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Stronger, Faster, Better: 9 Cheat Codes for Real Life

Cheat Code

Fellow Riskologist,

Remember playing video games when you were younger (or maybe last week; I’m not judging)? Now, remember when you discovered cheat codes?

Everything changed, right? That incredibly difficult level you couldn’t get past now had a cheat code to just skip it. Want to master a game? Find the cheat code for infinite lives or invincibility.

Eventually, games got more complicated, and so did the cheat codes. With a little research, you could get extra resources others didn’t have access to. Get weapons not available any other way. Improve your character to be stronger, faster, smarter, etc.

The options were endless. And once you discovered the cheat codes, there was almost no point to playing the “old way” anymore.

Now, fast forward to today. You’re a grown up (I’m assuming). You have a job. Maybe a house. If you’re like most people, a few kids. And, for the most part, you followed all the rules getting all that stuff.

What happened to the cheat codes?

You used to work tirelessly to uncover the codes in video games when you were 10 just to see what was possible. Everyone did. Then you grew up and you were told to follow the rules—that there are no shortcuts in the game of life. If you want to get a leg up in the world, you have to do it the way everyone else does.

To this, I say “Phooey!”

Cheat codes exist everywhere in real life, and one of my favorite hobbies is to find and exploit them. My own life can be grouped into two categories of time: BCC (Before Cheat Codes) and AE (After Enlightenment). Once I discovered they really did exist, I never wanted to live my life the “normal way” again.

In celebration of cheat codes and all the amazing things they can unlock for your life—excuse the pun—I thought I’d list the ones I know and use all the time.

If there’s a cheat code you’ve used to get ahead in your own life, share it in the comments below. I’ll add them to a future post with even more codes.

1. Fix your employment gap with a fake business.

Economic times are tough. Lots of young (and even older), hardworking people have lost their jobs. For most, this is a double whammy. Not only do they lose their income, but they spend a long time looking for new work. The longer they search, the bigger the gap in their work history gets, making employers skeptical.

Cheat code: As soon as you get laid off, file a DBA for “[Lastname] Consulting.” If you end up unemployed for a long time, you can start filling in your résumé with your totally real but mostly ignored consulting company in your work history. This tells employers you hadn’t gone back to video game cheat codes. Instead, you spent some time exploring entrepreneurship!

For best results, you might actually try to do some consulting. Hell, you might even like it and give up on the résumé altogether!

2. Start a business with $100 instead of $10,000 or more and get guaranteed results.

If you watch TV or talk to anyone who’s never started a business, you’re likely to be convinced  you need tons of money—far more than you could ever come up with—to start any kind of serious business. And when you do, the odds are against you that you’ll ever make a dime. You could be financially ruined!

Best to just forget that dream right now!

Cheat code: If you go slow and steady, you can actually build almost any business you want to, and you’re guaranteed not to lose more than about $100.

This cheat code works by skipping all the non-essential stuff most new business owners think they need to succeed and focusing only on one very important thing: finding a few people to pay you to solve a simple problem.

3. Get ripped without ever stepping inside a gym.

If you want a decent looking body, you better spend hours in the gym every single day. And make it an expensive one—you really want to feel the burn! You’re going to have to sacrifice for it by getting up early to pump weights with the other gym zombies or go after work and neglect your friends and family.

Cheat code: You can actually build a very lean and muscular body with nothing but simple body weight exercises. I made a dramatic transition from a thin but flabby body to a much sleeker, defined one in 20 minutes a day and three days a week doing body weight exercises in the park by my house.

But you’ll never see an infomercial making those claims. This cheat code isn’t well-known because there’s no way to sell you something if you know you can get the body you want on your own for free.

You’re not going to get muscles ripping out of your skin, but you’re going to look healthy and fit. And here’s the added bonus: the muscles you build will actually be useful for doing real-life stuff like picking up your kids and doing yard work.

This cheat code works best when combined with…

4. Lose tons of weight and get healthy without changing the foods you eat.

If you’re out of shape and overweight, you have to clean up your diet. Starting tomorrow, everything you used to eat is no longer and option and you’ll now be following some fad diet with oatmeal for breakfast, a few spinach leaves for lunch with some non-fat dressing and, if you’re lucky, you may get to have a Slim Fast shake for dinner.

