With so many people feeling a financial crunch this holiday season, it’s hard to not let the most wonderful time of the year derail your budget. AutoPayPlus is here to help, bringing the cheer with 12 tips to save money and your Christmas spirit this year.
1. Cash back rewards
A cash back credit card can be an easy way to earn money – typically 1% to 5% 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: Top Cash Back Cards for 2020
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 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 list of creative gift ideas for under $25.
4. Bake some homemade gifts
Channel your inner Ina Garten or Cake Boss with these do-it-yourself edible gift recipes.
5. Free holiday e-cards
There are lots of free e-card websites out there. Click here for 15 options that let you send a virtual greeting at no cost. Bonus save: You don’t have to shell out 55 cents apiece 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% of your income and get tax savings on non-cash donations, as well. Visit this IRS webpage to learn more.
7. Be like Santa.
Make a list of the gifts you need to buy and check it often to prevent impulse purchases. Establish a budget ahead of time to know how much you can afford to spend and stick to it.
8. Buy one, get one free
Need we say more?
9. Embrace the concept of re-gifting
Is that birthday sweater from Aunt Ruth simply not your style? How about that the brand-new slow cooker your in-laws gave you when you already have one? Other items that work well for re-gifting include unused candles and gift cards to stores you do not frequent. There’s no shame in what personal finance guru Dave Ramsay likes to call “a present relocation program” it saves money and keeps a gift from going unused.
10. Plan your online purchases ahead of time
With COVID-19 safety precautions driving more people to do their holiday shopping online this year, here are some things to consider. Most online stores offer free shipping when you reach a certain dollar amount. Plan your purchases so you can order all of your items at once to receive free or reduced shipping rates. Ship gifts directly to the recipient’s home so you don’t have to pay to re-ship items once you receive them.
For more ways to save, check out this Lifehack blog featuring 10 online shopping tips to save money while scoring major discounts.
11. Choose time over money.
You’ve heard the old saying, “It’s the thought that counts.” For many people, the thought of spending time together has more meaning than the fleeting joy that comes from a physical gift. Save money this year by being intentional about being together in whatever way you can, suggests Dave Ramsay. Whether in-person or virtually, it’s about valuing experiences over accessories and conversations over clutter.
12. Give gifts of service
Here’s another money-saving tip from Lifehack that we love. Create your own redeemable coupons that are good for services such as cooking dinner, serving breakfast in bed, a free car wash, a back rub, mowing the grass, doing the dishes, or running an errand. The possibilities are endless and most people will appreciate your services more than a store-bought gift.
All of us at AutoPayPlus wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday season, and best wishes for continued savings in the New Year.
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