Saving more money might seem like a tough thing to do, but with the right knowledge, you can save a lot of money in a short period of time. In this post, you’ll learn a number of ways to save thousands of dollars a year!
There are many ways to improve your financial situation: increasing your income, decreasing your spending, getting out of debt, etc.
One of the easiest ways people can improve their situation instantly is to cut costs and lower their expenses. It doesn’t cost anything to stop spending money – just a little willpower.
Today, I will be sharing with you nine ways to start saving money – and all of these are strategies you can put into action today.
Let’s get into these 9 ways to save more money starting today.
There are a number of ways to save money each and every day. I’ll give you nine in this article that you can take a jab at working on right away:
Let’s go into more detail for each of these money saving methods.
Debt is a huge expense for many people. For me, it’s my biggest expense: my mortgage payment is $1,702, and I need to pay it every single month.
For me to live in my house, since I’ve financed it with a mortgage, I’m paying around $20,000 a year to service the debt. That’s a lot of money each and every year for 30 years. Unfortunately, many people, including myself, currently have or have had student loans, auto loans, mortgages, and credit card debt.
The first way to save thousands of dollars is to destroy your debt. Pay a little bit extra on the principal of your loan and you’ll be able to pay it off earlier. Check out my these ways to get out of debt fast, and you’ll be on your way to debt freedom – plus, getting out of debt is pretty awesome psychologically speaking!
Eating out is really expensive. Baked in to the price is the cost of the food, the cost of the workers making your food, the cost of the property and all that entails, taxes, etc.
A meal for one person these days can easily run you $10+ a pop – and that doesn’t even include a tip.
Alternatively, meal prepping, bulk cooking, and eating in can help save a lot of money.
For example, in Minnesota where I live, I can get a dozen eggs for $1. I typically will eat 4 eggs, and add in a banana and apple and call that a meal. This “meal” will cost me about $2.
Now, if I wanted to go out for breakfast, this same meal would probably cost around $13. Added up every single day of the year, and all of a sudden that $10 meal becomes $3,650!
Try eating in just once more per week and see how much more money you can save.
Saving a dollar on 10 items each week can add up over a year. Saving an extra $10 a week is over $500 a year!
Just the simple act of looking at a coupon book and seeing if there are any deals on what you usually buy can help save a few hundred bucks per year.
My mom is an avid couponer. She spends a few hours each week looking through ads to make sure the family can save a few bucks here and there. Over many, many years, these savings add up!
One way to save more money on vacations is by planning ahead and buying your airfare in advance – whether that’s many months or even close to a year.
I went to Las Vegas at the end of June. It was a last minute decision on my part – and for that, I paid the price.
For a flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas, on such short notice, I paid almost $650!
If I had been able to check ahead, say, six months in advance, my flight would have been far less – around the $200 figure. That’s a $450 difference!
Imagine the amount of savings if you had a family or partner. It’d make this savings even more significant: $450 savings across 4 people is some serious moolah!
Going to the store and buying a new desk, bench, or storage rack can be a little bit spendy. If you’re handy (or even into learning some new skills), why not go to the hardware store and buy a few 2×4’s and get the job done yourself for cheap?
I did this last year: I went and created a ton of storage space for myself with a few 2×4’s and just a few hours of work. There are so many ways to DIY simple projects, and even if you don’t know how YET, you can always learn something new, especially with things like step-by-step YouTube videos, books, and internet articles.
Going to the library, getting a library card, and using it to further your education can go a long way in saving money on books and learning materials.
Books from Amazon or Barnes & Noble typically cost anywhere between $10 to $20 a book. Most libraries have any book you could ever want, including other forms of popular media like movies, television shows, ebooks, audiobooks, etc
This year, I’ve spent $250 on books from Amazon. While I’m happy to do it because it’s bettering myself, I also find myself thinking about how that money could be better served.
That $250 could’ve been put into the bank, or used to fund an investment!
Going to the library and renting your books and movies could help save a few hundred bucks a year.
You can also find other surprising ways to save more money by using the library; I’ve heard of libraries that rent out things like kayaks, cooking equipment, and even zoo and museum passes. Get to know what your library offers and you may find endless ways to save!
Monthly subscriptions are dangerous for someone trying to keep their expenses low. Each and every month, you are on the hook for another payment.
What is necessary in your life? Do you really need that subscription to your favorite magazine? What about the $60 a month subscription for new clothes (something my old roommate had)?
Take a tally of your current monthly subscriptions, and make sure you’re not missing any! Figure out what is necessary and remove what isn’t.
If you need cash, find an ATM that is in your network and take out cash for free. ATM fees typically are at least $3 per transaction.
If we pay attention to where we are, we can usually find an in-network ATM. But what if you can’t? It’s always worth calling your bank and asking for a fee to be reversed. They should understand, and if you’re nice and polite, they should do it for you.
Overdraft fees are another hassle, and they make the least sense to me – if you keep money in your bank account and you’re keeping track of how much you’re spending, you shouldn’t be overdrawing your account.
Finally, there are so many free checking account options out there, either through basic packages at banks or credit unions, that it doesn’t make sense to pay bank fees to use your own money.
Stop paying to bank, and remove a few hundred dollars in expenses over the next year.
Cars are super expensive.
Not only that, but add in insurance premiums (especially if you have a nice car), maintenance, gas, and parking, and a person can easily spend $5,000 to $10,000 a year or more just in transportation costs.
I personally spend a little over $2,000 on my car a year just for check-ups, insurance, and gas.
Instead of driving to work each day, I take the bus. It costs me $50 a month but is much less stressful than driving – plus, no wear and tear on my car!
Another alternative is riding your bike to work – as many people of the frugality mindset do. Plus, it’s great exercise!
One of the great things about having readers is being able to ask them about their strategies for financial success. A number of people contributed to the question of the best ways they save money.
