Personal Finance

Our Favorite Money Tips & Tricks

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At LearnVest, we’re all about quick and easy.

That’s why we love the little tricks that can bolster your budget in big ways. And when looking for ways to save money, get organized and be more productive, who better to ask than the LearnVest staff?

From saving money on meals to breaking bad financial habits, our team practices what we preach, and we’re happy to share the prized “life-hacks” that make our days easier (and our bank accounts fuller).

The LearnVest team has so many fantastic hacks that we divided them into seven sections in different areas of your life (and budget): eating with friends, groceries, around the house, on the go, beauty and fashion, getting things done and saving and spending. If there’s an area of your life that needs improvement, we guarantee we have a tip for you.

Eating With Friends

My boyfriend and I have a rule that we don’t get any food delivered, so if we decide to eat out, we have to go get it. This way we don’t have to pay a tip or delivery fee, and it also discourages us from eating out just out of convenience.
- Nancy, Office Manager

Last year I started hosting a potluck every few months with my girlfriends and we always have a great time! Appetizers and wine are all people want anyway, so I skip the main dish and ask everyone to bring an app or a bottle of wine. I usually make a big, yummy salad and there’s always plenty of everything.
- Sophia, Financial Planner in Residence

When I go out to eat, I’ll use the Scoutmob app to choose a restaurant that’s offering some sort of discount.
- Michelle, Account Manager

Groceries

I subscribe to a CSA and try not to buy much more in additional groceries. That helps me cut down my grocery costs significantly and forces me to eat healthier (a mostly veggie-based diet).
- Gabrielle, Assistant Managing Editor and Video Editor

I’m a big fan of the “rummage and cook” method. I rummage through my pantry and fridge, see what oddball ingredients I have left over (like cooking sherry, sesame sauce, weird flours and whatever vegetables are about to go bad), and Google to find recipes using as many as possible. Oh, and the “Food Substitution Bible” is so helpful. You’ll never run out for a spice you forgot ever again.
- Alden, Assistant Editor and Social Media Coordinator

I use a crock-pot to make a meal for the week, so I can bring food for lunch every day. You can leave it cooking for the whole day while you do errands and you can usually use whatever ingredients you already have.
- Michelle, Account Manager

When I have time, I precut veggies from the farmer’s market and freeze them. Makes it very easy to throw together a side dish, soup or veggie roast when in a rush!
- Debbie, Director of Product Quality

Around the House

I have completely sworn off any form of cable TV, so my boyfriend and I only pay $8 a month for Netflix rather than $80+ a month for cable. We have lots of commercial-free shows and movies to choose from, not to mention plenty of free YouTube videos to watch. We might one day splurge on a $15 pair of rabbit ears in order to watch network TV and PBS, but it hasn’t really come up.
- Nancy, Office Manager

I always want to “go green” around the house but that conjures up terrible mental images of sprinkling baking soda all over my floors and painstakingly squeezing a lemon over my bathtub. Instead, I try to pre-mix eco-friendly cleaners (like these) and keep the homemade cleaning solution in a spray bottle so it’s ready on command.
- Allison, Deputy Editor

Beauty and Fashion

When I get a mani/pedi, I always choose a color I already own so I can do touch-ups myself and make it last 3-4 weeks before needing to go back to the salon.
- Michelle, Account Manager

Whenever I see something I really want, I pin it to my Pinterest board. (I even have a board called ‘The Life I Wish I Lived’ for Oscar de la Renta gowns.) It’s like putting something on hold at the department store; it’s still there if I really want it, but usually I never bother to go back. Everyone knows how great my taste is, without my dropping $350 to prove it.
- Alden, Assistant Editor and Social Media Manager

I go to my “shoe guy” to have $3 taps put on my heels–little pieces of plastic that wear down before your heels do, so you pay another $3 to swap out the taps instead of $20-$50 to rebuild your heels after walking on city streets.
- Libby, Staff Writer

Especially in the age of the flash sale—”this will only be in your cart for 10 minutes!” shopping can be deadly. But I use tech to my advantage: If there’s a purchase I’m considering, I “pin” it on Pinterest first and wait at least two weeks before committing. It’s the best way I’ve found to combat impulse buys.
- Carrie, Editor in Chief

Saving and Spending

I increase my contributions to my kids’ 529 monthly college savings by $100 every six months, even if that means cutting back in other areas.
- Ainslie, Chief Marketing and Product Officer

Every time I get a paycheck, I transfer a fixed amount to savings, investing and debt repayment. I also charge monthly utility bills automatically to a credit card (and pay them off the same month) to build history without any manual effort. The set-it-and-forget-it mentality helps me achieve my priority goals.
- Aamir, Director of Business Analytics

At the beginning of each month, I take out a certain amount in cash and leave it in my apartment, so it’s on hand for takeout, going out at night, etc. and I don’t have to worry about running out to my bank’s ATM.
- Gabrielle, Assistant Managing Editor and Video Editor

I can be an impulse buyer, so when I shop, I stop before checkout to reassess. If I love it but it’s not absolutely necessary, I put it back and think about it for a few days to see if it’s just an impulse or if it’s really worth it to me.
- Rachel, Financial Planner in Residence

Getting Things Done

In order to make sure I get certain things done, I use this iPhone app called Todo, which has location-based reminders that will, for instance, remind me to write a check when I get home. Todo also has a Mac app and a web-based app, so I can see/update my reminders wherever I go.
- Laura, Senior Editor

I schedule birthdays, dinners, events, etc. on my husband’s calendar so he doesn’t forget.
- Jacquelyn, VP of Strategic Partnerships

If I’m tempted to break one of my self-imposed rules, like not spending on snacks during the workday, I ask myself if I’d be willing to break it every day. So, if I’m tempted to buy a brownie in the afternoon, I ask myself if I’d be willing to eat a brownie every single day. (The answer to that is an emphatic no!)
- Laura, Senior Editor

On the Go

I think of everything in terms of the cost of a movie ticket ($13). Unless something is a big, incredible experience, there’s a good chance it isn’t worth more than that to me. If my friends invite me to something I’m neutral on, I decline and invite them to something cheaper another time. Of course, if my childhood hero comes out of retirement to perform in NYC (Adam Ant!), then more than $13 is okay!
- Nancy, Office Manager

I’m never without my water bottle. Ever. It’s saved me so much money because I’ve never had to stop and buy water. If you live in NYC, there’s even an app called TapIt that shows you cafes that will fill up your water bottle. But even if you don’t live in NYC, any fast food restaurant has water in the soda machine. The Vapur water bottle folds up teeny-tiny in your purse.
- Alden, Assistant Editor and Social Media Coordinator

I live in New York City and like to give money to people in need on the street, so I budget $20 every month. It’s those little, unexpected costs that sink you, so I make a point of budgeting for random things.
- Will, Mobile Developer

This piece originally appeared on LearnVest, the leading personal finance site for women. Need help managing your money? Our free Money Center will help you create a budget. Our free bootcamps will help you take control of your money, cut your costs or get out of debt. And you might even be interested in one of our premium financial plans–managed by LearnVest Certified Financial Planners.

Image: masochismtango, via Flickr

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