In the event readers didn’t buy up the holiday gift departments during Black Friday, the following suggestions should help to get you through the season without credit card debt.
• Redeem your airlines mileage for gifts. Many of us participate in at least one frequent flyer program, according to statistics. If you decide to use some or all for anything other than free trips (including upcoming miles expiration), then you’ve a simple option for gift buying. Anything from magazine subscriptions to portable DVD players and other electronics are possible through these programs.
• Credit card rewards programs are another bird-in-the-hand. In fact, many cards allow users to convert points into merchant gift cards that you can then use to purchase presents.
• Sell your stuff. While spring through fall are the best times for yard sales, eBay auctions, Craig’s List (be very careful how you post and whom you allow into your home), and www.Half.com, among other sites can catch you a pretty penny.
• Get a job for the holidays. If you don’t want traditional seasonal work, try babysitting, tutoring, meal preparation, dog-walking, errand-running and all other types of activities for which folks would be glad to pay throughout these busy days.
• Use your coins. All those nickels, dimes, and quarters you’ve been saving should add up to a decent amount for gift purchases.
• Cancel some money vultures. No more bottled water or high-price Lattes; cancel the gym subscription you don’t use, and put December’s payment (as much as $70 a monthly) into your gift-purchasing pocket.
• Increase your auto insurance deduction. By doing so, you can save as much as 18 percent.
• Cancel the family’s landline phone and use your cell exclusively (which many of us do anyway). Pocket approximately $40 per month.
Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at www.timesfreepress.com under Local Business.