Following the hefty spending season, you are likely feeling financially drained, especially when the credit card bills begin arriving in the mail. Didn’t realize just how much you spent? This can be a startling moment when you see the total dollar amount charged to each account. Now that the holidays are past us, it’s a good time to think about ways to put money back into our pockets and bank account rather than spending it.
Here are 8 effortless ways to put more money back in your pocket.
Snag big bonus credit card rewards.
Take advantage of sign up rewards for credit cards offering a sweet bonus such as an extra 50,000 airline miles or $500 cash credit for spending a certain amount in the first few months from when you receive the card (offers vary from card to card).
If you already have a rewards card you love, you can often get bonus rewards for certain retailers or categories, which may change every month or quarter depending on your card card policy. Just don’t assume you will automatically receive these bonus rewards. You often have to opt in to qualify for those bonus rewards. This means, you have to actually sign into your account and select which categories or retailers and merchants you want to get bonus rewards for. Make sure you’re reviewing those offers regularly and watch out for emails from your bank or credit card issuer to learn about those new deals. This is something I recently missed out on!
Over Thanksgiving, I booked a vacation rental for my entire family so we could spend the holiday together in the same house. We spent A LOT of money on this stay and two days after I booked the house, I noticed that Bank of America offered 5% back on Airbnb bookings. I totally missed the email and missed out on a sweet reward. That hurt. Learn from my mistake, and review those offers or check your account before you make a major purchase.
Use cash-back shopping tools.
There are so many awesome cash-back shopping tools out there. And, if you use a cash-back site or app along with a credit card that offers money back or travel points on a purchase, you can really maximize your rewards and put some extra money in your pocket. For example, the Honey savings tool not only tests and applies online coupons to your online order automatically (helping put the savings back in your pocket), but you can also earn Honey Gold on purchases made at participating retailers which you can later redeem for free gift cards. Swagbucks is another cool site to helps you earn money on the things you are buying anywhere with cash back deals ranging anywhere from 1% to 10%. You can earn money back on purchases at target.com, Amazon, walmart.com and hotels.com. You will earn Swagbucks and can redeem those points for free gift cards. These gift cards can be used to make everyday purchases or stash them for birthday gifts. Always check to see if there’s a cash back offer before buying anything!
As I’m typing this, I remembered I have a free $25 e-gift card to Sephora that I earned through Swagbucks sitting in my email and forgot to use it. Perfect timing because I need some new makeup!
Ask for price adjustments.
You’ve likely noticed how prices constantly change on everything from furniture to clothing to toys to household cleaners. Prices can change multiple times in a week or even the same day. Whether a retailer is running a new weekly sale or dropped the price on a specific item for one-day only, such fluctuating prices can make it hard to know when to buy something at the best and lowest price. The good news is that retailers typically offer price adjustments for items you buy that go on sale shortly afterwards. Policies differ from store to store and the amount of time you have to request money back for the difference in price may be limited to 7 days after purchase or may be offered for up to 14 days after purchase. For example, Macy’s offers a 10-day window to request a price adjustment if something goes on sale after you buy it. Meanwhile, Target offers 14 days from the time of purchase to request a price adjustment for both in store and online purchases.
Ask store associates how long you have to request a price adjustment before buying anything or check with the store’s online FAQ to find out more information. If you aren’t sure, just call their customer service representative. Though price adjustments are great ways to get money back on things that go on sale after you buy them, catching those sales is a whole other issue. Tracking items you have bought would require a whole lot of time. Instead, use Paribus. This tool tracks purchases you’ve made online and linked to your email, and will request money back on your behalf if something goes on sale within the retailer’s price adjustment window. If they can’t request the credit for you, they will send you an email with directions on how to get a price adjustment. Another cool tool you can use is Edison Mail’s Price Alert feature which I describe in detail here.
Share your opinion.
When you have down time, like when you’re commuting on a train to and from work or perhaps when you’re just watching TV at home or when you’re traveling and waiting to board a flight, you can use this time to put more money in your pocket. One of the easiest and mindless ways to do this is to take online surveys.
