Whether you’re a broke college student, a recent grad navigating the workforce, or a new parent, our day-to-day lives are a constant grind. Who doesn't want a little help to make things run more smoothly? These shortcuts and life hacks have your back. From genius tips to epic tricks, we've gathered up our best cheat codes to help you master this game called life.
1. A Minor Crime Spree
I always up to no good as a kid, and it got me into trouble with the law more times than I'd like to admit. Luckily, Michigan used to have a law forbidding minors from pleading guilty to a crime without a lawyer. I found this out by accident when I was 13, and used it three more times before I was an adult. What happens is that I, as a minor, would just plead guilty, they would then give me a sentencing date and let me leave. Then a week or so later I would get a letter stating that it is not legal for me to plead guilty without a lawyer and that my case was dismissed or thrown out because of it. I got out of three minor possession tickets that way.
2. Around the World with $25
A few years back, an online store had this promotion where whoever spent the most money over a month would get free round trip plane tickets to anywhere in the world. My genius friend figured out a brilliant way to game the system. He found out that you could buy gift certificates on the site. So he bought a $25 gift certificate and spent it on another $25 gift certificate. He then repeated this process over and over again until he had won the contest.
So he ended up spending $25 on round trip tickets to Australia.
3. Lost and Found
We parked our rental in a parking lot in Santa Monica for a week. A 24-hour stay was around $25, but there was also a “lost ticket” option for $10. Not sure how, but I lost my ticket every day.
4. Take Me to Your Leader
At my company, I have two bosses who don’t interact with one another, but who have equal authority over me and my job. When neither assigns me any work for the day, the other doesn’t know, and just assumes that if I’m not asking, I’m doing something for the other. Without the company ever suspecting a thing, I've gotten paid for spending entire days at home doing nothing while each thinks I'm working for the other.
5. Scroll Down
One of my old teachers told us a story about a student who had rigged up a tiny scroll of paper in a wristwatch with notes written on it. He turned the scroll by winding the watch. He ended up getting caught because he was winding his watch with suspicious frequency during the exam, but the teacher loved the creativity.
6. Finding Something Nice to Say
My family and I were at this run-of-the-mill restaurant a couple years ago. After we finished our meal, I had something to say and asked to see the manager. Our waitress walked out, looking both nervous and exhausted—but after I spoke my mind, her entire demeanor changed. I just gave her manager a compliment and said the waitress was great. I've gotten countless free drinks/appetizers/chips/% off my bill—all for just making a polite comment to management.
7. A Teacher’s Kryptonite
In one of my classes, I used to get my work done so fast that I was bored for half the period. Eventually, I decided that I knew the material and decided to try an experiment. I gradually started writing more and more in cursive in the class until my teacher got used to it, and then I’d throw in errors to see if she would catch it.
She didn’t, which confirmed my suspicions: She couldn’t read cursive and just gave me credit anyway! So for the rest of the year, I would literally just scribble in my “homework” and the teacher believed it was just my handwriting and gave me credit anyway.
8. The Fashion Business
I went to a Catholic school with uniforms. However, if we earned a “jeans day” pass, we could be exempt from the uniform for a day. The passes were always different colors, including white. I took one white pass to a copier and copied enough to fill out one page, then printed one full page of passes, then printed mass stacks of pages. I made a lot of money selling them out.
9. Paper Power
I worked in a huge office building where this one CEO would always stride around with a stack of papers. I was too intimidated to talk to him but once in the elevator, I asked what he was working on. Apparently, this guy had the same job as me! When he got bored or tired of sitting down, he’d grab a stack of papers and walk around. Lesson learned: if it looks like you’re doing something important, people won’t bother to ask questions. I made my own set of “walking papers” after that.
10. The Fan Solution
There was this toothpaste company that accidentally sent out cases where some of the tubes were empty. It was a big hassle so they wanted to make sure it never happened again by hiring a fancy engineering company to design a system where if the right weight per box wasn't reached, the whole system would shut down and staff would know there was an empty tube in the box. The whole thing took a look of time, technology, and money...and then a few months later, a regular employee showed everyone how to actually get things done.
When the engineers visited the factory to do some quality control, they noticed that their system was turned off...but the toothpaste company hadn't had any complaints or errors for weeks. Turns out, one of the minimum wage workers on the assembly line didn't appreciate the sound of the engingeers' fancy new system. So, she had aimed a huge fan at the production line. It blew the lighter, empty cartons right off of the conveyor belt. Problem solved.
11. Works Well With Others
Teacher: “For this project you will work in groups of less than seven".
Me: “Sir, one is less than seven".
Teacher: “Ok, fine. Do it all yourself then".
I got 70% on this assignment—the highest mark I ever got in group work.
Amazon lets you get a free 3-month prime trial with a .edu email account. My university lets you create unlimited aliases for your email account.
13. Top Ranked
I worked at a chain restaurant and in my last few months there we got those stupid table kiosks that customers could pay at. There was a survey at the end of every transaction and our managers added new performance metrics based on how many people paid using the kiosk and also how well our service was based on the surveys.
One jerk would just fill the surveys out himself after his customers left and gave himself five stars in everything. Dude was always ranked top of the servers. Freaking genius.
14. A+ for Ingenuity
In 10th or 11th grade US history, we had a quiz each Friday where we had to state the president of the week (starting with Washington and moving forward) and name his party, years in office, former occupation, VP and cabinet members, etc. Rather than study for this very easy quiz, I would write the answers in my notebook hard enough that it indented the next page.
