According to a study published in 2019, more than one-fifth of Americans go into debt over the holiday season.
With millions of people still confronting the economic aftershocks of COVID-19, our generosity is more bittersweet than ever – even with the average person spending $50 less on gifts in 2020 than they spent in 2019.
It doesn’t have to be this way…
In fact, with these top 10 simple tips for scoring “easy money,” you may find a surprise or two to help kick off 2021 on a high note…
10. Look for unclaimed assets.
An estimated $80 billion in assets languishes unclaimed in the United States. Often, this can be in the form of an insurance policy, an old account or a refundable deposit.
If individual states are unable to track down the assets’ owners, the funds can be used to cover government activities.
But it’s not too late to claim the property that’s rightfully yours. And now, with the help of the internet, it can take you as little as five minutes.
Simply visit MissingMoney.com to get started.
9. Take advantage of rebates.
When making major purchases, be especially mindful of any rebates that are offered.
It sounds simple, but between 50% and 70% of shoppers fail to claim rebates and up to one-quarter of them lose the forms needed to claim their money.
To avoid having your rebate denied, be sure to keep any receipts and act fast. And don’t hesitate to contact a company’s customer service department for help.
8. Take your employer up on retirement matching.
Many companies incentivize employees to save for retirement by offering matching on a certain percentage of 401(k) contributions.
Over the years, this has become an even higher priority. Far fewer companies suspended their matching programs during this spring’s COVID-19 wave than during the financial crisis.
Still, as many as 12% of workers at companies with retirement matching policies don’t take advantage.
Get in touch with your employer to learn whether your company offers matching – and if it does, be sure to maximize your contributions to get the full benefit.
7. Give Acorns a chance.
Acorns is a digital banking service that makes it easy to invest.
The company offers savings and checking accounts (including accounts for children) that round up purchases and invest the spare change.
With more than 250,000 users globally, Acorns promises to make investing accessible to everyone starting at just $1 monthly.
Visit the Acorns website to see for yourself.
6. For education savings, try Upromise.
Upromise is a similar service designed to help families save for college.
The company offers savings plans, rewards on online shopping and eating out, and even a Mastercard that rewards cardholders for linking to a 529.
Services like Acorns and Upromise recognize that staying committed to a long-term goal can be tough – so they allow users to break the task into small, everyday steps.
Check out Upromise here.
5. Keep track of banking sign-on bonuses.
According to EveryBankBonus, more than 698 banks offer sign-on bonuses for users who create a new, qualifying account.
The competition for banking customers is steep – and there’s no reason that you shouldn’t take advantage.
Consider using a site like EveryBankBonus to keep track of different banks’ offers and requirements.
4. Earn credit card sign-on bonuses.
Credit card sign-on bonuses are another excellent source of “easy money.”
Often, cards will offer cash back or points toward travel in exchange for signing up and spending a certain amount within an introductory time frame.
For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers 60,000 points toward travel in exchange for spending $4,000 in the first three months of holding the card.
Check out this list of the best credit card sign-on bonuses from U.S. News & World Report to learn more.
3. Seek out cash-back credit cards.
Other credit cards are noteworthy for their offers to deliver cash back.
For example, the Chase Freedom Flex credit card offers 5% cash back on grocery store purchases and purchases from bonus categories that change each quarter.
Consider timing big purchases on these kinds of cards during the quarter in which you can earn the most for your purchase.
2. Collect bond interest.
Bonds have long been heralded as one of the safest havens for your income.
But with interest rates near zero, it’s time to branch out beyond the U.S. Treasury.
Consider investing in corporate bonds to earn returns on par with some stocks’ returns. Click here to learn more.
1. Get rich with dividends.
No list of the best “easy money” strategies would be complete without Chief Income Strategist Marc Lichtenfeld’s favorite income generators, dividends.
By investing in dividend-paying companies, you secure a lasting and growing income stream for years to come – all with little maintenance on your part.
And thanks to the power of compounding and dividend reinvestment, your easy money will grow to be many times your initial stake.
Don’t miss out on the most powerful route to easy money. Reevaluate your portfolio and look for opportunities to add dividend payers today.
These 10 top “easy money” strategies can help you generate extra income in the year ahead.
Whether you are rounding up purchases to finance your child’s college education, earning points toward a post-COVID-19 getaway or building a retirement income plan you can rely on, you’ll thank yourself later.
P.S. Have you ever used these strategies to claim “free money” or used other techniques to earn rewards without having to work for them? Let us know in the comments!