Update: This is NOT one of those affiliate scams or get-rich-quick schemes. I’m not selling anything and I don’t want your 5 bucks in order to give you a lame-ass PDF supposedly worth thousands of dollars. If you stumbled upon this page by accident, only keep on reading if you want some common sense advice on how to make 500 dollars on your own, through simple, ordinary adjustments to your lifestyle. Now, back to the original article.
I was talking to one of my friends about how bad things were going for him. I genuinely tried to help, offering the best advice I could. He was having difficulties with his financial situation. After the talk, I felt that I didn’t really offer enough practical tips for him to make a change. That got me thinking about the sort of things he could do in order to have more money. I decided to write this article.
“What are some of the most basic things that somebody can do right away and receive some money?” That was my first question. Then I thought that money comes from adding value to some other person’s life. That person then pays you X amount of dollars. But that sounds pretty hard when you don’t have anything to offer another human being. Your life is a mess, your job sucks and you have zero capital. That would be the worst possible scenario, right?
That is exactly what my friend was explaining to me on the phone. He feels his hands are tied because he doesn’t really have anything to offer. “OK, I won’t argue with him,” I thought to myself.
So the challenge is to find some sort of way to make money without actually doing anything. Is that even possible? It must be. I truly believe anything is possible. If that is true, why not make it even more of a challenge? How about… finding something which takes just one second of “not doing” and can make you more money? Let’s say that for one second you’ll receive $100!
If I find a way to achieve this, both my friend and you could earn $500 dollars for just 5 seconds of not doing anything! OK, it shouldn’t be that hard!
1 Wake Up 15 Minutes Earlier
The first thing would be to just wake up. No, I don’t mean it in a figurative way. Actually wake up. Make a conscious decision to wake up a bit earlier. The best thing about this is that the decision to do so takes only one second. If you’re already waking up at 7:00 AM, and that’s when you’re supposed to wake up, just go for 6:45 AM. Just 15 minutes earlier. This habit alone will make you $100 dollars/week.
I sense that you don’t trust me on this one. You don’t? Think about it! You’ll use 15 minutes per day, in the morning, to think about methods for more productivity. Do you really think you won’t be able to find ways in which to make $100 dollars/week? So what I am basically proposing here is that you wake up earlier and use those extra 15 minutes only for the purpose of asking the next question:
“How could I generate $100 more this week?”
Do you think that, if you were to do this and really, truly ponder that question, for the next 5 days (in the morning, when you are fresh and full of energy), you wouldn’t find the answer eventually?
I’ll bet my bottom dollar you’ll find an answer. Your subconscious mind will tell you where you need to go, just do the work and trust it will come through for you!
2 Quit Drinking Lattes
Let me give you another decision which only takes one second to implement.
This will surely add up to much, much more than $100. This alone should be worth 5 times as much!
Do you know about the so called “latte factor?” It’s a theory which says that if you save the money from the lattes you’re drinking daily, you’ll end up a millionaire. There’s an entire movement dedicated to this. Now, I don’t really promote extreme frugality. I don’t believe in it. I love living in luxury and having the finest things in life. I also think you should live the life of Riley only when you can really afford it! Don’t trick yourself into thinking that you can afford small things like a daily latte or a chocolate bar or Pringles, when you know that you are actually scared to add up what those cost over the course of a month!
I had a friend some while back who was absolutely addicted to small eatable stuff like this:
He came from a very rich family so he could afford buying all of these. Unfortunately, he is now very poor. All that chocolate can go to your head!
3 Don’t Waste Gas
Why not decide not to push on the gas pedal right down to the floor, in that split moment when you want to impress your girl or fancy yourself a NASCAR driver? Why not decide not to do that? Don’t you think that will surely mean $100 more in your pocket? Please understand, this is not frugality, my friend. This is just common sense. This is what making balanced choices is all about. And you should practice it in every activity that you undertake. Not only driving. Practice it until being a level-headed individual who doesn’t waste money on unnecessary things comes natural.
You’ll be able to live a lavish lifestyle, I promise you, once you get the money. I’m all for Birdman’s lifestyle! But until then, please be balanced!
4 Eat Your Own Food, Don’t Eat Out!
Yap, you guessed it. It’s the old brown-bag trick that your mum used to put you through when you were in school. She’d overdo it on the bread and skimp on the cured meats and cheese and pack you a homemade, nasty-smelling sandwich! That way, she made sure you didn’t waste her money on expensive treats. It was basically an excuse for not giving you any pocket money. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I did have a bad childhood! But it did work, didn’t it? You should apply it, but maybe just improve on the actual sandwich a bit. This will save you time and money, as you’ll be eating your lunch at work instead of commuting to the nearest pizza place and this will also save you the extra dollars you’d otherwise be shelling out on that extra-large shawarma!
