? What about five year’s time? It really does add up.

5 percent may not sound like a lot until you figure up what you spend on groceries and gas a year, and then knock 5% off that total. Over time, I save more money by using this credit card than by almost any other method.

However, there is definitely a caveat to this technique that the other Money Hacks I featured don’t have. Cash back credit cards only work if you pay your balance in full. So you’ve got to have tight control over your purse strings and not be tempted to charge more than you can pay off. Otherwise, you’ll be paying more to the credit card companies in interest than you earn as cash back. And that’s not a money hack, that’s a money sink! So just make sure if you choose to try this one, that you know the rules of the game and you’re playing to win.

Editor’s Picks!


Money Hack #2: Rebates

Rebates! Rebates are trouble, no doubt about it. First, you have to save your receipts, then you have to fill out a form, copy the receipt, and mail it off….then, eventually you get check or a store credit for the amount of the rebate.

But you know what? I save hundreds of dollars a year by taking the time to mail my rebates back in. And now, with everything becoming easier over the internet, there are even automated rebate programs that you can use when you shop online. That eliminates the need to save your receipts, or mail anything at all. All you have to do is log into your rebate account and request a check once you hit $25 or $50 in rebates.

Combining rebates with sales means that you can definitely gets items for next – to – nothing.

Want to know more about the online rebate websites? Check these out: UPromise, Ebates, Mr. Rebates, and Fatwallet.


Money Hack #3:Coupons

Billions of dollars of coupons go unused each year. The worst part is, most of the time when you a regular priced item, there was probably a coupon on it that you could have used to save some money. Especially for the necessities like shampoo, toiletries, dish soap, detergent, etc.

I know that technically, coupons are trouble…you have to deal with cutting them out, handing them to the cashier, hoping they don’t roll their eyes, and then usually, fighting to get them to take the coupon when it doesn’t ring up.

I pretty much treat coupons just like cash. Because that’s what they are – my cash, cash that I don’t have to spend if I can get a store to take a printed piece of paper instead!

Typically, my family saves well over a couple thousand dollars a year by using coupons alone. I save a lot more than that by the time I factor in rebates, store sales and any cash back I get from using my credit card.

So, if you’re new to coupons, how do you get started? Well, cut them out of your Sunday paper (which you can usually later in the evening to get a discount). You can also print them out online, or get them directly from the stores you shop at by going to their websites. Alternately, you can them on Ebay pre-cut for around $3-$4 per hundred coupons.

The best places to print coupons online: Valpak, CoolSavings, ShoppingBargains.com, Coupon Pages, and Smart Source. You can also check out The Grocery Game, and it’s competitor, The Coupon Mom. Both are sites that tell you when to use your coupons to get the maximum benefit.


Money Hack #4:Dumpster Diving and Reselling Junk

Ouch! Dumpster diving?? Are you kidding me? How is THAT a money hack? Well, I told you these were crazy money strategies! Besides, it’s kind of a fun thing to suggest 🙂

While I’ve never done this personally, I had a very good friend who did! He earned a nice regular side income by stopping on the side of the road to pick things up when people had thrown them away.

I watched him one day:

He stopped at an antique/junk shop right before a big storm. The store regularly set things out onto the sidewalk to entice people in and the employees were working quickly to bring everything in before it rained.

So, he sauntered up, and offered them $10 for an old couch that they hadn’t carried in yet. The employee looked relieved that he wouldn’t have to pack it in out of the rain, and he sold it to my friend on the spot.

I helped him load the couch into his truck, and off he went, down the street. As it turned out, he went two miles down the road, and sold the couch for $90 to some tenants of his. The whole transaction took less than 20 minutes, and he made $80.

So, the point I’m making here isn’t really to go digging through your local dumpsters – but just to keep a “junk flipping mentality”. I watched this guy over several years, and he did this stuff frequently. It’s like the deals just seemed to magically find him – but they didn’t, not really! He knew what he was doing, and he kept his eyes open. He could take advantage of those opportunities because he was looking for them, and he was always ready to act on a deal when he found it.

Moral of the story? Be prepared! And remember that your trash probably is someone else’s treasure – especially on EBay!


