hack: NOUN: A quick or inelegant solution to a particular problem, in this case Money.
Money Hacking Mobile Phones
It started in 2003. My local Phone shop had over-ordered a low-end Nokia phone (a popular item at the time) and were selling them off at £20 each. They had hundreds of the things.
The same phone was selling on eBay for about £50, so I listed a load of them at £40, (none of which I actually owned – yet) and every morning I would count my sales from the previous day, and pick that number up from the shop, box them up, and go to the post office to ship them off. The staff at both the phone shop and the post office used to look at me strangely, but I made about £1500 in the two weeks the sale was on. This is great, I thought. I’ll have to find other stuff like this.
Money Hacking the Casino
A few weeks later, I realised that online casinos, which were booming at the time, had some rather generous bonus offers. One that I saw, would double your first deposit, up to £200, and (and this is the bit that was generous) as soon as you’d bet the amount of the deposit, and the bonus, you could withdraw your winnings. So, I deposited £200, collected the bonus, went to the roulette room, bet £198 on red, £198 on black and £11 on the green zero. This meant that whatever happened, I got a win of £396 that I could withdraw – a £196 profit in five minutes. Better still, there were dozens of other casinos with similar offers, so the trick could be repeated over and over.
Neither of the methods above still work – the phone shop sold out, and the casinos realised their mistake, and added play-through requirements (basically the obligation to bet much more money before withdrawing winnings from bonuses). But the reasons behind them – a booming industry falling over itself to attract new customers in one case, and a simple mistake in the other case – have led to numerous such opportunities ever since. I call them “Money Hacks”.
Money Hacking Payday Lenders
Late in 2014, I found probably my favourite money hack of all time – just for the pure, delicious irony of the thing. The boom industry of the last few years has undoubtedly been Payday Lending. A necessary industry, possibly, but nonetheless an ugly one, for its sheer one-sidedness. People desperate for money have been borrowing for short periods at rates that are 100 or even 1000 times what it costs the payday lender to borrow the same money from their bank. The customers are paying dearly for their desperation.
But the payday lenders are themselves desperate – for new customers. The more they have, the more money they make and, more important still, the higher their share price. Customer numbers are the main thing that investors care about, as the industry is in a “land-grab” phase – the same phase that Dotcom companies were in, in the late 90’s, when all sorts of strange things started happening to share prices and vast sums were made and lost in weeks.
Here’s the irony – in their desperation for customers, payday lenders are over-paying. At least one cashback site is paying £47, funded by the lender, to any new customer that takes out a loan. The customer need only borrow the minimum amount – £50 – for the minimum time – overnight. This costs 50p in interest, letting them collect a £46.50 profit for no work whatsoever. The payday lender is paying way over the odds due to desperation for a resource that only the customer can provide. Delicious.
Money Hacker Website
As soon as I saw that, I couldn’t keep it to myself anymore, and I started my website, MoneyHacker, and the very first post revealed the payday-lender trick. In the month or so since then, it’s grown to five hacks, and I’m sure there are many more. I’m hoping to grow the site into a community where people can share the hacks they’ve found – which would be useful, as many of them only exist for a few days and then they’re gone. The more pairs of eyes looking ou for them, the better.
Whatever happens with the site, I’ll keep looking for hacks. It’s too much fun to stop.