Then I’d just trace the intentions for the quiz. Worked great until it caught on and the teacher figured it out. The day he told us to turn our papers over and flip them upside down before starting the test, I knew: The scammers had been scammed. Needless to say, we all failed that quiz.
15. Buy One, Get All Free
They used to have a promotion at Wendy’s where if you filled a survey out on your receipt you could get a free burger. I guess they didn’t notice that you could take the survey again on the receipt of the free burger, and just keep getting free burgers every time. So we would go every day after school and chain five free burgers after buying just one. We did that for a few days until they finally caught on.
16. Lord of the Reports
In high school we had to do four book reports every year. A friend of mine did his on each of the Lord of the Rings books, and the Hobbit freshman year. He turned in the same four book reports for the rest of his time in high school. You switched English teachers every year so no one ever caught on. I was never brave enough to try the same thing.
17. Measures of Success
My high school offered a bunch of incentives for getting the most improved score on a standardized test. So I failed on purpose the first year I did it, then tried for real the following year. I received both a reserved parking spot and a special card allowing me to leave the campus for lunch whenever I wanted.
18. Juicy Earnings
There was a drink machine in college that charged $0.75 for a juice. If you put a dollar in, it gave you five quarters in change. I got a juice every day for months before they finally fixed it.
19. Invisible Text
I'm a teacher and one time, I was grading a written assignment that had a 1,000-word count minimum. One particular paper felt really short to me, despite Word telling me it was roughly 1,100 words long. On a hunch I hit CTRL-A and sure enough, after the paper concluded, there was a little nonsense note in white text (invisible on the white page background). It was from the student, saying if I found it I knew the way she hit the word limit. Honestly, I wanted to be mad, but I was just impressed.
20. If I Could Just Touch the Hem of His Garment
I went to an old Irish Christian Brothers School. One of the Brothers told me a story about a smart kid and a stupid kid who both missed a test. The Brother made them take the test while sitting on opposite sides of the room. He constantly walked back and forth between them to make sure they weren't cheating. When both got a good score, he was puzzled, and eventually asked the smart kid how he had passed the answers.
It turns out that he had pinned some of the answers onto a little part of the Brother's rather voluminous robes, and when the Brother went across the room, the other kid took it off as the Brother passed. He had inadvertently helped them cheat!
21. A Medium to Large Loophole
I used to work at Papa John’s to help pay my way through college. There was a contest we had where if you got someone to "upsize" their pizza from a medium to a large for an extra $2, you got points towards movie tickets. A large was simply $2 extra normally anyways. So anytime someone ordered a large to begin with, I simply put in a medium and "upsized" it.
I won every single week. My coworkers didn't notice this obvious loophole and it didn't cost the customer anything extra, so I didn't have a problem with the moral gray area. Free movie tickets every week was a huge plus in college.
22. Doing the Time, Doing the Crime
In third grade, our teacher had to leave the room for some kind of emergency and she left one of the students in charge. The teacher said that we were not allowed to talk, and if we did, we would have to write "I will not talk in class when instructed not to" out 100 times. Well, my friend and I were bored, so we started writing out the "punishment" and when we were finished, proceeded to talk to each other until the teacher returned.
The student left in charge wasn't sure what to do. It was hilarious.
I went to a strict high school where the dress code said we had to wear a button down shirt to class every day. One of the kids realized that they never specified what kind of button down it had to be—so he showed up in a short sleeve Hawaiian shirt one day and, since it technically met the policy standards, he was in the clear. Pretty soon, most of the school started wearing Hawaiian shirts to class.
We looked like a bunch of ridiculous idiots, but it was worth it to spite the system and be slightly more comfortable. They changed the rule to ban Hawaiian shirts shortly after.
24. Work Smarter Not Harder
My boss hated Excel to the point where he didn't want us using formulas because "you can't trust them to be right" so we needed to "do all the calculations by hand or on a calculator". He would give me a spreadsheet once or twice a week that required, let’s say, 45 seconds to do, but maybe seven hours by hand, and he told me to "go to Starbucks or something and crank it out".
He thought that since I pasted as values and he couldn't see the formulas that I did it by hand, when really, I came up with an ingenious plan. I just did it in 45 seconds, sent an email on delay for seven hours, and studied for the next semester. Dude was the poster boy for failing upwards in your career.
25. Backstage Pizza Pass
Hot tip: No one stops a guy or girl carrying a pizza. It can get you backstage to concerts.
26. Starting Young
My sister-in-law is a teaching assistant at her kids’ school. Her youngest daughter was 7 at the time and a little mischievous. She swiped the test the night before, pretended it was homework and had her Mom "help her with her homework". The next day, she sneaked the answers in for the test. One of the other kids caught her and let the teacher know.
My sister-in-law, who was overseeing test conditions, died a little inside when she realized it was the homework sheet that she'd filled out!
27. Colorful Code
In a college class called Asian Humanities, I was having a really impossible time remembering Asian names/dynasties and their years. I had an exam that I had to get an A on to pass the class. I figured out a way to get a copy of the exam in advance, but I didn't know how I'd sneak in my answer key (the exam was all multiple choice). Then it was like a lightbulb went off above my head.
