As a parent, I am always looking for hacks to save time and money. We all want to spend more time with our kids and have our money work for us while doing it. In talking to other parents, here are 5 hacks they use to do just this.

1.  Negotiate Your Monthly Bills (Via Billshark or Trim).

If you have a ton of free time on your hands you can call your cable, phone, and internet companies and haggle your way to some savings. But the best way to go about saving $$$ is to use either Trim or Billshark. Is this a good option for you?  And what are the advantages and disadvantages?  

Let’s answer those questions by taking a deeper look at the 2 most popular services.  They will haggle on your behalf, and you keep most of the savings. Here’s how each app works and the pros/cons.

First let’s talk about BillShark.  Its super easy to get started, and here is how it works.

  • Snap a picture of your bills
  • Submit it through their app/website/email
  • They get to work, saving you about $300 a year per bill
  • They have a 85% success rate

What’s particularly interesting is that they can negotiate a wide variety of bills including alarm systems, gym memberships, storage units etc.  In return they take 40% of the savings, which can feel like a lot but the beauty of it is they do all the work and their success rate pays for itself.  Besides, most of us don’t know how and will never get around to negotiating all of our bills.

Another option, similar to Billshark, is an app called Trim.  What makes Trim different from BillShark is 3 main things.

  • They take a smaller share of savings (33%)
  • They also offer a high yield savings account (1.5%), much higher than your typical bank account.
  • But they focus on fewer bills, mainly internet, telephone, and cable.

2.  Manage Your 401(k) via blooom

How often do you manage your 401(k) investments? Most parents are too busy chasing their kids and rushing to work to spend quality time on managing their 401(k). Which is crazy when you think about it. With the uncertainty of social security and a looming recession, protecting and growing your nestegg is super important.

That’s why Blooom is a life saver.  They will analyze your account for FREE and if you choose you can have them manage your 401(k) investments for $10/month.

There is no account minimum and compared to larger brokerage services, this is a drop in the pan. Most importantly, it ensures that time and energy is spent on one of our most valuable assets. And helps us build our nest egg for when we need it.

3. Forecast your financial future

One of the things us parents do a lot is think and talk about the future. What will it cost to send our kids to school? How will we ensure they are financially secure into the future. And with so much uncertainty, it is nice to have a tool like PocketSmith that helps forecast your future finances.

It looks at the history and trends of your income and expenses and helps you predict your future cash flow. This type of information is super useful as it enables you to change and improve your financial future by preparing now, before it is too late.

PocketSmith has a free plan, which analyzes 2 accounts, and if you want a broader analysis and automated tools, the premium version is $7.50 to $10 a month.

4. pay off debt faster (and smarter)

At a kids birthday party recently, a few of us parents got into a conversation about how much to save and how much debt to pay off. We all had different perspectives depending on how worried we are about a looming recession.

But what we all agreed upon is that we are not spending enough time paying down debt at a time when interest rates are at an all-time low, and are likely to increase soon.

After some research, we came across Qoins which intelligently rounds up your transactions, and takes that extra change to pay down your debt. Or you can set up some basic rules on when to put down an extra $10 or $50 towards debt.

Either way, paying down some debt can reduce your future expense load when interest rates go up and the economy tightens.

5. Make Your Credit Bullet (and Future) Proof

Most parents do not have contingency plans for how to handle a recession. One thing we know is that in a recession, credit tightens and having a good credit score, can help you access money at affordable rates when you may need it most.

That’s why I have used Credit Sesame to analyze my credit score, improve it, and monitor it for free.

If you’re wondering how they provide this for free, it’s interesting to note that they may recommend products and services from their advertisers. But you are never obligated to take them up on it. I find this to be an easy and free way to stay on top of my credit and boost it (especially if you are in the 600-750 range).