Dylan, a friend and blogger at Trail to FI, saves money by staying home! Here’s what he had to say about saving money:
Don’t go shopping! The easiest way to avoid temptation is to not put yourself in the situation where you might be tempted. I used to browse daily deal websites and end up buying gadgets that I didn’t really need. Now I just don’t visit those sites.
A number of people say they use automation and a strategy of paying themselves first.
Cynthia, an avid reader, says she can’t spend what she can’t access.
On the first day of the month, we transfer a specific dollar amount into our savings. We live below our means and we drive modest cars. We use a budget and we save 10% in retirement accounts and 35% in after-tax accounts.
Another reader, Diego, does the same:
Save it before you see it. State specific quantities in your one-year and five-year goal planning. Monitor, track, and document these goals (very important!) and re-assess the quantities if needed. Check your progress for the yearly goals every 3 months and every year for the five-year goals.
It seems that there are many different ways to save money – I love hearing about what other people are doing to become better and improve their situation!
I hope you can incorporate at least one of these tips into your life and start saving thousands of dollars a year. Maybe, you will take all nine and look to cut costs and eliminate what is not necessary.
There are so many ways to either increase your income or decrease your expenses. Figure out which one you would prefer and you’ll be on your way to increasing your savings rate, net worth, and your financial situation.
Take a stand and start saving some more money today!
Consistent actions over time will result in massive success. If you have a great plan, you need to take action and execute. This post is all about how you can be consistent in your life.
The most important habits for success are consistency and action.
You may have the right idea, the best game plan, and a fantastic strategy.
But without ACTION and consistent actions, those ideas and plans mean nothing and will not lead you to success.
In this post, I want to share with you a number of thoughts on consistency, the importance of taking action, and how you can become successful through consistency.
First, I’m going to share with you the story of my introverted friend. This story originally was posted as a guest post on this website, and I’ve re-purposed it for this article.
The following is his story and his perspective of how consistency helped him overcome social anxiety and introversion.
A bit of backstory, I was painfully shy back in high school. I’m talking next level… having no friends and spending my entire time in the library.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. Other than the fact that I was miserable.
You see, it’s not that I didn’t want to meet people. It’s just that I didn’t know how. So comes time to go to college and I had enough.
I swore to myself I’d learn how to be social and meet people anywhere. That was my goal.
Now, one of the perks of being a bookworm is that you read a lot. Thinking of a way to get out of my shell, I thought back to a book I had read: The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg.
The idea in the book was simple. Do something enough times so your mind is accustomed to it. You no longer have to exert willpower to do it.
Think to your day to day routine. When you wake up, do you actively have to think about putting on your slippers?
No, you don’t. Do you have to think about brushing your teeth?
Most likely not. You just full on entering zombie mode and waddle yourself across to the good ol’ washroom and start brushing away.
You’ve done these tasks enough time that your mind doesn’t need to think about it anymore. I wanted socializing to be one of those things.
Now I knew what to do. But how long would I have to do it?
After doing a bit of research, I found my answer. A while back there was a trend going on the internet called ‘Don’t break the chain.’ It was pioneered by Jerry Seinfeld, he used it as a way to make sure he practiced his comedy routines.
Look at the calendar below:
What Jerry would do is really basic. Every single day, he would practice and he’d put an X on the calendar.
What happens next is fascinating. When he put down a few X’s it became much harder for him to skip practice. Because he was so used to feeling satisfaction from putting an ‘X’ down, that he just couldn’t do it.
Hence, I also tried to ‘not break the chain’.
I decided on a pretty difficult goal: every single day I would talk to a new person. No matter the situation.
Whether or not I was busy, had a midterm or wasn’t in school that day, I would go out and say hi to one new person.
The first few days, every fiber of my body was pulling the other way not to do it. It was painful.
For me, personally, it’s usually the first eight to ten days I decided to take on a new habit. It’s just very painful to go through with it.
Because you leave your comfort zone. I hate to admit it, for most people including me, my comfort zone is laziness.
Not doing is much easier than doing, which usually my mind gravitates towards. But something magical happens after the first ten days.
I started to enjoy talking to people. A lot.
Socializing started to become a part of my life. And I got my X’s, all 30 of them.
And whenever I’d go to parties, be in class or go to a networking event, meeting new people was something I wanted to do.
This seemed too easy to be true. Is talking to one person a day really enough?
Let’s break it down.
Today: I’ve talked to one person.
This week: I’ve talked 7 people.
This month: I’ve talked to 30 – 31 people.
This year: I’ve met 365 people.
Now that’s some networking right there. Imagine how much better your social skills would be if you met 365 new people this year?
Aristotle had a great quote to reflect this:
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
Every single day you wake up, you decide what kind of future you want.
People who amass huge wealth through personal finance and reach tremendous heights don’t do it in a day.
Everyone wants to see the great result at the end of someone’s journey.
They want to see Michael Jordan scoring the game-winning basket.
They want to see the glory when SpaceX has a successful launch on their latest rocket.
But no one thinks about:
How many hours he’s practiced basketball. Doing little drills over and over again just to get them right.
How many failed launches SpaceX has had and how many all-nighters Elon Musk had to pull through to get that one successful launch.
Small disciplines performed over a long period of time will bring you life-changing results.
For me, I want to become a freelance writer and make a living from it. When I first started it was really scary.
I had no idea how to start or what to even do. But I thought about it and came to a conclusion: if I write every single day for an hour a day, I’ll be a good writer. I keep at it day in and day out and make sure I write every single day.
Hey, if you’re reading this far I’m probably doing something right 🙂
And doing this day in and day out has opened doors I never thought would be open for me. For the first time in a while, I finally feel like I’ll be able to make it in the wild west of freelancing!
The only thing I have to thank is consistency.
What a great story!
Now it’s your turn.
What are your goals? Is there something you are striving to accomplish this year? What is something you are passionate about and want to achieve?
I’d love to know what goals you have.
And if you already have goals, or are just starting on your goals, consider the following:
Big goals are scary.
