17 Hacks to Reach FIRE Faster

by J. Money -

elmo on fire

Last week I asked y’all what hacks you’re doing right now to reach FIRE faster, and your answers were just as creative as they were helpful ;)

Since not everyone scans the comments or reads my inbox though (at least I hope you can’t scan my secrets inbox?!), I wanted to highlight some of my favorite tips here in case you’re looking to speed up the process too….

This stuff doesn’t happen overnight, but there are definitely things we can do to amplify things! And oftentimes with minimal effort!

Here were my favorite hacks below…

[And PS: the winners of the Work Optional book before I forget are Dylan R and Jessy! Congrats guys, hope it helps! Thx again to Tanja for passing us a couple copies!]

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The Uniform Hack

“I have been sticking to a work “uniform”. Wearing the same type of outfit each day saves me so much money because I don’t feel the need to buy something new when I walk by it in the store. It won’t match my “outfit” anyways! This is also a huge savings in time. No fooling around each morning to pick out clothes! Been going strong for 3 years now, and my clothes are still great. Three years of no new clothes for me.” – Amber

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The Punishment Hack

“My one hack that I’m doing is sort of a game I play. You see, I’m obsessed with checking my accounts… All the time. So, I decided to “punish myself” by paying a “fine” every time I open any of my savings apps. No set amount, but it has to be added to whatever account I was looking at. Some days I am adding a lot to those accounts. It’s easy to do since all of the apps are on my home screen on the phone. (I love to play games, this is a win-win for me).” – Karen

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The Weather Hack

“Using an app called ‘If this then that‘- it moves money from my spending account to my savings account when events such as a certain time, weather pattern or any other event I like occurs. Moving a small amount such as $1.50 every morning at 1:00am is not noticeable and has netted me an extra $400 in savings so far!” – Jarred

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The Free Yoga Hack

“I work trade at a yoga studio (even before frugalwoods posted about her doing the same thing) and have never paid for a sweat session. I started in 2013. The studio’s annual membership is $1400/year so I’ve saved $8400!” – JW

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The Job Spotter Hack

“My current favorite hack is making a little money on the side with the Job Spotter app, by Indeed.com. You get paid to take photos of ‘help wanted’ and other hiring signs in store windows, which Indeed then posts online to make its job listings more comprehensive. Great to combine with walking around your neighborhood or exploring new areas to score more sign-spottings. I made $205 in my first month and now averaging $60 per month since. I use the Amazon credit payments for giftcards with Airbnb, Uber, Starbucks, Chipotle and more!”
Michelle @ FrugalityandFreedom.com

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The Home Phone Hack

“The bigger issue for us was dependable phone service, since our cell phones don’t pick up very well at our house.  After much research and YouTube video reviews, we ended up getting a Google Voice Phone# for free.  Then purchased an ObiHai device on Amazon to convert the Google Voice calls to existing cordless handset phones we already had. All in all we are pleased with our savings from this transition.” – Eric

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The Amazon Prime Cutting Hack (*gasp!*)

“My wife and I have decided to ‘cut the cord’ with Amazon Prime in 2019!! It was extremely difficult to do but in the long run we know this is going to save us hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. We now have to physically drive to a store to buy things that we instead of it being shipped directly to our doorstep by just the click of a button.

Our January spending for the past 4 years from Prime is shown below:

  • 2016 – $73
  • 2017 – $77
  • 2018 – $115
  • 2019 – $0

So far, so good! I can start to smell the FIRE burn!” – David

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The Publix Hack

“Most grocery stores including Publix will refund everything… no questions asked, as long as it was purchased there. When you buy extra boxes or cans for holidays or just thinking you may need it, bring it back. If produce spoils too quick … bring it back. Saves me at least 15% on my groceries.”- Jim