I stopped at Wal-Mart and bought a box of little colored beads and a roll of string. I sat in the parking lot and made a "cheating bracelet". A= aqua bead B= blue bead C= copper bead and D= dark purple bead. I put a clear decorative bead at the beginning/end to show where to start. It was actually a pretty bracelet.
I finished it there in the parking lot in less than three minutes, put it on my wrist, and wore it in the test. Each side of my wrist showed about 1/3 of the answers, so I only had to move a little or pretend to fiddle with it once or twice over the hour to see the rest. It was amazing. I purposely missed a couple of hard questions to throw off the scent. No one ever knew and I magically passed that class!
28. A Simple Parenting Hack
When my daughter was little and still believed band-aids cured things, one time she had a belly ache, so I put one on her belly and it made her feel better. The power of placebos!
29. Terrible Teacher
In high school, I had an absolute jerk of a teacher. He gave me a binder that had the name, address, phone, of every student in the entire district including the names off all of their siblings. I was to type this in, even though it was already printed out. I asked if it was already printed why was I typing it? He said they paid an outside firm a bunch of money to do it but the state pulled the funding and the firm refused to provide the files and now the district didn't have the money to do it again but they still needed the data.
I was super peeved about how tedious of a job I was given and complained to no end. He knew that I was the winner of a typing contest and agreed that this one project would be my entire grade for the semester. If I could manage to get it all entered into the computer by the end of the year, I'd get a passing grade, if not I'd fail.
After about two hours of data entry, I decided it was a stupid job and downloaded OCR software, scanned the whole thing in and spent a day or two correcting scanning mistakes. My plan was to spend the rest of the semester goofing off and pretending to work. That lasted about a week before the teacher caught on. He then proceeded to start giving me more stupid tedious work and said the previous deal was now off.
Then I learned his secret. I found out that part of the reason the deal with the consulting firm ended badly was his fault and told him I was going to the school board with this information. We decided on a new plan. My grade for the semester would pass as an A. But I had free time to take on other classes the teacher offered. I used this free time to complete one and a half other courses.
30. In the Bag
Back when I was a cashier at Borders, we had to keep a certain percentage of Borders Rewards transactions. I was good at my job and was able to get in the high 80s/low 90s every month by being a good salesman and convincing people to get it. There was another guy I worked with who had an insanely high percentage and I didn't understand how he did it. When I finally figured it out, I was blown away.
He would just swipe a card and put it into people's bags without saying anything. He got caught and was given a warning and put on probation instead of being fired for cheating. Fast forward about a month and I find out he's getting promoted to work on the floor with all the movies and music. So annoying.
31. Weird Flex, But Okay
I am an assistant teacher in a preschool. Asking if kids can use their sitting muscles and listening muscles during circle time makes the kids want to show me how "strong" they are.
32. The Spin Feature
For the last few years at the beginning of December, I'm in charge of decorating the tree. "In charge of" meaning I have to do it, not I have any new holiday authority over said process. It's a fake 8-foot-tall one with pre-set lights that spin. We have to put it on a 2-foot stand so the dogs don’t mess with it...most of the time.
I stood there thinking of how many times I'd have to move the ladder to decorate this now 10-foot-tall tree with all of our ornaments, garland and shiny bead strings. After 10 seconds I decided to turn on the spin feature and it took me 20 minutes of placing ornaments (which I had to pay attention to) and 15 minutes of holding the beads/garland while the tree spun, as opposed to the normal 2ish hours it would've taken otherwise, which I did basically watching YouTube videos.
9/10 would lazy again.
33. Moving Metal
I was once on a US Navy ship, having breakfast in the wardroom (officers lounge) when the Operations Officer (OPS) walks in. This guy was the definition of NOT a morning person; he's still half asleep, bleary-eyed...basically a zombie with a bagel. He sits down across from me to eat his bagel and is just barely conscious.
My back is to the outboard side of the ship, and the morning sun is blazing in one of the portholes putting a big bright circle of light right on his barely conscious face. He's squinting and chewing and basically just remembering how to be alive for today. It's painful to watch. But then zombie-OPS stops chewing, slowly picks up the phone, and dials the bridge.
In his well-known I'm-still-totally-asleep voice, he says, "Hey. It's OPS. Could you...shift our barpat...yeah, one six five. Thanks". And puts the phone down. And then he just sits there. Squinting. Waiting. And then, ever so slowly, I realize what was happening. The big blazing spot of sun has begun to slide off the zombie's face and onto the wall behind him.
After a moment it clears his face and he blinks slowly a few times and the brilliant beauty of what I've just witnessed begins to overwhelm me. By ordering the bridge to adjust the ship's back-and-forth patrol by about 15 degrees, he's changed our course just enough to reposition the sun off of his face. He's literally just redirected thousands of tons of steel and hundreds of people so that he could get the sun out of his eyes while he eats his bagel. I am in awe.
He slowly picks up his bagel and for a moment I'm terrified at the thought that his own genius may escape him, that he may never appreciate the epic brilliance of his laziness (since he's not going to wake up for another hour). But between his next bites he pauses, looks at me, and gives me the faintest, sly grin, before returning to gnaw slowly on his zombie bagel.
34. There Goes the Neighborhood?
The power went out in my apartment even though there wasn’t a storm. I live in a big city where no one gets to know their neighbors, so it’s weird to knock on doors and ask if other people’s power is out too. That’s when I came up with an ingenious trick. I just searched for Wi-Fi networks on my phone to see if everyone’s power is out.
