35 life hacks that will save you thousands

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Do-it-yourself skills to save you hundreds!

If you need money, and you're tired of paying thousands of dollars on utilities, groceries and more, it's time for you to master a few life hacks. You can easily get that money back just by changing the way you shop, clean and even sleep. Click through to discover 35 life hacks that can help you save thousands of dollars — or perhaps even more.

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35 Life Hacks That Will Save You Thousands (GOBankingRates.com)
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35 life hacks that will save you thousands

1. Scan Grocery Receipts for Cash Back

Save money on groceries by using smartphone apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51, which give you cash back on your grocery store purchases. All you have to do is scan the receipts after you shop. For just a minute of your time, you'll likely earn about $5 a week, adding up to hundreds a year.

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2. Buy Prescription Drugs at Costco Without a Membership

Membership warehouse stores like Sam's Club and Costco have good prices on prescription drugs — and you don't have to be a member to buy them. Take advantage of Costco's low prices, and don't worry about purchasing a membership.

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3. Save $200 a Year by Using a Clothesline

Go back to the future: Dry your clothes on an old-fashioned clothesline. It'll save your family about $200 per year compared to using an electric dryer — according to calculations by Mr. Electricity — and your clothes will last much longer.

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4. Thriftier Swiffer

Has your Swiffer WetJet run dry? Remove the cap from the fluid canister and fill it with cheaper, concentrated cleaner mixed with water, rather than buying another Swiffer-branded bottle.

You can also save by using dryer sheets — new or even used — rather than buying a box of Swiffer sheets for your Swiffer Sweeper.

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5. Kool-Aid in Your Toilet?

Dump a package of grape Kool-Aid in the tank of your toilet, and don't flush it for an hour. Then, if you see purple water in the toilet bowl, you know you have a slow leak, one that you can't even hear. It's wasting water — and money — and can usually be fixed easily and cheaply.

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6. Get More Toner Out of Your Printer

If your printer is out of black ink, change the text color to dark blue — you'll be able to print a couple more times before needing a refill. And always print in Garamond typeface rather than more popular fonts like Times New Roman, Century Gothic or Comic Sans, since Garamond uses less ink.

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7. Skip the Shopping Cart

When you run into the grocery store to "pick up a few items," literally "pick them up" rather than use a cart or shopping basket. By forcing yourself to carry your purchases, you'll be less likely to buy things you didn't intend to buy and don't need.

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8. Ask for Free Upgrades -- But Don't Book Them

Use this trick to upgrade your vacation for free: Reserve a standard car or room, and then politely ask for a free upgrade when you arrive. If they have one available, it's usually a pretty easy score.

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9. Get a Closer, Cheaper Shave

When your multi-track disposable razor gets really dull, try pushing the blade a dozen or so times against the skin on your forearm or against your thigh in a pair of blue jeans. This will realign and sharpen the blades, giving you more shaves for the buck.

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10. Don't Use Shaving Cream

Skip the shaving cream, and lather up with a bar of bath soap instead. Invest in an old-fashioned bristle brush, and you'll get the cleanest and cheapest shave available, sans the cream.

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11. Zip Pants Before Washing Them

Always remember to zip up jeans and other garments that have metal zippers before laundering them. Those little metal teeth are like miniature chainsaws, tearing up and ruining other expensive clothing in the washer and dryer.

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12. Sync Your Sleep Schedule With Daylight

Adjusting your sleep schedule to better coincide with daylight hours will allow you to save on your daily electrical usage. Plus, you'll wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

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13. Shop With Discount Gift Cards

Gift card exchange websites sell discounted gift cards for everywhere from Best Buy to Home Depot for less than their remaining value. Stock up, and use them instead of cash for your next purchases.

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14. Gym Membershp Savings

Some health insurance plans offer reimbursements or discounts on gym memberships. Benefits vary by provider, so check with your insurance to see if you're eligible.