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The Bedroom Hack

“When my son moved from LA to Chicago I started to Airbnb his room and another spare bed and bath. I have gone, in 5 years, from $50 a night to $69 – $72 a night in pricing (demand pricing). I started making a few hundred bucks a month to now making an average of $3000 a month ($4500 in January including one 41 day stay) and $1900 in February. By going the extra mile for guests, I have gotten great reviews and my occupancy rate has steadily increased so I am solidly booked. I invested the earnings in tech stocks, like Netflix, Zendesk, Okta, Salesforce, and received a 30 percent return. I now have no mortgage and am building a high end studio in my garage to continue the rental opportunities!” – Jean Young

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The Exchange-Before-It-Dies Hack

“One habit that I’m training myself to adopt is to not let things become completely broken/threadbare/unusable before I exchange it. I love to have a very low cost per use, however the costs of repairs, time waiting for things to be fixed or for the replacements to arrive has cost me more in the long run in money, time, and unnecessary stress. So instead of continuing to drive my old car until the wheels fell off, I upgraded to a decent, safe used car and sold the old one to someone who fixes cars for fun. Instead of wearing clothing until they are so worn out that they rip while I’m at work, I’ve gotten a new pair of pants when they are on sale. The other advantage of doing things this way is that I can do my research and plan for discounts in a relaxed way, instead of settling for or buying the first available replacement because I’ve put myself in a difficult situation.” – Elora

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The Bill Cutting Hack

“For every bill I cut back, I adjust my work’s direct deposit to put that bill into savings. I am up to six hundred a month hitting my savings account. When it hits six months emergency fund, I take out half and invest it somewhere – The last couple of years, this has been for the major maintenance my house needs. The bills I cut back have paid for maintenance that could have really hurt my bottom line. When I don’t have that maintenance, I will research where to put it next :D” – SL

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The No Physical Stores Hack

“I stopped shopping in all physical stores other than the grocery store and Costco. By avoiding TJ Max, Macy’s and all of those other stores I simply don’t spend any money on stuff I really don’t need. I cleaned out our closets first and reminded myself just how much excess we already have. I was never a big shopper but this probably saves us a few hundred per year and more importantly I’m not wasting my time in those places!” – OFG

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The “Why I can’t go out to lunch with you” Hack

“My biggest hack has been meal planning AND including my phrase for why I can’t go out to lunch with my coworkers. “Sorry, I have to meet the deadline for XYZ”, “I’m really into this article,” “Bread is the devil!” are some of my favorites. This method has reduced by monthly “dining out” costs from about $400 to $60-70 in the past 6 months. Unfortunately, my attempts to apply it to coffee runs have failed, so still room for improvement!” – Lexee

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The Clinical Study Hack

“Clinical Research Studies! I learned about them from another FIRE enthusiast in my city. I look for the clinical trials that pay well but don’t take up too many of my working days. There’s a 30 day waiting period after each study so even if you push, you can only fit 5-6 in per year. But at $3K average per study that’s plenty! My plan is to bring in an extra $12K-$15K per year, and 100% of that money goes toward moving the needle that much closer to Freedom. (I also don’t want to get used to living on the money in case it’s not an option in the future) If anyone else is interested, you can check out http://jalr.org/. They have a pretty comprehensive list of clinics for each state. Also get ready for some crazy comments from your friends! :)” – Travis

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The Netflix Hack

“I pay for a month of Netflix, download as much as I can and then watch downloads throughout the following months with no subscription. I started this August 2018, and I’ve only paid the $9 twice so I have saved myself $36 thus far.” – L

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The Weekly Savings Hack
(aka The 52-Week Money Challenge)

“I have a savings account for weekly savings. Every week I save that amount of money. For example on January 1st I throw in $1. January 8th I throw in $2. By the end of the year I’m only throwing in $52 and Ive saved almost $1400. It’s easier to do when you’re in the service industry and most of your income comes from tips.”
– Jesse

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The Gratitude Hack

“My best FIRE hack? Gratitude. I know that sounds flippant but it’s for real. I got some perspective traveling to a few developing countries and seeing first hand the problems they face on a daily basis. (No shoes, no safe housing, etc.) Now I can be SO grateful for every little thing, even when things go wrong I still have it so great. We are living on one income ($50k) and banking the other, because it’s ENOUGH. We cut things like cable (but still have Netflix) and expensive phone plans (but kept Republic) and we’re still living better than 99% of the world’s population.” – Samantha

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Thanks for sharing, everyone!

