Christmas is just around the corner and American families are scrambling to add money to their savings in order to prepare for the most expensive holiday of the year. If you’re in debt, Christmas is not a good time of year, especially if you have kids with demanding lists from Santa Claus.
In this guide we’ll look at some ways that you add money to your savings in order to soften the seasonal blow. These tips can be used now, next year, or the year after. They can help you whenever you need to bolster your savings.
1. Get a Better Savings Account
There are a number of highly competitive savings accounts out there right now and as a saver looking to put money aside you are a very valuable commodity. So, even if you have a savings account already it’s time to do some research, to run some caparisons and to see if you can get a better rate.
If you’re already locked in, don’t worry, as there are other ways that you can boost your savings. If you need a little help with finding the best account, take a look at our guide to savings accounts online and offline, where we discuss the best rates for this year and beyond.
2. Increase Your Cash Back
If you pay off your credit card balance every month and you don’t have a rewards card then you are missing out. The US financial market is one of the best in the world. If you go to the UK you’ll struggle to find a rewards card that offers more than a fractional percentage of cash back, but in the US we have cards offering as much as 5%.
This is something that needs to be taken advantage of. Take a look at our guide to the best cash back cards and our guide to the best credit card offers for 2018. Just make sure you only signup if you plan to pay your balance off every month, otherwise you could be stung by high interest rates and end up worse off.
A good rewards card is one that is tailored to your situation. If you eat out a lot, then get one that rewards you for dining and entertainment; if you don’t have much money to spend but have a big family, focus on one that rewards you for buying food and paying bills.
3. Take on Another Job
If you have some hours to spare then why not take advantage of the gig economy and put those hours to good use? Sites like Fiverr, Upwork, and countless others ensure there is always something available for people who have the time and skill. You can be a writer, developer, designer, or even admin staff—there is something for everyone.
If you’re more suited to manual work, why not apply to do some work for Lyft, Uber or Postmates? And if time is not on your side but you have space in your home then look to services like AirBnB instead. You can rent a room in your home and earn some money on the side, all while meeting new people and experiencing new cultures.
The money you can expect to earn will vary greatly and you’ll have to work for it. But a good part-time freelancer working 10 to 15 hours a week can earn up to $1,000 a month extra while someone working as a driver can earn around half that.
4. Sell Up
Got games you don't play, books you don’t read, music you don't listen to or clothes you don’t wear? It’s time to sell up. If you don't use them, you don’t need them. Imagine how much better off that junk will be when it is converted into cold, hard cash and is sitting in your savings account. You’ll create extra storage space, give your old junk a new home, and boost your savings significantly
CDs, DVDs and books are the most popular items to sell. We all have these in abundance, but they won’t earn that much money unless you’re selling signifiant quantities. Video games, consoles, electronics, appliances and designer clothes usually fetch a higher price.
There are many apps and websites out there that can help you to sell your stuff. Take a look at our guide to apps and sites for selling your stuff in 2018 and you’ll see what we mean. Don’t become one of those hoarders you see on TV and start getting rid of the stuff you don’t need today.
5. Reduce Your Subscriptions
The reason big companies love subscription services is because they are guaranteed a monthly income, and they know that a large percentage of customers who no longer want the product or service will still hang-on for several months. We are all guilty of letting subscriptions run on too long, either because we forget about them or because we keep telling ourselves that we’ll cancel them tomorrow, or next week.
These subscriptions may only be costing you a few dollars each, but all of that money adds up. $5 here, $10 there—you could be losing hundreds of dollars a year and that money will be much better off in your savings account where it can actually improve your future and your financial situation.
6. Budget Smartly
The average American household spends huge sums of money eating out, buying alcohol, and purchasing clothes that they will never wear or will only wear once or twice. This is common and hard to avoid, but if you want to add more cash to your savings then you need to tighten your belt.
One of the biggest things that the average family wastes is food. Nearly half of all the food we buy is literally thrown away. That’s why you should always buy non-perishable food in bulk and fresh food as you need it, while also been very dubious of best before dates. How many times has this date led you to throw something away that you were certain was perfectly edible?
By all means pay attention to the “use by” as this is the important one, but “best before” probably doesn’t mean what you think it does and certainly doesn’t mean that you should be throwing out food beyond this date.