5 Stop Conceptualizing
Everybody plays a game in their heads. In the morning, just after waking up and before getting some breakfast, we think about what needs doing that day. During breaks, at work or while driving to work, we start to think about all we have to do when we get to the office. So when we finally arrive there at the office, we already feel tired and want to quit. We also conceptualize this way when we arrive back home, instead of relaxing and actually detaching from the work environment, we stress about next day’s workload, worry about what we did wrong today, or dwell on a fight we had with our boss or employees last month!
This game that we play in our heads can be stopped. It takes just one second.
Why bother doing this? You’ll be much more productive when you need to be and you’ll have less overall stress. You’ll also have a much more fulfilling existence! That will lead to an increase in the value you bring to your job and, therefore, in your salary. The universe is bound to give you more if you offer more! Be in the moment, be in the “now.” I know this sounds simple. That’s because it is. You should only think about the future when you are in the planning phase and only think about the past when you want to learn something. Outside of those particular times, be in the present moment. Don’t reminisce and don’t visualize. This skill alone will make you richer.
6 Give up Unnecessary Distractions
Look, I know we all need our laser tag weekends with the boys, or our Super Bowl hangout – but do we also need to watch the idiot box every night, just to kick our feet up? If you catch up with all the underlying psychology behind those marketing schemes advertisers throw at their unassuming viewers, you’ll have a better understanding of just how toxic watching TV can actually be… for your bank account. It wreaks havoc on your brain as well and exhausts you no end instead of helping. I won’t even go into all the other, better things you could be doing with your free time if you weren’t wasting it away in front of that outdated contraption. Your laptop’s a far better choice as chilling activities go – think about it, the whole point to a personalized Internet, to cookies and bookmarks, is that, unlike the TV broadcast, whatever you’ll find online, even those annoying banners, is more or less likely to interest you or even give you your next bright idea.
Not to mention, turning it off will also have an impact on your electric bill in the long run.
Think Earth Hour times 24 times 365!
7 Stick to the ‘Must-Buy List’
Making lists is probably the best way to go when it’s time to cough up cash for groceries and the like. Stick a post-it to your fridge and take a second to jot down “milk” when you’re throwing out the empty carton. And so forth, throughout the week. When the time comes to replenish your pantry, grab the list and be on your way, content in the knowledge that this time you won’t be rushing to and fro around the store like a headless chicken. Most of all, the Must-Buy List saves you the extra bucks you’d be shelling out on some random item that grabs your eye on some random shelf – you know you don’t really have to buy it today, but the little devil spender is whispering into your left ear: “Who knows, maybe some day…”
Stick to your guns and to your list and move swiftly through the store in tunnel-vision mode! There’s no other way of getting around the well-placed “sirens” luring you down aisles stocked with stuff you don’t need now and probably won’t ever.
8 Drink Water like Your Life Depended on It
(Which, uhm, it does) Treating yourself to a glass of wine every once in a while isn’t that big of a deal, wallet-wise and also health-wise – it’s preferable to other spirits, strengthens your heart even (in moderation). But more preferable still is plain old water! For one thing, it’s far cheaper than any drink, cheaper even than the slice of lemon that comes with said drink. For another, take a page from all the diet books out there, swearing by the fact that drinking water before a meal will trick their followers’ stomachs into feeling fuller, faster. And that helps you how exactly? Well, the sooner your hunger pangs go away, the sooner you can go off doing something productive with your time, instead of digging into your wallet to get seconds.
And another fun fact – drinking water or just staying away from alcohol at social functions will save you tons on cab fare, since you’ll be able to drive yourself home!
9 Kill the Lights!
Make hay while the sun shines, as the old saying goes. When you do need artificial lighting, try using desk or floor lamps instead of the big glaring ceiling fixtures – it will make it easier for you to remember to turn them off when you leave the room. Even just an hour of unneeded lights translates into a big chunk of change on your power bill.
An equally neat trick that also will only take you a second – or a split second more, depending on how limber you are – is unplugging your devices that you aren’t actively using. So bend down and yank that washer cord out of the socket unless you want the so-called “phantom load” racking up charges on your bill! And again, that makes sense in the bigger, ecological scheme of things too.
10 Do Less Collecting and More Donating
Is there really any need to spend some of your hard-earned cash on that Star Wars figurine that was missing from your set? Or is this whole business of collecting stuff a leftover from another “you” – the “you” who was less focused on success? Or maybe, just maybe, is socking away that cash and finding another home for your playthings a better idea? Whatever your collection might be, unless it’s Faberge Eggs, it’s not doing you any good gathering dust and reminding you of the “good old days” when you were sponging off your parents.
