You might think it's too late to save a buck or two for those last minute gifts, or maybe that it's too late to find cash to treat yourself while you're buying for everyone else. Well, here are some ways to find some extra scratch to make the yuletide that much brighter.
10. Use Apps that Save While You Spend
If actually making the effort to set aside a specific amount of money is just too much for you to deal with along with all of the rest of the stress and madness of Christmas, let technology do it for you. Apps like Digit, Acorns and Tip Yourself take the hassle out of saving and many of them even save money for you while you go out and spend it on your normal expenses.
It may sound counterproductive to spend to save, but think of it like this, if you're going to spend anyway, you may as well do simple things like round your purchases to the nearest dollar and save the change, or tip yourself for the hassle. By the end of the year, you'll have a little pocket money to give yourself something nice.
9. Set Up an Automatic Savings Account for Christmas
If you don't trust an app to do it, most banks have auto-savings accounts where they will do the rounding for you and bump the change over to a savings account you also have open with them. Call and ask, usually they're free and no-fee. Plus, it's easy to forget about, so you might just log in to your account with your bank one day to see how much you've managed to accumulate.
8. Get Cash Back and Make Money on the Deals You Find
Speaking of money-saving apps, other apps will actually give you cash back on your purchases, depending on what you buy. Some of them are great! Others, not so much. But if you use the good ones, you can grab a little extra dough based on the purchases you have to make either way without a ton of hassle.
7. Grab Coupon Codes and Discounts Whenever Possible (and Stash the Extra Money)
Part of saving money -- especially at the last minute like this -- is that whenever you score a little deal, like 10 per cent off or free shipping, is that you also have to commit to put the difference you were ready to spend anyway aside so you have it (or can spend it on something special) later. If you're doing a lot of online shopping, consider a coupon browser extension to keep you in the know.
6. Learn How Stores and Advertising Manipulates You (Even If You Don't Think They Do)
We mentioned this last week when we talked about how to make sure holiday deals are actually deals, but remember, stores love to manipulate you into spending money -- after all, that's what they do, make you spend money. And that's fine! It's their prerogative. But it's also yours to educate yourself and be a smart consumer.
First, learn how advertising has an effect on you, even if you don't think it does. Then read up on how stores love to manipulate your senses -- hearing, sight, even smell -- to encourage you to buy stuff you didn't intend to.
Armed with the right knowledge, you'll come out the other side of Christmas having spent just what you intended and nothing more.
5. Don't Just Buy Stuff, Sell Stuff Too
Everyone thinks of Christmas as the time of year where we all empty our bank accounts because we have to buy gifts and wrapping and whatnot -- but we just take for granted that we're the ones doing the spending. Don't -- do some of the selling too.
For all of the gifts and everything that come into your home, consider getting rid of your useless crap and making some cash from it and making some money from it.
After all, you'll probably get some stuff in the form of gifts. Consider it "making room." Plus, for every shopper out there hitting stores, there's probably a bunch more online looking for deals -- deals you can offer them on your gently used goods you could live without. In fact, this was last month's Lifehacker Money Challenge. Even if you didn't participate, it's not too late to do it.
4. Make Some Money In Your Spare Time
I know, I know, "what spare time?" Especially around the holidays, time is in short supply. However, if you don't have stuff you can part with but you do have some time, there are plenty of things you can do there too.
Whether it's joining the gig economy and renting out your car, parking space, or even apartment on Airbnb, or it's running a few errands for people via Fiverr, if you have a little downtime, you can earn a little scratch. Emphasis on the little, though -- you're not getting rich here.
3. Use the Right Credit Cards to Earn Rewards and Cash Back
Rewards, points, cash back offers, the best rewards cards offer them all and when you pay off the bills in January, you'll be left with a ton of points to spend and cash back to use as you see fit.
2. Turn Saving Money Into a Game
Maybe Christmas isn't the best time to add one more thing to your mental to-do list, but Christmas shopping isn't the most fun thing in the world for most of us and if you'd like to spice it up a little bit, consider adding a little gamification to the mix.
Apps like the ones we've mentioned above try to keep the hassle out of saving, but others like SmartyPig and SaveUp make it a bit more fun, and help you set goals you can strive towards. Maybe it's a vacation after the holidays, or something special for yourself in the new year. Make it whatever you want.
1. Use Christmas As Negotiating Time to Lower Your Bills
The end of the year is a great time to negotiate your bills and rates for the coming one. Some companies offer year-end promotions and in general most people are feeling charitable -- especially if you're kind and show them a little due respect when you call and ask for a cut in your credit card interest rate, a lower monthly subscription to a magazine or internet plan or just about anything else.
After all, for some companies, all you have to do is ask.