Ask the Readers $200 Giveaway: Do You Have a Favorite Lifehack?

By Ashley Jacobs on 25 March 2014 92 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to our $100 Skype Gift Card winner, Louly, and our two $50 Visa Gift Card winners, Raina and Kala!

Life can be hectic and complicated, so finding ways to simplify things is vital. There are many tips and tricks out there to help you make your life easier and more convenient. With so many different options for simplifying your life, it's inevitable that you will find certain lifehacks that will become essential in your day to day life.

What is your favorite lifehack? Why is it your favorite? What area of your life does it make easier? Are there any lifehacks you've heard of that you didn't like?

Tell us if you have a favorite lifehack and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $100 Skype Gift Card or one of two $50 Visa Gift Cards!

Win a $100 Skype gift card or one of two $50 Visa Gift Cards

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  • Contest starts Tuesday March 25th, 2014 and ends Monday, March 31st, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after March 31st, 2014 on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
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92 discussions

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Guest's picture

I make a giant pot of steel cut oats on the weekend and then microwave it for breakfast during the work week. It saves cleaning so many pots as well as time!

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I use different colors of nail polish on my keys to identify them.

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Kristine R.

My favorite "life" hack is to take a vacation every year. Nothing gives you a sense of priorities and reinvigorates your personal happiness like a "reset" each year.

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I don't like the term "lifehack" as if I need to work around some barrier put in place, but I find that planning ahead for things is the best way to be frugal, organized, and relaxed about life. Planning ahead means not panicking at the last second to finish something, it means knowing where you want to go before you leave, it means a calm and peaceful journey as you work your plan and see it unfold. That doesn't mean you can't make modifications along the way to make it work more smoothly, just the opposite, but it is a proactive, not a reactive, way of life.

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I'm with you there, Christie. Planning ahead doesn't have to stifle spontaneity. Instead it allows one to fully enjoy the moment. And planning can be an enjoyable activity in itself.

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Brenda Faulkner

I do all my errands in a combined trip

Guest's picture

Using clear nail polish on buttons keeps them from falling off! (and keeps me from trying to sew them back on..)

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I like using apps to find coupons while I am shopping in stores - especially SnipSnap. I never remember to bring coupons, so having a fun app with coupons readily available helps me save money.

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Kelly D

I like to take a picture of the inside of my fridge before I go shopping so I know what I need to buy.

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I make my lunch the night before while I am waiting on dinner to cook to save time in the morning

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J. Pario

I've got two!

#1 Mix up different flavors of boring cereal to make it more palatable:

#2 Glue stuff with an old phone book as your work surface. When it get sticky, turn the page.

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Jessie C.

I menu plan around the store weekly sales, use coupons for saving too.

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courtney b

hmm i've never heard the term "lifehack" but i would say my favorite is relaxing and getting the hubby to help out makes things a lot easier for me. Especially when it comes to kids!

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Margaret Smith

During the weekend, I usually cook 3 or 4 meals ahead of time for the week. Also whenever possible, when I cook, I try to make extra for future meals that I freeze. This works great for Lasagna, meatballs and meatloaf.

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Lisa V.

Through long distance backpacking, I learned how to simplify and only carry with me the bare necessities. I try to keep that approach in the "real world" life as to not complicate matters.

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One of our favorite fun "lifehacks" is to keep a change jar. In our usually rather detailed budget it's the place we go for off the cuff giving. Last year it went to a local library fundraiser. Year before that, something else. Other people use theirs for vacations.

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Whenever I don't spend money on an impulse buy, I transfer that amount immediately on my smartphone to my debt. I get a lot of yhe same satisfaction of shopping but whittles away my debt.

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I used the "Ian Knot" to tie my shoes! It takes less than 10 seconds and is far easier than a standard shoe tie knot. Give it a try!!

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My favorite life hack is to do freezer cooking

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I try to use Sunday to really prepare for the week ahead - to prep some foods for lunch, choose outfits for each day, pack snacks for the work fridge, and get to bed early. Sometimes I have other plans and can't do it, but spending at least Sunday evening getting ready for my week really helps the rest of the week go smoothly.

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I make a big pot of oatmeal on Sunday night and warm up portions for breakfast throughout the week.

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Denise S

I leave notes all around the house to remind me of things I need to make myself do and things I need to buy.