Breaking them down into mini goals gives you the confidence to achieve them.
With your goals and your game plan, the next step is ACTION and consistency.
The rest of this post will be showing you how consistency and action will bring you success.
Things don’t happen over night. Becoming an overnight success takes many years.
That being said, the power of compounding is alive and well in the world.
Start today, and you won’t be sorry. Consistent efforts daily WILL lead to massive success.
A few examples of this in my life has been with my woodworking projects, and also with my exercises and health.
At the end of March 2019, I decided it was time to get back into shape. I wasn’t going to half-do it either, I was going to go all in.
What did all in mean?
Consistent actions with my workouts, my diet, and sleep.
In college, I worked out a ton and was in great shape. However, after college, I let this slip and was not consistent with my efforts.
Starting April 1st, I decided I would work out 3-4 times a week, add a number of supplements to my diet, and look to get 8 hours of sleep a night.
I started out using this 21-day bodyweight bootcamp, and after getting back into the swing of things, have since just been doing different bodyweight exercises (push-ups, squats, planks, pull-ups, etc.).
In addition to these bodyweight exercises, I started rock climbing 1-2 times a week, biking 2-3 times a week, and going on hour long walks 2-4 times a week.
My workouts are fairly intense, but none of this is something the average person couldn’t work up to doing.
Writing this in August 2019, it’s been 4 months since I’ve been all-in on my exercise and diet.
I honestly couldn’t be happier with how I’ve progressed, and truly believe this has been the result of consistency and execution.
Here are some pictures from March 31st:
While yes, I didn’t look horrible back in March, I was not physically fit. I could only do 15 push-ups in a row, and struggled with doing 10 minutes in a row of any exercise.
Fast forward 4 months of grinding and here are some pictures I took at the end of July:
I’ve added a lot of muscle to my chest and back, and have also dropped a couple pounds around my waist.
In terms of strength, I can do 30 push-ups in a row without sweating, and did 65 push-ups in a row at a work competition. I’m able to push through my workouts without getting winded.
I feel great about my progress, and again, I believe this is all due to consistent efforts added up over time.
3-4 exercises a week, a healthy diet, and good sleep has lead to this physique, and I’m so happy with my decision.
Now, I’ll share with you another hobby of mine, and how consistency helped me improve.
Back in October 2018, I started a new hobby, woodworking.
One of my thoughts was the fragile nature of having the majority of my skills being “digital”.
Being able to make a killer spreadsheet, design a website just right, and run code on large data sets is great in all, but that’s not the real world.
Humans naturally aren’t supposed to be in front of screens all day. We came from the Earth and will return to the Earth someday.
With this recent thought, I decided it was time to become more handy and work on a tangible skill: woodworking.
After a few runs to Home Depot to get tools and wood, I dove into practicing cuts, trying to figure out how to use a chisel, and blankly staring at the block plane I bought.
Unsurprisingly, after 2 weeks, I sucked at it.
To give you a picture of what my new hobby looked like up until this point, here are some of the pictures of the cuts I made.
I decided I was going to focus only on using hand tools (saws, chisels, planes, etc.).
For my first project, I decided I would build a joiner’s mallet.
To do this, I needed to cut 2 sides to 3″x7″. The first cut was not straight at all. The second cut was straight in the X and Y dimensions, but not in the Z dimension.
As you can see, I was not good.
I needed to work more on my cuts before starting the project.
Once I figured out how to actually cut straight with my hand saw (I just needed to a few more practice cuts), I then started on the joiner’s mallet.
When thinking about my first woodworking project, I figured I should start somewhat simple.
Since chisels are in my tool belt, a mallet made sense to make. Also, the cuts and instructions seemed pretty simple to make, as I read online.
I got some oak boards from Home Depot and got to work.
As you saw above, my first cuts were not great.
After practicing some more with my saw, and watching YouTube videos on how to cut straight, I got back to it.
After making some of the initial cuts, I had to figure out how to use my chisels the right way.
On the mallet handle, I wanted to round the edges and smooth it out. That way when I held it, it would be comfortable.
It took a little bit of time, but I finally started to understand out to pare with the chisel.
I was learning!
After spending a bunch of hours, I finally finished the mallet.
Here was the final product:
All in all, this project took me about 8 hours (from start to finish). If I were to do it again, I definitely wouldn’t need to take that much time, and also, now I actually understand how to use my tools.
Again, I started with something, took action, was consistent, and reached my goal.
We are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for. Why then, do most of us settle for a less-than-ideal life?
The answer is simple: Society has taught us to fear failure.
As a consequence, we are hesitant to step out of our comfort zone and dream big. Instead, we take the easy way out and settle with a this-is-good-enough mindset.
I hope that after reading this article, you will embrace failure and start to break down the imaginary wall between you and your goals.
From the beginning, society convinces us that failure is not acceptable.
At a preschool soccer game, every team earns a trophy regardless of place to ensure that no player feels like he/she has failed.
This everybody-is-a-winner mentality persists throughout our childhood and into early adulthood. By the time we enter high school or college, we have an innate fear of failure and rejection.
This fear binds us from taking risks and pursuing our passions. It’s a lot easier to go through the motions and follow the crowd than to branch out and try something different.
Despite what society says, you don’t have to sit in misery at the nine-to-five job you settled for!
Remember when you were young and when asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, you’d respond with tremendous goals and dreams?
“I want to be an astronaut.”
“I want to be the president.”
Systematically, the conversing adult would respond “That’s great! You can do anything you set your mind to.”
Fast forward to adulthood – what happened to those colossal dreams and desires?
Chances are, society convinced you that these feats were too difficult to achieve. In order to avoid failure, you took an easier route to ensure that you would “succeed”.
I challenge you to reinvigorate the excited little kid from your past and begin to chase your dreams and passions.
The reason I mentioned our innate fear of failure was not to demand that we can succeed at everything, but instead, to highlight that dreaming big and failing can cultivate future success.