Also, you have to go cold turkey, and this is how you will eat for the rest of your life (or until you give up and get fat again).

Cheat code: Losing weight when you’re used to eating a normal American diet is actually incredibly easy with just a few simple tweaks. You don’t actually need to change the foods you eat, just when and how much you eat of them. Tim Ferriss explains how this works in detail in his New York Times Bestseller, The 4-Hour Body.

Basically, you follow a “slow carb” diet for six days, then binge on whatever the hell you want for one—your “cheat day.” This works for two reasons:

  1. Your body doesn’t actually absorb all the harmful stuff you eat when you eat it all at once. Much of it just passes through.
  2. After a few cheat days, you lose a lot of the desire to keep cheating—the crap you eat slowly becomes less appealing, and you’re left with a much cleaner diet.

I lost nearly 30 lbs (from 180 to 150) following this diet along with the body weight routine above.

5. Run a marathon without any prior training.

If you want to do something crazy and difficult like run a marathon, first you need to get in great shape. This takes about a year. Then, you need to actually start training for your marathon race. This takes at least 4 months.

Just today, I got an email from a reader who wanted to know if she was crazy for trying to get ready for a marathon in “just six months.”

Cheat code: You can finish a marathon with absolutely zero training. Here’s the story of my friend Sean who did just that. People who know it’s possible do it all the time. Even when I’m trying to break a personal record, I never prepare for more than 8 weeks. There’s no need to train if you just want to finish. And even if you want to do well, you don’t have to do much training. Certainly not a year and a half!

6. Get your car to earn you passive income.

If you want to drive a car, you need to be rich or willing to go into a lot of debt to own one. You need to get a loan, spend many tens of thousands of dollars, and then spend thousands each year on gas and maintenance, all while driving it for no more than a few hours a day. It’ll sit idly the rest of the time.

For extra points, complain to everyone you know about gas prices and how expensive your dumb car is.

Cheat code: Get your car to actually earn passive income for you by signing it up for car sharing on a site like Getaround or Relay Rides. When you’re not driving it (which should be most of the time if you’re not a chump), other people can pay you to drive it around to get their groceries or go on vacation.

I’ve always made owning a car a very cheap part of my life, but now that I have these resources, my car actually earns me money. Yes, you read that right.

7. Take $20,000 vacations for free.

Here’s how vacations work in most of the Western World: You get two weeks a year, but you don’t use them all because you can’t afford to go anywhere. You save like crazy for a getaway and, once every decade or so, you spend a few days on the beach somewhere trying to enjoy yourself as you fret over how much you just spent to be there.

Cheat code: By taking advantage of all the little known ways to rack up frequent flyer miles and hotel reward points, you can take off to almost anywhere in the world for free for as long as you want every single year. In some cases, signing up for just one credit card offer will net you enough points to fly somewhere awesome in business class and even stay in a 4 star hotel for free.

I’m a bit more conservative with my miles, but in just a few years, I’ve taken about $80,000 in trips all around the world for less than a few thousand dollars.

By the time you read this, I’ll be on a plane to Argentina that I paid $80 for.

8. Save an extra $133,000 by canceling your cable service.

The only way to stay properly entertained is to pay $100/month for cable television and watch it for four to five hours every day when you get home from work. If you’re really dedicated, you might squeeze in an hour each morning, too.

Cheat code: Cancel your stupid cable TV, throw your television out the window, and redirect that money into a simple investment account. Over the course of a lifetime, it’ll amount to over $133,000. Pretty good deal, huh?

Bonus: When you cancel your cable, you’ll also be forced to find new ways to entertain yourself. Almost any option will make you a more interesting human being.

9. Graduate college with absolutely no debt.

If you want to get ahead in life, you have to go to college. And if you want to go to college, you have to take out thousands and thousands of dollars in loans. When you graduate, you’ll get an entry-level job and struggle to move up the corporate ladder while simultaneously struggling to pay back your loans. By the time you retire, you might be ahead of your high school diploma friends… if you’re lucky.

Cheat code: Ensure your college success by following a tried and true method of attending and paying for college. All you have to do is ask yourself 3 very important questions:

  1. Should I really go to college?
  2. What’s the best value school for me?
  3. How can I do this for as cheap as possible?

These three questions (and their answers) helped all my highly paid and happy college graduate friends get through college debt free.