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15. Carry Around $100

There's a lot of research that shows if you pay in cash rather than with a credit card, you'll likely spend less. Take it one step further and only carry large bills like $50s or $100s, which are even harder to break — it'll keep you from making impulse purchases.

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16. Get an Extra Potato for Free

When buying pre-bagged produce — like a 10-pound bag of potatoes, onions and apples — always weigh the bags before selecting the one you want to purchase. The weight marked on the bag is the minimum weight required by law, and some bags will likely weigh in at more, even though they cost the same.

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17. Skip the Rental Car Insurance

A lot of private auto insurance policies and many major credit cards provide coverage for rental cars, particularly when rented for personal use (as opposed to for business). Check their policies just to make sure, but chances are good that you can skip the expensive insurance coverage offered by the rental car company.

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18. Save Old Calendars

Real cheapskates know that eventually all annual calendars will be timely once again. For example, your 2015 wall calendar can be used again in the years 2026, 2037, 2043, 2054, 2065, 2071, 2082 and counting. And your 2016 wall calendar can be used again in the years 2044, 2072 and 2112 and counting. For a handy schedule of when you can reuse your old calendars, visit WhenCanIReuseThisCalendar.com.

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19. Insulate Your Outlets

Stop heat loss and drafts with inexpensive, easy-to-install foam insulating gaskets on the back of electrical wall switches and outlets. Bonus tip: While you're installing the gaskets, write the color and brand of the paint used in the room on the back of the switch plate to remember it when touching up or repainting.

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20. Crock-Pot Humidifier

Cooking more meals at home in an old-fashioned slow cooker (aka "Crock-Pot") will save you some major bucks. But also use one in the bedroom in the winter to add humidity to the air and help stretch the heat. Just keep it filled with water, with the lid off and set on low — it will cost hardly anything to operate, and house guests will be really curious about the steaming slow cooker in your bedroom.

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21. Granny's Electric Teapot

Remember the electric teakettle your grandmother always used? Well, granny knew best. When boiling just a small amount of water, an electric teapot is the most economical method, compared to the microwave or stove-top.

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22. Start a Drippings Jar

Nothing frustrates a cheapskate more than trying to get the last smidgeons of product out of a jelly jar or other condiment container. Shake a little apple cider vinegar around in near-empty containers to get them nice and clean, then add the contents to a wide-mouthed “drippings jar” kept in the fridge. This ever-evolving flavorful concoction makes a great salad dressing, meat marinade or dipping sauce.

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23. Use Wool Balls in the Dryer

Skip the fabric softener and dryer sheets by making your own "wool balls" out of old woolen yarn and a pair of worn-out pantyhose — just Google "wool balls" for DIY instructions. They'll help your clothes dry faster and keep garments nice and soft, all without the use of chemicals (or your wallet).

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24. Bubble Wrap Your Windows

In the fall, lightly mist the inside of uninsulated windows with water. Then, apply a sheet of sized bubble wrap, bubble side facing the windowpane. The bubble wrap will cling to the window all winter long, boosting the insulating value, and come off neat and clean in the springtime.

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25. Stay Away From Extended Service Plans

Those extended service plans they always push on customers at electronics and appliance stores are a great deal — for the stores selling them. They do, indeed, provide some additional protection for most products, but the vast majority are never used, since many problems are covered under the manufacturer's warranty. What's more, people often forget they even bought the extended coverage plan in the first place.

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26. Go for Store-Brand Savings

Everyone knows that "generic" or store-brand products are cheaper than name brands, but maybe you don’t know just how much cheaper. According to Consumer Reports, you’ll save an average of about 25 percent when you buy store brands.

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27. Grow Food, Not Lawns

The growing movement to replace costly, high-maintenance lawns with veggie-producing garden space has even taken root at the White House. Google "grow food, not lawns" for tips on how to supplement your grocery budget, and reduce lawn care costs by starting an eco-friendly yard garden.