35. A La Carte
I worked in a huge hotel by the airport. We had a layover with over 400 people, and I think we had only three employees working at the time. They had a buffet for dinner and then left to go to bed since it was 1 or 2 am. Rule was, we should always go to the room and pick up as many plates as we could and then bring them to the cleaner. It took ages and I wanted to go home.
I decided to roll out the cart and collect the plates and put them on the cart. The guests were seeing it and started putting their plates on the cart when they left. All of a sudden hundreds of people cleaned up their own stuff. My duty manager saw it and I thought he would blast me, since the hotel was a 5-star place.
He just looked at me, smiled and said, "That's why I like to hire lazy people, they think of ways to finish work faster".
36. These Numbers Add Up
I had an absolute nut of a boss at a restaurant. This lady was trying to be promoted so hard and was just so extra about everything. She wanted me to count every salt packet, lid, straw, and packet of ketchup in any open boxes. Like I couldn't say 3 boxes and 3/4 of a box. I had to say 3 boxes and 872 salt packets.
If I gave the numbers too quick, she'd know I lied. So, I'd come up with reasonable-sounding numbers and then spend 10 hours playing Pokémon. Eventually, I left and went on to bigger and better things. Went by the mall years later and she was still there in the same job.
37. Slow Poke
When I was a kid, my town had a "slow bike race" tournament. The objective was to cross the finish line in last place, and the key is to keep your balance. Well, the rules stated that each time your foot hit the ground you would have five seconds subtracted from your time. But it didn't say anything about keeping your foot planted on the ground. So once the race started, I just stood there and waited until everyone else finished, waited a good five seconds after that, then just rode across the finish line.
38. I Like Those Odds
Back in 2013, Papa John’s had a promo for the Super Bowl where if you called the coin toss correctly, you would get a voucher for a free one-topping pizza. However, the only control in place was that you could only enter the contest one time per email address. I created more than 60 emails, half of them calling heads, half tails. Ate free pizzas for six weeks.
39. Never Let School Interfere With Your Education
Took a test run of a course the school was planning to offer in the future when I was in college. Easy enough course, got my credit, went home happy. Next semester the course went "live" and was offered under a different course number—but the description was identical. Signed up, never attended a class, took the final, and got my credit again.
40. Hello, I Must Be Going
My local parking garage gives you a ticket when you pull in that you have to take over to a machine to pay for before you leave. The amount you pay is based on how long you were parked and the gate at the exit will only open when you insert a ticket that says it has been paid for. Whenever I go into the garage, I get a ticket, go over to the machine, and immediately pay.
It only charges for a few minutes, then I park there for eight hours for free.
41. I Knew You Were Trouble When You Didn’t Walk In
My high school had a stupid rule that banned you from attending prom if you had a Saturday detention that semester. I got in trouble and got one, but my girlfriend really wanted to go to prom. I just kept skipping it and they kept adding more until they rolled it into a day of actual suspension.
They had no rule barring you from prom for an out-of-school suspension, so I got a day off and took my girl to prom.
42. This End Up
I always forget which part of the USB should be facing up when I plug it into my computer. It was really starting to bug me, until I figured it out. I let a drop of superglue dry on the side that should face up to plug it in. The superglue solidifies and becomes hard, which means you know which side is up just by rubbing your finger over the handle. Now I always plug it in the right way on the first try.
43. All the Tea in China
I can't remember when it happened, but it was years ago. I think it was Nestea or some other canned tea, but if you bought a case of tea then there was a coupon on the box for a free case—except it was on every case, so now you have case #2 and another free case coupon. All the tea could be had.
44. Rock the Boat
A co-worker of mine had to get rid of a smaller junk fiberglass boat with no trailer. Our other co-workers are all telling him how much time and money he's going to need to spend to get rid of it, and he's just saying "Oh, is that so?" They had no idea what he had in store.
He took off one day and sat down on his lawn with a cooler of beer. That day was garbage day. Inevitably, the trash guys roll up. He hands each of them a cold one, and says "Hey boys, got $50 for each of you if you help me out really quick". They fed the entire 12-foot boat into the packer, crushing two feet at a time.
45. Little Toilet Engineer
I'm a professional airplane engineer, but to my mom, the most impressive thing I ever did involved a toilet. Here's the story of why she now calls me "her little toilet engineer" and genuinely means it as a compliment.
A few years ago, my mom was tasked with fixing my grandparent's toilet while we were visiting for the holidays. The toilet reservoir was constantly filling and running, and thus flooding the bathroom, because the buoy arm wasn't lifting high enough to switch off the water flow. My mom had been tackling the issue for hours.
She was pretty distraught, thinking we would have to order a new buoy arm, maybe even a new sensor, or switch and reassemble everything. She was pricing things out when I walked in. I took one look at it and bent the metal arm down, so it had a slight upward curve. The buoy still reached the same level in the reservoir but registered on the sensor as "higher" because of the curve in the arm. Problem solved.
I watched it dawn on her what I had done, and she just looked at me like I had a third eye and said, "You little freaking jerk! I've been getting my butt kicked by this thing for 4=four hours and you fix it in four freaking seconds?!" She was very happy I saved her from more work and spending more money.
46. Kyle The Genius
In college, a professor always assigned 20-page papers. No one could ever get 20 pages out of one topic. We were only undergraduates. I consistently turned in papers that were 14-15 pages long and suffered for it. Then I learned about Kyle. He would write papers called something like The Origins of the Federal Reserve, its Role in the Depression of 1920, the Great Depression, and the 2008 Recession.
