Nine Life Hacks You Won't Find Anywhere Else


###Use Pennies to Identify Recurring Monthly Payments

Let’s say you owe a creditor $50 per month. You make one $50 payment, then another. And another. Then the creditor comes to you claiming that a $50 payment wasn’t made. Finding and identifying the missing check-or deduction-now becomes a complicated exercise. To avoid this problem, make your first payment in the amount of 50.01. The second, 50.02 and so on. Now if a creditor claims that a payment has gone missing, you can quickly determine which payments were received and which checks haven’t been cashed. If the creditor claims, for example, that he has received a payment of 50.01 and 50.03 and you show you paid 50.02 as well, the error is his and not yours. It’s a lot easier looking for a 50.02 payment than trying to figure out which $50 payment is at issue.

You can restart the penny sequencing the next year, or in the case of a mortgage, you can simply keep adding the pennies. Once you hit 99, you can start over, or add a dollar to the amount.

Note that you must overpay by a penny (or two or three) because if you are one penny short your creditor will mark the bill as delinquent and charge you late fees.

Most creditors will merely credit the extra penny payment to your accounts. Some credit card companies will-astonishingly-send you a check for the overage. No matter: they will still note each month’s payment in the amount received.

Imagine what you could do with mills…

Avoid Late Fees by Paying Your Bills Ahead

Most American families live paycheck to paycheck so late fees are a fact of life. One way to avoid this problem is to pay bills one month in advance. This way, you are never late because the bill you are paying this month is next month’s bill.

What if don’t have the cash available to do this? The answer is to reach that one month cushion goal slowly. Can you pay 25% more this month? Save that 25% and in four months you’ll have enough to make an advance payment.

This method does not work with many credit card companies, especially those that want you to carry a balance. Some will return your advance payment, and some will credit the advance payment as merely an additional payment. Be careful because this tip will not work with all creditors.

This tip only works to avoid late fees. If you are looking to make extra interest-only payments in order to pay down this method will not work.

Go to a Chiropractor for an X-Ray

Chiropractic physicians are licensed in most English-speaking countries. In other countries, the practice of chiropractic is restricted or banned. While the originators of chiropractic believed that all diseases began with the spine and could be cured through spinal adjustment, today’s chiropractors have morphed into sports doctors. Their knowledge of musculature is invaluable on the sidelines. But even if you do not play sports or believe in the efficacy of chiropractic medicine, there is still one area where chiropractors beat the competition: the X-Ray.

If you need a quick X-Ray, go to a chiropractor. He will be happy to serve you, quickly and economically. If he thinks a bone is broken, he will be happy to refer to an orthopedic physician. Chiropractors do not set broken bones. If you want, you will be given a copy of your X-Ray which you can take to another doctor. Since most X-Rays these days are initially read overseas, you can save time and money by getting an X-Ray from a chiropractor instead of waiting in the cacophony of the Emergency Room of a hospital where you will be charged extortionate fees.

Privacy in Hotels

If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel in the Middle East, you know that the peephole in your room has a lid which is closed to protect the guest’s privacy. In the rest of the world (at least in the Western Hemisphere, Europe, China and Southeast Asia) there are no similar privacy protections. More than one peeper has pried using specialty lenses to see through the hole. How can you protect yourself? There is a cheap and effective solution-put a post-it note over the keyhole. Now no one can see in.


Writing a college paper, report or a document for work? What do you do when you are in the groove and suddenly you need a fact? If you stop to look up a fact next thing you know you’re checking your e-mail or looking at the calendar or browsing Reddit or answering the phone. Your groove is gone. How do you stay in the groove?

When you need to fill in a citation (quick, what’s the U.S. cite for Miranda v. Arizona?) and you don’t have it, simply write, “TBA” for “to be added.” When you finish, you can go back and fill in all of the missing information. The TBA’s are easy to find using the “Find” function in your application.

Oh if I had only known this in college…

Cover-up the Seatback Video Display Using a Large Post-it

Have you ever been on a night flight when the video display on the back of the seat in front of you wouldn’t turn off? And you ask the flight attendant for help and he tries and fails to turn off the display? All is not lost–Post-it notes are your friend. There is a version of the Post-it note which comes in the size of a half-sheet of letter paper. You can post several Post-it’s in this size over the display. You will need more than one because the display’s uncomfortable brightness will shine through a single sheet. Problem solved.

