7 Steps to Quickly Eliminate Your Holiday Debt

Man stressed about holiday debt
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Christmas may now be past, but holiday credit card bills can haunt you well into the new year.

Maybe you spent more than you planned on a last-minute gift or sprang for dinner for unexpected holiday guests. Decembers tend to bust the best of budgets.

But a new year offers the chance to wipe the slate clean. Try these post-holiday hacks to pay down debt and replenish savings.

1. Tackle balances wisely

Traditionally, financial advisers have told consumers to pay off their highest-interest debts first, as their cost adds up the fastest.

But studies have found advantages to the snowball approach, which involves paying off the smallest debt first. Then, the money that had been going to pay off that debt is added to the payment for the next debt in line, and so on, continuing to incorporate payments as debts are retired.

To determine which approach is better for you, check out “The Best Way to Kill Off Credit Card Debt.”

2. Transfer a balance

Shifting your balance to a credit card that offers zero percent interest on balance transfers might buy you some breathing room.

For help finding the right no-interest card for you, check out the credit card search tool in Money Talks News’ Solutions Center. For example, select “0% APR” or “Balance Transfer” from the menus on the left to view various cards with those features.

3. Turn gift cards into cash

Online marketplaces such as Raise.com enable you to sell unwanted gift cards to someone else for a little less than their face value.

4. Return gifts

You won’t be alone if you return a gift that doesn’t thrill you.

If you have the receipt or a gift receipt, bring it back to the store for cash. Even if you don’t have a receipt, try to return it. You might get store credit.

If possible, make sure the item is in its original packaging, and keep tags on clothing and shoes. For more pointers, check out “12 Tips for Gracefully Returning Holiday Gifts.”

You also can post unwanted gifts for sale online, such as on eBay, Craigslist or neighborhood Facebook groups.

5. Shop your pantry

Got holiday leftovers? Get creative with what you’ve got on hand. Only shop for what you need fresh, like milk and produce.

Avoid last-minute fast-food outings, take lunch to work and do without a cappuccino.

6. Track your money

Use the free tools provided by Money Talks News partner Personal Capital or a similar app that allows you to view all of your accounts — including checking, savings and retirement accounts — in one place.

Such apps generally let you track your spending and even your net worth.

Knowing exactly where all your money is going each month can help you find more funds to put toward paying off your debt. And tracking your net worth can help you build your savings.

7. Pay yourself first

Once you’ve paid off your debt, prioritize building an emergency fund. Having money set aside for unexpected expenses is key to avoiding the need to take on debt in the future.

Perhaps the best way to build up any type of savings is to pay yourself first, such as through payroll deduction. With this approach, you have money automatically taken from your paycheck and transferred to a savings or retirement account.

Your employer may even allow you to directly deposit paychecks into multiple accounts.

Also, send any additional income from raises, bonuses, cash awards or other windfalls straight to savings.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

17 Online Jobs You Can Do With No Experience

Whether you want to make a little extra money on the side, or you’re looking for an opportunity with the potential for a full-time income, it’s never been more possible than now.

There are so many jobs online that don’t require previous experience and allow you to work from anywhere with internet access, all you need is your laptop!

Regardless of the level of education or work history, anyone can find an online job if they know where to look.

We’ll show you some of the best online jobs with no experience required, as well as action steps to point you in the right direction.

Online Jobs with No Experience

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Fully Booked VA is an outstanding resource led by a highly successful VA.

3. Freelance Writer

Income Potential: $20/hr – $100/hr

Working as a freelance writer is one of the best ways to make money online, and you don’t need any specific experience. Of course, you’ll need to have strong writing and grammar skills, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. 

Most freelance writing gigs today are for online publications, and many websites and blogs prefer to publish conversational and informal content. Don’t think that you can’t work as a freelance writer because you struggled with term papers in school. The writing is entirely different and much more natural for most online publications. 

As far as grammar and spelling skills are concerned, tools like Grammarly can help immensely. 

There are writing opportunities in just about every industry and niche you can imagine. Some freelance writers take a general approach and write about anything the client wants, but it’s more lucrative to specialize in one industry or topic. 

Ideally, you can specialize in something you already know well so you can hit the ground running. Maybe you have knowledge from a previous job or a hobby that you can monetize by writing for clients. The rates of freelance writers are all over the place, but specialized writers tend to earn more due to their expertise.

Like working as a VA, freelance writing is equally well suited to be a side hustle or a full-time job. You can start small and scale up by adding new clients as you go.

Getting Started: Holly Johnson’s Earn More Writing is an excellent course that has helped many successful freelance writers launch their careers.

4. Blogger

Income Potential: Unlimited

If you like the idea of freelance writing but you don’t want to work for clients, another option is to start your blog. Blogging is also an excellent opportunity for anyone who wants to run an online business part-time or full-time, especially if you happen to have some writing skills.

You can start a blog on any topic you like, but if you want to make money, it’s best to stick with niches that are proven to be profitable, like:

  • Business
  • Finance
  • Health and Fitness
  • Wellness
  • Family and Parenting
  • Travel
  • Fashion and Beauty

Since these are all very competitive niches, it’s a good idea to choose a sub-niche to specialize in, like Vegan recipes instead of general health.

Blogging is something you can do part-time, as it fits your schedule. However, it’s also possible to grow it into a full-time income. Many successful bloggers earn an outstanding income from their blogs. 

The downside to blogging is that it takes time to grow. Most new bloggers don’t make much, if anything, during the first six months. You’ll probably start to make a little something later in your first year, but it doesn’t usually pick up until the blog is at least a year old. It requires patience to keep putting in work when you do not see much in terms of results. However, it can pay off in a big way if you stick with it.

Getting Started: See How to Make Money Blogging as a Side Hustle for a guide to getting started. 

5. Proofreader

Income Potential: $20/hr – $50/hr

Working as a proofreader is an excellent option for someone with solid spelling and grammar skills, as well as a strong eye for detail. You don’t need previous work experience to start, but you will need the skills to do the job. 

Several websites and online platforms offer proofreading work. Still, the best way to maximize your income potential is to work on your own as a freelancer rather than looking for an employer.

Getting Started: Proofread Anywhere, a course taught by Caitlin Pyle, is the best resource if you want to learn how to make money as a proofreader.