Let’s look back at the elementary-school student who said: “I want to be the president when I grow up”. In order to prepare for this monumental goal, she would need to practice the necessary presidential skills.
These skills may include public speaking, negotiating, writing, networking, and many more.
For years, the dreamer hones and refines her presidential skill set. Unfortunately, she never makes the presidency.
However, she goes on to become one of the most respected senators in U.S. history.
Did she fail at becoming the president?
BUT the skills she gained from her journey to achieve this goal allowed her to become wildly successful in the Senate.
Everything does not always work out in the exact way that we want it to. However, you will never achieve any degree of success if you do not try in the first place. A failure can teach us infinitely more than a success can.
Try, fail, and try again.
The skills and lessons gained from your failures will eventually generate success. Take action and never look back.
Here’s a fact: life is a series of choices.
Each and every day, we face 100s of choices. You reading this sentence? That’s a choice.
You don’t have to be here. You could be taking a walk. Maybe you could be talking to a friend. You could be driving to visit family. There are so many things you could be doing in this moment, but you chose to read this post.
Thank you for choosing to continue to read on.
I’m choosing in this moment to continue writing and my hope with the rest of the post is to make it enjoyable for you.
Life is a series of choices. Each day, we face 100s of choices. Either these choices can be positive, and lead us to our goals, or negative, and distract us from going towards our goals.
With these choices, there’s a thought and decision to be made.
Are you going to control your life? Are you going to make the right choices leading towards success? Or are you going to decide to not take control and let life happen to you?
Starting right now, you have the ability to steer your life in whatever direction you want it to go.
Yes, everyone’s starting point is different. Everyone is unique and has had a different set of circumstances growing up.
However, where you are today is a result of your past choices and where you are going to be tomorrow is a result of your present and future choices.
Compounding is incredibly powerful, and it goes both ways: make positive efforts over time and you’ll see massive results; make negative efforts time and you’ll see poor results.
While in the moment you might feel forced to do something, it is still your choice on whether or not you do it.
Of course, there are consequences with every decision. If I decide to eat go out to eat, instead of eating in, that will result in more money spent. At same time, there will be less effort spent on my part to feed myself.
Controlling what is going on in your life is much better than letting life happen to you.
I met one of my good friends in middle school. Both of us shared a lot of the same interests, and both of us enjoyed math.
Going into high school and looking at colleges, we both had thoughts around getting degrees in math.
Both of us earned a score of 28 on our ACT, and I entered college with 23 credits (from AP and College in the School courses), and he entered college with a slightly higher amount of college credits.
Up until this point, you could say that we had a similar starting point, and many of the same characteristics on our transcript. (28 ACT, 20+ college credits, same high school, similar neighborhood, similar interests).
When I got to college, I decided I was going to graduate in 3 years. A 4 year degree, at the state college I went to, took 120 credits. Each semester, 16 credits was considered a full load (4 classes) and consequently, 32 credits was a full load for the year.
3 years of 32 credits would be 96 credits. 96 + 23 was 119 credits, leaving me one short for graduation in 3 years.
“I can find 1 more credit over 3 years to get to 120 credits”, I told myself.
I wanted to save money, time, and effort.
I finished my school in three years and saved money, time and effort.
Next, I decided I needed more schooling and went for a Master’s. This was my decision, as if I didn’t go for a Master’s, I would have needed to learn more on my own in programming or math. At the time, I was working in a job paying $12 an hour, and since I had not made enough efforts networking, I didn’t have any salaried job prospects.
Fast forward 2 years, and after my decision to get a Master’s, I landed a job paying $63,000.
I did finance some of my Master’s program with a $15,000 student loan, and understood the consequences if I didn’t land a real job in my field.
5 years after starting college, I had a $63,000 job, and I was in a position to buy a house when I made a ridiculous decision to house hack. I paid off my student loans and now am saving for the future.
My friend, on the other hand, finished in 4 years and struggled to find work for a while, and found a full time job in the 5th year (I’m not sure his salary, but he stayed at home for a while to save up some money).
He is still paying off his student loans, and is smart and I know he will be fine.
It’s just very interesting to see where starting from the same spot can yield different paths and different results.
There a compounding which happens over time as well with decision making.
If I didn’t graduate in 3 years, I might not have gone for a Master’s.
I probably won’t have landed a high paying job out of college if I didn’t go for a Master’s.
If I didn’t land a high paying job out of college, I would’t have house hacked at 23 years old.
Not house hacking at 23 years old would have lead to a much lower net worth at age 24, 25, and 26 years old.
One decision to graduate in 3 years lead to a waterfall of great experiences and outcomes.
Not to be dismissive, at each point in this 8 year period (from 18 to 26), there were a number of decisions and experiences which I didn’t talk about: studying, going to class, going out on the weekends and drinking way too much, having fun, traveling, getting into and getting out of relationships, learning on my own and side projects, networking, going golfing with my classmates, hanging out with family.
Each one of these decisions and choices could have gotten me off course. Maybe luckily, or maybe not luckily, I have been able to continue utilizing the power of compounding to continue to succeed with my finances and career.
I can eat cheeseburgers and no greens today, or have a mixed diet. Today, it probably won’t matter, but over time? I’ll become fat or I’ll be healthy. I can make this choice.
Now, what other choices can I make to lead me to success?
Let’s revisit the question from a few paragraphs ago. Are you the owner of your life? What decisions will you make today that will lead you to your goals? Are you going to be consistent and work daily to improve?
Consciously and subconsciously, you will make 100s of decisions today… what to wear, what to eat, who to talk to, where to go, how to walk, what to say, etc.
Are these decisions going to be pushing you in the direction you want to go, or pulling you away from your goals?
I’m making the decision to be the owner of my life. Are you going to make a choice to be the owner of your life and become consistent with your actions and efforts?
Consistency and action are the most important habits for success.
Cultivating a mindset which emphasizes action will lead to great achievement and accomplishment.