Keep passing them over as you stumble across new ones! They’re fun to read about even if we’re too chicken to try some of them ;)

XOXO,

j. money signature

UPDATE: Here’s a spreadsheet of all these hacks if you want to add to it or organize over time: Fire Hacks (Excel). A reader just sent it to me so thought I’d pass forward in case you like the idea :)

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Links to Amazon above are affiliate links

Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tonya February 19, 2019 at 8:54 am

I like the 52-week money challenge. I have a starter emergency fund of $1,000 a la Dave Ramsey. This is not enough for us since we live in an expensive city, own a condo, and have a child. I’ve been wanting to slowly increase that while still focusing on our debt-eliminating goals. This weekly savings seems like an easy way to do that without derailing our other goals. I’m starting this one today!

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2 J. Money February 19, 2019 at 9:47 am

Excellent!

And be super proud of that $1,000 base too – that’s one of the hardest things to get going and you accomplished it!

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3 Kristen February 19, 2019 at 12:33 pm

These are great, especially the gratefulness one.

I’ll add a few of my own, although these are more for motivations sake than active savings. In 2019, I started a spreadsheet that records Spavings as well as money we saved by getting things for free (borrowing items, volunteering in exchange for something, etc.). Even in just a few weeks, seeing the totals have been very motivating for both my husband and I to keep thinking about ways we can reduce spending by borrowing or looking for less expensive options.

I also started recording money I was mad about spending, basically costs with little to no return on investment. For example, my first entry was a disgusting cup of green tea that cost $4.91 with a side of nasty barista. My friend picked the spot and although reconnecting was great, I’ll lobby harder next time for a different venue or drinks at home. By recording these things, I won’t make that same mistake again in the future and waste more of my money.

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4 J. Money February 19, 2019 at 4:35 pm

Haha love it :)

You’re gonna find out SO MUCH good stuff about your habits and spending over the year! I tracked spavings for only a few months last year and it was pretty eye opening :)

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5 Michelle @ FrugalityandFreedom.com February 19, 2019 at 8:03 pm

Thanks for mentioning my Job Spotter side hustle hack! It really is a great one for earning small amounts easily; just like finding money on the ground while walking around. I enjoy combining it with apps that pay me for walking steps taken – such as Achievemint, Sweatcoin and Walgreens Balance Rewards. I also use Field Agent, Easy Shift and Gig Walk apps to complete short market research tasks on the go, such as photographing in-store displays. Lots of ways to monetize your lunchbreaks or downtime while being active!

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6 J. Money February 20, 2019 at 5:32 am

You are a hustler! Haha…

Have to go google Sweatcoin now – that’s too funny :)

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7 kk February 19, 2019 at 9:41 pm

Jarred- which If This Than That applet do you use? I’d like to do this type of transfer also but didn’t find it in the search function…

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8 Joe February 20, 2019 at 9:44 am

The Job Spotter app sounds really cool. I’ll have to check that out.
We just moved to a bustling neighborhood with shops all around. That app might make some money for me. Thanks!

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9 J. Money February 20, 2019 at 4:46 pm

Cool! You should blog about it if you end up liking it (or hell – even if you don’t! Haha… which would probably be a more welcome post in this day of age ;))

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10 Tracy February 20, 2019 at 10:00 am

I love reading the comments! In fact, I typically read the post from the email subscription and then a few days later read it on the blog via my Feedly reader so that I can see what comments you have received. You have a great community of readers/commenters and I learn so much. Thank you to ALL your commenters!

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11 J. Money February 20, 2019 at 4:52 pm

Haha awesome! And agreed!! :)

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12 Alan | Smart Money Journey February 21, 2019 at 8:40 pm

I especially like cutting the cord with Amazon Prime hack. With Amazon Prime, it has been too easy for my family to order much more than needed. Besides many competitors offer free shipping. If we could cut that out….

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13 J. Money February 22, 2019 at 4:05 pm

Yup – you’d be pretty impressive! ;)

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