Latest posts by R.J. Weiss, CFP®
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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!
Swagbucks Quick Summary
- Free to sign up and free to use
- Get up to 20% cash back from Swagbucks when you shop online
- Paid out over $220,000,000 in rewards and has A+ rating from Better Business Bureau
- Get $5 just for signing up
# 2 – Improve Your Credit Score
How does a good credit score save you money during Christmas? A dollar saved, no matter if it’s on Christmas presents or your mortgage, is a dollar saved.
It turns out — having a high credit score, is one of the biggest hacks to saving more. One study1 showed the difference of having excellent vs. poor credit saves a typical 35-year old male $274,918 over his life.
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 credit report
The last point above is worth signing up for alone. A recent FTC report found 20% of American’s have an error on their credit report. With how big of an impact your credit score has, it’s vital to know if an error is bringing down your score.
Credit Sesame Quick Summary
- Get your credit score for free in under 90 seconds
- Get personalized tips on how to improve your score
- Highly rated app with a rating of 4.3 and 21,000+ votes
- No credit card needed & it won't impact your score
# 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 cable and Internet
All you do is sign up, connect your account. Then, Trim’s robotic assistant will notify you of ways to save money.
Trim Quick Summary
- A free service that saves you money by cutting unused subscriptions, negotiating bills & earning cash back
- Has saved users over $1,000,000 in the last month
- New York Times called Trim, "a good warning for consumers who hate not getting what they are paying for or paying for things that they are not getting."
# 4 – Earn Free Gift Cards By Completing Surveys
A simple way to earn extra cash or gift cards to stores like Amazon, Target, or Walmart is completing online surveys (you can do this while you watch TV in the evening).
While there are dozens of survey sites to choose from, here’s two legit ones that are reader favorites at The Ways To Wealth.
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.
# 5 – Get Rewards Without The Debt
Debitize is a free tool that lets you use your credit card like a debit card while still earning your rewards and avoiding debt.
Here’s how it works:
- You make purchases on your credit card as normal
- Debitize deducts the purchases from your checking account daily
So, you never spend money you don’t have. Another benefit is your credit score will naturally increase, as your credit utilization (a factor in your credit score) stays low.
For readers of The Ways To Wealth, there’s a $10 signup bonus with this link.
# 6 -Make Your Debt Go Away Faster
# 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 Online with eBates
eBates is very similar to Swagbucks, where you get cash for the shopping you’re already doing.
Essentially, eBates allows you to share a referral fee for making a purchase through their link. So, you get a few extra percent off of your purchases from Amazon, Target, eBay, Nordstrom, among others.
If you sign up through this link, you’ll get a $10 bonus too. So, you’ll save $10, plus get cash back.
# 9 – 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.
# 10 – 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. All it takes is a few minutes. So, with ease you know whether to continue shopping around or if you’re already paying the best price. Time saved!
# 11 – 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:
# 12 – 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 time 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.
# 13 – Take Massive Action
If you’re serious about earning some extra cash for the Holiday’s, as mentioned completing surveys are a great choice. But if you want to take your earnings to the next level — you’ll have the sign up for more survey sites.
Description: Toluna is a popular surveys for gift cards site. They offer two types of surveys; profile surveys and longer surveys which may take 20+ minutes. To goal is take the shorter surveys–which allow you to qualify for the longer surveys, which typically pay higher.
BBB Rating: A+
Signup Bonus: N/A
Description: InBoxDollars is similar to Swagbucks with the variety of ways you can earn rewards (surveys, shopping, games, videos, email, and more). They also have a coupon search engine, where you can find coupons for the products you buy in store–which you are then paid 10 cents for every coupon you redeem.
BBB Rating: A+
Signup Bonus: $5 Signup bonus
Description: Ipsos I-Say is a straightforward survey site, where you can take surveys to earn rewards. You may have even heard of the name “Ipsos” as their surveys are often referred to in the news.
- BBB Rating: A+
- Signup Bonus: N/A
Description: Vindale is another straight-forward survey site worth signing up for. Partners of Vindale include Nike, Amazon, Disney, and NetFlix.
BBB Rating: A
Signup Bonus: $2
# 14 – Earn More Credit Card Rewards
The average American misses out on over $200 each year by not maximizing their credit card rewards. This means by doing something as simple as choosing the right card — you could have an extra $200 in your bank account in 365 days.
A new free tool called Birch, helps you learn how to maximize your rewards by letting you know which card to use. For example, it might suggest you use a certain card when paying for groceries to earn more points. Then, a different card to use for gifts.
As spending tends to increase this time of year, give Birch a try.
# 15 – Sell Your Stuff The Easy Way
Selling your old “stuff” is one great way to generate some extra cash for the Holidays. The problem is — it can take A LOT of time.
Try using Decluttr which is much easier than selling through Craigslist, eBay, or other online marketplaces.
Instead of you selling items individually – Decluttr buys your stuff in bulk. This saves you the hassle of managing multiple listings, payments, and dealing with buyers.
You simply upload what you want to sell, then ship it to Decluttr for free. Once Decluttr gets your order, you’ll get paid cash within 24 hours.
# 16 – 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.
Or, sign up to get $5 meals delivered right to your inbox. The founder of $5 Meal Plans, Erin Chase, is a genius when it comes to low-cost meals. She’s been on The Today Show and Fox & Friends showing how you can eat good, healthy meals for a fraction of the cost.
# 17 – Set Financial Goals
The New Year is often a time many of us look to set goals. Setting goals is a difficult task, setting financial goals is even harder.
None of us know what life will bring us next month, let alone in 5, 10, or 30+ years. On top of that, we must make a whole bunch of assumptions about things we have no control over.
It’s these reasons, among others, we tend to forget the process all together.
But despite the frustration, financial goals make a lot of sense. After all, working for money takes up most of our waking hours. Once in awhile, it makes sense to ask yourself if you’re on the right track.
I’ve written a financial goal setting workbook, to help guide both individuals and couples for setting financial goals. It’s a step-by-step process for gaining clarity in your financial life. Sign up below for free access.
HOW TO SET FINANCIAL GOALS
A step-by-step process for setting financial goals that connect the dots between your money and your happiness. Simply opt-in below to have it sent straight to your inbox!