Improving your life and financial situation can happen instantly with a change in mindset. You can spend less money by prioritizing your spending on what matters, and looking to not spend money on things which don’t matter!
In this post, you’ll learn how shifting your mindset to cut out unnecessary expenses can be great for saving more money.
There are many different ways to improve your financial situation. One way is to spend less on a monthly basis, and save the remaining amount.
While spending less, and saving more, sounds great in theory, in application, what exactly are you spending less on? What should you cut out of your usual spending? Should you make a budget?
Really, the simplest budgeting method is to look at your spending and see which expenses truly bring you enjoyment and happiness.
In this post, I want to share with you how you can prioritize your spending, bring joy to your life, and get a handle on your finances.
Let’s go back to the theory of improving your financial situation through spending less and saving more.
One of the most famous examples when talking about spending less is “The Latte Factor”, which was made popular in David Bach’s book, The Automatic Millionaire.
“The Latte Factor” are the little daily expenses which have the potential to add up over time.
If you spend $3.50 on a coffee and $1.50 on a bagel daily for breakfast at Starbucks, you are already at $5 for the day.
While $5 isn’t that much, if this is an everyday habit, this is $150 a month – just on breakfasts from Starbucks!
Maybe you don’t drink coffee, but have other small daily expenses which have the potential to add up over time. The idea of “The Latte Factor” still applies.
The point of “The Latte Factor” is that little expenses add up over time and can result in missed savings goals.
In the book, Bach recommends examining your expenses and thinking hard about what you need.
While I agree with the main point of “The Latte Factor”, I want to talk more in general about how I prioritize my spending to make sure I’m bringing fulfillment and joy to my life.
I have a few questions for you to think about.
These are more related to your life, than money, but will bring the answers you need to start getting better with your finances.
The questions are:
The purpose behind these questions is to get you thinking about MATTERS to you.
For me, I’m passionate about spending time with my family, being healthy and active, and learning.
Since these are my passions, then I need to align my spending habits with these passions.
What does this look like in practice?
For my health, I’m not afraid to spend a little more money on healthy food and supplements. I am finding spending some money on a relatively nice bike, a rock climbing gym membership, and equipment which can help me reach my fitness goals.
For learning, I’m not afraid to invest in myself and buy a course, a book or seek help.
For spending time with my family, I’m fine spending money at a golf course my dad wants to play, or taking my family out to dinner once in a while.
These are things which matter to me and how I apply this thought.
Now, let’s change it up a little bit and talk about things which I don’t spend money on.
At the beginning of the previous section, I asked some questions which were looking to get to the core of what you enjoy doing with your time.
Now, let’s go to the other side.
For example, I don’t watch TV. I realized after college that TV was a waste of my time and not worth my money.
With this, I don’t have Netflix, Hulu, HBO, or basic cable.
If I don’t enjoy watching TV, then it follows logically I shouldn’t pay for these services (and I don’t!).
Another thing I don’t spend a lot of money on is alcohol. While in my college days, I would drink a lot on the weekends, now, I’m fine going to the bar, having 1 beer, and then drinking water the rest of the night.
I’ve realized I can have a ton of fun with just 1 drink, and I can save $15-$25 by drinking water the rest of the night.
Along the same lines, I don’t really care that much about what car I drive. For me, when I bought a car, I had 2 wants: it’s not wimpy, and it gets good gas mileage.
I’m not a car person, so why should I spend a lot of money on a car!
These are seemingly obvious statements which make total sense after the fact, but when approaching these purchases for the first time, you could end up spending more than you actually want.
If you are a personal finance optimization weirdo like me, your takeaway from this article might be to look at every expense and purchase you make and categorize it as good or bad.
Unfortunately, you will have expenses throughout the month which you can’t get out of – rent, insurance, taxes, utility payments, etc.
While these expenses you cannot completely remove, there are ways to reduce them to give you an opportunity to have more money for what you really want to do.
For example, with housing expenses, it’s possible you want to live downtown to be close to the action.
That’s great, but do you need the nicest apartment or condo, or could you go with a step down and save a few hundred dollars a month?
Alternatively, does it make sense to get a roommate, house hack, or live in the suburbs and commute in to downtown when activities are going on?
I don’t have the answers to these questions as I don’t know your situation.
However, hopefully this article has given you food for thought with regards to your spending.
I want you to be more mindful of how you are spending your money.
I want to make sure you are being intentional with your spending, and not wasteful with your money.
At the end of the day, you should be spending money on things that matter to you, and not spending money on things that don’t matter to you.
I’ve been talking about how I prioritize my spending to align with my passions.
Now, it’s your turn.
What are you spending your money on? Are you spending your money on things which don’t bring you joy? How can you allocate more money towards what matters to you?
Remember, with all things in life, there’s balance.
It’s important to remember there will be items which don’t bring joy which you will need to buy from time to time.
However, with the questions and tips I’ve discussed above, hopefully you will be inspired to examine your spending habits and align them with your passions.
For more money saving tips, check out these articles:
Thanks for reading!
Readers: how do you prioritize your spending? After reading this post, are you going to stop any expenses which aren’t bringing joy?
House hacking is a fantastic way to build wealth, achieve financial independence, or improve your financial situation. With house hacking, you can reduce you expenses, increase cash flow, and build equity.
What is house hacking? What’s the definition of house hacking? Can anyone house hack?
House hacking has been an integral part of helping me build wealth at a young age.
In this post, I will be sharing with you the basics for house hacking, and talk about my experience with house hacking.
I want to share with you my experience with house hacking – becoming a landlord and living with your tenants – and how this experience has had an amazing positive impact on my financial situation.
Below, we will cover:
Let’s get started with the definition of house hacking.
House hacking is buying an owner-occupied property and getting paid to live for relatively cheap or free.
How are you able to live for relatively cheap or free?
