As I stated in an earlier post “5 Things The Middle-Class Do For Money“, the advice below is not intended for those at either ends of the financial spectrum — very rich or poor. This advice is intended for those who are “solidly middle-class” who sort of have their financial lives in order but need to maximize their savings to maintain a “middle-class” lifestyle.
1) Points Game – Many people use their credit card to get airline miles. While airlines have tight restrictions and black-out dates, it can still be worthwhile if you or someone in your household is a frequent traveler. I’m not an expert at this because 1) we don’t travel enough and 2) when we travel, we are not loyal to any particular airline. For us, the priorities are cost, number of stops, flight time, and NOT having a connecting flight in Newark, otherwise known as “hell on earth”.
2) Credit Card rewards – If you pay off your credit card in full, you’ll be a fool not to use a rewards card, which is simply a credit card that rewards your spending with points. These points can add up quickly and be redeemed for gift cards, travel, cash back and more. Since I started paying attention to these rewards, I estimate that we earn about $200 – $400 per year. One year, the reward was enough to pay for a plane ticket to sunny Mexico.
3) Ebates – I’ve earned over $254.65 back since signing up years ago. It’s not a life-changing amount but it’s great to get extra money just for buying online. Once you sign up, you earn cash back on online purchases at participating stores. Percentage of cash back varies by store. I think this is a no-brainer way to earn ‘extra’ money and I admit to sending referral links to friends and friendly acquaintances.
Tip: More than once, I’ve had to follow up with Ebates about giving me credit for the purchase. This can happen because it takes time for the store to report the purchase. I believe there is a delay to make sure people don’t just buy and return, yet get the credit. Just something to watch out for!
4) Referrals – Speaking of referrals, every time I sign up for a new service, I check to see if there is a referral credit. I love forwarding referrals to friends. Most of the time, you and your friend both get a reward (if your friend signs up and spends X-amount within a certain timeframe).
5) Mail-In Rebates – While some people hate rebates, I don’t think it’s really much of a bother to do this. All you have to do (usually) is complete a simple form and send in the receipt and UPC code. I do this soon after purchase so I don’t miss the deadline. I’m hoping more companies follow the lead of Johnson & Johnson’s rebate process. All you had to do was take a photo of the receipt and text/email it to a special inbox or number.
As for dollar amount, I prefer to go after rebate $15 or higher. I generally do not purchase things I wouldn’t normally buy, unless it’s something I wanted to try already.