Too many people wait until late December to do their Christmas shopping. Without a plan, they turn to credit cards and impulse buying. Not good.
It’s much easier to start taking action today. From shopping smart to cutting your Holiday grocery bill, here are 17 frugal hacks to save money this Christmas.
# 1 – Get Cash Back On Things You Already Buy (My Favorite)
Plan on shopping online? If so, you need to check out Swagbucks. With Swagbucks, you can get up to 20% cash back from stores like Amazon, WalMart and more.
Click here to get a $5 bonus just for signing up!
# 2 – Earn Free Gift Cards By Completing Surveys
A simple way to earn extra cash or even gift cards to stores like Amazon, Target, or WalMart is completing online surveys. While there are dozens of survey sites to choose from, here’s two good ones to start with.
SurveyJunkie is an established survey site with over 5,000,000 members and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
Keep in mind, by signing up for both these sites, you’ll have more opportunities to earn.
# 3 – Let A Robot Save You Money
One of my favorite new personal finance apps is Trim. The idea behind Trim is to become your automated personal finance assistant. Trim takes care of money saving tasks like:
- Cancelling and negotiating subscriptions
- Getting you cash back for price drops
- Lowering your Comcast bill
All you do is sign up, connect your account. Then, Trim’s robotic assistant will notify you of ways to save money.
Last month alone, Trim helped it users save over $1,000,000. Learn more about Trim.
# 4 – Try Amazon Prime Free for 30-Days
If you plan to buy gifts on Amazon and you’re not a Prime Member, sign up for a 30-day free trial.
This will allow you to experience the benefits of Amazon Prime, most importantly the Free 2-Day Shipping, at no cost.
# 5 – Set Google Alerts For Deals
One of my favorite hacks for saving money is setting up Google Alerts. For example, say I wanted to buy my daughter LEGOS for Christmas. I can set up a Google Alert on a site like SlickDeals (one of the largest deal sites) for deals on LEGOS.
I’d set up a Google Alert that says:
This way, I’ll get notified anytime there’s a deal on LEGOS.
# 6 – Get Cash Back For Price Drops
Many retailers increase prices before Christmas. Soon after, prices tend to drop when demand declines.
Credit card companies offer price protection–which allows you to refund the difference if something you bought drops in price. The hard part is tracking your purchases and then claiming a refund. Fortunately, there’s software that can do it for you.
Paribus is one such app/website. Paribus will watch your purchases for price drops, then file price adjustment claims on your behalf. It takes about 15 seconds to sign up. Then, the software does the rest.
# 7 – Use Coupon Apps For Groceries & In-Store Purchases
Just as cash back sites can get you money back for your online purchases, coupon apps can get you cash back for in-store purchases.
One of my favorite cash back apps is iBotta.
Here’s how it works:
- Sign up for the app (get a $10 bonus by using this link)
- Before you walk into the store, scan iBotta for rebates
- Once you purchased the item, scan the barcode and receipt
- Then, get cash back in a matter of minutes once your purchase is verified
iBotta works with hundreds of stores, from WalMart, Target, Costco, Publix, and more.
# 8 – Shop Around For The Lowest Insurance Rates
Many insurance companies raise their rates at the beginning of the year. So, it’s important to lock in your rate now.
The easiest type of insurance to shop is your auto. Use a site like Esurance, which takes only a few minutes to get a quote, to see if you can save. Another option is Insurify, which lets you shop dozens of quotes in a matter of minutes.
Make sure though you’re comparing apples-to-apples. Coverage options can differ a lot from carrier to carrier, so a lower price isn’t always better,
# 9 – Make A Budget & Stick To It
It’s easy to get carried away on spending without a budget. It’s just as easy to make a budget and not stick with it.
So, what can you do? Here’s a system that’s worked for my Wife and myself.
We have an excel spreadsheet with four columns:
- Name of person we’re giving a gift to
- Budget for that person
- Gift ideas (we fill this in throughout the year when we get ideas)
- Gift purchased
After we have our total budget, we then set a budget for each individual person. Then, spend under that budget amount for that person.