Why not better collect discount coupons, if collecting’s such a hobby? Better still, why not spend just one second chucking stuff you don’t need in a “collection box” and then, when it’s all filled up, running it to the Salvation Army? In exchange, you’d be getting a nice reduction next time you’re paying your taxes and you’d be patting yourself on the back for thinking ahead!
11 Boldly Step into the Computer Age
The need for stacking wads of paper at home in the off chance something will absolutely need printing out is a throwback to an age that’s drawing to a close fast. Everything from stationery to scanners is being edged out by smartphones these days and you don’t need to raid your wallet for old times’ sake and keep them from going extinct. (Good riddance, I say! ) So don’t overdo it on the pretty notepads or glossy date books and switch to the cloud: get e-bills, use online banking (that way you’re less likely to go overboard with your overdraft) etc.
Also, before paying for hardbacks at your corner bookshop, remember they’re goners too! The eBook versions are not only available for everything that comes out nowadays, they’re also cheaper than the “paper dino” kind. I hear you ask – what of the books that didn’t have the Kindle coattails to ride on back when they were first published and won’t be graced with any new, electronic editions any time soon? That’s what free services like PaperBackSwap are for!
12 Take “There’s an App for That” to Heart
Keep up-to-date with the news on the mobile app front! If I hadn’t been subscribed to all sorts of sites that keep track of every new development in that area, for instance, I wouldn’t have found out that Microsoft had made its Office pack available for free to iPhone and Android users. This and other pieces of news just like it that come out on a daily basis can help you save a lot of money, especially since the intensely competitive Internet milieu is driving prices down. Trend hunters and journos everywhere are always pointing to an ever-widening range of open-source services and it bears emphasizing – the mobile platform, still very much in its infancy, is growing freer and more diverse by the minute.
A savings-oriented individual can spare a second to jump on that bandwagon – sign up to the biggest news outlets out there and be the first to find out when your favorite service provider finally gives in to the overwhelming tide of freebies and gives its product away for everyone, you included, to enjoy.
13 Keep Your Friends Close and Your Cards at Bay
Since this might seem to be turning into a longer how-to of saving than just one second’s worth, remember everyone’s routines are different, so you are free to pick and choose the steps that are right for you. And again, my main disclaimer here is that I don’t promote frugality – for instance, I’d never advise you not to go out with friends anymore just because the expense might be too taxing. On the contrary, hanging out with mates is important (and by the way, your own house a good a venue as any for that, and cheaper than most to boot!). I’d only have this to add – no good will come out of having your cards on you when you do go out for some fun. Take a second to leave your plastic at home and only grab the maximum amount of cash you can afford to spend on such an outing. Otherwise, unnecessary expenses will creep up on you for sure.
Instead, I want to run this by you:
how is the company of your friends helping you in your endeavor to change your (spending) habits?
There’s one “school of thought” that posits we’re very much influenced by the people closest to us, to the point of allowing their outlook on life to seep into and taint our own – ask yourself, who among your group of friends is negatively swaying your resolve to tweak your spending today for more cash in hand tomorrow? And, when you consider that, also ask yourself this question – are they really your friends?
14 Shop Smart for Gifts and Think Out of the Box
Say you’re invited to a christening, or a wedding, or any other event that, as we all know, is just a convenient excuse that people use to “guilt” their loved ones into getting gifts. Gift lists are all the rage nowadays, making the process so streamlined that choosing not to buy into it might land you in the wedding party’s glare or even at the children’s table! That’s unless you give the newlyweds a second’s thought and consider what service you might provide instead of an expensive gift. Offer to walk their dog or babysit or house-sit while they’re off on their honeymoon – people are more likely to appreciate that sort of selfless gesture than a gift card or some other random, impersonal buy.
Also, a neat trick I employ whenever the big holidays come along is what I like to call squirreling purchases away. Next Easter, for instance, hold off on buying stuff beforehand, wait out the shops – give it a couple of days before hitting the shelves, then get all the unperishable goods (at a discount) that you’ll be storing for next year’s gift-giving bonanza.
15 Put the Break on Impulse Buying
Closely related to the rule above is another one that will come in handy whenever you find yourself in front of a shopping cart, be it an actual one or a virtual one. More often than not, we find ourselves moseying on to e-shops just to pass the time – which will result in a bunch of unnecessary deliveries the next day. So, if you want to avoid pulling out your hair at the sight of last night’s impulse purchases, don’t press the “buy” button right away. First, imagine yourself using it, then imagine yourself using it ten days later. If the overall benefits are the same now as they will be in ten days’ time, put a pin in it (bookmark it so the day’s “research” doesn’t feel like a complete waste) and move on from the alluring site.
