How to Trick Yourself Into Saving More Money

A recent pulse survey found that more people cite saving money as a 2022 New Year’s resolution than perennial favorites like losing weight or getting fit. Maybe it’s the uncertain economy or higher levels of inflation. But the survey says shoppers still intend to spend — they’re just on the lookout for ways to save money and find bargains. If that’s you, consider these three money-saving tips. 

  • Check your drawers for gift cards: Gift card sales were through the roof during the 2021 holiday season, increasing 114% over the previous year. If you received gift cards as a holiday present, now is the perfect time to use them so you can buy what you want without tapping into your cash reserves. If you received gift cards for stores or restaurants you don’t normally favor (this year or in previous years), don’t stash the cards in a drawer to collect dust. Instead, exchange them for a card you will use or turn them into cash to buy whatever you want. That’s a much better money-saving option than squirreling unused gift cards away in a drawer!  
  • Look for discounts — online and in the checkout line: Looking for sales and special discount offers from stores where you plan to shop is a time-honored bargain-hunting strategy. Online discounts have replaced paper coupon clipping for many people, and now there are platforms that completely automate the digital search for coupons and automatically apply coupon codes in the shopper’s cart on eCommerce sites. But did you know you can look for discounts even while waiting in the checkout line at a brick-and-mortar store? Next time you’re at a store, check to see if gift cards from the retailer are available for purchase at a discount. Depending on the retailer, you may be able to save up to 35%, and the gift card almost always shows up in your smartphone wallet instantly.  
  •  Maximize the cash received from cashback credit cards: Cashback credit cards — sometimes called rewards cards — offer users a bonus for money spent using the card. The terms vary, but 2% cashback is the offer of a common reward, meaning that for every $100 you spend using the cashback card, you’ll automatically receive a $2 reward. Some people maximize the deal by using rewards cards to make major purchases and pay monthly bills. One word of caution: if you carry a balance, know that cashback credit cards typically charge higher interest rates. In the first week of January 2022, the average annual percentage rate (APR) was over 16%. So, if you rack up charges on your cashback card but don’t pay down the balance each month, the interest charges can quickly wipe out your rewards gains. 

Of course, there are millions of ways to save money, but gift cards are often overlooked as a source of bargains. Cashback cards can help you save on purchases too, as long as you pay off the balance regularly. So don’t forget to use these assets when it’s time to treat yourself in 2022.  

Sherry Hogan Ciurczak is a freelance writer and editor based in Florida. When not developing award-winning digital and offline content, writing compelling ad copy, or helping business clients create effective communication strategies, she's usually either photographing birds, entertaining dogs, cooking, or watching baseball.

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