6. Transcription

Income Potential: $10/hr – $30/hr

If you’re able to type fast and accurately, working as a transcriptionist is an ideal way to make money. It’s highly flexible work, with most online transcription jobs allowing you to set your schedule. And it’s also a skill you can develop. You can fine-tune your typing skills by taking online typing tests until you’re ready to start working.

Transcription work can be done part-time or full-time. Some jobs do require transcription experience, but many others are open to beginners. 

While many websites offer transcription work, the pay from most of those companies is on the low side. To increase your earning potential, you can offer your services as a freelancer.

Getting Started: Transcribe Anywhere offers the best training in the industry. You’ll learn to maximize your income by finding freelance work rather than relying on low-paying platforms.

Online jobs where experience is not needed

7. Translation

Income Potential: $20/hr – $40/hr

If you’re multilingual, working as a translator is a natural choice. Translation jobs tend to pay well because only a limited number of people have the skills to perform the job, and there is plenty of work available. 

As a translation specialist, you could be translating books, blog posts, audio files, and more. Many jobs do not require previous translation experience, but of course, you’ll need excellent language skills to meet the qualifications. The more languages you know, the better.

Getting Started: Many companies hire translators, including Lionbridge and Gengo. You could also find clients as a freelancer.

8. Social Media Manager

Income Potential: $15/hr – $50/hr

If you have a strong understanding of popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, you could offer your services to businesses that need help. As a social media manager, you would manage your clients’ social profiles and keep new content coming to help boost their presence and influence. If you have some design skills, you can also create images and graphics for social media posts.

Some social media managers also manage ad campaigns for clients to promote their products or services. Many business owners want to advertise on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, but they don’t know how to set up or manage those ads. Working as a social media ad specialist is one of the best entry-level online jobs, as you’ll be able to demand more money than a social media manager who doesn’t deal with ads.

Getting Started: To get started, choose the platforms you want to focus on (ideally the ones you already know well). Next, you’ll create a simple website with the details of the services you offer and begin reaching out to potential clients. Businesses in your local area are an ideal starting point.

Many social media managers offer package-based pricing rather than charging by the hour (effectively turning your service into a product). For example, you may charge the client a flat monthly rate for a specific number of posts per month.

9. Graphic Designer

Income Potential: $20/hr – $50/hr

Working as a freelance graphic designer is an excellent opportunity for anyone who has design skills. You don’t need past work experience, but you’ll probably need a portfolio to start landing clients. 

If you have some design skills, chances are, you already have some completed projects to include in your portfolio. And if you don’t, you can do some personal projects or offer discounted work to family and friends to gather a few work samples to create a portfolio.

Getting Started: Platforms like Upwork and Fiverr are options for beginners, but building up your profile on these platforms takes time and effort. 

Many freelance designers get started by finding clients through their personal networks. Talk to your friends, family members, co-workers (as long as there is no conflict of interest), neighbors, and other colleagues and tell them about the services you offer. Some may be interested in hiring you, or they may know other people who need a designer. Once you get started, word-of-mouth will become the best way to build your client base. Of course, you could also look for an employer offering entry-level design jobs, but you’ll sacrifice the flexibility that comes with freelancing.

10. Microtasker

Income Potential: $100 – $1,000 per month

Microtasks are small jobs that are very quick, usually just a few minutes or less. There are platforms that companies can use to hire individuals to complete these microtasks, and they present an income opportunity for just about everyone. 

The jobs may include things like:

  • Taking short surveys
  • Organizing data
  • Create or correct text
  • Basic research

Working as a microtasker is somewhat similar to taking online surveys. Your income potential is limited, and your hourly rate will be pretty low, but it’s exceptionally flexible, and anyone can do it. If you need to start making money right away, microtasking is an option. Microtasking isn’t ideal for a full-time income, but it’s a way to make a small amount of extra money without disrupting your schedule.

Getting Started: Many websites pay users for microtasks, including Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, Clickworker, and Swagbucks. All you need to do is create an account and those sites and start working.

11. Data Entry

Income Potential: $10 – $15 per hour

You don’t need any previous experience to work in data entry. This is one of the easier jobs available, and while it may not be the most exciting work, it does offer a way to make money without specific skills. 

Most online data entry jobs are part-time, but it’s probably not the best option for anyone who wants to earn a full-time income anyway. So those part-time hours are ideal for the job and for someone looking to make a few hundred dollars per month on the side.

Getting Started: Companies like Axion Data and Clickworker are ideal for someone looking to get started with data entry.

12. Customer Service 

Income Potential: $12 – $25 per hour

Customer service is another flexible online job with no experience required. You don’t need many specific skills to work as a customer service rep, but you will need strong people skills and excellent communication skills. 

There are several different types of customer service jobs available, including phone-based, email-based, and chat-based. While customer service jobs aren’t especially high-paying, you can earn a decent hourly rate for a job that’s open to beginners. 

Getting Started: Several companies like LiveOps, NexRep, and Arise offer customer service jobs.

13. Search Engine Evaluator

Income Potential: $12 – $15 per hour

Did you know it’s possible to get paid to do online searches and evaluate the results? A few companies hire search engine evaluators, but the demand for the jobs is stronger than the supply, so openings are not always available.

Working as a search engine evaluator is not the highest-paying job, but it is extremely flexible since you can do the work whenever it fits into your life. Also, this job is only part-time, so if you’re looking for a full-time income, you’ll need to choose something else.

Getting Started: Appen and Lionbridge are among the companies that hire search engine evaluators, although the positions are not always open. If you hope to work in this flexible part-time role, you’ll need to check the job listings frequently and complete an application whenever an opening is listed.

14. Research

Income Potential: $50 – $500 per month

Another simple online job that can be done with no previous experience is research. If you’re good at searching and finding specific nuggets of information, you may be very effective as an online researcher. 

Like some of the other jobs on this list that involve simple tasks, you’re not going to make a ton of money as a researcher, and it’s not ideal if you need a full-time income. But if you’re looking for a flexible way to make some extra income in your spare time, it could be an ideal option.

Getting Started: Several companies hire researchers, including Wonder and Clickworker. Create your profile, and you may be able to start earning money quickly.

15. Moderation

Income Potential: $12 – $25 per hour

Moderation is similar to customer service, and the income potential is about the same as well. You’ll be moderating a forum, Facebook Group, or some other online community. You don’t need specific experience, but you’ll need to be able to communicate and interact with people virtually. 