Another thing you could try to dissuade yourself from shelling out on things you don’t actually need is erasing your stored passwords on a regular basis – that way, when you’re presented with the task of filling out the account forms all over again or going through the “lost password” motions, chances are you’ll give up on the spot. Or else, those extra seconds of filling out your data might amount to just the time you need for the “I don’t actually need this” penny to drop.
16 Dress to Impress… on Less
Clothes that go well together – that’s the key to being a swanky dresser on a budget. If you find it hard to figure out which tie goes with which pair of pants – as most men do – next time you’re out shopping for a suit, grab a girl friend with an eye for that sort of thing. The secret to putting together a wardrobe for yourself, which most men aren’t aware of, is that it doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg. If you have just a bit of fashion sense and you’re not color-blind, you could be donning a different look every day, just not a different outfit necessarily, but a different pairing of clothes! And you achieve it by mixing, matching, layering.
Also, don’t go “generic” – that only applies to foodstuff, where brand buys are no better, just more expensive, than generic ones. When it comes to clothes, making an investment in a pair of Levi’s jeans will hold you over for years, whereas cheaper stuff will cost you in the long run.
17 Stay Fit without Taking a Financial Hit
The next time you feel like renewing your gym membership – don’t. Take a beat and a look around your neighborhood. Aren’t there any better ways of burning calories and keeping in shape? I bet you could ride your bike around the block a few times and achieve the same six pack abs you’ve been chasing on a treadmill for months. Give it a try, it’s free and the gym’s not going anywhere if you decide it’s not for you. And if you’re worried about sticking to it without a personal trainer or your gym buddies to spur you on, then try turning the daily bike ride into a fun outing with similarly-minded friends.
Alternatively (or jointly) you could replace the treadmill with an early run to catch the bus (and using public transportation will also drive down your gas expenditure), replace the stepper by taking the stairs instead of the elevator and so on. Pretty soon you’ll end up realizing the gym is just a fancy construct invented for people who can’t commit to their own health or can’t trust their willpower to last them for longer stretches of time – and you’re certainly not as weak as that, are you?
18 Prevention Is Better Than Cure
There’s probably no better motto to live your life by than this. The sooner you realize that adding this thought to your decision-making process equals money in the bank, the better. It basically means you’re investing a bit of time and/or cash now to save on future disasters: like insuring your home, buying a surge protector before a power surge damages all your toys, running a regular, routine check of your appliances instead of waiting for them to go on the fritz. Which they will, they always do, thinking they won’t is living in wide-eyed denial!
What this all comes down to is saving by preventing – more often than not, any damage that can befall your house or your office is both easy to preempt and costly to fix. It’s up to you to decide which is the smartest way to go.
19 Don’t Wait Till the Last Minute to Plan Fun Times
Pick a day, any day of the year, and earmark it for making big splashy plans for big splashy fun. These include concerts, vacations and the like. You’ll probably know which music festivals you’ll attend and which sunny beach you’ll want to soak up the rays on, while everyone else is freezing their buttocks off at Christmas! So why not book the vacay in advance and get the early-bird concert ticket, instead of paying a tout extra at the entrance, as if the thing were made of gold?!
Even if you don’t end up buying on “Big Splashy Day,” use the time you’ve set aside to sign up for every newsletter that will alert you to new concert tix coming on sale or new discounts on trips or flights. That way, you’ll never pay extra just for being late to get wind of fun stuff.
20 Read the Fine Print!
Have you ever given your phone bill a second’s thought or, God forbid, looked it over at least once? The same goes for your satellite or cable bill and so on – they’re all contracts you enter into with companies whose livelihood depends on your business. So it’s no wonder they’ll try to stiff you, or sneak some services past you, or cold-call you and pressure you into switching to some other, pricier type of account (in which case you should always ask for some time to think about it, instead of agreeing on the spot just to get the marketers off your back).
Even if it’s only 5 bucks on top of your regular bill, that extra Internet option might be something you don’t actually use, never have, never will, so why keep paying for it? By the same token, why keep paying for HBO if you’ve got a Netflix subscription? Look for redundancies like that and you’re on track to an overall windfall by the time next month’s bill comes along.
So what do you think? Will you be able to stick to just 5 of these life-changing decisions that you’ll only spend just as many seconds to make? I’m guessing that you’ve realized by now that applying these tricks might actually bulk up your savings account by as much as $5,000 or $50,000, rather than just $500!
Main Photo via 401(K) 2012