Whether you shop smart to get great deals on holiday gifts or weatherproof your home so you don’t pay huge heating bills when it gets frigid outside, there are plenty of ways to save money from December through February—and beyond.
We’ve rounded up a few that you may not know about so you can start saving a little dough!
Cash in on Credit Card Rewards
Remember that credit card you just had to have because of all the money you’d get back? Make use of it for all the gifts you need to buy—or for a New Year’s splurge! “A great way to save money during the holidays is by using credit card rewards and by knowing your cards and point system,” notes Alex Cohen of Birch Finance, which offers a free app that helps you get the most from credit card rewards.
For example, when traveling it’s best to put your purchases on a card that will provide points or cash back, especially if you’re buying multiple tickets for family members to come home for the holidays, Cohen said. “These rewards and cash back can result in thousands of dollars in savings that you may have missed out on otherwise.” The app can recommend which credit cards will give you the most back, tell you where you can nab points, and even alert you to which card you should use when you enter a certain store.
Shop Smarter at Stores
There are plenty of apps there aimed at helping you save money, such as Flipp and Favado. “Consumers can save money by purchasing gift cards through Raise, which offers them at a discount by a seller who no longer needs the card, which they can instantly redeem online or in stores by showing the barcode on their phone, making their dollar go further. Shoppers can also use Earny to automatically monitor for price drops and look at toolbars like Honey, which scours the internet for coupon codes, automatically applying them when you’re shopping online,” says George Bousis, founder and CEO of Raise.
“If you’re going to visit your family over the holidays, make sure you’re smart with travel bookings,” says Jennifer McDermott, a consumer advocate for the deal comparison website finder.com. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are known in the travel industry as the cheapest time to book flights. You can also opt to fly on certain days to save money on peak travel times, she says. Another way to save on travel costs is to work remotely when you fly to your destination a day or two early.
As the temperature drops, the likelihood of getting sick increases. McDermott said that a finder.com survey found that 93 percent of Americans spent extra money this winter on being sick, shelling out an estimated of $23.2 billion dollars on cold/flu supplies and food delivery over the 2016-2017 winter period. “Do your best to stay on the right side of good health by sticking to a fresh and healthy diet, drinking plenty of water and avoiding others who are unwell,” she says.
Pile up Online Savings
“You can save serious money when you shop online for those last few holiday gifts if you ‘stack’ your savings,” advises Jon Lal, CEO of BeFrugal. If you find a great price on a gift, combine that discount with a store coupon code, such as one for 10 percent off your purchase or free shipping. Then stack those savings with a cash-back website such as BeFrugal or Ebates. “Clicking through a cash back website before you shop is super easy and gets you a percentage back on your purchase. Just find the store you want, click and shop as normal on the store’s website. You’ll accumulate money in a free account on the cash back website, and then can request a payment,” Lal said.
Negotiate as You Shop
Companies like Best Buy, Walmart and Target all price match if you find a lower price online or through a competitor. You can also use the power of price-matching to save money beyond the holiday shopping frenzy.
Protecting Yourself from ID Fraud
John Buzzard, a fraud specialist at CO-OP Financial Services advises making sure your anti-virus software is up to date—especially if you shop or bank online. Many of us may spend more time on the computer due to winter weather, so be sure to play it safe. “Many consumers have laptops or PCs that are chronically infected with a variety of viruses and malware that facilitate the transfer of payment card information from the infected device directly into the hands of a cyber crook,” Buzzard says.
Pay Attention to Maintenance
Even if you live in a rental, it’s important to protect your pad. “One of the many hidden costs is people who forget or don’t even know what simple preventative maintenance tasks they should be doing every month,” says John Bodrozic, cofounder of HomeZada. The app alerts homeowners to monthly preventative maintenance that can help save money in the house. Did you remember to install a clean heating air filter so your furnace runs optimally? Similar apps include BrightNest and iFixit.