Getting Started: Companies like ModSquad, LiveWorld, and Crisp hire moderators. Check those sites for openings and apply for any jobs that interest you.

16. Website Tester

Income Potential: $300 per month

Many companies rely on data and feedback from users to perfect their websites and mobile apps. User tests can help to identify improvements that need to be made to the design or user experience.

As a website tester, you’ll earn money for each test you complete. The tests often take 5-30 minutes, but the details will vary. You don’t need specific skills or be highly tech-savvy (companies want testers who accurately represent real users). Most tests involve recording audio and video, so you’ll need a webcam and microphone, but a basic laptop is enough to get the job done.

The downside to this opportunity is that there are more workers than jobs, so the possibilities are somewhat limited. If you want to make money, you should take the available tests because they’re usually only available for a short time. You can make some extra money on the side as a tester, but it’s not going to turn into a massive income because there are only so many tests available.

Getting Started: Create a profile at websites like UserTesting, Userfeel, and Userlytics. Joining more programs will allow you to find more tests that are available and make more money.

17. Tutor

Income Potential: $10 – $30 per hour

Online tutoring jobs have become very popular in recent years. This is because there are a growing number of students worldwide who need teachers and tutors, which presents an opportunity to make money.

Many tutoring jobs involve teaching English as a second language, but there are tutoring opportunities in many other subjects as well. 

Some jobs for online tutors require teaching or tutoring experience, but others do not require experience. In most cases, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree to work as a tutor.

Getting Started: Cambly, italki, and VIPKid offering tutoring positions with no teaching experience required. The details of the jobs vary, but in all cases, you’ll be working with students virtually. 

Remote Online Jobs Are More Available Than Ever

There are many ways to make money online, and you might be surprised by some of the entry-level remote jobs that don’t require specific work experience.

Many of the opportunities covered here are ideal for making some extra money in your spare time, and other options are better income potential if you’re willing to freelance.

It’s just a matter of deciding what the best fit for you is.

Online jobs with no experience needed

17 Online Jobs You Can Do With No Experience

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

6 Retail Stores That Offer Price Match Guarantees and Adjustment Policies

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Major chain retailers offer price-matching policies to attract more shoppers. That allows their customers to save both money and time. Instead of running around town for the best deals, you can go to one store and get the best price on everything.

That’s the theory, at least. In real life, it isn’t always so simple. Each store has different rules about when it will match prices. Often, the lower price you found at some other store doesn’t qualify for a match because of some obscure gotcha rule.

To save money with price matching, you need to know the store’s rules, including the hidden traps and exceptions. Learning about each store’s policies can help you determine when it’s worth asking for a match and which stores are most likely to give it to you.

Retail Stores That Offer Price Match Guarantees

Comparison shopping used to mean going to different stores to check prices, potentially going back to the store where you found the best rate. That took a lot of time and didn’t make sense for something small, like a pound of ground beef.

Today, you can save hundreds of dollars with little effort. Some stores allow you to show the lower price offer at the register, and they’ll match it. But which ones offer the best price-matching policies? 

1. Walmart

Walmart Price Match Guarantees

Walmart’s price-matching policy is much less generous than it used to be. In a 2013 TV commercial, a Walmart clerk assured a shopper who had found a lower price the store would “match it right at the register.” 

But as of 2021, Walmart only promises to match its own website pricing.

How the Policy Works

Walmart’s official price-match policy states that if you find a product in a Walmart store that’s cheaper on Walmart.com (or Jet.com, which Walmart owns), the store will match the online price — probably. 

You can ask for a price match at the register, but the store may choose not to grant it. The policy specifies that “the manager on duty has the final decision” about whether a particular store allows price matching.

What to Watch Out For

As limiting as Walmart’s in-store price-matching policy is, it still has a long list of rules and exceptions. The policy specifically says you can’t get a price match for:

  • A Similar Product. The store will only match the price of a product if it’s identical in every way to the one you’re buying. It has to be the same brand, model, size, and color.
  • Two of the Same Product. Each customer can only get one price match per day on a given product. You can match prices on raisin bran and dog food in the same order, but not on two boxes of raisin bran. (Doesn’t apply in New Mexico as long as you’re not a reseller.)
  • Sold-Out Walmart.com Merchandise. If the site runs out of the product you’re trying to match, you’re out of luck. You can only get a price match on goods in stock on the site at the moment you present the price to the cashier. 
  • Certain Types of Sellers. Walmart doesn’t match prices on Walrmart.com goods sold by third-party sellers known as Walmart Marketplace Retailers. Those product listings say, “Sold and shipped by,” followed by the seller’s name.
  • Certain Types of Sale Prices. Walmart specifically excludes certain special offers from its price-matching policy, including instant or mail-in rebates, financing offers, ads that offer a gift card with a purchase, or bundle offers. It also excludes percentage-off or buy-one, get-one-free deals that don’t show a specific price.
  • Any Item in Certain States. You can’t use online price matching at all in any Walmart store in Alaska, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico. Prices in these areas are higher overall, so stores there won’t match the lower prices offered in the rest of the country.

Bottom Line

The most important thing to know about price matching at Walmart is that the store manager is completely in charge. Some store managers try to work with customers as much as possible. Others simply refuse to allow price matching under any circumstances. To some extent, it’s the luck of the draw.

But it never hurts to ask. The worst the cashier can do is say no. And if that happens, you can always put the product back on the shelf.

2. Target

Target Price Match Guarantees

The price-matching policy at Target is considerably more generous than Walmart’s. It provides in-store price matches for 25 online competitors, including Amazon, Kohls.com, Sears.com, and Walmart.com. You can also match prices when shopping at Target.com, but you must call a toll-free number (800-591-3869) to do so.

Better still, Target’s price-match guarantee doesn’t just cover other chains’ websites. It also includes prices listed in print ads for their local stores. In this case, “local” means any store within 25 miles of the Target where you’re shopping.

How the Policy Works

To get a price match at Target, you must show the ad with the lower price at the checkout. 

If you found the lower price online, you can display the website on your phone. If the lower price is in a local store’s print ad, you must hand over the original ad. A photocopy or picture on your phone isn’t good enough.

Unlike Walmart, Target also matches prices on products you’ve already bought within the past two weeks. 