Four 5-page papers = one 20-page paper!
47. Top Temp
I was a temp. I got hired for the day to print 30 packets with 100 pages each. Why would it take a day? I asked. “Our printer doesn’t collate the pages, so it will take you the day to sort the pages into the 30 packets,” they said. Right. It was a standard office Xerox printer. It took me all of 30 seconds to find and click the "collate: button. I clicked the "staple" button while at it.
Everything got printed by itself into nice stapled packets and I got paid to browse the internet for the day. They thought I was a genius for "fixing" their printer and gave me glowing recommendations to the temp agency that led to more jobs.
48. The Scan Scandal
I worked as a cashier during the holiday season back when I was 16-years-old. The supermarket was selling drinks by the box and at that time, and we only had barcode scanners that were at the front of the computer. No handheld scanners existed. I was lazy and didn’t want to carry boxes up to the scanner. So, I politely asked my customers if I could carve out the barcode from their box to scan and keep.
Some agreed and some didn’t want to, but eventually, I managed to amass all the barcodes needed. I labeled them and kept them in a file for easy reference. Apparently, some other cashier got green eyed at my “smart” move and complained to the chief cashier who promptly lectured me on how it’s dangerous for me to scan such barcodes as I might scan the wrong things.
She told me to throw it all away and carry the boxes like I was meant to. I mean, I was young so I could physically do it, but the other cashiers were older. Some were elderly and needed the customers themselves to help carry the boxes to the scanner. But whatever, I guess jealousy trumps common sense.
49. The Introvert's Shield
I'm pretty introverted and don't love making small talk with strangers, customer service people, co-workers on my lunch break, et cetera, but I also have no idea how to shut down a conversation without seeming like a complete jerk. My friend came up with a great hack. Just wear headphones! I don't even have to listen to anything. People won't bother me, and if they do, I pretend like I didn't hear them. Works great in shopping malls with the people trying to sell you lotion or perfume.
50. Cross the T’s and Dot the I’s
I sent one too many not-quite-ready emails and was determined not to do that again. I've started not filling in the 'To" field in an email until I am completely done. It's simple, but it's saved me a lot of badly-written emails, half-finished emails, and emails I never sent because I actually had time to think better of it.
51. Check Please
When I worked at an inpatient unit, one of the tasks we'd get would be to do a check in with every patient (there were about 100 when we were full). Nobody wanted that task—it would usually get split up, except this one guy who was pretty lazy always wanted it and I didn't understand it because he was lazy. Finally, one day I was walking out for a break and I figured out what he did.
He plopped himself right beside the food line door and wouldn't let people go in until they did their check in with him. That's not how it was supposed to be done, it was supposed to be a chance for clients to connect with staff. But he'd get it done in an hour or so for the whole unit and be done for the day.
52. Coke Cap Solution
My dad and I were working on my grandma's water heater a couple of years ago. We needed a cork or something to go over the end of the pipe. I had a bottle of coke in my hand, so I downed the coke and put the cap on the end of the pipe as a joke—but it fit perfectly so we kept it there. When my grandma sold the house five years later that cap was still on the end of the pipe. Hey, if it works, it works!
53. Very High Tech
I work construction and my supervisor wanted me and another guy to mark some hoses in this huge pit. We weren't stoked since getting in the pit meant getting a harness, filling out forms, etc. So instead of doing all that, I tried something new. It ended up saving me hours of time and tons of effort.
I literally took a broom and used electrical tape to attach a yellow paint pen. Without having to get into the pit, me and my co-worker marked all the hydraulic hoses in about ten minutes flat. When we came back to my supervisor, he was like, “Well?” I said, “Well what? We marked them; it’s done". "WHAT HOW?" I showed him my paint marker broom and he just kind of stood there then laughed and shook his head.
54. The Temp Who Became King
I got hired for a 3-week temp job that involved transporting strings of text from a text document into separate excel sheets. It was hundreds of thousands of lines of records saying which office was printing, calling, emailing, basically any time the network was used.
They were making graphs about how much of call time was to what department/customer and things like that. Yeah, so I just wrote a script that read the first couple words, determined which excel sheet for which string, then watched TV for the rest of the two weeks. It ran 24/7 while I finished a bunch of Netflix shows. Best three weeks of my life.
55. A Drink for the Lazy
This is maybe the smartest thing I've ever heard of. This guy wanted a drink but didn't want to get up or go downstairs... so he logged into his router and blocked internet access to his mom’s laptop, knowing she would come to his room and ask what was going on. While he "fixed it", he sweetly asked if she could get him a drink while he worked on the problem. He removed the filter while she got him a glass of water and it was "fixed" by the time she came back. Freaking brilliant.
56. The Answer is Blowing in the Wind
When I was in high school, I applied for a summer job with the county. As part of the "unbiased" application process, each applicant had to take an intelligence test. The test consisted of about 80 questions. Each question was four or five line drawings, and you had to put an X in the box next to the one that didn't belong. Pretty easy.
I happened to notice, though, that the test paper had two parts, and that an answer key for marking the tests was attached at the back with a sheet of carbon paper in between. I could peel the sheets apart and look inside. So, I did all of the questions with obvious answers and, if I was unsure, I just peeled the paper apart, noted the answer on the second sheet, and made sure I got it right.