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Sara C

Rolling jeans and T-shirts to pack in my suitcase. Saves space and reduces wrinkles.

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Two words: slow cooker. I prep everything the night before, turn it on before I leave for work and fibers ready when we walk in the door!

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I'm going to add to what Andrea said about making a giant pot of steel cut oats to have for breakfast during the work week. I do that too, and absolutely love it. To make it even more convenient for me, I put the cooked oatmeal in a muffin pan and freeze it. Once frozen, I place the little oatmeal pucks in a Pyrex and pull them out when needed to heat with milk.

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Kim D

A few of my favorites:

1) Money - Automate savings!

2) Cleaning - Clean microwave easily with a bowl of vinegar and water.

3) Travel - Roll all clothes when packing & always keep power cord in carry-on luggage (you never know when the flight will be delayed and you'll need extra juice!)

4) Overall - Make new habits (or break old ones) using the 'Don't break the chain' method

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Tabathia B

Probably making a easy breakfast and dinner menu

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Negotiate for a lower price on everything! I am amazed how often I get 10% off, just by asking. It really adds up.

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I keep a replacement stock of all bathroom supplies for each member of the family~ toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, deodorant, face wash, moisturizers, razors, shaving foam, toilet paper, etc. When we remove an item from the stash, I add it to the shopping list for my next trip. This prevents last-minute runs when we run out of items just after a shopping trip. Wish I'd done this sooner, it definitely makes life easier!

I also buy large bags of dog & cat food, which I have delivered. I can change the schedule as needed and I get high quality food at a lower cost.

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i write in my bills (amount due and due date) on a monthly calendar so that it's easy to see what's due when and easier to calculate how much i'll have left over after paying bills

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When I want to travel, I keep my dates and destinations open. Sometimes you can save hundreds of dollars flying into a different airport or a day early!

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Cynthia C

When I cook a meal, I double the recipe and freeze some for another meal later on. It doesn't take any more time to make extra and comes in handy on a busy day.

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I've never heard of the term "lifehack". I did buy an adjustable bed base a couple months ago so that I can have my head lifted up for things like watching tv without having to pile a bunch of pillows behind me.

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katie m

Sleep in your gym clothes! I get up so early to make time for exercise when I read this one, it was like getting hit with a ton of bricks. Keep the shoes by the bed, so I roll out ready to go.

Donna Freedman's picture

My favorite lifehack is my "frugal filter":

It works on ANY situation, which is why it's my favorite. Any time I think I need to spend money I apply the filter to see if I really do -- and if I really do, the filter helps me get the best price. (Hint: That might be "free.")

Guest's picture

It's old school, but I'm a fan of to do lists. If I don't write it down I probably won't remember it! It just helps me to organize my mind/day/priorities, and then I get the great satisfaction of crossing items off of it as I complete them and can feel a sense of accomplishment.

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Richard Hicks

My lifehack is preparing meals ahead of time to save time later on. We make a lot and freeze meals and believe me it saves time later.

Guest's picture

my favorite "lifehack" was to get rid of cable. i have used playon for the last 3 years. it was a onetime fee and i get MUCH better customer service!!

however, i have another one that i regularly use as well... rather than using a bucket when i mop my floors i use one of my trashcans. this way when i am done not only is my floor clean but the trashcan smells nice.

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Rebecca B. A. R.

I make up a huge batch of homemade laundry detergent, and keep all the extra ingredients together and ready to go (even the grated soap) when I need to make up more.

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My lifehack is about creating a great GTD system to ensure that inbox zero is continually met.

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Get your groceries delivered to save time going to the store.

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If not available on Netflix streaming, I put DVDs on hold at the local library. It's free and fast--just have to find my name on the shelf and self checkout!

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I make my lunch the night before for work. There is no excuse to buy lunch.

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I love to make dressings and sauces in a wide mouth canning jar with an immersion blender. The clean up is a cinch and then you just screw on a lid and you're done. bethanyg153 at gmail dot com

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CR Williams

No I don't think I do!

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Favorite Lifehack: Keeping the dishwasher clean.