House hacking allows you to live for relatively cheap, or free, by owning a house and renting out your additional rooms or units to other people (friends, Craigslist people, strangers, etc.).
By “hacking” your housing expense, you use other people’s money (your tenant’s rent payments) to pay down your mortgage and live for free.
House hacking allows you to get into the real estate game and also have your housing subsidized by roommates or tenants. This post will give you a “House Hacking 101” lesson, starting with the basics.
There are many benefits of house hacking. House hacking helps with cash flow, and is also an investment in real estate. You improve your cash flow, and get invested in one of my favorite asset classes.
Why do I like real estate as an asset class? Real estate is:
In addition to these great benefits of real estate, house hacking allows you to decrease one of your biggest expenses.
Housing is such a big expense for so many people, and by reducing it through renting out extra space in your house, you can save more money over time.
There are a number of reasons why you should consider house hacking. If you are looking to achieve financial freedom at a young age, house hacking will speed up your progress.
Below, I’ve listed 5 reasons for you to consider house hacking if you are looking to achieve financial success.
Now, let’s touch on each of these reasons to house hack in great detail.
Housing is the biggest expense for people in American, with nearly 40% of their income going towards rent or a mortgage.
By house hacking, you can reduce, or completely eliminate, your housing expense.
When I started house hacking, my mortgage payment was $1,820, and my monthly rent was $1,650.
Instead of paying $1,820 a month, I was effectively paying $170 a month for rent – $170 is unheard of for rent these days!
In addition, with principal pay down and appreciation, I was living for free and making money with house hacking.
House hacking allowed me to use my decreased expenses to pay off my student loans and pay off my car loan.
Similar to the first reason to consider house hacking, house hacking increases your income and savings rate.
Each month, you will be collecting checks from your tenants, and with this, you will be increasing your income.
With an increased income, you can pay down debt, take a vacation, or buy more rental properties!
When I started house hacking, I had no landlord experience. One of the reasons many people don’t invest in real estate is because they don’t have the experience and knowledge to manage their properties.
With house hacking, you can gain this experience.
Also, since you are living in the house you are renting out, it will be easier to manage any repairs, talk with tenants, and make sure everything is going well.
If you are working a day job, you probably get paid every two weeks or so. With house hacking, you give yourself another paycheck, and this helps your cash flow over time.
What is great as well about house hacking is this income is passive income, and you receive this extra paycheck without doing any work!
Finally, house hacking gives you ownership of land and property. While the American Dream isn’t necessarily what it used to be, it is really cool to own something which is real and tangible.
There is finite space on this Earth, and no one is making any more land.
By buying property and land, you can own something which is scarce and can grow in value over time.
Buying a house to house hack is very similar to buying a rental property.
A very common strategy for house hackers is to buy a duplex and live in one of the units. With buying a multi-family property, you don’t have to see your roommates, and can make repairs on your unit while bringing in rent.
However, before buying a house to house hack, it is important to have a real estate investing strategy for your money.
The basic benefit of investment real estate is its ability to produce rental income. Before buying a property, it’s important to do some calculations and analysis to see if the prospective property will be a good investment.
The One Percent Rule for real estate is a very easy calculation to run to see if a rental property is a good investment.
If the monthly rental income is greater than 1% of the percent price, it could be a decent purchase for your rental real estate portfolio.
For example, if you are looking at a $200,000 house, then the 1% rule would mean the monthly rent would have to be $2,000.
For a house hack, if you plan to move out in the future, it might make sense to look at the 1% rule to see if the property could be a good investment for you. Other metrics might be cap rate, and net income after expenses.
With all houses too, since you are going to live in the house, you will want to think about location, repairs, potential tenants, and budget.
Your criteria should be based on the following factors: price range, discount, cash flow, and appreciation potential.
Buying a house is a big decision to make. While you will have wiggle room with rent coming in each month, you still want to make good decisions with your purchase.
Acquiring a mortgage and acquiring financing for house hacking is the exact same as getting a mortgage for an owner occupied house.
The median home price in the United States is roughly $200k. Since most people don’t have that kind of cash laying around, they must go to a bank, a credit union, or online to acquire financing.
There are many types of loans. Let’s focus on the 3 main products most home buyers use: 30 year fixed rate mortgage, 15 year rate fixed mortgage, and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.
In addition to the type of loan, there are variations within each product: Conventional and FHA to name two.
Let’s discuss the 30 year fixed rate mortgage (yes, it is as simple as it sounds). For 30 years, you have the same (fixed) interest rate on your loan. Similarly, for the 15 year fixed rate mortgage, you have the same interest rate for the 15 year period.
Each month, you pay interest equal to the interest rate multiplied by the principal balance. The remaining portion pays off some of the principal.
Typically, the interest rate on a 15 year mortgage will be less than the 30 year mortgage, but due to the time difference, but the payment on a 15 year mortgage will be higher.
Next, we have the 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). This product probably sounds complicated but it really isn’t. For the first 5 years, you have a fixed rate. Then after 5 years, your rate will adjust each year after that.
The adjustment will typically be based off of LIBOR rates (a common one is 2.25% + 3 month LIBOR). The fixed rates on ARM’s are generally lower than mortgages with a fixed rate for the whole term since they can increase after the fixed rate period.
With these 3 products, after 15 or 30 years, your loan is paid off and you are debt free!
As I mentioned above, there are a few variations of the mortgage products: Conventional and FHA to name two. Conventional loans are straight forward loans: lenders typically require a 5% down payment and rates are determined by the market and your credit score.
If you don’t make a down payment of 20%, lenders will have you pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), which protects the lender from a loss if you default on your loan, until you get to 80% Loan-To-Value (20% equity) in the house. Once you get to 20% equity, you don’t have to pay PMI anymore!
FHA loans are mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration. Borrowers with FHA loans pay PMI. Since borrowers pay PMI, lenders offer FHA loans at attractive interest rates and with less stringent and more flexible qualification requirements.