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28. Check Your Refrigerator Seals

The seals around refrigerator and freezer doors need to be replaced periodically to avoid energy loss. Test for a tight seal by closing the door on a dollar bill; if you can pull the dollar out, the seal needs replacing and your energy dollars are being wasted.

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29. Kill the Dust Bunnies

After you check the seals on your fridge, take a few minutes to vacuum out the dust bunnies living underneath it and clean the coils. Keeping the coils clean and dust-free can increase the energy efficiency of a refrigerator, saving you money on your utility bills.

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30. Save the Rainwater

Installing a rain barrel to provide water for your lawn and garden can save you a barrel full of money on your water bills. Conserving water is always the eco-friendly thing to do, and many municipal governments now offer tax and other incentives to encourage homeowners to reduce storm water runoff.

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31. Plant Some Trees

Trees and other landscaping can not only increase your home's value, but if carefully positioned to shade the house and act as a windbreak, they can reduce your home energy costs by about 25 percent. Talk about a growing investment.

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32. Make DIY Nontoxic Cleaner

Make an inexpensive, all-natural, all-purpose household cleaner by loosely filling a heat resistant glass container with leftover citrus peels, then adding equal parts boiling water and white vinegar. Cover and let it sit for a week before straining it into spray bottles.

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33. Clear the Dryer Vent

Keep the vent coming from your clothes dryer clean and free from blockage at all times. A clogged dryer vent reduces the appliance's energy efficiency and can cause a fire.

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34. Trick Yourself Out of Online Impulse Shopping

When shopping for an item on an e-commerce site, search for the specific product (e.g., "DVD player") instead of surfing the general product category (e.g., "electronics"). One study showed that online shoppers who search by the category were three times more likely to keep browsing after they found the item they wanted.

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35. Shred Your Own Carrots

Everyone knows that you pay more at the grocery store for produce that’s already prepared, like those little bags of shredded carrots. Given the minimal time involved and the difference in price compared to buying whole carrots and shredding them yourself, you're paying someone else a bundle just to do several minutes of work. Buy the cheaper, unprepared versions of all produce.

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RELATED: 11 ways to save at Whole Foods

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11 ways to save at whole foods
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35 life hacks that will save you thousands

Be wary of dairy in glass containers

If you grab milk or cream from a glass bottle, you'll be charged for the price of the bottle in addition to its contents. If you must purchase the glass bottle version of the product, be sure to bring it back to Whole Foods next time you're shopping and customer service will give you a voucher.

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Bring your own bags

Whole Foods will offer you a five to 10 cent discount from your total for bringing your own bag.

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Don’t buy Whole Foods pre-packaged containers of fruits and veggies

You'll end up paying way more and receiving way less. Always opt for the full version of the fruit or vegetable and prepare it yourself.

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Take advantage of bulk meat deals

Deals on bulk amounts of certain meats vary from location to location. Ask the butcher about what bulk meat deals your local Whole Foods is offering.

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Look for bright yellow tags

Special deals (that only last for a few days or a week) are unadvertised outside of the store but can be found while shopping by their bright yellow tags.

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Check out specialty online coupons

You can enter your local Whole Foods store online and print off coupons and deals that are specific to your local Whole Foods--some coupons are valid for up to three months. 

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Buy cases of products you like and save 10 percent

Whether it's protein bars or wine, Whole Foods will discount a case-sized version of your product for 10 percent, a well worth it investment if it's a product your consuming often.

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Shop the Friday-only sales

Stores will offer specialty Friday-only sales that can offer you major one-day savings.

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Shop the Whole Foods 365 value brand

The store's value brand is extremely well-priced and will offer you the healthiest version of discounted products, as there will be a significantly lower amount of preservatives than other discount brands, according to Whole Foods.

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"Like" your local Whole Foods' Facebook page for news on special deals and discounts

Deals will vary from store to store and are always advertised through social media.

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Bring your own containers when shopping the bulk section

When weighing your bulk purchase at checkout, Whole Foods will subtract the price of the weight of your container if you bring your own from home instead of using the ones provided in the store.

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