Surprisingly enough a dishwasher gets dirty over time too. Hard water, soap scum, etc. it can all make your dishwasher look grimy. Just use a packet (or 2, depending on dirty it looks) of the plain (aka, no sugar) powdered lemon-aid mix in the detergent dispenser and run the normal cycle. Come back in two hours and your dishwasher is sparkling clean and lemony fresh -- No scrubbing needed! The lemonaid packets are about $.25 each at the grocery store.

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Saving all my change. I usually have enough at the end of the year to pay a large part of a vacation or use for Christmas so the overall budget is not affected

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making my lunch the night before for work.

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I make my lunch the night before and then in the morning I just pack it all together. The times I don't do it the night before have definitely screwed up my schedule.

Also, I heat up breakfast and then shower while it cools.

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My favorite lifehack is shopping at the dollar store for food. Often times overflow brand items and test food items are sold at dollar stores. They are good quality items for a dollar. It has saved me tons of money and I'm extremely grateful.

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Doing the toughest thing first each day. Usually, the thing you are avoiding. Once complete, it provides tremendous momentum for the rest of the day!

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My lifehack is shopping at thrift store. There's so many great things to find there especially at low prices.

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My favorite lifehack has become a android app called I have it set to remind me daily to take my vitamins and also can add shopping lists and daily to-dos. I have it set to prompt me to run through my to-dos every morning and then it gives me a little "good job" quote after which is always a nice way to start the day!

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Crystal F

I like to use a used dryer sheet to dust with. Thank you!

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If you are a coffee drinker, put water and coffee into the coffee maker just before going to bed. The next morning, just turn it on. I can't prepare coffee before I've had coffee, it's impossible. ;o)

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prathee chandar

I cut vegetables and store them for quick cooking.

Guest's picture

Being intentional is our biggest life hack -- we are still learning, but writing down our dreams, making time for what is truly important, and being intentional with spending keeps us thankful and optimistic.

More specifically, line drying our clothes is a way I can do all three -- daydream, be mindful while I enjoy a few quiet minutes at home before I head out the door to continue my day, and prolong the life of our clothes to save money. It causes me to slow down and be thankful for the beautiful day and the blessing of having plenty of clean clothes to wear.

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My bank doesn't have any local branches but will reimburse all ATM fees up to a certain amount. Every month when I get them back I pretend they are not in my account. It's only a few dollars every month but it adds up after a while. It makes for a nice buffer in case of a small emergency or I forget to add a receipt to my ledger.

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If you have a necklace with a knot in it, use the pointy ends of two earrings against a hard surface as your tools for getting it out. It saves so much time, frustration, and beautiful jewelery!

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homeschool mom

These are my fav's....
1st I keep a backpack with small cosmetic bags filled with, (1st aid, eye drops, nail file etc... in #1), (change of socks & underwear in #2), (shampoo toothpaste & brush, grooming stuff in #3), (Batteries, tiny notepad & pen, tape etc..#4) ( a down laprobe pressed down into a ziplock bag. Can be used as a Pillow or to keep me warm) Now all I need to do is throw in a change of clothes for that season and some pocket change and I'm good to go on a quick trip.

2nd... I keep a mug in my microwave. When I need to warm up 2 items, I place #1 bowl or plate on the bottom, then place bowl/plate #2 ON TOP OF THE MUG. (layered effect). Now I can cook 2 items at once.

3rd.. I keep a small cooler in my car in warm weather. That way all my frozen and cold foods STAY that way until I get home.

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Mihaela Day

My favorite "life" hack is to take a vacation every year and to spend time with the family :)

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I prep all lunches for the week on Sunday so getting out the door in the morning is much easier and there's no excuse to buy lunch at work because I was running late and didn't have time to make it.

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Laura J

My lifehack would be keeping my coupons in my handbag at all times to save money when I find a deal while out and about! I put them in envelopes according to the aisle they are in at the grocery store! Has helped us save money and I always know where to look for a certain coupon!

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Erica C.

I don't really have any good ones.

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When packing dressy clothes -- suits, dresses, etc -- keep them in dry cleaner bags. The bags are so thin they take almost no room, and the slippery aspect prevents any wrinkles from setting in the clothes.

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Daniel M

always put things away so you can find them again!

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If your house is cold, use a heating pad to keep bread warm while rising.

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joe gersch

my lifehack is using a vitamix to chop ingriendients

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Composting seems like such a "duh" thing to do, you're recycling TRASH that turns into something you'd BUY. It's a great full circle life hack!

