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Getting more from your money during the holidays

| November 05, 2018

It seems that with each passing year, retailers want us to start holiday shopping earlier and earlier, enticing shoppers with discounts and promotions before Halloween is even over. My daughters love Black Friday shopping — something about the crowds and the promise of big sale discounts really motivates them both. My wife and I hate the crowds and get most of our holiday shopping done online, doing our part to support the multi-billion dollar online retail season. It’s the easy and lazy way, but still gets you the benefit of all the sales. And if you’re smart, you also can get extra money along the way. Who couldn’t use extra money?

Tip #1: Use cash rebate sites or apps
Since I do my holiday shopping online, I use cash rebate sites to get more from each purchase. There are many cash rebate sites out there, and each provides varying levels of cash back for purchases — some strictly for online and some that work for in-store purchases as well. If you are going to be shopping anyway, why not get money back on top of the already deep discounts and sales?

Ebates is a personal favorite for online shopping, and during the holidays the cash rebate percentage generally increases significantly. Once registered, you go to your favorite online retailers from the Ebates website and shop as normal, enjoying all the sales and discounts the retailer provides. Then you sit back and get a check from Ebates for all the cash rebates. We recently were able to get an additional 4% cash back for our new grill by buying through Ebates.

Ibotta was brought to my attention by my daughter, who is away at Georgia Southern and was looking for ways to get the most out of her limited budget. This app allows you to go through your grocery list and highlight items in the app that have cash back associated with them, many which are not brand specific. And there are even cash back options available on beer, wine and liquor purchases. Where else can you get cash back on your holiday liquor purchases! All you do is scan your store receipt and the item barcodes, and bam, you have cash back.

These are a couple of my favorite, but there are many more, including Upromise if you want to direct your cash rebates toward a child’s college savings or college loans. What are your favorites?

Tip #2: Leverage your cash back
Why not get even more? Leverage your cash-back rebates and get more from your shopping by using your favorite cash-back debit or credit card in conjunction with one of the rebate sites and get even more cash back. By using both cash rebate programs together, you achieve leverage by increasing your rebates for each purchase.

Tip #3: Be safe and smart with your purchases
Holiday time is also when most credit card number and identify theft occur. To help prevent your card information from being spread over multiple online providers — who have proven not to be the best stewards of our information — try using PayPal. Your actual card number is never shared directly with the retailer, making it less susceptible to compromise. Another option provided by many credit cards is the ability to generate a digital card number that can be used for online purchases. These digital card numbers are temporary and keep your actual card number safe and secure from the retailer.

This article was written by Mike Thigpen, president of Evolutions Financial, a wealth management firm located in Alpharetta, Georgia. Mike can be reached at 770-250-5546 or by email at