Sites like Survey Junkie give you access to online surveys that allow you to earn points. The points you earn can be redeemed for gift cards or cash. You don’t make much per survey, but they don’t require much effort or time on your part and it’s easy to do right from your phone, tablet or laptop.
If you want to earn more money and have more time to devote to a more in-depth focus group or survey, check out 2020Panel.com. If you qualify to participate in a study, you can earn anywhere from $50 to hundreds of dollars. Topics range from how you prep for the holidays to how you grocery shop to how you manage your healthcare so you can find a subject matter that really interests you most.
Open a high yield online savings account.
If you’re saving money, you are on the right financial track and deserve a pat on the back! But a traditional bank is the wrong vehicle to use when you’re saving money, especially if you want to grow it faster. If you aren’t earning at least 1% on your savings, you’re leaving money on the table. And, chances are, you aren’t earning even close to that at a traditional brick and mortar bank. The good news is you can earn nearly 2% or more by simply opening a high yield savings account with online banks like Ally, Marcus by Goldman Sachs or Vio Bank with rates ranging from 1.6% to 2.02%. By saving money in an online savings account like one of these, you will earn more on the money you are stashing away. It doesn’t take much effort and is an easy way to make extra money on your savings.
Just make sure you’re comparing rates and read the fine print to see if there are any minimum balance requirements for opening an account or what type of fees you may be charged for withdrawals or transfers.
Get a flexible side hustle.
You can’t rely on getting a raise or bonus at work all the time to help boost your budget and there’s only so many ways to cut back on your monthly expenses or various purchases. In many cases, making more money is the best solution to creating added comfort in your finances and achieving new levels of financial peace. Though getting a second job is one way to boost your income, committed to a fixed schedule can add stress and take away from the time you have to enjoy hobbies or with your family. Luckily, there are so many side hustles you can do when you want to do them and from the comfort of your own home that won’t have to interfere with your free time and the money you earn can do so much good for your finances. You can use the extra money to pay down your debts, to boost your savings or finally take that dream trip with your kids.
Here are 5 ideas for flexible side hustles you can do on your own schedule:
- Pet sit or walk dogs via rover.com. You make your own schedule and can watch someone else’s pet in your own home.
- Freelance your skills via UpWork or Flexjobs. You can work from your home whenever it’s convenient for you.
- Help people with odd jobs via Task Rabbit or Handy, everything from yard work to painting a room to helping build IKEA furniture. You make your schedule and get paid for each job or by the hour.
- Ride share driving via Uber or Lyft. You can pick up passengers on your way to/from work or when you’re running errands, or even when you don’t have much going on on a Friday or Saturday night.
- Tutoring your favorite school subjects via care.com or tutors.com to earn up to $50 an hour.
Sell unwanted items.
When was the last time you decluttered your home? Look through your closets, dresser and kitchen drawers, pantry, garage, attic and basement. Chances are you have lot of items you could sell. You can host a garage sale to move a lot of your items quickly (though you won’t maximize your selling prices) or post items for sale locally through sites like Facebook Marketplace or OfferUp. I like using auction sites like eBay for designer clothing and name-brand merchandise because you have access to promote your items to a large audience and can earn more.
Compare insurance and provider rates.
If you scored a sweet deal on auto insurance or homeowner’s insurance when you first took out the policy, have you been monitoring the monthly or annual cost for changes in price or fees? Chances are your policy has become more expensive overtime as certain promotions expired. This same thing may have happened with your cable and internet package. But, instead of assuming the new price is what you HAVE to pay, spend some time comparing deals with competitors in your area. Yes, switching may be pain but this can save you hundreds of dollars a year for each service provider or insurance plan you have. TheZebra.com is a great place to compare auto insurance prices while using a service like TrueBill can help you find savings opportunities in your cable and internet bill.
Sometimes just calling your providers and asking about new promotions and saving opportunities or presenting a competitor’s better offer can trigger a new discount on your current plan. Many companies are willing to extend deals to customers who are threatening to cancel and leave for a competitor so give your current provider a chance to counter and help you save money if you’re happy with their service and plan otherwise.
Save for the things that matter
Without giving up the things you love
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