Break-in a New Notebook

Did you ever buy a new notebook and hesitate before writing in it? Not because of writer’s block, but perhaps because you bought the notebook with one idea in mind (to keep a diary) but are wondering if maybe you should use it for the grocery list? Or maybe you bought an expensive notebook and really don’t want to use it for grocery lists but you’re not ready to write your memoirs?

Open the notebook. Turn to the last page. Rotate the notebook 180 degrees (a half circle). Scribble your grocery list or whatever else you want. This writing does not “count” because, after all, it’s at the back of the book. Once you do this you will find it easier to use your notebook for its intended purpose.

Robbing a Bank

There is an art to bank robbery. The average bank robber only walks out with $700 or so. The take isn’t worth the risk. In order to successfully rob a bank you must…(you don’t really think I’m going to tell you, do you?)

Lost? Go to the Fire Department

If you’re in a new city (or just plain lost) drop by the Fire Department and ask how to get to where you’re going. The Fire Department relies on having this information to fight fires and respond to emergencies. Unless they are in the middle of a call, they are usually happy to help.

The Log (from Jerry Pournelle)

Reading Jerry Pournelle’s monthly column in Byte Magazine in the 1980’s and 90’s was always a pleasure. While the focus of the column was Jerry’s exploration of the new world of computing, sometimes there were tips that had application outside the usual talk of connecting a chain of SCSI devices.

Jerry’s tip was to maintain a log. He described it, as I remember it, as follows: keep one place, not several, where your write everything down. Talk to someone? Write down their name. Someone gives you a phone number? Write it down. You have to look up an address? Write it down. You look up a piece of information? Write it down. Over the year this advice has proved invaluable. Oftentimes, when you commence a project there are steps you have to go though along the way. Sometimes these steps are accompanied by discrete pieces of information, like phone numbers. If you have to repeat the steps in the future, you have the information. This is particularly useful when you contact a corporation or government agency and are passed off to whomever is handling customer service matters. Being able to recall the name of the individual you spoke to often proves the fact of the call and if you need to speak to that person again, you know who to ask for. Because companies and governments often take their time in getting back to you, writing the information down will insure that you don’t forget it.

A tip along these lines: if you have a tax practice, is to keep a separate phone book containing the name of every individual, office and phone number given to you by the Internal Revenue Service. This is invaluable down the road when you need to speak to someone and don’t want to waste time calling the general information number. Because internal IRS numbers aren’t published, you cannot simply look these numbers up on Google. Some people keep separate agenda-size phone books for the different agencies they deal with or the projects they work on. You can do this on paper or electronically as you prefer.

Applying for a Job on LinkedIn

Writing “interested” or “check my profile” is a popular method of applying for jobs listed on LinkedIn used mainly by people in the Subcontinent, but sometimes in other countries as well. This method never works. Employers are not going to waste their time reading through hundreds of irrelevant applications. If you don’t believe that there will be irrelevant applications, try to hire staff yourself.

Some people apply for positions they are not qualified for on the theory that, “it doesn’t hurt.” But, oh, it does. It identifies you as a person who is unable to read. If I list a position saying, “Saudis ONLY” and you are not Saudi and yet you apply anyway, I have to assume that you don’t know how to read or are deliberately wasting my time. If I am looking for a qualified chemical engineer who is legally permitted to work in Canada and you are a carpenter from the tribal areas of Waziristan, why are you responding?

In order to apply for a job on LinkedIn, use the method the job poster has indicated. If no method is indicated, look up the e-mail of the poster or the company’s e-mail and send your c.v. with a reference to the post. If all else fails and you absolutely cannot find any e-mail address (and this is unlikely unless the company you seek to work for does not do business with the public or is a secretive organization like the Sinaloa Cartel, write using snail mail to the company’s street address.

Here’s the address of the Sinaloa Cartel, if you are curious: “Sinaloa Cartel, Poste Restante, Culiacan, Sin. Mexico.”