For example, say you buy a $30 pair of pants at Target on Wednesday. Then, on Friday, you see an ad showing the same pants on sale for $20 at another store. Just take that ad and your receipt to the checkout and ask for a price adjustment. Target will refund the extra $10.

Target also allows you to stack a matched price with a manufacturer coupon. Say you have a coupon for $1 off on two cans of beans, and a local store is selling those beans at two cans for $1. 

You can match the price and then apply your coupon on top of that, getting both cans for free. However, you can’t stack a matched price with a Target store coupon.

What to Watch Out For

Just like Walmart’s, Target’s price-match policy comes with a lot of fine print. Many of the rules for Target are the same ones found at Walmart.

For example, Target only gives price matches on merchandise that’s identical and in stock at both Target and the competing store. 

Most of the sale prices Walmart doesn’t match — including third-party offers, clearance sales, bundle deals, offers that include financing, and rebates — are off-limits at Target as well. It also doesn’t match any price that’s a misprint.  

Additionally, Target excludes price matches on competitors’ store brands and doesn’t match prices at all in Alaska or Hawaii. 

However, unlike Walmart, Target allows you to use the same price match on more than one item. The store only “reserves the right to limit quantities” for each item. 

So if you try to buy every bottle of detergent on the shelf for $1 each, you probably won’t get away with it. But you should have no problem buying two bottles at that price. That’s better than you could do at Walmart, which limits you to one price match per item.

Bottom Line

Target’s price-matching policy is the most generous. It matches competitors’ prices online and in local stores, and it allows you to use the same price match for more than one of the same product. 

Better still, it allows you to adjust prices up to two weeks after purchase. And best of all, price matching is available on all the products Target sells.

If you only have time to go to one store, Target’s probably your best choice when it comes to general retailers. 

3. Best Buy

Best Buy Price Match Guarantees

Unlike Target and Walmart, which sell nearly everything, Best Buy specializes in electronics. 

Because of that, nationwide, it only matches prices for online stores that sell electronics. So while Target matches prices for dozens of online retailers, Best Buy matches prices for only five: Amazon, Crutchfield.com, Dell.com, HP.com, and TigerDirect. 

However, Best Buy also matches prices for local brick-and-mortar retail stores. That includes all retailers within a 25-mile radius, not just those specializing in electronics. As long as the store is authorized to sell new, factory-sealed products with a warranties, it counts as a competitor.

For example, if you want to buy a tablet, and a nearby Walmart is selling it for less than your local Best Buy, Best Buy will match Walmart’s price. Best Buy also promises to match prices offered at warehouse clubs as long as they’re local.

How the Policy Works

Unlike Target and Walmart, you can’t get Best Buy price matching right at the register. You must either approach a salesperson or go to the customer service desk and quote the lower price. 

You can show either a printed ad or a website where you found the lower price. Best Buy employees may double-check the site or call the store to ensure the price is legit.

You can also request price matches for online purchases at BestBuy.com. To do so, either open a chat window or call 888-BEST-BUY (237-8289).

In one way, Best Buy’s price matching is better than either Target’s or Walmart’s. It works in every part of the country, including Alaska and Hawaii. 

Best Buy also offers price matching in Puerto Rico, but its policy there is somewhat different. The terms are posted in the chain’s Puerto Rico stores.

What to Watch Out For

Like Target and Walmart, Best Buy only matches prices for new merchandise, not used or refurbished goods. It also doesn’t match prices for any marketplace or third-party seller.

Like other stores, Best Buy requires the products be identical and in stock at both Best Buy and the competing store. That means the model numbers must match for things like appliances. 

However, it’s important to note that Best Buy often uses its own unique model numbers for appliances and other high-priced merchandise. So even if two products look the same, they can have different numbers, making them ineligible for a price match.

Most sale types that are off-limits for price matching at Target and Walmart are off-limits at Best Buy too. That includes all bundle deals, freebies, mail-in offers, clearance items, and products with the wrong price shown. 

It also includes all Black Friday deals. That means any sale price found during Thanksgiving week, from the Friday before Thanksgiving Day through the Monday after the holiday.

Also, like Walmart, Best Buy only allows you to match a price once for each product you buy. For example, if you find a fitness tracker on sale for $30, you can’t buy one for everybody on your holiday gift list. 

You also can’t stack that $30 matched price with a $10 coupon to get the total price down to $20. You can use the coupon or the price match, but not both for the same product.

Best Buy also has several specific rules you won’t find at other stores. For instance, it doesn’t match prices on anything marked as limited quantity, either at Best Buy or a competing store.

You also can’t get a price match at Best Buy on a cellphone that comes with a contract. Game discounts related to a membership program are also off-limits. Finally, you can’t match prices for services, such as delivery, installation, or computer repair.

Bottom Line

The primary reason to choose Best Buy over other big-box stores is its wide selection of electronics. Any gadget that’s for sale at your local Target or Walmart is likely to be in stock at Best Buy too, so you only have to visit one store to get the best price out of all three.

However, that only works if the model number on the product you’re buying is the same at both stores. Since Best Buy uses store-specific numbers for lots of big-ticket merchandise, you can’t always match prices. 

So if you’re buying something big, it’s probably best to check prices online before you go instead of counting on Best Buy to match the lowest price when you get there.

4. Home Depot

Home Depot Price Match Guarantees

Home Depot has one of the most straightforward price-matching policies around. Basically, if you find a lower price on anything Home Depot sells, it guarantees to match the lower price, period. 

If you’re shopping at HomeDepot.com, it promises to match the price on any competitor’s website, including the shipping cost. This deal applies as long as the product on the competitor’s site is available to ship to your location.

How the Policy Works

To get a price match at Home Depot, display the ad with the lower price when you check out. You can use a printed ad, photo, or printout from the Web. The clerk may contact the other store to ensure it has the product in stock at a price shown.

What to Watch Out For

Unlike most other stores, Home Depot promises to match prices for any other retailer, not those on a specific list. But the fine print shows there are quite a few exceptions. 

For instance, Home Depot doesn’t match prices for third-party sellers or discount sites because it doesn’t consider them competing retailers. It also doesn’t match prices for auction sites or wholesale clubs.

Home Depot limits its price-match policy in many of the same ways as other stores. For instance, it doesn’t offer price matching on any used, reconditioned, or open-box goods. It also excludes deals that include rebates, financing, freebies, bundles, and misprint prices.