Lenders will allow a 3.5% down payment for FHA loans. A big difference between FHA and conventional loans is with an FHA loan, you will always pay PMI, no matter how much equity you have in the house (until the loan is paid off).
Finding renters for your house hack can be as easy as asking friends and family, going on Craigslist or getting started with a service like AirBnB.
For me, I’ve used Craigslist for finding my house hacking tenants. For my Craigslist messages, I look to be descriptive and helpful about what I have to offer, and also, the price expectations for the unit.
If you plan on going with AirBnB for your spare rooms, then you will already have an existing system in place for acquiring renters.
So far in this post, I’ve provided information on house hacking in general. Now, I’m going to share with you my house hacking story.
I’ve been house hacking the last 4 years after graduating from college.
In June 2015, I had just graduated with my Master’s in Financial Math in May, and had been working full-time for about 5 months. Life was good.
Over the few years leading up to that point, I’d been reading about different wealth creation strategies on different blogs. I was interested in building extreme wealth, and was definitely interested in real estate.
At this time, I was renting at the time with 5 other friends. 4 of us were looking to live together, and at the time, we were thinking about finding a place to rent.
The week before my 23rd birthday, I was hanging out with my friends in the house I was renting at the time. We were interested in moving over to the nicer part of town, but our 4 bedroom house or apartment search wasn’t going as well as we had hoped.
Then, a clever idea popped into my head. I was sitting on the couch with my buddy and said to him, “Hey, I know we are kind of striking out with the whole apartment search… I wonder what I could buy.” That set off a 1 week search for my house.
Can house hacking help you become wealthy? I was about to try and find out.
“I’m curious… I wonder what I could buy. Let me look at mortgages tomorrow and see what I can get”, I told my roommate.
I had just graduated from my Master’s program, had about $8,000 in student loan debt, but had a $63,000 salary.
Over the next week, I looked at a few houses and found a great one. Built in 1900, this two story house had been a rental for the past 8 years. The kitchen had been re-done, the bathrooms re-done, and the woodwork was in great shape.
Below are a few pictures:
In addition to the back deck, updated kitchen and bathrooms, and the fact it previously was a rental property, there is a 3 season porch off the master bedroom and a 3 season porch off the front of the house.
The downside was there were only 3 bedrooms (and we had 4 people). However, there was a den, and I was hopeful we could turn it into another room.
The location of the property is in a vibrant area which is very walkable.
I had found a great property, but now had to get financing and get my offer accepted.
When I started my search in June 2015, I didn’t know anything about financing a house through a mortgage.
First, I went online and went to my bank’s website and got pre-qualified. I typed in my income and monthly debt information and out spit a number! At the time, I was making $63,000 and had a student loan in the deferral period.
Mortgage lenders typically will try to keep your Debt-to-Income Ratio below 43% of your pre-tax income (per CFPB rules).
Given I was making $63,000 a year, this equates to $5,250 a month pre-tax. 43% of $5,250 is roughly $2,200. After determining the final debt number, the lender will do a calculation based on current interest rates.
According to the bank, I was pre-qualified for a loan of $330,000. Essentially, getting pre-qualified is code for “now the bank can contact you and try to get you to originate a mortgage with them!” 🙂
After being pre-qualified, I sat down with the mortgage loan officer and we chatted about different options. At the time, I only had about $3,000 in cash and was making payments of $2,000 per month towards my student loan.
Since cash was an issue, the lender suggested I do FHA financing and put 3.5% down. After doing a full credit check, I was pre-approved for a $300k loan. A 3.5% down payment on a $300k house is a $10.5k down payment. This would be tough to get to, but I was still optimistic…
After getting pre-approved, sellers and agents are more willing to work with you because they know you are serious: you already have thought about getting financing and have taken action.
After getting pre-approved for financing, it was time to make a deal.
The list price on the property I described above was $289,900. I wanted to see if I could get the house for a little less than the full asking price. I initially offered $280,000, but ultimately paid $287,000.
As I learned in The Millionaire Real Estate Investor, as a real estate investor, it is important to negotiate everything!
In addition to price, there are numerous things to negotiate to ensure you get the best deal:
First off, you should always say the offer is “contingent upon inspection”. This protects you as the home buyer if the inspector finds something alarming, seriously broken or out of code.
“Contingent upon funding” is also used to protect the home buyer if the home buyer cannot obtain financing. If the home buyer cannot obtain financing, then the home buyer is not obligated to buy the house.
In my case, I was not in a position to pay mortgage closing costs and agent fees. These are two additional things a buyer can negotiate. Many times, if the seller is looking to move the house fast, they will pay your mortgage closing costs.
This usually is a few thousand dollars. In addition to the mortgage closing costs, you can ask if the seller will pay the buyer’s agent fees.
Usually the seller’s agent will charge 3% and the buyer’s agent will charge 3%. If you can get the seller to pay the buyer’s agent’s fees, you can save a fair amount of cash!
It never hurts to ask, I was able to get the seller to pay for my closing costs and my agent’s fees. This was very lucky for me and I look back and realize how fortunate I was. I was going to get into a $287,000 house for about $10,000 total in cash out of my pocket.
One last point, when you make an offer, it is good to put earnest money into an escrow account for the seller.
Earnest money is used to show the seller you will stay true to your word of following through with the purchase. If you don’t, you lose the earnest money. Typically, $1,000 will do. I did $1,500 for my earnest money. The earnest money goes towards closing costs and the down payment.
Something that I’ve learned now is that letters work incredibly well in real estate. I’m 2 for 2 getting my offer accepted because I’ve written letters both times.
At the end of the day, people own houses, and with people, there are emotions involved. It’s not all about the numbers.
Here was my letter for my current house:
Dear Current Homeowner,
My name is Erik and I particularly fell in love with the back porch and the kitchen that you have
put in. I can imagine having fun sipping drinks in the backyard with friends and then coming in to
socialize around the kitchen island. I hope that I have the opportunity to partake in these activities going
Currently, I work at a bank in risk management and believe in investing and growing for the
future. Currently, I have 3 other roommates and plan to rent the place to them while living with them.