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Susan Smith

I will cook meals on the weekends and freeze them to use on busy weekdays.

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Judy Bradley

I am a major Twilight Saga fan, so I take a trip out to WA every year to attend Stephenie Meyer Day. It is fun, fantasy, and beautiful scenery to get me away from everyday life!

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Linda Brooks

I use a hanging shoe rack for my cleaning supplies. Its my favorite because I free up so much space in my cabinets and it just makes everything look so organized.

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Miz Vickik

I'm sort of new to the idea of a "lifehack" but I'm all for anything that makes life a little easier! I guess mine would be relying on my crockpot to do a lot of cooking for me. =)

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Karrie Millheim

My favorite lifehack is shopping for good deals. I love saving money and i will go on the hunt for a great deal

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Tina d Reynolds

I auto round up my purchases and goes into savings covers all holiday shopping

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Amanda Sakovitz

I like to make lists of what I have to do for the week and accomplish a couple of tasks daily.

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My favorite lifehacks are freezer cooking and prepping ahead! Saves me time and money!

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Suzanne Canfield

My favorite "life hack" is donating an old toy whenever my son gets a new toy. It reduces clutter in the house and keeps his toys under control, which also reduces my stress and time cleaning

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I bring my own coffee creamer to Starbucks so I only have to pay for a black coffee! I save $3 every time!

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Karen Drake

I always make double batches when I cook then freeze what's left so I only have to cook 2 to 3 nights a week.

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Tamra H

My favorite "life hack" is something I started doing recently - stop buying deli meat! Instead, I buy a large frozen turkey breast, cook it in the slow cooker, and I have delicious non-processed turkey meat to use in my meals for the week. Perfect for soups, sandwiches, wraps, etc. It's really cut down on my meal planning, and it saves money too! $1.99 or less a lb vs. $9 or so!

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Automating all of my bills and batching errands with exercise (I walk everywhere!).

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Miranda Ward

My life Hack is Never paying full price for anything!

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VK Shah

I use Skype for international video calls and other free apps for texting.

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Stephanie Galbraith

I do not have a favorite lifehack, not even sure I know what that is.

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Drew M.

A true "lifehack", I make sure to take 1 hour out of every day to work on a project which betters my life. This can be a business venture idea I have, learning a new language or skill, organizing the house, building something, or simply going to the beach to relax. If I can volunteer to help someone else, even better. We can all find 1 hour out of the day.

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judith barbuto

My favorite life hack. Look people in the eyes when you talk with them. That way I know what they mean and I can see if we are connecting around the meaning of what they are saying. It's a great skill, cheap, and can be done at any time. Looking at my email, the TV, or an iphone makes me miss what someone really wants or needs. If I don't get it the first time, I have to go back and try to recoup the moment, something we know is impossible.

Guest's picture

I have 3 lifehacks to recommend: 1) Don't you hate it when you make a recipe that calls for, say, 1 teaspoon of a fresh herb, and wind up wasting the rest? I combed through my favorite recipes and grouped them according to those "oddball" ingredients. That way, I make 3-5 recipes within the same one or two-week span and use up more of the "oddballs." 2) Choose one day per month -- the 1st is good -- and see if you can get a better price for one monthly fee, e.g. cable, cell, car insurance. That way, by the time the year is up, you will have audited your expenses one "bite" at a time, without spending an entire day on the phone with multiple customer service reps. 3) Like a black skirt you can pair with several tops, I maximize grocery costs by stretching one meal into two. I’ll make my favorite Barefoot Contessa turkey meatloaf and pair it with baked potatoes and squash one night, then re-visit it two nights later with rice and steamed broccoli. Or I’ll roast a whole chicken one night, then use the leftovers in quesadillas on another. Plus, everything's "recyclable" for lunches, too.

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Kala Carlson

Definitely always have a schedule or plan of some sort. It keep me focused and moving ahead. I make the most of my days and life by prioritiZing.

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lauren knott

I love hearing all of these hacks! I love ways to make life easier. I don't know if I have any good ones, I guess one I have is to make crock pot meals. They really are a lifesaver

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Thomas Murphy

On sunday I plan ahead what I am going to make for dinners all week and prepare what I can ahead.

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Carl White

My favorite LifeHack is to buy everything I use all the time in bulk so that I do not waste time going to the store.