On top of that, Home Depot has a few unique rules. It doesn’t offer price matching on any custom or special-order products, such as custom-fitted window blinds. It also doesn’t match other stores’ wholesale pricing or volume discounts.

Finally, like other stores, Home Depot only matches prices on products that are identical down to their model numbers. But like Best Buy, Home Depot has store-specific model numbers for many appliances and some tools. So in some cases, it isn’t possible to get a price match for these larger purchases.

Bottom Line

Home Depot’s policy is better than most as long as your purchase qualifies. For custom orders and big-ticket goods like appliances, price matching doesn’t work. But for everything else, price matching guarantees the lowest price possible in a single stop.

5. Lowe’s

Lowes Price Match Guarantees

Lowe’s price-match guarantee is similar to Home Depot’s. If you find a better price at another store, Lowe’s will match it. And if you’re shopping online, you can call to get a match on the full price of the purchase with shipping. 

How the Policy Works

Getting a price match at a Lowe’s store works pretty much the same as at Home Depot. All you have to do is go to the register and show your ad. 

The ad can be in any format, including a printout, local ad, photo, smartphone display, or app. The store associate will ensure the product meets all Lowe’s criteria before giving you the matching price. The ad you present must be current, and it must be from a local retailer. 

Lowe’s doesn’t define “local” on its website, but a Lowe’s associate I spoke with online says it means a retailer within a 10-mile radius of your store. That’s quite a bit narrower than the 25-mile radius for Target or Best Buy.

Lowe’s also matches prices from certain online sellers. These include: 

  • AceHardware.com
  • Amazon
  • BedBathandBeyond.com
  • BestBuy.com
  • HomeDepot.com
  • JCPenney.com
  • Macys.com
  • Target.com
  • TractorSupply.com
  • Walmart.com
  • Wayfair

However, it doesn’t match the prices of third-party sellers on sites like Amazon and Walmart.com.

What to Watch Out For

Lowe’s policy has similar exceptions to Home Depot’s. It excludes clearance and closeout prices. The store does not match prices for any damaged or discontinued merchandise, seasonal goods, or any special-order product. It also doesn’t match prices for labor.

Unlike Home Depot, Lowe’s says it will only match the price for “reasonable quantities” of a given item. It doesn’t specify what “reasonable” means, so it’s up to the manager to decide. Getting a price match for two of the same product shouldn’t be a problem, but trying to match 20 could be.

A final problem is that, like Home Depot, Lowe’s uses store-specific model numbers for many large items. Therefore, you probably can’t get a price match on a new refrigerator because its model number at Lowe’s won’t match the one at the competing store.

Bottom Line

Overall, Lowe’s price-matching policy isn’t as good as Home Depot’s. It only covers specific online competitors, and it only covers local competitors within a 10-mile radius. If you live in a rural area and Lowe’s is the only home center nearby, you’re likely to be out of luck when it comes to matching prices. 

Also, like many others, Lowe’s policy doesn’t work for many big-ticket items, such as appliances and tools. 

6. Staples

Staples Price Match Guarantees

Staples has a more generous price-matching policy than most. This retailer goes one step beyond matching prices. Its price-match guarantee promises that if you find a lower price, Staples will give you that price plus a discount equal to 10% of the difference.

For example, say a printer costs $150 at Staples, but you find it on sale for $120 at Office Depot. If you show that price at the register, Staples will match the $120 price and deduct 10% of the $30 difference between the two. That brings the final price down to $117.

Staples matches prices for any business that has both a retail store and an online store under the same brand name. 

It also matches prices from Amazon even though it doesn’t have any brick-and-mortar stores. However, that applies only to products both sold and shipped by Amazon. The store doesn’t match prices for Amazon Marketplace sellers.

How the Policy Works

Getting a price match at Staples is as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Find a lower price.
  2. Bring in proof of the lower price, such as a print ad or a website.
  3. Show it to a store associate at the customer service desk.

Staples also offers a 14-day price guarantee on its prices. If you buy a product at Staples and see it available for less at either a Staples store or Staples.com within two weeks, you can go back to the store to get a refund for the difference. 

But that only works for prices at Staples itself. If you find a product you’ve already bought selling for a lower price at a different retailer, you can’t get a refund.

What to Watch Out For

Staples has far fewer rules and exclusions for its price matches than most other stores. The only things you cannot get a price match for are:

  • Services, such as computer repair, virus removal, or printing and marketing
  • Custom print and promotional products
  • Any products from third-party vendors
  • Gift cards
  • Phone cards
  • Postage
  • Apps sold on Staples.com
  • In-store pickup orders
  • Sale prices from special events, such as grand openings or clearance sales
  • Products with a misprinted price

That means everything else you can find in a Staples store is eligible for price matching. That includes nearly any office-supply product you can buy, from a ball-point pen to a new computer. However, you’re limited to one price match per item.

Bottom Line

The Staples price-match guarantee is quite possibly the best price-matching policy available from a large retailer. It means that for any office product, you can be sure you’re getting a price that’s as good as Amazon’s or better, all without having to pay for shipping or wait for delivery. That’s a deal you really can’t beat.

Final Word

Price matching can be a great way to get deals. However, it’s just one of many tools in your smart-shopping kit. Sometimes, it’s the best way to get rock-bottom prices, but not always.

For example, suppose you go to Target for groceries. You see your favorite brand of peanut butter is selling for $5 per jar. That seems high, so you check online and find Walmart is selling the same brand for only $4 per jar. So you figure that by asking for a price match, you can save $1.

But before you do it, check the other jars on the shelf. There may be another brand that’s on sale for only $3 per jar. If you pass up that jar because you assume price matching will give you the best deal, you end up spending $1 more than you need to instead of $1 less.

So before you jump at a price match, remember to keep your eye on the bottom line. Look at all the possible ways to save, such as buying store brands, stacking coupons, or shopping at cheaper stores that aren’t on the price-matching list. Then, you can figure out which one gives you the best deal.

Pro tip: Browser extensions and comparison-shopping apps like Capital One Shopping make buying online easier than ever. If you’re shopping on Amazon, Capital One Shopping searches other retailers to find a better price. 

Capital One Shopping also automatically adds any available coupon codes to your cart at hundreds of participating retailers. Add the free Capital One Shopping browser extension.

Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the Capital One Shopping extension using the links we provided.

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Amy Livingston is a freelance writer who can actually answer yes to the question, “And from that you make a living?” She has written about personal finance and shopping strategies for a variety of publications, including ConsumerSearch.com, ShopSmart.com, and the Dollar Stretcher newsletter. She also maintains a personal blog, Ecofrugal Living, on ways to save money and live green at the same time.

Source: moneycrashers.com

12 Best Hotel Booking Apps of 2021 – Get Cheap Deals on Rooms

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My family and I recently stayed in a two-bedroom apartment for the same cost as cramming into a dull corporate hotel room. I don’t have an in with the owner or know someone who knows someone. I just used a booking app. 

A hotel booking app can help save you time, hassle, and money when planning your next trip. And these hotel booking apps could help you find a deal just as good as the one they found me.

Best Independent Hotel Booking Apps

Independent apps aren’t affiliated with a specific hotel brand. They aggregate options across a range of hotel chains and independent lodging to provide you with an abundance of choices and travel deals. To get the best deals, download the heavy hitters and check them all before you book.

1. Booking.com

Arguably the most popular website for reserving accommodations, Booking.com has a robust, easy-to-use app that deserves a spot on your smartphone. One of the best things about this app is the sheer number of options it offers, including accommodations in off-the-beaten-path locations around the world.

If you’re traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language, the app makes it easy to view the address of your hotel in the local language. If you need to show a taxi or rideshare driver where you’re headed, you can simply pull it up in the app and point.

Finally, the interface makes it easy to see all past, current, and future trips, and it highlights any loyalty discounts you’re eligible for at properties across the globe.

But you can book more than just hotel stays. The app searches for private vacation rentals like those listed on Airbnb and Vrbo. It also displays the hotel’s or host’s cancellation policy, noting the date range for free cancellation. 

2. Hotels.com

Another major search engine in the online booking space, Hotels.com includes hundreds of thousands of properties in more than 200 countries and territories. 

Hotels.com’s best perk is the free night you get for every 10 nights you book through it. But you have to use the app to book your reward night at no charge. If you use the website, it costs $5. 

The app also lets you view or modify current reservations and view your reward progress toward free nights.

3. Priceline

Priceline rose to fame for its name-your-own-price feature. While it phased out that feature starting in 2016, Priceline replaced it with two new features called Pricebreakers and Express Deals. 

Pricebreakers show you a price quote and the names of three hotels in your destination city, and you book without knowing which hotel you’ll land. You get a deal in exchange for flexibility. 

Express Deals also involves a bit of dice-rolling. They quote you a price, the approximate location, the hotel star rating, and the hotel amenities and bed size. You also see three possible hotels on a map, one of which is the real one. 

With a bit of online detective work, you can often sleuth out which hotel they’ve quoted you. But even if you can’t, the deal you get may still be worth it.

The only drawback is that there’s no free cancellation when you book through these programs.

Or you can use Priceline’s more common features, such as booking hotels, flights, rental cars, and even cruises at retail pricing. It includes exclusive deals and promotions on hotels you can’t get on the website. 

Priceline also now offers a loyalty program called Priceline VIP. Once you complete two trips with Priceline, you start seeing discounts up to 50% on over 15,000 properties on their platform. 

After five completed trips, you reach VIP Gold and start seeing discounts on over 30,000 properties. And at 25 completed trips, the number of discounted properties rises to 45,000. 

4. Expedia

If you enjoy playing the travel rewards game and want to see just how steeply discounted a rate you can find, Expedia is the app for you. It often features exclusive app-only deals. Plus, you get double rewards points on everything you book through the app. 

Like other hotel booking apps, Expedia hosts a wealth of hotel reviews from real guests to help you find the best stay.

You can also use the app to book other Expedia services, like flights, car rentals, tickets, and tours. Expedia offers mobile-only discounts of up to 30% on hotels and says you can save an additional estimated 43% when bundling a hotel with your flight.

Plus, the app alerts you about important travel information like flight updates, delays, and gate changes before it causes a problem.   

Expedia also offers a convenient buy-now, pay-later service for hotel deals so you can pay at the hotel rather than upfront. 

5. HotelsCombined

HotelsCombined sets itself apart from the rest in a few ways. It offers tons of pictures of potential hotels, which appeals to people who want to know exactly what they’re getting into when booking a room. 

It also has a price alert feature that lets you sign up for an email notification when a room you’re interested in drops in price by 10% or more. If you can plan ahead to get the specific hotel you want, this feature can help you score a great deal.

HotelsCombined also offers a best-price guarantee. If you find a better deal elsewhere within 24 hours of booking, HotelsCombined matches it and refunds you the difference. 

The app also says it can unlock “secret deals” exclusive to users. Try it to see how much it can actually save you. You can always invoke their best-price guarantee if you spot a better deal later. 

6. Travelocity

The Travelocity app does everything you’d expect. You can book flights, hotels, and rental cars and bundle them for discounts. You can also browse and search activities to fill out your trip. 

Beyond hotels, the app also includes private vacation rentals like you’d find on Airbnb. That helps you find the best accommodation at the lowest price regardless of the property type.

Travelocity offers free cancellation on most hotel bookings. You can even filter search results to list only hotels that let you reserve now and pay later. 

Travelocity offers its own price guarantee. It not only matches the better offer but gives you a $50 coupon toward your next booking. But the window only lasts 24 hours after booking. 

In addition to their price guarantee, Travelocity guarantees excellent and timely customer service. That includes 24-hour customer service through email, phone, chat, and social media channels. 

Best Hotel Booking Apps for Last-Minute Deals

Most hotels have loads of unused rooms that go unused on a given night. And some apps take advantage of that by offering these vacant rooms for far less than their list price. 

If you enjoy the thrill of a last-minute hotel search or need a place to stay in a strange city on the fly, these apps have you covered.

7. HotelTonight

Perhaps your Airbnb host cancels your reservation the day of your arrival or you miss your flight and the first available connection isn’t until the next day. With HotelTonight on your phone, you can book a hotel reservation for the same evening or up to seven days in advance.

HotelTonight aggregates a city’s empty hotel rooms in one place, and you can book one for up to 50% off the full price. The app’s express deals go live at noon each day, and in some cities, you could have thousands of hotel rooms to choose from across multiple price points. 

