I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for ways to save a buck and make life just a little bit easier. I've lived in St. Cloud for most of my life and I've learned a few tricks along the way. Here are some of the best ones that I've discovered!

1. Free parking at the Paramount ramp--It's the best kept secret of all time if you go downtown a lot. The parking ramp attendant's work day ends at 6 p.m. So, if you wait until 6 p.m. to leave the ramp, you don't have to pay for parking--the parking arm gets lifted when the ramp attendant leaves. Neat, right?

2. Free mall food--The Crossroads Center closes at 9 p.m. on week nights and Saturday. If you go to the mall and order food in the food court right before they close, the staff will typically give you a bunch of extra food. It has happened every time I've gone there.

3. Value Connection--You can save money on businesses that you're going to shop at anyway. If you're planning on eating at Pac Wok for lunch, grab a Value Connection certificate. You'll pay $3.50 and in return you'll get a $5 gift certificate to use at the restaurant. Cool, huh?

4. Parking at SCSU--When I was a student I would get ticketed ALL of the time for parking at school without a parking permit. So, I figured out a hack. You can get up to three tickets before you get a boot on your car. I lived with my parents for awhile so, I'd rotate which cars I'd take to school. I'd put the old tickets in the window so it looked like I had already been ticketed. Chances are, public safety left my car alone. *Plus, it helped that I didn't register my vehicle with public safety--that way, they couldn't keep me from graduating because they didn't know it was my car getting ticketed. Genius.

5. Penny Pincher--Getting the Coborn's Penny Pincher in the mail always makes my day! I love saving money on things I was already planning on buying! But, sometimes the Penny Pincher doesn't get sent to my house or sometimes I forget it at home. The trick is to go ask for an extra one at the service counter. Technically, they only give them out to people who didn't receive one in the mail. But, if you're like me and forget yours at home, there's no way you're driving all the way back for it. They'll give you an extra copy--and that'll save you a bunch of $$$!

6. Free makeovers at JC Penny--If you go to Sephora, you can ask to get a full makeover...and it's free. They do this in hopes that people will buy their beauty products. Now, some people find it tacky to get a free makeover and not buy the product...I'd agree with that. That's why you strategically get the makeover done when you were already planning on buying more foundation or eyeliner anyway. #Strategy.

7. Free samples--Sam's Club, Cold Stone, Shields fudge, mall food court, free cone with your meal at Dickies BBQ Pit...all places you can go to get free samples. You're in the mood for a treat but you don't want to spend any money--free samples are the answer!

8. Free $5 at Val's--I love eating at Val's. Not many people realize that you can get a $25 gift card at Val's for just $20. It's true and you heard it here first. You're welcome!

9. Val's small fries--Never buy a large fry at Val's. You're just wasting your money. Instead, order a small fry. The guys at Val's load the entire bottom of the food bag with fries no matter what size you order. It's pure awesomeness!

10. Free movies in Atwood--The next time you want to rent a Redbox movie, think twice. Most people don't realize that St. Cloud State University's Atwood Theater hosts free movie nights on Friday and Saturday's during the school year. It's free and open to students and the community. You can check their movie listings online!

11. Lots of Chinese food--It's well known to college students throughout central Minnesota that China Star Buffet in Waite Park gives you the best value for your buck...IF you get your food to go. This restaurant allows you to do take-out and doesn't weigh your food. So, for about $6 bucks you can fill an entire take-out container as full as you can get's enough for 2 or 3 meals--it's great if you're a poor college kid.

Are there any sweet life hacks that I missed? Share them with us by commenting below!

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