Money Hack #5: Promo Offers

Promo offers fall into all sorts of different categories. They could include trying out a service for free, 0% introductory rate balance transfers, BOGO (Buy one Get One Free), Loss leaders (The sale items in your grocery store each week) and a whole mess of other deals.

Black Friday, and Cyber Monday are a Mecca for thrifty shoppers because so many stores feature promotional offers all at once. We’ve unfortunately passed both of those hallmarks, but the sales and deals will still continue until a couple of weeks after Christmas. So, now is the best time to take advantage of them when you’re doing your holiday shopping.

Whenever possible, try to combine them with other offers, free shipping, rebates, and hopefully some cash back on your purchase.

The key to taking advantage of promotional offers is easy – remember what you are there to , and don’t load up on a bunch of other items. This is particularly true of “loss leaders”. When a store takes a loss to sell you an item, they expect that you will three or four more things while you are in there. Don’t bite – it will eat away at the money you are saving by ing the discounted product. The best thing that you can do is to just get what you came for and leave the store with only what you planned to .

Another excellent way to take advantage of in-store promos is to shop for your wardrobe at the end of each season. Stores regularly reduce out of season clothing up to 75%. So combine that 75% off with free shipping, rebates and cash back. You can have a new wardrobe each year for next to nothing.


Money Hack # 6: Rain Checks

In my opinion, this is the number one least used money hack. Mostly because people don’t think to ask for them. If a store advertises a sale price on something, and then sells out of it, make sure that you visit the customer service desk on your way out and get a rain check for it. Alternately, you could try subbing a higher value item for the one the store is out of. Something like a larger package, or a competitors brand. Not all stores will let you do that, but some do, and that’s when it’s really worth your time.

For more on how to use rain checks easily, you can check out this article at About.com

The Money Hacker’s Magic Formula: Combining Rebates + store promotions + coupons + credit card rewards is the winning combination. If you can do all of these things as often as possible, you will save thousands of dollars a year with very little effort. Add in a nice secondary income (not necessarily dumpster diving, but you could flip websites, or sell ads on your blog, etc.) and you will easily be master (or mistress) of the Money Hacks!

That’s it for this edition of the Money Hacks Carnival! I hope that you have enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together. There were some truly wonderful articles featured here, and I want to personally thank everyone for their submissions. I found some new blogs that I had not visited before, and reacquainted myself with a few blogs that were old friends.

I look forward to talking to you all soon. If you like, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Thanks,
Mr. CC

What’s Your Favorite Money Hack? Please Tell Me About It In The Comments!

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8 Comments
December 3, 2008 @ 1:39 pm

Awesome carnival! Thanks for hosting and I’m humbled to be part of the Editor’s Picks!

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December 3, 2008 @ 1:41 pm

Thanks for hosting! You’ve added lots of very informative info. And thanks for including my article among your editor’s picks!

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December 3, 2008 @ 3:29 pm

Thanks for including me!

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December 4, 2008 @ 1:35 am

Very nice job. I love that you put in tips and advice with the carnival submissions. 🙂

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December 4, 2008 @ 2:13 am

Wow! What a list of money hacks! As I was reading through some of your suggestions – Fat Wallet, The Grocery Game, etc., I thought that you and your readers might enjoy a deal aggregator site that just launched: deallinker.com

It compiles deals from leading bargain sites such as Fatwallet, Slickdeals, and Coupons.com; and then rates them all so that the best deals are presented first. Inevitably, it seems like some of the best deals on the front page include freebies and deep discounts.

But anyway…very nicely done. I really enjoyed the carnival!

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December 4, 2008 @ 10:08 pm

Sweet sassy molassy! Thx for the Editor’s Pick 🙂 Enjoy the rest of the beautiful week!

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December 7, 2008 @ 2:05 am

I love the credit card rewards. I use my card for everyting (that is on by budget). I have over $400 cash rewards this year.

http://www.WeLearnAsWeGo.com

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December 17, 2008 @ 5:58 pm

[…] Money Hacks Carnival at the Financial Wellness Project. And her old school tips popped up in the 41st Money Hacks Carnival, at Ask Mr Credit […]

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