The app is user-friendly and has a tiered loyalty program called HT Perks, which can net you even better rates the more loyalty credits you accrue. Even better, those loyalty points never expire.

8. One Night

If flying by the seat of your pants when you travel sounds appealing, One Night is the app for you. You can only book a reservation after noon for the same night in a select number of cities, usually at an enticing discount to sweeten the deal. 

Once you book a night, you can extend your accommodations for up to seven days.

The thing that sets One Night apart from other last-minute booking apps is that when you select your hotel, the app gives you hour-by-hour suggestions for fun things to do in your destination city. If you like to travel like a local, this is the app for you.

Best Hotel Chain Apps

If you take advantage of travel loyalty programs, it’s smart to have the app of your preferred hotel on your smartphone. With these iOS and Android apps, you can skip the line, choose your room, and unlock other member perks with ease.

9. Marriott

Marriott boasts more than 6,700 hotels in 130 countries. That means Marriott group owns 1 in 15 hotel rooms in the world. So you definitely won’t be starved for choices if you book accommodations on the Marriott app.

Once you book, you can request upgrades and late checkouts right from your phone. You can also request extras for your room, like a hair dryer or extra towels. 

If you frequently stay at any of Marriott’s 30 brands of hotel properties, join Marriott’s Bonvoy rewards program and keep this app on your phone. The app’s Eat Around Town feature lets you link a credit card and pay for meals directly, earning up to six Marriott points per dollar spent. 

Marriott Bonvoy also keeps you posted about hotel promotions all over the world, helping you save money wherever you visit.

10. Hilton Honors

If you’re a Hilton Honors devotee, you’ll love the app feature that everyone raves about: getting to choose your exact room ahead of time. 

At many hotels, you can see a map of the property and pick the room you want via the app. That’s especially popular with travelers who have a particular preference, such as a high floor with a view or distance from the elevator, or those who want to be near a specific amenity like the pool or fitness center.

The app also has a digital key feature that lets you use your smartphone to unlock the door to your room at select properties. Finally, being able to check out of your room at the end of your stay via the app means you won’t be stuck in line at the front desk during checkout.

The Hilton Honors app particularly helps you manage and optimize your Hilton rewards, finding exclusive promotions and stretching your reward points further.

11. Hyatt

Hyatt’s mobile app is called World of Hyatt after their rewards program. 

Through the app, you can stream personal entertainment content through the TV in your room with Chromecast, unlock your door with your phone, and contact the hotel directly in real time through a chat function both before and during your stay. Best of all, you can skip the front desk check-in entirely.

You can also view your progress toward rewards, tap into exclusive promotions, and see any points you’ve earned with previous stays at a Hyatt property.

12. IHG

Shorthand for InterContinental Hotels Group, IHG has almost 6,000 hotels worldwide. 

Its app encourages customers to book travel directly with the chain instead of using a third-party site. It does so by offering a member-exclusive rate with savings of 3% on average if you book directly.

The app also features special rewards offers and discounts and lets you view your points balance toward a free or discounted stay. 

In addition to a user-friendly interface, the app has a travel tools section with neighborhood guides and maps. Finally, it offers a white noise feature in case you don’t sleep well in hotels.

Final Word

If you enjoy hunting for the best hotel deal to save money on vacation or racking up loyalty points you can trade for free nights and other perks, it pays to download the best travel apps to your smartphone. 

From skipping the line at check-in to finding the lowest hotel prices to simply being able to view the property beforehand, using hotel booking apps is an easy, free way to be a savvy traveler.

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G. Brian Davis is a real estate investor, personal finance writer, and travel addict mildly obsessed with FIRE. He spends nine months of the year in Abu Dhabi, and splits the rest of the year between his hometown of Baltimore and traveling the world.

Source: moneycrashers.com

7 Lessons From The Great Resignation of 2021

Go no further than TikTok to find people quitting their jobs in high-drama ways.

“I’d rather not pay my rent than work for someone like you,” a young woman says to her boss — with camera rolling.

“Today is my last day working in this toxic workplace,” a one-line resignation message reads.

Another man announces he’s quitting by playing the Justus Bennetts song Real Life Sux, which includes the lyrics: “I tried a 9 to 5 and I made five bucks, I might as well just take the whole year off.”

These scenarios are a great way to go viral, but aren’t so great for your career. Even if your work experience has been brutal, you need to leave on the best terms possible.

Why? Think about it. You might need a reference down the road. You might encounter your boss and coworkers in other situations. And news of a high-drama departure might reach a boss you’d like to work for.

Here’s a primer on all you need to know about how to quit your job and plan your next move during an period that has been called “The Great Resignation.”

7 Things to Do Before You Quit Your Job

Many people reevaluating their life and career these days don’t have their next full-time job or entrepreneurial gig in place. So here’s a handy employee resignation checklist to get yourself ready for a transitional phase.

  1. Negotiate large bills such as medical costs into monthly, no-interest payments.
  2. Pay off big expenses such as new tires while you still have a steady paycheck.
  3. Take care of looming medical procedures while you have insurance, such as a teeth cleaning or a colonoscopy.
  4. It’s ideal to have six months of your salary saved. But if that’s not possible, have some kind of savings account for emergencies.
  5. You might get compensated for unused vacation time, but probably not for any hours you worked in exchange for time off (often called paid time off or PTO). Find out the policy and take off any time you can’t recoup in money.
  6. Learn how to roll over your 401(k).
  7. Learn what it takes to start a business, if that’s what you are considering.

Call-out box: Are you burned out on your second (or third) job? You need an exit plan for breaking up with your side gig, too.

How to Write a Resignation Letter

A resignation letter gets all your key points in writing.

  1. Cover the basics. Include your last day of work, what projects you will finish before you leave, what you can do to train your replacement.
  2. Ask questions in writing, too. You’ll need to know about any extension of benefits, the date of your last paycheck, returning company equipment and changing cell phone accounts.
  3. Say thank you. End on a good note and smooth the way for future references. Cite the experience you gained, mention your camaraderie with coworkers or compliment your boss.

Landing a Bridge Job After You Quit

If you don’t have your own business ready to roll or your next dream job in place, a side gig or bridge job can keep you financially afloat until the next big thing.