After a few years, I would consider to have this become a rental property for myself. This property has a
lot of potential as I am sure you know: I researched that you have been renting it out for almost 10+
years now. The proximity to downtown, uptown, and the lakes makes it a fine location.
To further prove my commitment, I am offering 280,000, a strong purchase price, and 1,500 as my
earnest money deposit. Additionally, financing should go smoothly, as FHA loans are government
backed. If possible, I would gladly appreciate help with 1,000 of a down payment in exchange for a higher
purchasing price. If not, I am confident that my down payment will suffice.
If you accept my offer, I promise to show your home the same love and respect the previous tenants
have. Thank you again for considering my offer. I, Erik, respectfully look forward to hearing your
You might think it’s over the top, but all of that was what I loved about the property. What’s awesome is that after 3 years of living here, I’ve had some great moments in the backyard and in the kitchen.
Letters work when buying a property. Keep this in mind if you don’t have the strongest financial position.
Before buying a house, it is very wise to get an inspection.
This is done by a professional inspector who will go around the property checking pipes, the HVAC system, the circuits, roof, insulation, and every other little thing you can think of in a house to ensure it is up to code. Anything which is not up to code will be listed in the inspector’s report.
After receiving the inspector’s report, as a buyer, you can request some of the items be taken care of. For example, there were some branches hanging over a power line.
I asked if the seller could hire a tree service to cut back the branches. Again, it never hurts to ask!
Negotiating when buying a house never hurts, and can lead to savings and less headache for you when you move in.
After getting approved for financing, getting the house inspection completed successfully, and saving up for the down payment, it was time to close on the house.
For me, closing was set for a Thursday in late July.
A week before closing, I was stressed out. I had pain in my chest and was not feeling myself. I was feeling a lot of stress due to the closing and was very anxious. Going on a walk with my girlfriend at the time, I wasn’t feeling any better. I needed to relax, but it wasn’t working.
The next day, I went to work and again, I was feeling tightness in my chest. I was nervous and anxious.
To add to my anxiety about the house, I was thinking about how heart troubles run in my family: my grandpa had a heart attack at 52 (he is still living and healthy at 76 now).
This only made it worse… After work, I was with my girlfriend again and decided to have a doctor check me out. Chest pain is never anything to scoff at!
Well, long story short, I was healthy and it was stress. My heart was completely fine and I was not at risk of having a heart attack or heart troubles anytime soon. This was a relief and I was able to take a deep breath and prepare for the week ahead…
Finally, closing day came.
Closing isn’t that exciting. You sit around a table with your agent, the seller, the seller’s agent, and a person from the title company. You sign a bunch of papers (sign your life away… mortgage = death!), and receive the keys to your new place!
I finished up the paperwork around 4 P.M. and was off to the new place! I was a home owner!
When writing about personal finance and financial freedom, many people don’t talk about the environment they live in which allowed them to be successful.
What do I mean?
Something that is incredibly prevalent in the personal finance online community is how everyone is a millionaire and super smart for investing in the stock market over the last 10 years.
Here’s the thing: everyone looks smart in a bull market.
Why do I bring this up?
I was very lucky in getting my house. What I mean by lucky, is a perfect storm of events had to occur for this to happen.
These events were the following:
Combining all of these things led to a successful purchase. If the year was 2016, I don’t think I could have gotten this done because the market was getting hot. In 2014, I didn’t have a solid salary.
Again, I don’t want to poo-poo my success. However, to say that it was all me and not recognize the economic scenario I was working with would be a failure to think big picture.
Over the last 5 years, I’ve brought roughly $50,000 in rental income through house hacking. This rental income has allowed me to build an emergency fund, pay down my debts, and build equity in my house.
During my house hacking, I paid off my student loan, I bought a 2014 Jetta for $13,000 and paid off the auto loan associated with it, and have maxed my Roth IRA for 3 years.
Below is my house hacking income from the last few years.
In addition to the other debts mentioned above, I’ve paid down my mortgage balance from $282,000 to just over $240,000. This results in an increase of $40,000 in equity gains just through using other people’s money to help pay my mortgage.
As I mentioned above, one of the benefits of house hacking is the tax benefits which come along with real estate.
With my house hacking, I have been able to deduct some of the home improvements I made against my rental income. These deductions have helped with my tax efficiency, and allowed me to save more over time.
Finally, the neighborhood I purchased my house in has started to gentrify and the value of my property has increased 10-20%.
All of these factors have contributed to a net worth increase of over $100,000.
House hacking has allowed me to pay down debt, increase my investments, and grow my net worth by over $100,000. What could house hacking do for your life?
House hacking is amazing and I recommend anyone who has an interest in financial freedom to consider it. The real estate investing strategy of house hacking is definitely tough with student loans, the want to live in luxury apartments, and the increased responsibility of being a landlord.
However, at the end of the day, it is more than worth it financially.
House hacking has changed my life with this amazing income coming in each month.
House hacking has been my most successful side hustle and has allowed me to take risks at work and now with my business and other side hustle endeavors.
I’m on the path to financial independence, and house hacking has sped this process up considerably.
I’m very thankful I’ve been able to do this, but not sure it’s sense for everyone.
Would I try to house hack today? Probably not.
If I was 22 again, I’d probably try to do it, but again, it’s a different scenario and naively thinking things will magically turn out is a little short sighted. I took a lot of risk (low down payment and no real estate experience) and it paid off. I’ve had real estate friends on both sides of success spectrum (success and failure), and every situation.
At the end of the day though, House hacking is definitely a strategy to consider if you’d like to become wealthy. As I mentioned above, I increased my net worth by $100,000 just by living.
What could you do by house hacking?
Readers: are you interested in house hacking? Have you house hacked before, and what were the results? Will you push your kids to house hack when they are older?