How to Spend Less & Get More This Holiday Season

It’s no secret that holiday costs can really add up.  You’ve got your normal monthly bills then you toss in the extra groceries, holiday clothes, travel expenses, holiday cards, stamps and of course, the gifts! It can all be overwhelming and mentally exhausting!  There’s Black Friday sales, Cyber Monday sales mixed in with lack of sleep, head colds and over stimulated and over tired children and it will just about set you over the edge.  If you read my last post about staying sane over the holidays, then you know how key planning is and here are a few tips that I hope will make the holidays easier and save you some money at the same time.

These tips are also great for year round cash savings but when spending gets high in the holiday months, these tips can really add up! First and foremost, you need to make sure that you are getting cash back for purchases you are already making.  If buying items online, you need to be using sites like Ebates, Upromise or Ibotta for cash back. All you have to do is log in through their website and shop, it’s that easy! The cash back varies with each retailer and each website so I always look to see who has the best deal before shopping.

There are other websites and apps out there too where you can earn cash back and gift cards.  You might as well get money back on the things you are already buying! Some retailers even give cash back on gift card purchases.  So when you are making a big purchase, you can buy the gift card and receive cash back and make a purchase getting cash back too.  It’s like a double dip, but make sure you read the fine print for each retailer before purchasing the gift card as not all retailers give cash back on gift cards.

Speaking of gift cards, my next tip involves purchasing gift cards at a discount.  There are a few companies out there that sell gift cards at a discounted rate.  They are able to do this because they have purchased the gift cards from people just like you and me at an even deeper discount.  Two websites that have a money back guarantee and I’ve personally been using for over five years are Raise.com and cardcash.com.

I’ve only had one issue with the balance not being on the card and they took care of it right away. They guarantee the balance of the gift card for one year and the customer service is quick and easy! Before buying items in store and online, I always check these websites out to see if I can purchase a gift card at a discounted rate.  Most offer electronic delivery which says to allow 24 hours for delivery but it’s usually there within minutes. There are also physical cards that you can order that show up at your doorstep in days.  I’ve saved a lot of money by doing this!

Whenever we go to the movies, we buy Fandango or AMC gift cards for at least 20% off and these can be used on concessions too. It really adds up! I’ve also bought these gift cards while in the store once I’ve figured how much I am going to spend.  Combined with coupons I always end up saving a ton of money.  For example, I took my kids to Payless for back to school shopping and ended up getting discounted gift cards for 46% off and combined that with a 20% off coupon.  So when all was said and done, I paid $46 for $120 worth of shoes and socks! Whoop Whoop!  You can do these kinds of deals this holiday season and the savings will really add up.

Along with buying from these websites, you can sell your unused gift cards that you will probably never use.  Instead of a gift card sitting in your wallet, turn it in to cash! After setting up your account, you enter the merchant and account balance and they offer you a purchase price. Once you agree on a price, you send them the card. It’s that easy!

It’s also good to know that you can purchase discounted gift cards from wholesale clubs like BJ’s and Costco.

While we are still on the topic of gift cards, this is the time of year when many retailers offer incentives for buying gift cards. For instance, AC Moore has a deal where you buy a $50 gift card and receive an additional $10 gift card at no cost.  I buy holiday supplies and gifts there so I take advantage of this deal and buy the gift card upon entering the store and use it to pay after I’ve done my shopping.  Again, you can combine this with coupons for an even deeper savings!  A lot of restaurants offer deals like this as well so if you are planning on going out to eat or ordering take out this holiday season, check out the gift card deals to save even more money!

Another money saving tip is to check out your credit card companies offers. So many people do not even look at the offer section of their cards and they are certainly missing out.  My American Express always has amazing offers especially during the holidays. Just today, I got a $15 credit just for spending $150 or more at any grocery store! In order to get these offers, you need to go into the offer section of your card and activate the offers so make sure you are taking advantage of your credit card offers and of course, make sure you pay your balance each month so you do not incur fees.

These are just a few tips to get you started this holiday season.  Check back for more money saving ideas! What’s your best money saving tip?

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