The obvious side gigs are driving — Uber, Lyft or delivering food. But there are also apps for personal shoppers, dog walking, handyman services and courier services that can bring steady income. And if you can market your services to friends, family and neighbors directly, you’ll make more money.

Here are some things to know about various side gigs.

  • Uber and Lyft. What you make per hour depends on the city where you drive, the time of day, and the location. Having a clean car with phone chargers and water increases your tips. Here are seven hacks to boost your tips and your hourly rates.
  • Uber Eats. One man earned $8,000 in on month as an Uber Eats driver. He worked long days (and nights), but after one exhausting month had some wiggle room to plan his next move.
  • Restaurant jobs. While many people are resigning from these jobs as a career, they offer good part-time employment if you’re quitting a position in another industry. Here’s a story about which restaurants pay the best. 

And don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Beyond the gig economy, retail and restaurants, there are many part-time jobs that make great bridge jobs.

As museums, theaters, theme parks, water parks and other arts entertainment venues come back to life with full crowds, many are hiring.

The International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., for example pays $17 an hour for entry level “guest services operatives” who take guests’ temperatures, guide groups and help lost kids find their parents.  And Indeed shows movie theaters are paying an average of $10 an hour.

Katherine Snow Smith is a freelance writer in St. Petersburg, Fla., former Penny Hoarder staff writer and author of Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker: Missteps & Lessons Learned.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Make Money With Online Sales and Declutter on the Way

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2021 was year two of the pandemic, and chances are most of us spent a lot of time at home realizing just how much stuff we have on our hands.

When you find yourself faced with clutter, there’s one good solution: try to sell it! What looks old, used or out of style to you may be a prized possession to someone else.

But entering the world of online sales can be overwhelming, to say the least. In 2021, we shared some of the best tips for selling everything from books and clothes to gift cards and photos online.

9 Ways to Make Money With Online Sales

To make it easy for you as the year comes to a close, here’s a roundup of our 2021 posts about making money from online sales after clearing out your closets and cabinets.

1. Know Where to Sell Online

Half the battle of selling something online is knowing how and where to sell it. Is your item highly visual? Does it tend to have a community that goes along with it, like vintage furniture? If you answer yes, then Instagram might be your best bet.

If you’re trying to sell goods to a wide variety of people from across the globe, sites like Amazon and eBay, which do have certain seller fees, can probably offer the largest reach.

If you’re just wanting to get rid of a few items from your garage, try a local site like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. These sites even allow for local pick-up, which may make your life easier and take two hassles away from you — you’ll get rid of the item and won’t have to do any of the heavy lifting.

We rounded up some great tips about how to sell online both globally and locally.

2. Master the Online Marketplace

There are some simple rules you should keep in mind when creating your listings. A quick summary:

  • Use a simple name for your item so it shows up in a search — for instance “table” instead of “dropleaf” or “grill” instead of the brand name.
  • Remember to always include relevant information up front — you don’t want to get bombarded with questions about something you could have put in the item description.
  • Know that selling something online usually requires maintenance. You’ll have to watch for messages from interested buyers.
  • Don’t set prices too high.

Read more in our roundup about selling used goods online.

3. Make Your Items Look Great

The easiest — and perhaps most pivotal — way to make your items stand out online is through good photography. The opposite is just as true. How many of us have watched our items go unsold and wondered whether a photo crowded with other objects in dim lighting may have been the culprit?

Read pro tips about how to take pictures of items to sell, collected from online sellers who have honed their photography practices over the years. Here’s an overview of what they say:

  • Find a clean background.
  • Prioritize natural lighting over artificial.
  • Stage the photograph thoughtfully, using props that work with what you’re trying to sell.
  • Take multiple photos to find the best shot — don’t just shoot one and call it a day.

4. Create a Thoughtful Customer Experience

If you’re running an online boutique rather than simply selling one-off items online, you may want to think about how you present your objects to buyers.

Crafting dynamic packaging and interactive experiences with every item can go a long way toward creating a repeat customer.

Read these online retail packaging tips from experts to learn how everything from confetti to free logo stickers can create brand loyalty and keep people coming back for more.

A woman sits on her couch with clothes covering her whole body.
Getty Images

5. Offload Your Closet Items

It can feel daunting to go through your closet and pick out the pieces you’re ready to part with — are we ever really ready? Worse yet, the act of taking photos, selecting prices and waiting for someone to bite on your old clothes can be anxiety-inducing.

But there are ways to do it successfully.

Start with knowing which site to use. Are you more of a Poshmark person or a ThredUP gal? Is Tradesy the right option for you? Do you plan to upcycle clothes before putting them up for sale?

Read our piece about how to sell clothes online to figure out how to get the best buck for your clothes.

6. Overflowing Bookshelves? Time to Sell

We’ve all seen the $1 pile at a used bookstore. Perhaps you think your old books will be relegated to that status, making it almost impossible to even break even on the sale.

But if you know where to see your books online, that may not be the case.

There are Amazon and Etsy, yes, but have you ever heard of AbeBooks and Decluttr? Read our roundup of places where you can sell used books online along with great tips that will help you clear some space on those shelves.

7. Sell Your Photographs

Those casual iPhone photos you’ve collected? You can put them to good use.

If you’ve gotten compliments on your artsy Instagrams or feel you’re a budding photographer, it might be time to try to make some money off of those talents.

The question is where to sell and how each site works. For instance, would you rather earn a certain percentage of royalties or pay the site for a listing?

We collected tips to help you sell photos online and pick the option that’s right for you.

8. Get Rid of Those Old Gift Cards — For Cash!

We never thought we’d say it, but there can be such a thing as too many gift cards.

Sometimes you just don’t have the time or ability to spend them all. So why not get money back for them and let someone else have all the fun? We listed the easiest ways to sell gift cards. Turns out there are plenty of apps designated for just that.

9. Consult Nextdoor for a Second Opinion

Nextdoor can be a dumpster fire of a site, but it can also come in handy when you suspect that you’re paying too much for something or not getting paid enough for an item you’re trying to sell.

Polling your neighbors on Nextdoor — literally the people who live in close geographic proximity to you — is a good way to get a sense of the general temperature. Byt asking for some Nextdoor reviews, you just might end up saving money!

Writer Elizabeth Djinis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder, often writing about selling goods online through social platforms. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Smithsonian Magazine and the Tampa Bay Times.



Source: thepennyhoarder.com