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6 Hacks for Saving Money This Christmas

6 Hacks for Saving Money This Christmas

Christmas is coming soon and hopefully, you’ve planned ahead and saved some money. It’s such a great time of year because the family gets together, but it’s expensive at the same time. In all honesty, you might not be spending a lot per gift but with 10 people to shop for it can get heavy on your wallet. I believe if you know how and where to save money when shopping, you can cut down your bill enormously. Over the years, I’ve compiled a list of money-saving hacks which I use each time the Christmas season comes around. With my family growing it’s important I start saving money right away so I can afford presents. Even if I don’t save as much as I’d like to, however, I can still reduce my spending with these awesome hacks.

I’ve also done some research looking for other great money-saving hacks online. So with my own ideas and more from the internet, here’s what we’ll be discussing today –

  • Plan for Affordability
  • Cashback or Card Benefits
  • Amazon Hidden Discounts
  • Look Around the House
  • Shop Abroad (not a joke)
  • Give to Charity

Let’s jump right in, and if you have some additional tips, please mention them in the comment box.

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1. Plan for Affordability

One of the biggest mistakes we make while shopping is getting caught up in emotions. This means we end up purchasing items we can rarely afford. This doesn’t always have to be the case. Ask yourself this question – Does an expensive gift really show how much I care? We often want to buy expensive gifts because of the sentimentality of the holidays, but then we’re scrambling to find ways to pay the bills.

Just remember you don’t need an expensive gift to show someone how much you care, especially when you’ve been showing them all year long. Like Paris Lees said, if someone doesn’t understand that you don’t have the cash to buy them a gift, they don’t deserve one. Next time, buy a gift that you can afford because you’re thinking about them, not because you want to impress. If you are out to impress you may find yourself in a difficult situation afterward.

2. Cashback or Card Benefits

When cash is tight there are lots of options out there to give you a helping hand. For example, if you really need money you can always apply for a loan or credit card. I would avoid loans because of the higher interest rates, but credit cards aren’t a bad alternative especially with cashback options being available through many. For example, American Express is currently running the shop small program aimed at helping local and small businesses. The program is a great money saver because they’ll give you $10 back when you spend $20 or more at a small or local business. If you can join such a program and find local shops to purchase presents from for Christmas, you’ll be able to save a nice amount of money.

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3. Amazon Hidden Discounts

Many online shopping sites have tricks up their sleeves to pull customers away from street shops. For example, Amazon runs lightening deals to entice people into buying heavily discounted products. It’s worth keeping an eye on these during the lead up to Christmas. You never know what you might see. Plus, Amazon’s shipping is pretty good so you don’t have to worry about getting your items in time for Christmas.

4. Look Around the House

This might sound kind of flaky but I have so many gifts laying around in my house I haven’t used. Some are home electronics, beauty items, baby gear, and clothing. Be selective if you decide to give these away because you want to make sure they are still in style and can be used. You needn’t tell the receiver that it’s an unwanted gift from someone else if it’s something they will enjoy, who cares!

5. eBay

Most people think of eBay and think it’s full of second-hand items, it’s actually not! It’s full of brand new items as well at, more often than not, cheaper prices than you would find in a store. Just make sure when you’re searching that you filter search results to be new items only. The website bidvoy is really handy for checking the price an item typical sells for on eBay, so you can quickly compare prices to stores to see how much you could save.

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Apart from the savings you can get on eBay, another great feature is that your purchases are protected. So if an item you ordered doesn’t turn up or it’s not as described, you can easily get a refund for it.

6. Brand Discount Stores

If you want to get a particular brand item for someone, instead of going direct to the brands’ store or website, try going to an outlet or store that sells multiple brands all under one roof. These places are typically cheaper and often carry last years stock or items that are selling a bit slower. That doesn’t mean the receiver won’t love them though, so give it a go!

The most important thing to remember at Christmas is that it’s a time to be with loved ones and enjoy each others company. Presents are great but don’t let them dominate the holiday.

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Featured photo credit: cdn.history via cdn.history.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

Identifying All of Your Debts

The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

1. Own Your Debt

Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

2. Make a Debt Tracker

It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

3. Get Your Debt Number

Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

Prioritizing Your Debts

All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

There are three main types of bad debt:

  • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
  • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
  • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

  • Student Loan Debt
  • Mortgage Loan
  • Business Loans

2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

“If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

2. Hide Your Credit Cards

If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

3. Automate Everything

Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

4. Plan Ahead

Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

5. Live Cheaply

The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

  • Live with roommates
  • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
  • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
  • Take public transit or bike to work

Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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1. Maintain a High Credit Score

Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

  • Never miss a payment
  • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
  • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
  • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
  • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

2. Earn More Money

There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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Talk to Your Boss

Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

Start a Side Hustle

This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

Build an Online Business

There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

3. Celebrate Your Wins

As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

4. Set New Financial Goals

Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

Conclusion

Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

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Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

Reference

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