# 10 – Ask For Gifts That Save You Money
If you’re in a gift exchange, ask for a gift that will save you money in the future.
Here are some ideas:
- A Crockpot
- Coffee maker
- Programable thermostat
- LED lights
- Gift certificates
- Reusable water bottle
# 11 – Go Cash Only For Certain Categories
Pick the one or two budgeting categories that tend to destroy your budget. Then, do a cash only budget for the specified categories.
Say year-after-year you blow through your budget on gifts for your children. What you’ll then do is set aside a certain amount of cash for those gifts. Then, whenever it comes to buy a gift for your kids, the money comes out of the cash you set aside. Once that money is gone–it’s gone.
# 12 – Prepare Simple, Tasty Meals For $5
It’s nice to treat yourself and family to a special meal during the Holidays. To avoid blowing through your food budget for the month, focus on creating low-cost meals for the non special occasions.
One trick is to search the Internet for these low-budget meals. You can enter search terms like “$5 meals” or “budget friendly” dinners to get ideas.
# 13 – Lower Your Investment Expenses
Money wasted is money wasted. Whether that money is coming from your Christmas budget or your investment account.
For many reasons, the end of the year is a popular time to make financial transactions such as a stock trades. It’s important to minimize the cost of these transactions.
One such way is to use Personal Capital’s Fee Analyzer Tool, which lets you see what you’re paying in fees.
To get started;
- Sign up for a free account
- Link your investment accounts
- Then, use the Fee Analyzer Tool
Here’s a screenshot from my own account, of what information the free tool gathers:
# 14 – Set Financial Goals For The New Year
The Holidays are a time many of us take time to reflect and set goals for the upcoming year.
Have you ever considered setting financial goals? We spend a lot of our time working and thinking about money. It’s important to set a clear vision for what you want your finances to look like. More importantly, a vision that’s tied to what will make you happy. Want a step by step process?
# 15 – Improve Your Credit Score
A good credit score can save you thousands over your lifetime.
For example, let’s say with a good credit score, you’re able to achieve a .25% lower rate on your mortgage. On a 30-year, $300,000 mortgage, at a 4% rate compared to a 4.25% rate, you’ll save $15,688 on interest.
It’s important to know and manage this number. A free website called Credit Sesame can help you do just that. By signing up, here’s what you can expect:
- See your credit score for free, then get monthly updates
- Get personalized tips on managing your credit, based on your credit profile and goals
- Instant alerts for when an important change has been made to your TransUnion credit report
The last point above is worth signing up for alone. The Equifax hack has put the majority of the U.S. at a greater risk of identity theft. The quicker you identify a hack, the easier it is to recover.
# 16 – Open an IRA
If you want to truly become wealthy, you need to become an investor not just a saver. Heck, if you put away $400 per month for 40 years at 10% interest, you would have over $1.2 Million!
The even better news–investing can save you money as well. By investing in say a Traditional IRA, your contribution is tax deductible.
For example, let’s say you made $50,000 during the course of this year, which puts you in the 25% tax bracket. If you put $2,000 into a Traditional IRA, you’re allowed to deduct your contribution. Therefore, you’d save $500 this year in taxes (25% of $2,000).
Not bad, right?
Where can you start?
There are a lot of terrific, low-cost investment companies out there. My favorite is Betterment.
Betterment offers a low-cost, hands-off approach for those who have yet to learn the finer details of investing. It’s also a great service for short-term savings goals (like a home or car).
Unlike other companies, you can start investing with Betterment with as little as $1.
# 17 -Refinance Your High Interest Debt Or Student Loans
If you have debt, whether a car, student loan, or credit card — it’s important to make sure you’re paying the lowest interest rate possible. Paying a lower interest rate will save you A LOT of money and allow you to get out of debt much faster.
One of my favorite companies is Credible. Credible will provide you real rates (not ranges) to refinance both personal debt and student loans in 2 minutes. The average Credible customer saves $18,668 when refinancing student loans. Plus, you can use this link to get up to a $250 bonus if approved.