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5 TikTok Money Hacks That May Actually Work

  • Published
  • 5 min read
Try these money-saving TikTok hacks.

If you think that TikTok is just an app full of teenagers doing viral dance challenges, you might be missing out. In fact, many people—especially Gen Zers and Millennials—turn to TikTok for advice on everything from charcuterie boards to consolidating debt.

Surprisingly, when it comes to budgeting and saving money, TikTok offers some helpful (and occasionally unconventional) tips. Of course, not all of the advice offered on TikTok is worthwhile, so we’ve handpicked a few hacks that are actually worth trying.

1. Cash Stuffing

There are numerous names for this challenge (a.k.a., the envelope system or the envelope challenge) and the concept has been around for decades. It is a money management system that challenges you to withdraw your monthly income in cash and allocate it to different envelopes. The general idea is that 50 percent of your funds go to needs, 30 percent to wants, and 20 percent to savings. On TikTok, the budgeting method is known as “Cash Stuffing” and #cashstuffing has racked up over 1 billion views.

  • Pros: Can help break a dependence on credit spending. Creates physical limitations on spending. Makes a game out of saving.
  • Cons: Cash is easy to lose and not recoverable (even with homeowner’s or renter’s insurance). No NCUA protection. No credit card or savings perks. Can’t make online payments. Can negatively impact your credit score.

2. Round Up

One of the simplest money-saving tips from #MoneyTok (a finance-focused niche community on TikTok) is to bank with a financial institution that offers a round up savings options—and we do! If you enroll in Maps Round Up, your everyday debit purchases will be rounded up to the nearest dollar and the difference will be automatically transferred from your checking account to your Member Rewards account. It may only be 25 cents (on a $4.75 cup of coffee) at a time, but it adds up. On average, members who enroll in Round Up save up to $300 per year.

  • Pros: Automatic and effortless.
  • Cons: Slow money accumulation compared to other savings methods. Could throw off careful budget plans (for those living paycheck to paycheck).

3. The “No Spend” Challenge

This one is pretty self-explanatory. For the “No Spend” Challenge, you commit to not spending money on anything outside of the essentials (like groceries, rent, bills, gas, etc.) for a day, week, or month. The goal is to prove that you can still have fun without spending a lot of money, so the #NoSpend tips circulating TikTok tend to be focused on free entertainment ideas, meal planning, and pitfall avoidance.

  • Pros: Learn to identify impulsivity issues. Discover free ways to have fun.
  • Cons: FOMO (Fear of missing out). Creates a false and temporary sense of security. Often leads to binge spending. Can lead to a cycle of shame about spending.

4. Last Digit Savings Plan

For this savings hack, having access to online banking is key. Each day, you log in, check the balance of your checking account and move the last digit to your savings account. So, if you have $552, you move $2 to your savings account. If your balance is $437 the next day, you’ll move $7 to savings. Try this challenge for a week, a month, or even a year if you are feeling bold. This hack is sometimes billed as the “fast savings plan” because it accumulates quickly.

  • Pros: No math required. Requires only small increments at a time. No long-term time commitment. Balance adds up fast.
  • Cons: Requires digital banking. Could be too costly if you are on a tight budget. 

5. 52-Week Challenge

For this challenge, there are several different approaches. The simplest form of the challenge is to take $1 or $5 (in cash) each week and add it to an envelope or box. If you do it for 52 weeks (one year) you will have accumulated either $52 or $260. The next-level version of the challenge is to allow the amount you save to grow exponentially each week. For example, if you add $1 to the box the first week, the next week you will add $2. For week 52, you’ll add $52 to the box (and you’ll have accumulated $1,378). Many savvy savers are also attempting this challenge with a $5 starting deposit. That means saving $10 for week two, $15 for week three, and continuing until you deposit $260 in your box for week 52. If you attempt the 52-Week $5 Challenge, you will have accumulated $6,890.

  • Pros: Can be done digitally if you don’t carry cash. Has an easy-to-follow schedule of amounts to save. Adds up quickly without a lot of hardship.
  • Cons: Requires planning. Requires a long-term commitment. End-of-year deposit amounts may be difficult to manage.

Before you decide to try any of these tips, think hard about what works with your lifestyle and income. It is important to remember that just because a financial hack worked for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Personal finances are, well…personal. Also—as with any information from social media—it is crucial to be discerning about whose advice you follow. Be diligent about researching what you hear and who you hear it from. If you find some financial advice on TikTok that you are curious about, verify it against multiple sources. After all, anyone can claim to be an expert, so it’s best to be skeptical and seek (actual) expert advice before making investments or taking financial risks.

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