in Basics of Budgeting & My Experience, Finance Hacks

9 Effortless Hacks To Save You Time & Money


Ever feel like you’re short on time and cash? What am I saying, of course you do! Just about everyone would agree with you on that. Below I’ve listed several effortless (or nearly effortless) life hacks that have saved me time and money! You’ll have some extra cash in your pocket so you won’t have to feel guilty about the extra time you’ll spend binge-watching Netflix!

Wash Your Hair Less

I used to wash my hair every single day. The result? It would get oily quickly, and I was spending at least $10 monthly on shampoo and conditioner. With thick, long hair like mine, I was also spending long added minutes in the shower trying to rinse the darned conditioner out.

To preserve a new dye job, I decided to start shampooing my hair only every other day as opposed to every day. My annual costs of shampoo and conditioner dropped from $120 per year to $60 per year just like that. Let’s say I was spending another 10 minutes a day washing my hair (which is probably true). Ten minutes daily that you get back from half your days – over the year that comes to 30 hours!

Think about that! If you wash your hair half as much, you are saving yourself about 30 hours and $60 over the course of the year.

Of course, many of you probably already do this. Try stretching it to another day. Don’t worry, your scalp should adjust over time, and after a few weeks it should not be so oily.


Make a Grocery List

Yes, the shopping list takes a little bit of time to create. However, think about the amount of time you will save by having a set list that you commit to instead of wandering aimlessly (and hungry!) around the grocery store! I typically go with a list or several basic meals in mind, and am in and out of the grocery store in 15 minutes, no-fail. In my case, it also helps to also hate every aspect of grocery shopping.

Bonus tip:

While making your list, number the items by category. For example: 1.) Produce, 2.) Meats, 3.) Dairy/Cheese, 4.) Frozen, 5.) Canned.

Why would you do such a thing? Every grocery store is planned out a certain way. Most people walk counter-clockwise, and typically start in produce. This is so that you enter the store with the impression of “freshness.” They also put milk at the back of the store because it is such a popular item and it forces everyone to walk past the rest of the items. Marketing psychology, people – use it to your advantage.

If you number your items by category, you won’t have to be pin-balling all around the store because you forgot to grab an onion, or you walked right past the canned tomatoes. Just grab your items in each category and move on.


Keep Your Meals Simple

This is one of those hacks that I learned last year that I will be eternally grateful for. When I first started learning how to cook, I was making elaborate Pinterest meals. I made things like lasagnas and stews, or meals where you had to sear the food first before baking it, performing a sacrificial ritual and sending it to the moon on a NASA space-shuttle. Okay, maybe that’s a little much – but that’s what it felt like.

Now on most nights, I keep my meals simple. I make some delicious chicken with roasted veggies. Not only has this helped me lose about 25 pounds, but it takes anywhere from 30-60 minutes off my time cooking!

Not only am I eating healthier than ever before, and saving tons of time for being lazy on the couch, but I’m saving a substantial amount of money. I don’t have to buy 20 ingredients for a meal, for instance. My grocery bill has been cut by about $100 monthly in large part just from simplifying my meals!

This doesn’t have to make your food boring, I promise! My meals are always delicious and filling, and I feel better than ever before!


Embrace Leftovers – in fact, aim for them!

Every time we cook, we try to double (or triple) the recipe for the sake of having leftovers. This saves me time from having to either cook another meal or go out and by another meal, whether it be takeout or more groceries. I typically bring leftovers to work for lunch for the next day or so.

What you save by doing this will vary based on what you cook and what you would typically spend on that meal. For example, if I don’t have a lunch to bring to work I go out and buy either a $4 sub from Subway or an $8 meal from Chipotle. Over the course of the week this adds easily up to $20-40, and in one month I’m looking at $80-$160. Think about that savings!


Shop on a Weeknight

Save your weekends for fun, not errands! If you feel like you have less time available to you, chances are you’re going to hurry to get through whatever you have to.

On the weekends, people mosey about in the stores and take their sweet time (unless they’re rushing to get chips and dip for the game). On a weeknight, everyone is trying to get home to finish their routine of the day. If you save your errands-shopping for the week, you’ll be glad you won’t have to do them on the weekend!


Use Google “Shopping” Search

Okay, so technically this isn’t effortless. I’ll admit it up-front. However, if you typically like to compare prices using various websites (I sure hope you do!), then you need to use this trick to save you a ridiculous amount of time.

The almighty Google has a “shopping” tab for when you search an item, right at the top. Just type in the item you are looking for, click that tab, and voila! Google shows you the prices that item is listed for on all of the websites that have that item. I just saved $30 on hiking shoes thanks to this search option. You use Google for everything else, why not this?

Here’s an example of a Google Shopping search, listed from low to high. These almost $400 can be found for less than $100 online!

Pro Tip:

It’s no secret that Ebates is one of my all-time favorite websites, for obvious reasons. But did you know that you can also search for a particular item on Ebates, and it will show you a list of the coupons any website is having on that item, as well as the prices of the products from each location. This takes all of the effort out of couponing and cost-comparison! This is one of those hacks that will show you where the best deal will be!


Check Your Receipts

And no – I don’t just mean the prices (though that’s a great idea)! Many receipts of major stores will have little freebies on them! For example, I have a receipt from Subway for free cookies sitting in my wallet because I filled out a 2 minute survey regarding my last visit.

