Presented by AutoPayPlus
The holiday season is here. Don’t let the most wonderful time of the year derail the savings plan! Known for our biweekly loan payment service, AutoPayPlus has compiled 12 tips – plus a holiday jingle – to help you save money on your Christmas shopping this holiday season.
1. Cash back rewards
A cash back credit card can be an easy way to earn money – typically 1 to 5 percent on eligible purchases – in the form of a statement credit, check or deposit into your bank account. Some of these cards also let you earn points for rewards such as travel, gift cards or merchandise.
Two of the most popular types of cash back credit cards are flat rate and bonus category. A flat-rate credit card applies the same cash back rate to all of your purchases which is desirable if your spending is spread fairly evenly across multiple categories. A bonus category credit card offers a higher rate for spending at gas stations, grocery stores or department stores, making this an appealing option if you spend a lot in the bonus category.
To boost your earnings, look for a cash back card that offers a sign-up bonus. Also, be aware that many cash back cards charge an annual fee. In all cases, do your research. Here’s a good place to start.
2. Sell your old gold
Do you have gold jewelry tucked away that you no longer wear or care about? While those rings, bracelets and necklaces may not hold sentimental value, they may have cash a value. Many jewelry stores, pawn shops and online dealers pay cash for gold. Be sure to shop around and get several bids before you sell. Know the current market price for gold as a starting point. And, check with the Better Business Bureau to find out if there are any complaints against the buyer.
3. Plan a Secret Santa gift exchange
The genius of this idea is that you only have to buy one gift versus presents for all your friends or family. That said, it can be a challenge to find something thoughtful for a potentially random person without spending a lot. Check out Good Housekeeping’s of 40 fun ideas under $25.
4. Bake some homemade gifts
Channel your inner Martha Stewart with do-it-yourself edible gifts.
5. Free holiday e-cards
There are lots of free e-card websites out there. Two of the most popular are Punchbowl (look for the cards with the blue circle that says “Free” at the top) and Pingg (filter the results by “Special Features” and choose “Free Designs”). Bonus save: you don’t have to shell out 49 cents each for postage.
6. Charity tax deductions
Donating to charity is caring gift idea for the people on your list who are difficult to shop for. Select an organization whose work will be meaningful to them. In return, you can reap tax benefits up to 50 percent of your income and get tax savings on noncash donations, as well. Visit this IRS webpage to learn more.
7. Cyber Monday specials
The Monday after Thanksgiving is plentiful with online shopping deals. Advanced planning is key to making the most of this “save.” Make a list of the gifts you need – and check it twice – to avoid over-buying. Check the current prices at a site like PriceGrabber.com. Look for sites that offer free shipping or promo discount codes.
8. Buy one get one free
Need we say more?
9. Re-gifting an old sweater
Is that birthday sweater from Aunt Ruth simply not your style? Re-gifting can be another tricky save. It works best if the sweater still has all the tags attached and is given to someone who will actually wear it. Other items that work well for re-gifting include unused candles, kitchen items and gift cards to stores you do not frequent.
10. Host a potluck dinner
Hosting family and friends during the holidays can be expensive. Consider a potluck dinner. Ask everyone to contribute a dish or two, and to tell you in advance what they plan to bring, so you don’t end up with a dozen desserts.
11. String up LEDs
While the cost of LED holiday lights are higher than regular ones, they can save you money in the long run by using 80 percent less energy than incandescent lights and lasting up to 25 times longer, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
12. And a Black Friday big screen TV!
Black Friday is known as much for its bargain deals on big screen TVs as it is for the all-out brawls that occur every year when the deals sell out. If you plan to attempt this save, please do so with patience and caution.