Life Hacks: Tips on productivity, minimalism, and saving money

Now that I am a senior in college, it has made me think about life after college ten times more than in the past. Some of the scary realizations I have been experiencing are just how much stuff I have that I don’t wear or use anymore that would have to be moved to a new apartment, I will be more independent with my finances, and that it is completely up to me to get done the little things that no one wants to do. This led me to ultimately getting rid of half my closet and things I haven’t touched in years, finding new apps and ways to save my money, and ways to keep me productive. The small things add up to be huge, and these are the little things I have found that have started to make a dent in my old habits.


Ibotta

While this word probably looks foreign, I reckon you familiarize yourself with this app that will save you hundreds of dollars a year (I am not exaggerating). This app is similar to Target’s “Cartwheel”, but it works at every grocery store, many retail stores, online shopping sites, and most importantly, Chipotle. I know a lot of apps can make you feel skeptical as to if they actually work, and I definitely was, but getting my first $40 back made all skepticism go away. Unlike Cartwheel that will only give you a dinky 5 cents back on an item, Ibotta has given me $1 off of each of my greek yogurts that cost $1.25 each, up to 15%-20% off some items, and even gives me 20 cents back for scanning any receipt aka basically get money back just for making the effort to make it to the store. Ibotta has offers on things I use every week unlike Cartwheel which is great at providing offers for items that aren’t the most practical. I mean I don’t know about you, but things like condensed milk, rabbit food, and prenatal vitamins aren’t on my weekly shopping list. For those who don’t like to connect a credit card to an app to get cash back, Ibotta offers cash back in the form of a gift card to any place you choose. It also is simple to use! Select the store you are shopping at, scroll through and add the offers, and then take a picture of the receipt at the end of your grocery haul or shopping trip. You know you should get it when even your mom is impressed by it.

Prolong that produce

I hate buying fresh produce, or anything that goes bad quickly with my own money. It physically hurts when I find the apples I got are now mushy, my lettuce let me down, and my blueberries are no longer blue but rather white from mold. It literally is throwing money down the drain. Because of this, I have found the tips and tricks to make my produce less like anxiety inducing time bombs. Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, should NOT be all washed at once! Doing this makes them go bad at a faster rate than they already do. I’m not saying don’t wash your fruit, please do, but wash the amount you are going to eat right then and there. Maybe this is the universe’s form of portion control. Second, if you are not someone who can eat a loaf of bread in a couple days (I should say won’t rather than can because bread is irresistible), store it in the fridge, and it will last you up to at most a month! 2 for 1 deal at the store? No need to miss out on saving some green just because your bread doesn’t have preservatives to last a lifetime; put that other loaf in the freezer and it won’t go green like the money you saved on it. Next, avocados. There is a very small window as to when they are actually good to eat, but how do you tell if they are ready when grocery shopping? On the bottom of avocados, there usually is a small stump of a stem left. Peel that off and look in the hole left behind. If it is a dark green, it is ready, if it is light green, it’s too soon, and if it’s black, say your goodbyes. Lastly, keep your bananas yellow by wrapping tin foil around the top of the bunch. Does it work? Yes. Why? I have no clue.

One in, one out

This rule can apply for many things; clothes, shoes, nail polish, accessories, or anything you have too many of already, but keep getting more. The rule, is that whatever you get, one you already have must go. This rule helps me a lot because being someone who loves getting new clothes, but already has too many because I haven’t grown since middle school, it keeps me from needing to invest in another closet. Whatever your obsession may be; using this rule helps you to make the decision if you really need that new thing/want to get rid of one you already have to make room. It helps to clean out your inventory of things you don’t use that much anymore, because it actually makes you think about how much it means to you and if they “spark joy” (I sound like Marie Kondo). For those of you that for some odd reason feel bad for whatever you are parting with (my mom used to tell me inanimate objects would start to cry if I wanted to get rid of them- scarred me for years), this rule may be tough!

Hanger reset

This is also for those who have too many clothes, only wear about a third of them, but keep the rest because you tell yourself you will wear it this year. We all have said it, but that is a LIE. At the beginning of the year (or now), turn all your hangers backwards on the rack. Every time you wear something in the closet, hang it back up the traditional way, showing that it was worn. At the end of the year, get rid of all the clothes with the hangers still reversed the other direction. That way, you have no excuse to say that it will be worn, because you had 365 days to wear it. While this may seem like a ton of work up front, it will save you the work of digging for that one shirt you need to get real fast, but can’t find because you can’t slide your clothes on the rack from having too many.

One of everything

This is more of a minimalist mindset, and may not apply to all things, but it can apply to most and probably is relatable. Ever look in your closet and realize you have 5 white shirts? Four different sets of plates when you only use one? 15 random water bottles? The scenarios go on and on, but I bet that you can think of something in your head right now that you have tons of, yet only use one or two of that thing. In my room right now; I have one plate, one cup, one water bottle, one spoon, one fork, and one bowl of each size. While I understand this is not realistic for those who have houses, families, roommates, and have company over; this can still work in those situations. Do you really need to have 15 place settings of fine China that you use once every five years when in reality, you could use your regular place settings since the only thing people care about is the food that’s on it? In today’s times, as much as I hate to say it, we are turning to more modern times where owning fine dining sets isn’t as common. I can’t speak for everyone, but I am someone who gets stressed out if I have more of something than I need, and it just sits there taking up space that I could use for other things. If it doesn’t serve multiple purposes, or won’t get used- get rid of it!