Typically you will see things like sweepstakes entries on receipts, but every so often there will be free items involved. I don’t bother with sweepstakes, but those cookies from Subway are fantastic! So technically, yes, this would take a slight amount of effort. However, the rewards are generally proportional to the means. This is one of those hacks that I only recently started using and it’s already paying off!

This isn’t going to save you extra time, per say, but it will only take the blink of an eye to see if you have anything good on your receipt.


Get in Touch With Your Library

Alright, so this won’t apply to everyone. If you’re a big reader or audiobook listener, however, listen up! I have a Kindle, but I never pay for books. As a Massachusetts resident, I have a free library card through Boston Public Library, which means that I can read almost any book I want for free on my Kindle. It works just as any library card would, except I don’t have to pay late fees! The best part is, I never have to leave my house from start to finish. And you don’t even need a Kindle – there’s a free Kindle app that you can put on an iPad, a phone, etc.

Yes, it will take a little time and research on your end to see what is available to you, but it’s worth it. It will save you money on books, and it will save you the time you might take to run to the bookstore or price-shopping online. This is just one of the many benefits of having a library card.


Automatic Savings

I can’t have a post that doesn’t touch on budgeting, right? This is one of the easiest budgeting hacks you could use! The most foolproof and easy way to build a savings is to have money automatically withdrawn from your checking and deposited into a savings account. This is a surefire way to build a savings when you have to do essentially nothing ever again after initial setup. Chances are you won’t even notice the difference.

This will save you money because you will most likely adjust to the perceived decrease in your funds. I believe that people adapt subconsciously to their means, so if you think you’re making less money, you’ll spend less. This might not be true for everyone, but it’s true for me and several others. You’ll also free up a little bit of time because your savings will grow with no effort at all. Any of that time you otherwise would have spent using an envelope system, or tracking your spending is freed up, letting you enjoy the rest of your life.

What did you think of these tips? Did you learn anything new at all? Will you be trying any of these tips or are some of them just not for you? Let me know in the comments below & thanks for reading!



  1. kristin mccarthy

    Washing your hair is overrated

    04 . Feb . 2017
    • Sparkly

      Agreed, Kristin!

      04 . Feb . 2017
  2. Amanda

    I had no idea there was such a thing as Google Shopping Search. Thanks for sharing these tips!

    04 . Feb . 2017
    • Sparkly

      Thanks for reading! It’s definitely a huge help to find the best price on the internet, instead of searching each site individually.

      04 . Feb . 2017
  3. Meg

    I don’t wash my hair that often to keep it healthy but double bonus now that I think of it that way! I just started automatic savings it’s only a little bit but it goes a long way!

    04 . Feb . 2017
    • Sparkly

      Think of all the time and money you’re saving! My goal is to only wash my hair twice a week within a few month as opposed to every other day. I love automatic savings! It’s the most effortless way to save! Thanks for reading, Meg!

      04 . Feb . 2017
  4. Stacy

    All great tips!! I love making grocery lists and meal planning to save money!! Great post!

    04 . Feb . 2017
    • Sparkly

      It’s amazing what a difference it makes! Thanks for reading, Stacy!

      10 . Feb . 2017
  5. jenna

    Yes, I love grocery lists! I organize them in order of the store layout so I can get in & out in under 20 minutes!

    05 . Feb . 2017
    • Sparkly

      That’s the way to do it, Jenna! It saves so much time and keeps you from impulse-buying of just wandering the aisles!

      10 . Feb . 2017
  6. Melynda Sorrels

    I had no idea about the Google shopping search! This is pretty cool! I’ll be checking that out. Thanks for these. Very helpful info!

    06 . Feb . 2017
    • Sparkly

      It’s an amazing tool, I use it all the time! Thanks for reading, Melynda!

      10 . Feb . 2017
  7. Emily

    As a librarian I can not agree more on the book bit, a lot of people don’t know that you can now download ‘free’ many books, magazines and daily newspapers online using your library card. Give it a go it is great – never pay for an expensive magazine again.

    06 . Feb . 2017
    • Sparkly

      That’s great, Emily! It’s amazing how many books you can read for free! And library cards have so many perks wrapped up in them regardless!

      10 . Feb . 2017
  8. Gregory Pozo

    These hacks are definitely on point.

    Making sure we are managing our expenses the right way is very important.

    06 . Feb . 2017
    • Sparkly

      Agreed, Gregory! Thanks for reading!

      10 . Feb . 2017
  9. Shane

    I need to get better about making a grocery list, and not shopping while I’m hungry. Saves both money and calories!

    07 . Feb . 2017
    • Sparkly

      They’re both invaluable if you want to save money and time, while eating healthier! Thanks for reading!

      10 . Feb . 2017
  10. Ance

    I love this hacks really helpful, so cool ways to save money. Great post !

    07 . Feb . 2017
    • Sparkly

      Thanks for reading, Ance! Glad you found it helpful!

      10 . Feb . 2017
  11. Tracy

    Great post. Love these tips. Never thought of shopping on weeknights to save $. Nice!

    07 . Feb . 2017
  12. Beth

    These are great tips. I know first hand about the shampoo. I used to wash my hair once or twice a day when I was a runner. Now I can go 2 or 3 days and my hair still looks okay. I am a big fan of cooking simple food too, although sometimes I still make an elaborate meal.

    10 . Feb . 2017
    • Sparkly

      Thanks for reading, Beth!

      11 . Feb . 2017

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