Of course, I got 100%. I figure that if you can cheat on an intelligence test, you're pretty smart.
57. Do It Yourself
If you want a quarter pounder at McDonald’s but don’t want to pay the price, you can just order a McDouble on a sesame seed bun and add the other condiments of a quarter pounder.
58. Premium Loophole
My dad figured out a good one back in the 80s. Back then cable companies would give you a free weekend trial of a premium channel hoping you would then want to sign up and pay. However, our cable company's method of giving you access to the special channel was to send a signal to your cable box, which unlocked the channel. To turn off the channel at the end of the free trial, another signal was sent.
My dad figured out that the signal to lock it was only sent for a short period of time, so before the end of the free weekend, he would unplug the cable box and then plug it back in the next day. Since the box never got the signal, we would have a free premium channel for a while.
59. Quick Math
Back in the day, two five-piece chicken nuggets orders at Burger King cost less than one eight-piece chicken nuggets order. Me and those two extra nuggets were laughing all the way to the piggy bank.
60. Time On My Hands
My old job had a loophole about time. If you were scheduled for an 8 AM shift, you had 7 minutes to arrive and still be counted as on time. If you arrived past the 7 minutes, you were considered 15 minutes late. Loophole: it worked the same for clocking out. If you stayed and helped for an extra 7 minutes, you automatically got an extra 15 minutes of pay.
During my tenure there, I would always ask if people needed extra help—and made sure I stayed past the 7 minutes. This went on for a full year. Got probably close to an extra 24 hours of pay.
61. Location, Location, Location
Back in the 1960s, the school district in my hometown was broken up and absorbed into the surrounding districts. Fast forward to 2003. I'm applying to colleges. I discovered that there is a scholarship fund for people living in that old district's area. The district is gone, but the scholarship still exists! I applied and got the scholarship. I don't think there were any other applicants.
A friend of mine works for a popular store where she gets a 40% off employee discount on everything. We realized this 40% off deal also applies to gift cards. So I have her get tons of them for me, then I sell them online and give her a cut.
63. Let it Snow!
Instead of buying sandbags to weigh down the bed of my pickup truck in winter, I just shovel the snow right in there. When it warms up, the snow melts. No muss, no fuss. It'll be a cold day in heck when I actually pay for a bag of sand.
64. Happy Birthdays!
As a teenager, I created 12 email accounts with different birthdays and got promotional free birthday ice cream cones every month of the year.
65. Hard Work Pays Off
My wife is the coupon queen and she takes savings to a whole other level. Apparently, the way to get the best deals is to wait until you can find store coupons, manufacturer coupons, and sales all on the same item. Then you go and clear the shelves out of that item. It's so embarrassing, I can't even go with her. The cashiers always argue and say that you can't use all three together, but they are wrong.
My wife has the store policies printed out and readily available in a binder that she shows them in the store. Not joking. She really does that. She's even part of a community where a bunch of wives all mail each other coupons and trade them like Pokemon cards. It's insane. The cashiers and other customers hate her so much, but she does get riiiidiculous deals on things in bulk this way.
Like, a year’s supply of laundry detergent for $20. She's insane, but it's hard to argue with the results.
66. What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander
I had an agreement with an employer which said that if I stayed with them until a certain date, they would pay for my school tuition. If I willingly left before the date, though, I would have to pay the money all back to them. The parent company of my division changed after the agreement was signed and the time came for me to get the cash I was owed.
The head of HR refused to pay. I went to him and asked why I wasn't getting the check we had agreed to. He stated that the agreement was with the previous parent company and therefore was no longer valid. He had this smug look on his face, but then he noticed I had a big smile on my face. I could tell he couldn't figure out why. I asked him again if they were refusing to pay and he said yes.
I then stated that I no longer have anything binding me here, because the contract stated that "If I willingly leave the company, I have to repay the money". He agreed and asked what my point was. I then stated that if the parent company did change then I did leave said company, but I did not willingly leave. Therefore, I did not owe any money if I left this company, as it was not the company I signed the agreement with.
The expression on his face changed. I continued on with, "If I, hypothetically, put my two weeks notice in now, I would be able to leave without owing any money". It didn't take him long. He realized that by stating that the agreement was no longer valid for his own purposes, he had given me a way out of the contract. So he agreed to pay me the money.
Spoiler alert: he was fired just a few weeks later for various reasons. He was one of the worst HR directors I have ever seen.
67. Sweet Setup
Our teacher told us that a student had pulled out an enormous bag of M&Ms shortly after a test began one day. Since she allowed eating during her tests, she didn’t think much of it. She never noticed that the student was eating a specific color corresponding to A/B/C/D, so that his friend beside him could get the correct answers!
They only got caught when another student ratted them out.
68. Praying for Answers
When my Dad was in high school, he had this genius way to cheat. He used to write out the answers on a piece of paper and tape them to the ceiling. Before the test, he and his friends would pretend to pray by looking up and putting their hands together. The teacher never caught on, and thought it was heart-warming how my Dad and his friends would pray together before each test.
69. Snacking With a Clean Keyboard
This is my gift to you: Use chopsticks to eat Cheetos, popcorn, Doritos, etc., while using the computer. Keeps your keyboard from getting quite as disgusting.
70. Google-Translate Life Hack
I’m not sure if this would work anymore because of anti-plagiarism software, but I had a pretty good cheating system for writing papers. If I had a paper to write on a book that I hadn’t read, I would find a well-written paper online, copy it, and paste it into Google Translate. I would then translate the entire thing from English to German, then German to French, then French to Spanish, and finally Spanish back to English.
