Life hacking is about looking at your current expenses that you cannot avoid paying and utilising existing or additional resources/ideas to reduce these expenses. Life hacking can also entail utilising your existing resources more efficiently for your own use or for profit. Below are some examples of how you can utilise existing websites to either leverage your time or your current resources to either reduce costs or widen your experiences. Not all of these suggestions will resonate with you but I hope that you at least explore one of the ideas listed below.
Free Food and Accommodation
Trading your time for food and board: There are a number of sites that you can travel the world with trading a few hours of your time per day for food and accommodation. Whilst this is not a new concept, the internet has made it much easier to organise a few weeks of your time; teaching people how to surf in Spain, taking snorkelling tours in Costa Rica or gardening in Sydney. If you are unfamiliar with these sites, then I strongly encourage to explore the multitude of possibilities and experiences, firstly in your local neighbourhood and then further afield. Sites include; workaway.info and HelpX.net and worldpackers.com
There is also a site that enables you to find accommodation for free in your neighbourhood or whilst you are travelling. Check out couchsurfing.org
There are a number of people that are travelling through your community right now that either need a hand moving a vehicle or a boat. They are quite happy to pay for your expenses and in some instances may even offer a bonus payment. There are a number of sites that you can check out where there may be a rideshare or crew required. Have a look on gumtree.com for vehicle ride share or on cruisersforum.com for boat crew. You will be amazed at how many opportunities there are to travel the world for free.
Employing a minion
There are a lot of people that are looking for new cultural and social experiences in your neighbourhood. They are willing to help with your online business, do your laundry, your gardening, cooking, babysitting and cleaning. These young travellers need some initial direction in the first instance but for the most part are enthusiastic about helping out around the house for food and board. So if you have a spare room (or couch) and need a hand around the house or with your online business then sign up as a host on workaway.info or HelpX.net or worldpackers.com
Free or cheap WiFi
Do you currently pay an exorbitant amount for WiFi? There are a number of places that offer free WiFi in your neighbourhood like your library, local café, and fast food restaurants. There are also a number of sites that will show you where you can access free wireless access points like wifispc.com or mobile apps where users have shared hotel wifi passwords like ‘WiFi Map – Free Passwords’. However, if you require fast internet at home, have you considered asking your neighbour for a WiFi share arrangement. You could halve your internet bill overnight.
Loyalty programs and the loyalty point’s game!
The multitude of loyalty programs became apparent to me when I saw a lady at the cash register the other day pull out her separate wallet that contained all her loyalty cards! Many individuals enjoy free flights, free appliances and free gift cards through their loyalty program every year. The best advice that I can offer, is choose the retailer or airline that you like the most and have all your loyalty programs feed into this particular program. For me it is my frequent flyer program as I love to travel.
Frequent Flyer points: Most airlines offer a loyalty program that reward you with points when you fly with them or purchase products with their partners. If you travel regularly then I am sure you have capitalised on the free flights that can be cashed in for your accumulated points.
Retail outlets: Most big retailers offer loyalty programs that reward you with points when you purchase products with them. Retailers may include supermarkets, department stores and electrical wholesalers.
Credit card points
Most credit cards offer a points program whereby for every dollar that you spend you accumulate points to be redeemed for appliances, flights or gift vouchers. With a little bit of research you can find a credit card that affords you a massive point’s sign up bonus and ongoing points for your purchases.
Another way to exploit the massive sign up bonus on a credit card is to revisit this process every 3 to 4 months and get a new card (and terminate the previous credit card).
As with the loyalty programs listed above, I encourage you to pick one retailer/program that you like and funnel all your points into that program.
I cannot stress enough that your credit card should be zeroed at the end of each month so that you do not incur interest payments, as the credit cards with the highest paying loyalty programs are also the ones that are the most likely to have the highest interest rate!
There are a number of websites that enable you to be matched with property owners that require house and pet setting for a number of months whilst they are on holidays. You will be amazed at the locations that people require house sitting in your neighbourhood and around the world. If you would like to travel the world and not pay for accommodation then these sites are for you! trustedhousesitters.com, nomador.com, and rover.com to name a few.
Once you have found a product that you would like to buy online, then spend a few moments looking for a promotional code for that retailer/website. In time this will become second nature and you will be amazed at how many times you will save 10-20% of the advertised price.
Learn a Language for Free
Have you ever wanted to learn a new language or phrases to help you while you travel. There are a number of sites that offer free courses to help you learn a new language. The content and delivery of language course is different depending on the site, so I encourage you to try a few sites to find a mode of delivery that resonates with your learning style. Have a look at www.bbc.co.uk and www.openculture.com
It is interesting to calculate the number of hours each week that you spend driving to the supermarket and shopping for the same items that you purchase each week. As a guess, I would estimate that this is at least 5 hours of your time each week and 5 hours that you could be doing much more productive things like implementing passive residual income ideas. If you have never ordered your groceries online and have them delivered (usually for free) then I encourage you to try this at least once.
Welcome to the new brave new world of outsourcing! You will be amazed at how much of your work and daily life can be outsourced at a fraction of the time (and often cost) that it takes you to do it. A virtual assistant costs approximately $400 per month, a website can be built from scratch for $100 with content, an animation can be developed for $150, and a logo can be tailored to you company for $50.
My favourite story was of a guy working in the US who earned six figures at a well known IT company and outsourced his entire job to a guy in China for a fraction of his salary. He simply checked the work when it came in from China and passed it onto his boss. Unfortunately he was caught when he went on extended holidays and his freelancer in China emailed his company to ensure that all the work had been completed satisfactorily as he couldn’t get in contact with anyone! Don’t make the same mistake!
If you are new to outsourcing, then I would encourage you to explore these sites: freelancer.com and upwork.com
Consolidating your Debts
One of the most money saving life hacking skills is to consolidate your debts into the lowest interest rate possible. You will be surprised by how much you can save each month by consolidating your personal loans and/or credit cards and/or mortgage into one low interest rate loan. There are numerous comparison sites online that you can check out to see what the best loans around are at the moment and be sure to look at the comparison rates as these factor in the hidden fees and charges.
It is also possible to transfer the balance of your credit card to another credit card that offers a 0% introductory offer for 6 to 12 months. This may provide you with some debt relief and enable you to pay off your debt interest free.
Semi-retirement and retirement
If all your living expenses are covered by your passive residual income streams then congratulations, you are now retired!
There are a number of people that are retiring or semi-retiring early as they have realised that if they reduce their cost of living then they require less passive income to offset their reduced cost of living. In order to reduce costs of living a number of people are relocating to countries that are extremely affordable with a similar standard of living that individuals are accustomed to. Check out the Global Retirement Index that is published annually for inspiration and as a guide, the estimated cost of living in Ecuador is $1500 per month.
There are lots of shades of retirement and the most common shade that a lot of people that I come across in my travels have embraced is the 3/9 or 6/6 whereby they work three of six months of the year in a high paying job in their birth country and then spend nine or six months in another country listed on the Global Retirement Index.