What other cheat codes exist for real life? Share yours in the comments, and I’ll put together a post of reader submissions next week.

Yours in cheat codes,
Founder, Riskology.co

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What smart people are saying about this...

  1. You have such practical views! Several questions come to my mind when having my car rented for $10/hour (renter pays gas). I am unclear about car insurance in this scenario. I have 130,000 miles on the car, and if it stalls, who pays what? I am concerned with the increase in mileage of the car just for $10/hour. Could you shed some light here?

    • You know, that’s a good question. Collision coverage is always picked up by Getaround or Relay Rides when the car is rented, but I imagine for mechanical failures, that burden likely falls on you, since that’s really not the fault of the driver but whoever is responsible for the maintenance of the car.

      Either way, I think Getaround’s policy is to rescue the renter and get the car towed back to you, but can’t say for sure.

      Either way, I rent my car for much less than $10/hour, and mileage is not a concern for me. Most people rent for several hours and drive the car very few miles. So, I actually come out way ahead—they pay to park the car down the street at the store rather than me getting nothing to have it sit in my driveway.

      For longer trips, you can set a daily mileage limit and charge for overages. So, you’re always covered in that regard.

    • Susan,

      After your question, I contacted Getaround to ask them about what happens if your car breaks down while someone is renting it.

      Here’s my question to them:

      What happens if someone rents my car for a week, drives it Idaho, and it breaks down? What happens to the renter? How do I get my car back? And who pays for it all?

      And here’s their response:

      If the reason your car broke down was due to renter negligence, the renter would be responsible for both the repairs, and for the cost of having your car returned to it’s home location.

      If the car broke down due to normal wear and tear, you would be held responsible. Before determining this however, we would bring your car to a local mechanic who had been vetted by our Fleet Team, who would be able to give us a clear reason as to what caused the car to break down.

      Lastly, since you have the ability to screen renters and their trips before they are confirmed, you can decide whether or not you’re comfortable with the renter’s planned trip, and the distance they’re traveling.

      Hope you find that helpful.

  2. I have no cheat codes. Just help for survival! I’m doing a half-marathon in less than two weeks. I’m getting kind of nervous. I did a 10 k in the fall. How do I not die?!

  3. The reviews for the book you mentioned (The 4 hour body) are terrible; or at least not that great. When I read your article I thought maybe you had found the next great thing but the reviews say different.

    • Tom, are we looking at the same book? The 4-Hour Body has almost 2,000 four and five star reviews, and just over 200 one and two stars.

      Anything that becomes popular will get a few bad reviews. I won’t defend the book too much other than to say I found it incredibly useful, and it certainly helped me achieve a more fit body and a healthier diet.

      Of course, that has a lot to do with me actually using the information. You won’t get fit just by reading the book. :)

  4. I love these. Lately I’ve been focusing a lot on the efficiency and ROI on time invested and this is perfect. Body weight exercises are definitely effective and it saves you the time to go to and from the gym as well.

  5. Get an MBA or any post graduate study. It opens door no matter what you study.

    Learn another language. It makes you cosmopolitan or it comes in handy when you get lost in Bali….

  6. I’m still looking for a way to get flyer miles for non-us residents hence I can’t sign up for all those credit cards without being a us citizen. european credit card companys/airlines can’t compete with them.

    • Hey Sarah. You’re right, the credit card offers outside of The US aren’t very exciting, but there are still lots of ways to incrementally build up your mileage accounts through special offers and promotions directly from the airlines as well as partner offers.

      You just have to find a way to keep up with all the different ones and when they’re available.

  7. Love this compilation of ideas, Tyler! I’m going to have to look into the DBA consulting tip, that’s directly applicable to me. Any good link resources? Those car sharing tools are really worthwhile… Have someone else pay off your car? Bingo.

  8. This is one of my favorite posts on this blog so far. I love these kinds of workarounds that aren’t really workarounds. I’ve done a few of them without even thinking of them as cheats. I heard about the car sharing idea a while back, and I’m excited to try it out after I get a used car in the next few months. The car is necessary, but I won’t be using it all the time. Another cheat I want to try is to avoid getting a new cell phone. Now that my battery dies constantly and my contract is up, the old me would start a new contract and get a new phone. The new me is going to get a new battery for under $10. With any luck, this phone will last me another two years!

Founded with love by Tyler Tervooren

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