We are less than ten days out from Black Friday and, I don’t know about you, but I am ready to drain my wallet on holiday shopping over these next six weeks. The MassMutual Consumer Spending Survey indicated that the average American is planning on spending $1,243 this season and 59% of those who are planning on using a credit card for shopping indicated they don’t believe they’ll be able to pay off their cards for at least six months.
The holidays are a spending lollapalooza, and a lot of us are going to overspend. I won’t stop you. Instead, here are some easy money hacks to keep more money in your pocket this holiday season.
1) Shop Online Using Affiliate Bonus Sites
Websites like Rakuten, Ibotta, Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping, Delta SkyMiles Shopping, and Shop Through Chase offer anywhere from 0.5%-20% back in the form of cash back or travel fare from your everyday online purchases. These sites earn referral fees by “sending you” to shop at certain stores and then give you a cut of what they make. It sounds cheesy, especially if you were already going to shop at a store (say Macy’s), that just by clicking a link on an affiliate bonus site, you can get 5% cash back on your purchase. But yes, it’s that easy.
2) Travelling? Send Presents to the Destination to Avoid Sales Taxes
Nobody enjoys paying taxes, and with some locales (I’m looking at you California, Tennessee, NYC and Chicago) charging close to 10% in sales taxes on purchases, it would be nice to avoid them. Sales taxes on online purchases are charged based on the state they are being shipped to. Therefore, if you live in Chicago (tax rate of 10.25%) and are shopping for presents for your family in Delaware (no sales tax), you should have your gifts sent to Delaware and save 10.25% on taxes. Trust me, your family won’t mind if their presents aren’t wrapped.
3) Look For Coupons & Credit Card Offers
I’m guessing most readers have heard of sites like RetailMeNot which search for all available online coupon codes at various retailers. Use that, it will save you money! A lesser-known way to save money is to search for offers on your credit card. American Express, Chase, and Discover all routinely post offers on their cards with cost savings from 10%-40% on purchases. You simply use your enrolled card to make a purchase and then receive a credit for the offer on your next statement. See below for the offers I have added on my American Express card right now:
4) Use Cards Which Include Accidental Damage Protection
Somebody reading this is going to buy a big-ticket item like an iPad, laptop, cell phone on Cyber Monday and will promptly send their device over the rainbow bridge by way of gravity (dropping it). No need to be bitter the whole holiday season, many credit cards offer complimentary accidental damage protection on purchases 90 days from the date of purchase. You just need to use that card to make your purchase. Please note, debit cards generally do not offer this perk, only credit cards. Check your user agreement.
5) Shopping For Yourself? Consider Buying Manufacturer Refurbished
At my first job out of college, the IT guy always said, “if something is going to go wrong with an electronic device, it’ll happen in the first two weeks.” When an entire computer is sent back with a bad video card, what does the manufacturer do with it? They can’t sell it new. They simply replace the bad video card and sell it “refurbished.”
Buying refurbished electronics can quickly trim 20%-50% off the price of buying new. Specifically, I prefer buying refurbished televisions, cell phones, and computers, but only if they include a manufacturer’s warranty. Who knows, you could still wind up with a lemon of a device and want to return it.
Holiday shopping is fun and buying presents for loved ones can really get you in the holiday spirit. Just remember, you don’t need to prove you love your family by drowning yourself in debt. Overspending a bit is normal, and I plan on splurging myself. But, always remember the most joy from the holidays comes from being with (even if it’s via FaceTime or phone calls) family and friends and celebrating this special time of the year together.