With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and now Cyber Monday now under our belts, it’s full steam ahead through the holiday shopping season. However, while many consumers may have picked up a few items on their list this past weekend, many of us still have a lot of shopping to do before the end of December. This means taking a hard look at our budgets, making lists, checking them twice, and ultimately getting the perfect gifts for our loved ones without breaking the bank. But what if you could also sneak in a little something for yourself into that shopping routine? Incidentally, you can.
Here are a few clever ways to complete your holiday shopping and reward yourself at the same time:
Credit card rewards
For some shoppers, the thought of using their credit cards to finance holiday gifts is a risky and tempting proposition. However, for those who have mastered spending control and have the funds on hand to pay off their purchases right away, putting your holiday buys on a rewards credit card can be quite lucrative. In addition to the standard cash back, airline miles, or points your card might entitle you to, also be sure to check for bonus offers on your issuer’s website or mobile app that could increase your rewards even more.
Gift card bonuses
There once was a time when getting someone a gift certificate meant retrieving a hand-written card or Monopoly money-esque denomination from the retailer of your choice. Since then the vast majority of stores and restaurants have moved to stored value gift cards, increasing the popularity of this generic gift-giving option. While there are some shoppers or recipients that may be anti-gift card and want to opt for a specific item instead, savvy deal seekers may be able to score themselves a free gift by buying their loved ones certain gift cards.
These bonus offers take on many forms but a popular example is receiving an extra $5 gift card when you purchase at least $25 worth. Similarly some restaurants might give you a coupon for a free entree for meeting a certain gift card threshold. Of course there is always the option to pass these perks along to whomever you’re giving the initial gift to, but there’s also no shame in keeping a little something for yourself. My wife and I did just that recently and we have a new record player to show for it:
If there’s someone on your gift list that seems to have everything, perhaps finding a charity championing a cause they care about and making a donation in their name might make for a thoughtful present. However, while the donation may be made in their name, you may still be entitled to write the gift off of your taxes.
In order to do this, you must first give to a qualifying, tax-exempt non-profit. The other catch is that you’ll need to itemize your taxes (as opposed to taking the standard deduction) in order to deduct your donation. Lastly ensure that you hold onto your donation receipt to prove you’re eligible for the write-off.
Before setting off to complete your holiday shopping, it may be worth taking a few minutes to get strategic. In fact, by looking for retailers that have special deals on gift cards or offer cash back bonuses with your credit card, you could help stretch your gift budget and reward yourself. Additionally giving charitable donations as a gift can be a boon to everyone involved. So this holiday season, give generously but shop wisely and you could reap the benefits.
Also published on Medium.