Poshmark

So what do you do with the mountain of clothes you have now cleared out of your closet, and all the extra stuff you are going to get rid of? Yes, you could just bring it to Goodwill, but some of the stuff you are parting with may be too valuable to you to just give away for free. Poshmark has absolutely changed the game when it comes to buying and selling my clothes and other belongings. What is it? Poshmark is a website (or app) that allows you to sell and buy gently used things- and not just clothes! A lot of the things you find on there are never worn, but the tags are off, because those people are in your same situation where you got it, but it just sat there in your closet without being worn. I have sold so many things- tops, shoes, purses, etc- and have probably made over $150 so far. In addition, this is where probably 3/4 of my wardrobe is from. Brand new Athleta leggings for $20 that are usually $98, brand new jeans, Nikes, workout clothes, you name it. Again, it may seem sketchy, but the reason this works is because these people are desperate to get rid of things, and the cheaper it is listed for, the faster it goes. Once an item of yours sells, Poshmark emails you a prepaid shipping label that you slap on an envelope or box and you are good to go. You can route your earnings to your bank account, or put it in your Poshmark account to put towards anything you buy on there. I haven’t paid full price for anything from Lululemon in years, and it’s so much easier to online shop nowadays anyways!

Two minute rule

Have you ever experienced a time where you sit down on the couch after completing various tasks, but then something else pops into your head and you just say you will do it later? While the task may not be super important, this is more about training yourself to not procrastinate. The two minute rule is: if it takes two minutes or less to complete, just do it now. I rely heavily on this rule when it comes to doing anything related to laundry, and my future self thanks myself later for when I truly don’t feel like trying to fold my fitted sheet. So if you are reading this right now; go print out that document, get that load of laundry, vacuum that rug, fill out that survey, write that email, ask that guy/girl out on a date, and go to the bathroom during that commercial break (we all try to hold it in till the end of the show, don’t deny it). Practicing not procrastinating the little things will help you learn to not procrastinate the big things!

Reminder app

IPhones come with a lot of apps already installed that are barely touched. The Reminder app should not be one of these. If you have never heard of this, or have not used it, I suggest you start. A lot of us program things into our calendars and call it a day. But what about those little things that you need to remember to do, but aren’t important enough to put on a calendar, and because they don’t seem important enough, you forget about them completely? This is what this app is made for. Past things I have set a reminder for are to grab something from my drawer before I left for class, where I hid my mom’s birthday gift in my room a month in advance because I would probably forget after that month went by, to water my succulent named Wyatt every Tuesday, take a pill, get more yogurt, and to remind myself to remind my mom that I needed something from the store. Sound silly? It’s really not because we all have those things we try to remember everyday, and then wake up at 1 AM remembering that we forgot to do it which then adds to the already never ending to do list that our brain can’t remember. Yes you could make a to-do list, but does your paper to-do list notify you to do it? I’d guess no. This app has saved me multiple times, even today. I put a reminder that I had a meeting today, and set it to alert me 10 minutes before. As I was writing this post, I got the notification about the meeting, and it gave me just enough time to do the awkward backpack run all the way to my meeting. This app will save your brain space, as you can set a reminder and totally forget about the fact that you need to get your laundry from the wash in 57 minutes! FYI this is not my reminder list, I’m not that strange.

Bullet Journal

This may not be everyone’s thing, but I started using a bullet journal this year, and it has made my life so much easier and organized. A bullet journal basically is a journal where you keep everything. Before this, I had lists on my phone, lists on my laptop, lists in my room, post it notes everywhere, a spend log, book of bible verses, and three calendars in separate places. I now have compiled it all into one spot, and it made my life so much less stressful because having so many lists everywhere makes it look like you have more to do than you actually do. In my journal, I have a monthly calendar, weekly calendar, habit trackers, spend log, list of all my passwords, list of recipes to try, date ideas because I am cliche like that, Bible verses, to do list, prayer requests, and I already have my Christmas wish list going. Some other ideas I have seen people do are mood trackers, meal plans, fitness trackers, or just pages to doodle and relieve stress.These aren’t great for only keeping your schedule in check, but also your mental and physical health. If this isn’t for you, then you can go back to living a life of lists everywhere you turn.

These hacks may or may not make sense for you, or even help you at all, but I’m positive I’m not the only one who endures daily struggles of having/wanting too many things, is scared of bananas going brown, has a hard time remembering to water my plant (hopefully I won’t have to set a reminder to feed my kids in the future), needs motivation to do something that takes 15 seconds to do, wants to save money, and desires to simplify life a bit more.

Have a great week, friends! Put that in your Reminder app 🙂

~Lauren

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