Growing up in the ‘90s and ‘00s, I’m part of the last generation to use floppy discs and count change for pay phones. Yes, at times I feel like an ancient Yoda-like creature, telling tall tales of when each house only had one phone line, and the whole family had to share it! And with these bygone days, go countless useful life hacks that made kids' lives a little easier. All the ingenious tips you might have learned from a cool older sibling or that cousin who was way too into Nirvana are now completely defunct, and sadly obsolete. But, turns out, I'm not the only Yoda out there. There is an entire community of people on Reddit who also remember this time, and want to share their now useless wisdom. That community: Ask Reddit.
Reddit user Panoramicjazz posted the question: "What is your 90s / 00s pro tip that probably won't work today?" And in less than 24 hours the query received over 4,000 comments. Now, if I ever have some sort of time-traveling Back To The Future moment, and find myself back in middle school wearing an oversized t-shirt and leggings, I will be incredibly grateful for these life hacks. Wanna sneak out of your parent's house without getting caught? We got ya, boo. Wanna get free movies at Blockbuster? No prob, Bob. Trying to game the system is part of the fun of being a kid, so here we have highlighted some of the best from the very lengthy comment section. Scroll down and see how many of these sneaky tips you were guilty of using back in the day.
Today, we live in a world where our cellphones record whatever number is calling. And, sadly, the fine art of ignoring unknown numbers has cut down on the success of prank phone calls. But back in the '90s, if someone prank called your family's landline, and you didn't have caller ID, there was still a way to find out who the trickster was! Simply dialing *69 would reveal the number of whomever called, as if by magic. And then it was up to you to return the favor: "Uh, is your refrigerator running? Well, ya better go catch it."
2. Clean Your Mouse Ball For Smooth Clicking
There were few things more annoying than struggling to get the curser across the screen. To fix the issue, turns out it's as simple as cleaning the little ball, and put it back together. Your mouse will work good as new — if you don't have a touchscreen that is.
3. Blockbuster Rental hack
Extra time + No late fee = Awesome!
4. Get In On That Sweet Blockbuster Rewards Program
If you were a film buff or just loved Disney, you had to have a Blockbuster membership. Blockbuster had all the new releases and games, and in most places it was the only video rental store in town. Of course, this deal is useless now, and we can just download whatever we want off the Internet or stream new releases off our smart TVs. But oh the '90s savings!
5. Free Payphone Phonecalls
Sadly, I wasn't cool enough to try this myself back in the day. I paid 25 cents for phone calls like a sucker. Perhaps, if I had seen the old Geico commercial that essentially taught kids how to do this money saving hack, I wouldn't have had to carry so much change in my pockets and jingle as I walked.
6. Cargo Pants As Extra Carry-On Space
Running out of room in your carry-on? Never fear! Just grab your largest cargo pants and stuff the bulbous pockets with whatever you cannot fit in your luggage. Maybe not the cutest look, but very economical. Flying in the '90s was so much easier, you could put a few bottles of Mr. Pibb in your pockets and never be thirsty again!
7. Vending Machine Hack
Remember desperately wanting a snack but you are down to your last emergency dollar? In the '90s you could simply put clear packing tape over the dollar making a handle. When you feed it into the vending machine and the machine registers that it has received the money, you can then pull it out by the tape! Why, oh why does this not work anymore (*shakes fist at sky*)?!
8. Three-Way Calling Secrets
Covering for a friend before cellphones took some ingenuity. This super sneaky trick would guarantee you grounding if you got caught, but would make you "friend of the year" if it worked out.
9. Record Over The Extra Tape On A VHS
The concept of "extra tape" seems strange in this digital world. But if you grew up around VHS you probably noticed a bit of extra tape at the end of most movies. The adorable redditor elephant_on_skis suggests that if you want to record something on from TV but don't have a blank tape, just record over the end credits and the blank end of an existing VHS. That way you can watch your favorite commercial or MTV music video over and over. So smart, yet now so useless.
10. "Percussive Maintenance"
This is a fancy term for banging on TVs, remotes, or any piece of technology from the '80s and '90s. Somehow we believed that it would magically fix them. Just like we believed blowing into VHS and CD players would stop them from skipping. Oh, how simple IT seemed back then.
11. The Almighty Disposable Camera
Before Dash Cam and cellphones with built in cameras, drivers were advised to keep a disposable camera in the glove compartment. No, not to take cool pictures of all their road trips, but just in case there was ever an accident and they needed photos for insurance claims. Today, disposable cameras are marketed as "vintage," and one day they might be just as hipster-cool as the Polaroid.
12. Always Have Extra AA Batteries
True wisdom from before the time of iPhone chargers. You wouldn't want to run out of juice and have to like, just sit and wait quietly, right?