I would then pull the original paper up side-by-side with the “new” one and clean up the grammar on the translated paper. It worked like a charm because I would end up with a paper containing the same concepts, but which was written just different enough from the original to not be plagiarism.
71. Simple Surveys
This was at my first job at McDonald’s. Every time a customer filled out a receipt survey, we got a $5 gift card. For a college student, that’s a lot of money, so I would take home ALL the leftover receipts after my shift and fill them all out under my name.
72. The Flyer Fix
When I used to hand out flyers for a pizza place, I hated being out in the cold and getting brushed off by people...so I came up with a plan to stay warm and trap a captive audience. It was so simple, but so brilliant. I'd just sit in the front seat of the local bus for two or three hours and give anyone who entered a flyer. Since most people were going home, they'd order a pizza from the flyer I gave them. I would make $45-$55 each time.
73. Scratch That Off the List
I was working maintenance at McDonald's when they did a Best Buy bucks promotion. Large sodas and large fries had a scratch-off that was worth at least $1 at Best Buy. I would go through the trash daily, pulling out all the discarded scratch-offs. I got a free computer that year for Christmas. I also had the poor cashier at Best Buy in tears. She had to manually scan each scratch-off and verify the dollar amount.
74. That Answer is a Stretch
In my high school Latin class, an oversized football player seemed to ALWAYS ace the vocabulary tests. He was not so good at conjugation or sentence structure, but had a failproof mental recall system...or so we thought. In fact, in EVERY class we had together, I began to notice that his ability to answer A --> B type inquiries was phenomenal.
Even his mathematical formulas were always spot on. His actual calculations though...not so much. While tutoring the football player for the Latin final exam, he told me he had no intention of studying any of the vocabulary words, definitions, tenses, etc. He only had concern for descriptive, conjugative, structure, and exploratory-type test questions.
I said to him, "I'm just wondering, how can you flawlessly recite and recall vocabulary and formulas on point like you do, but yet can't remember how to put it all together?" He said to me, "Rubber band, man!" He proceeded to take the rubber band off his wrist. He stretched it out and placed it around a notebook, long-ways. As the rubber band stretched out, I could see all of the definitions of each vocabulary word written on it.
It included gender variations, prefixes, suffixes, tenses, etc. Then when he took the rubber band off of the notebook, and it retracted to its original size... all those answers disappeared! I had no idea how much information a simple rubber band could actually hold!
75. Hoisted on its Own Petard
I used an pirating service to illegally download a more expensive premium version of itself for free.
76. Modern-Day Coupon Clipping
If any website offers a percentage coupon code like "10percentoff," try higher values like "20percentoff," they often have them.
77. Stockholm Syndrome
So, there was this teacher, let's call him Mr. A, who had a reputation for being a phenomenal teacher. He had every student engaged with and invested in his class, no matter how mundane the subject matter. Any time he asked a question, every student's hand would shoot in the air and the students would shout things like, "call on me!" or "I know the answer!"
Of course, their answers were always right. Fast-forward a couple of years, I was grabbing a coffee with Mr. A and I decided to ask him how he did it. His response? "Well, I told the kids that every time we had a visitor in class, I needed them all to raise their hands like I was giving away free candy". But there was a twist.
He told them if they didn't know the answer, they had to raise their left hands. If they did know it, they raised their right hands, so he knew who to call on. Then he could make everyone look good.
78. Blame Technology
Back in high school, if I wasn’t finished an assignment on time, I would corrupt an empty Word document so that it couldn't be opened, rename it a legitimate title, and then send it to my teacher at the last possible minute the night that it was due. I'd show up to class the next day, and the teacher would go over the assignment and sometimes use examples of things written by students that had already submitted theirs way earlier.
I'd note everything down and then do my actual assignment until my teacher realized a few days later that she couldn’t open my (fake) assignment. She’d ask me if I could send it again, and I always said, “Sure, no problem!”
79. Da Vinci, Reborn
Once, my friend cut open an eraser so that he could place tiny notes inside of it. To hold it closed, he created a genius latching mechanism. To open it, you had to push the top part of the eraser away from the bottom part and then squeeze. If you didn’t pull the top and bottom apart first, the latch wouldn’t loosen, and no amount of squeezing would open it.
Since he was a good friend, he'd share his eraser with me, because I "lost" mine frequently. Someone eventually ratted us out and we got called down to the office. We were lucky though: the principal couldn't figure out how to open it, and therefore couldn’t prove it had been used for cheating, so we got off scot-free!
80. What Can’t Money Buy?
Once, my class had an open book exam, but we were only allowed to use the textbook, which was not particularly helpful. To get around this, a guy had his much more helpful study guide printed and bound EXACTLY like the textbook we were supposed to bring. It had the same font size, font color, paragraphing, the same amount of pages, everything.
Since he was rich, he paid someone to have this done for him. Still worked though!
81. Printer Professional
I worked a summer at a mortgage company as an assistant to the underwriters. My only job was printing documents and then hole-punching them to put in folders. They had a super fancy Xerox printer that basically did my entire job for me, but the underwriters at this company didn’t know how to click through printer settings to make the machine hole-punch as it was being printed.
What was supposed to take me all day literally took me about 20-30 minutes first thing in the morning. I spent the rest of my day listening to audio books and going on the internet. It was a good summer.
