Credit: Winkie Visser
Spending more money than you need to because you don’t know what to look out for is an inevitable part of life. It can be frustrating to realize that you might have overpaid for your kitchen appliances , or that you can derive just as much joy from cost-friendly dried flowers as you do from fragrant fresh ones. But no matter how money-savvy you are, it’s impossible to know every budget hack in the book—unless you’re a professional.
Luckily, Reddit and its infinite possibilities for anonymous and helpful discussions can clue you in on some professional intel. User u/WoOoOoOoShHhHh recently asked users to share industry secrets in their field . In the thread of over 38,000 comments, several people took the opportunity to let everyone else in on juicy money-saving secrets pertaining to their fields. Some explained what to do so you won’t have to call them in (get ready for some very easy DIY fixes), others let it be known that their services are actually pretty useless.
Here, find some of the thread’s best hacks that will help you save money at home.
Credit: Minette Hand
Sometimes regulating your home’s temperature is as easy as keeping things clean.
Reddit user Grundym , a heater and A/C repair contractor, wrote that the easiest way to avoid temperature issues in your home is simply to keep furnace filters and A/C coils clean. As they put it, around 30 percent of calls for heat or cooling problems are caused by a lack of upkeep.
Changing your furnace filters is fairly self-explanatory, but cleaning A/C coils can be a bit more puzzling. Knowing this, Grundym explained how to do it: The first step is to find your A/C’s power unit—which looks like a regular light switch and is usually located on the A/C unit itself—and turn it off. (Pro tip: If you can’t find the switch, go to your circuit breaker and turn off the one labeled HVAC). You then have to remove the coil guard and top to take the coil out. Once it’s out, they recommend you take it outside and wash it with a water hose. “Don’t use high pressure water,” they warned, advising DIYers instead to “simply [put it] on a shower setting and hold it a few inches away from the coil. Do it both ways.” Once you’re done, you should wait until the coil is dry before reassembling and turning the power on again.
If you live in an apartment, I can attest from personal experience that cleaning the coils in the shower works just as well. If you rent, you can also call your superintendent or landlord if you have any questions before you get started.
Credit: Minette Hand
You can find those Instagram-famous organizing bins in unexpected places.
The Container Store is a go-to for anyone wanting to declutter their life the way they’ve seen all over Instagram. But not everyone can afford $28 hangers and $18 pantry bins … and if that’s you, you still deserve a clean, organized home.
Reddit user Hivermuet13 has some good news for those who want to hack organizing: “Everything at the Container Store exists and is cheaper at Lowe’s.” And yes, that includes the very popular drop-front shoe boxes .
While yyertles pointed out that the statement is a bit of a hyperbole, as Lowe’s doesn’t “carry some of the specialty/novelty storage stuff” that the Container Store does, this tip applies to many items, and even a single dollar saved is useful.
Credit: Natalie Jeffcott
Good news: A dentist approves of you buying the cheaper toothpaste.
No one can blame you for trying to take care of your health, but that often means falling for the “expensive is better” trap. Therock21 , a dentist, gave Redditors “the lowdown on toothpaste.” Their recommendation? Skip the expensive one. “As long as it has fluoride they are all basically the same,” they claimed.
The only exception, according to the Reddit user, is sensitivity toothpaste, which “typically does have an extra active ingredient, KNO3.” So if you have gum sensitivity issues, you might want to stick with the brand you know works for you. You can also call up your dentist for recommendations if you’re lost in the toothpaste aisle.
Credit: Lisa Diederich
Get rid of squeaky doors in 5 minutes… with dish soap.
Few things in life are as annoying as windows or doors that won’t stop squeaking—especially if you’re spending more time at home these days, and therefore frequently opening said windows and doors.
Self-described “construction boy” lyckadese has a solution so easy, you’ll immediately regret all the times you called someone to put an end to the squeakiness: Put dish soap on the window/door tracks and they’ll start sliding smoothly and quietly. It’s that simple.
In fact, the Redditor claimed that nine times out of 10, this is exactly what most house calls for squeaking doors and windows require. They also added that it usually takes about five minutes to do and the fee is around $150. That’s a lot of money for something you can easily do yourself!
Credit: Marisa Vitale
Sometimes it’s about the package instructions you shouldn’t follow.
Packaging often lies. That is the moral of a very important post by Reddit user and plumber strategicallusionary . To put it simply, do not under any circumstances flush wipes down the toilet, even if the packaging says that it’s “flushable.”
According to strategicallusionary , flushable wipes aren’t actually a thing. “You [sic] drains WILL clog, and fast,” the Redditor claims. “Your landlord will charge you; it’s going to suck.” And if you’re your own landlord, you’ll be paying good money to get the drains unclogged, and dealing with overflowing toilets.
Wipes are also a major contributor to fatbergs , which are now threatening the sewage systems of cities around the world. Your best bet in this case will almost always be the bathroom trash can. You’re welcome in advance.
Credit: Carina Romano
Become a plant parent on a budget.
Sure, buying plants at home improvement stores while you’re picking up other things for home renovation projects is convenient, but it may also be costing you significant savings .
User pierfishmarket went into the thread to remind everyone that wholesale nurseries can often offer cheaper prices than specialty stores: “1 gallon of a shrub will sell for $16 at Home Depot, but at a wholesale nursery that same plant will cost like $2-6,” they wrote.
Other Reddit users were quick to point out that not all nurseries are open to the public. Given the difference in savings, it’s definitely worth researching if there are any near you that sell to individual buyers.
Credit: Studio Firma/Stocksy
Skip the food delivery apps (and call the restaurant yourself!)
Getting takeout delivered to the comfort of your home is one of the simple joys of life. But if you’re doing a pick-up order, you may want to forego going through a food delivery app altogether. According to darahoney , some apps like DoorDash and Grubhub “automatically charge more for each item” when you order for pick-up. The Reddit user claimed that at the restaurant that they worked, there’s a 15% markup added for patrons who are doing the legwork themselves. (That, in addition to the well-documented ways in which an app’s commission can often hobble a restaurant trying to stay afloat).
The alternative is to call the restaurants and place your order directly with them. You’ll avoid the unnecessary markup, and also help restaurants save on those hefty commission fees —definitely something to consider when ordering from small and locally-owned restaurants!
Credit: Jessica Isaac
And sometimes, it pays to just be nice.
Most people are nice without expecting anything in return, but it’s good to know that the simple act of being kind could possibly earn you discounts.
Coolreg214 confessed that customers who were rude to them often get charged more for repair services, while polite customers may receive discounts. “Being nice […] can save you a lot of money,” they claimed. The post got 265 replies, some from users like KrunkSanta and Arcades_Samnoth who verified that they do the same with their customers.
While it’s impossible to prove that most people involved in repairs act on this principle, but if you ever needed another reason to be extra nice to your plumber or HVAC person—in addition to, y’know, common courtesy!—keep this in mind. Kindness for kindness’s sake is always important, but it turns out that it can quite literally pay off, too.
Mariana Zapata is a Colombian-American travel, sustainability, and lifestyle writer. She has lived and worked around the world, making a home in cities like Miami, Paris, Seoul, and Bogota. You can usually find her at street food stands, judging fashion inaccuracies in period films, or falling victim to her non-existing sense of direction.