Following the hefty spending season, you may be 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, it’s a good time to think about ways to put more money back in your pocket.
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 under the same roof. We spent a lot of money and two days after I booked, I noticed that my credit card had offered 5% back on Airbnb bookings. I totally missed the email and on the extra cash back reward. That hurt. Learn from my mistake and review offers in your account before you make a big 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 when shopping. You can find cash back deals for popular retailers, ranging anywhere from 1% to 10%. You can earn money back on purchases at Target, Amazon, Walmart 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, some allowing you to request a price difference up to 7 days after purchase or 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.
Ask store associates how long you have to request a price adjustment before buying anything . Otherwise, check the store’s FAQ page to find out more online. If you aren’t sure, 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. Check rates before applying at online banks like Ally, Marcus by Goldman Sachs or Vio Bank. 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 it’s an easy way to make your money grow faster.
Just make sure you’re comparing rates and read the fine print to see if there are any fees. For instance, some banks may require a minimum balance to open an account or may charge for withdrawals or transfers.
Get a flexible side hustle.
You can’t rely on getting a raise or bonus at work to help boost your budget. And, there are only so many ways to cut back on monthly expenses. In many cases, making more money is the best solution to creating comfort in your finances and achieving new levels of financial peace. Though getting a second job is one solution, committing to a fixed schedule can add stress and take time away from hobbies and loved ones. Luckily, there are so many side hustles that offer flexibility that you can do from the comfort of your own home. You can use the extra money to pay down debts, boost savings or finally take that dream trip with your kids.
5 flexible side hustle ideas
- 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 items to a large audience. Therefore, you have a greater earning potential.
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. Instead of assuming the new price is what you have to pay, compare deals with competitors in your area first. 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 and TrueBill can help you find savings opportunities in your cable and internet bill.
Call your providers and ask about a new promotion or saving opportunities. Otherwise, present a competitor’s lower price to start the negotiating process. Many companies are willing to extend deals to customers who are threatening to cancel so don’t be shy about sharing these details.
Save for the things that matter
Without giving up the things you love
Want your family’s financial future to feel safe and secure? Download my Easy Family Budget Worksheet and take control of your family’s finances in just 10 minutes!