82. Interesting, But Very, Very Illegal
Take a one dollar bill and flip it over. Now take a five dollar bill and tape it to the end of the upside-down single with as little tape as possible to make it secure. Now feed the five dollar bill into a change machine. The coin machine reads the five, gives you quarters, then reads the upside down single, rejects that, and boom, you've got a theft case.
83. One Man Assembly Line
I have a friend who started a business and essentially has a life goal of making the most money possible by doing the least work possible. He busted his butt until he could start buying equipment piece by piece; designed new equipment and tools to make things easier and faster, and then just kept doing it. He went from being able to produce like 25-30 items in a month to producing enough product in a month that people think he is a whole team of people. He makes like 1,000+ items a month now.
It's just him with a garage and two sheds full of equipment. He just moves from station to station, doing a full assembly line by himself. I feel like if someone gave him a serious investment he could accomplish some absolutely crazy things.
84. Unfair Advantage
Back in 2005 or so, my class had one teacher who barely spoke English. In order to avoid doing the work, a couple of the guys would just copy an article and then swap the first and last halves of each sentence before handing it in. Because he spoke extremely broken English, the teacher wasn’t able to distinguish it from proper English.
85. Two for the Price of Zero
At my school, a parking permit is $220 for a car and $30 for a motorcycle. However, you can add a car as a second vehicle to your motorcycle permit, since it rains sometimes. I have my fair share of friends I've let know about this trick.
In high school, I would wear a skirt every time I had a test and write a cheat sheet on my upper thigh. I would slowly move my skirt up while taking the test. I knew I couldn’t get caught because a teacher could get in a lot of trouble for telling a student to lift up her skirt.
87. What's in a Name?
When you forget someone’s name, say, “I’m sorry, but what was your name one more time?” They may act offended, but when they give you their first name, simply reply, “No, I meant your LAST name” (more socially acceptable to forget). Bingo. First and last names.
88. The Prankster Prodigy
Teacher here. I was leading an activity in the computer lab when a kid’s work kept deleting itself every few minutes. He was having a meltdown, and I saw it happen. It was impossible to explain the phantom deleting that was going on. Fast forward to the end of the class, and there's one kid remaining. He was sitting at the opposite computer from the kid who lost all his work.
He looks at me and says "You wanna know how I did it, sir?" He had put in a USB keyboard into the back of the computer and had it set up so he could hit the delete key with his big toe. It was the funniest stealth attack I'd seen in a long time. Being the teacher, I should have done something, but it was too funny and smart.
89. Tables Turned
This story is about my high school math teacher playing the students and “cheating". It was an honors algebra/geometry class, and it was well known that Mr. D re-used the same questions every year and just changed the numbers. He made a big deal about making sure we all gave our exam papers back to him after we had looked at our scores and gone over everything together.
He told us that it that it was to prevent cheating for the next year. Well, some of my classmates still got their hands on a complete set of tests from the previous year and soon, everyone had a set. Before each exam, we would sit together and make sure we knew how to solve every problem on that test so we could do it on the real exam with different numbers.
Years later, when I became a teacher myself, I saw Mr. D at a funeral one day and I confessed our cheating to him. To my confusion, he smirked and said, “Who do you think leaked the test packet to get you to study?” Mr. D had figured out that kids won’t study if the teacher suggests it, but if they think they’re getting away with something forbidden, they totally will.
He somehow managed to get a test packet out and circulating as “contraband". It blew my mind.
90. Pool Shark
My brother once yelled, "Last one in the pool is a rotten egg" and then immediately jumped into the pool. However, I realized that if just never jumped in, then technically he would be the last one in the pool—making him, and not me, the rotten egg.
91. Time Saver
There was an overworked lady who worked at my company who didn’t know you could hit the shift key to copy multiple lines of excel at once. She saw me do it once and said:
Lady: "Wait, how did you do that!"
Me: "Do what?"
Lady: "Copy multiple lines at once!"
Me: "You just click the first line, hit shift, then click the last line, why? How have you been doing it?"
Lady: Looks at me in disbelief. "I've been copying it line by line, it takes me hours to do it every week". I took the next few hours to show her a bunch of features in excel and computers in general. I think I saved her 20 hours per week that day.
92. Secret Stash
My kids were constantly raiding the freezer for ice cream, and I couldn't figure out where to hide it; then I came up with an ingenious trick. Hide ice cream or popsicles inside an empty resealable vegetable bag from Costco, or any other store with large, resealable bags. Your kids will have no idea they’re there, and you can disperse them accordingly or hog them for yourself without them knowing.
93. A Weight Off Their Shoulders
At my last job—a truck suspension shop—we did inventory every December and it was someone's job to count all the washers and screws of every size. It was my first inventory, and I casually mentioned that they should just weigh one screw or washer, then weigh them all and divide the weight to get the count. Everyone looked at me like I had given them the key to the universe.
Counting washers and screws went from a day or two, to just a few hours.
94. Calling Your Own Shot
When I was job-hunting, I called to confirm an interview and was met with silence. Apparently, I wasn’t in their system at all. After they apologized, I realized that I’d just stumbled upon a brilliant life hack. Nowadays, if I’m looking for work, I’ll cold-call a company to “confirm” my interview time. In their confusion, they’ll usually just give me an interview. Twice, I even got the job.
Sources: Reddit, , , , , , , , , , ,