The One Hack That Helped Me Save Thousands: 7 Stories
Marianne Hayes
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Whether you’re hundreds or thousands away from hitting your savings goals, you’re probably on the lookout for smart ways to supercharge your efforts. Fortunately, moving the needle in a big way doesn’t require a major or painful lifestyle change—as these seven savers prove.

They tell us how they dialed up their efforts with some simple yet extremely effective hacks—and ultimately saved thousands.

nick“I stockpile my $1 bills.”

Nick D’Urso, 27, co-founder of a nutrition company in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“This may sound like the simplest idea ever, but I’ve been able to save a pretty good chunk of money just by stockpiling my $1 bills over the last five years. For example, if I buy something for $16 and pay with a $20, I take the four leftover singles and put it in a safe.

It took some getting used to, but now it’s become a habit I don’t even think about. The best part? I’ve saved over $9,000 this way! I’ve been tempted to spend it over the years, but I’m happy to say that my willpower prevailed. My big-picture goal is to put a down payment on a house, so I’m keeping my eye on the prize.”

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elizabeth“I rent out my home during peak holiday season.”

Elizabeth Jenkins, 28, communications manager in San Diego, Calif.

“Whenever I’m planning a vacation, I always list my apartment on rental websites, like Airbnb and HomeAway, for the days I’ll be gone. It’s a quick and easy way to help cover the cost of the trip and sock away some additional funds.

During peak travel season, which is May to October in San Diego, I take it a step further by renting out my couch to budget travelers via Airbnb. I love meeting new people, so it’s like free money. At the height of the season, I rent out my entire home. I’ll either stay with a friend or in a budget hotel outside the city, then pocket the profits. I’ve been doing this for a little over two years and have saved roughly $5,000 as a result.”

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    My power money hack was to enroll in Digit and Acorns. I never miss the money that gets funneled away. When my Digit savings balance grows over $500, I transfer it over to my Acorns account. No muss, no fuss!

    Yes, absolutely. I was also skeptical, but decided to just jump in and start with $25. Absolutely no hassle. Using the round up system with my credit card purchases, I had saved $600 suddenly, without even realizing it. Better yet, because it is invested on the stock market, my balance was actually $644 due to gains. Only thing with Acorns, don’t let your account get above $5000 because hefty fees kick in after that. Anything else is just $1 per month for Acorns.

    Hi Jared I’m new to Acorns. What do you do with the money once the amount reaches 5000? Thanks and I welcome any more tips you have! Mary

    Jared, your comment regarding the fees being hefty or increasing after $5000 is incorrect. In fact, you pay a higher fee on account balances below $5000. For example, you pay a $12 flat fee per year until your account hits $5k, so on a $1000 account balance that’s a 1.2% (12/1000) mgmt fee. That’s high, even for traditional asset management. as your account balance grows, the effective rate of fees decreases as the denominator increases. The $5000 is the magic number that equals approximately 0.25% (12/5000) which is what Acorns charges annually for ongoing portfolio management. So you will see higher dollar fees after $5k but your effective fee rate stabilizes at 25bps – which is a very reasonable fee.

    I’m glad this wasn’t another one of those articles telling us to save 75% of our income and only eat cheese sandwiches for 30 years and buy a 1971 Pinto and walk 20 miles to work instead of driving in order to retire by 30 with $1,000,000 in the bank article. Some of this is very useful.

    Somebody needs to school me on Acorn investments. Do I use the bank or a debit card or credit card instead.
    Because I have a huge container of coins, I mean nickels, dimes, pennies, and quarters. What do I do with it
    because some banks don’t take loose coins anymore unless you go home and sit for hours wrapping each coin
    in coin wrapping paper. HOLLA!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Your second suggestion is illegal almost everywhere, and definitely in Elizabeth Jenkins’ “hometown” San Diego. It’s Illegal to rent out an entire home for less than 30 days, and even more illegal (penalty-wise) to rent it out while you live there.

    If grow is not concerned with the legality of the “hack,” I know of a great one that will make way more money than any of these. There are these little bags of white powder that you can buy in bulk and resell for a major profit…

    Isa, we do not promote or condone illegal or illicit activity, and we ask that commenters refrain from doing so, too—even if it’s in jest. Renting out your home on AirBnB is not illegal in San Diego, or in many other parts of the country. In fact, San Diego’s City Council last month rejected a proposal that would have outlawed short-term vacation rentals:
    Should that change, we will add an Editor’s Note and update this article.

    I think you linked the wrong article there. Perhaps you were tricked by the Click Bait headline (or perhaps you only read the headline)? The proposal discussed in the article you linked was regarding those who would rent such properties, not those offering properties to rent.
    The article goes on to discuss how short-term rentals are almost certainly illegal and, without a doubt, certainly illicit.
    I suppose you are technically correct, in that these sort of rentals are legal if you apply for and are granted a Bed and Breakfast licence (this only applies to the case of single family homes, AFAIK). If one were to apply for such a license, and operate by its guidelines, I doubt it would be considered “quick and easy,” as Elizabeth Jenkins professes. Also, the licencing body has publicly stated that they have not issued such a license in decades.

    Again, it seems technically possible that Jenkins perhaps bought a home and acquired license as a teen or pre-teen, given her stated age, but that seems like something I might disclose, and something I don’t think many people would consider a “hack.”

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