The Twelve Days of Fixmas: The Ultimate Guide to Sprucing Up Your Finances
It’s holiday singalong time at The Penny Hoarder! Sing along with us, now. You know the melody:
On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to meee… a meth-od to get out of debt!
Oh, are those not the lyrics you learned when you were a wee child? You were expecting a partridge in a pear tree, perhaps? What would a partridge be doing loitering in a pear tree, I ask you?
This ain’t your momma’s “Twelve Days of Christmas,” man.
This is the “Twelve Days of Fixmas.” As in, these holiday financial tips are gonna (hopefully) fix up your bank account.
Consider it a holiday gift to yourself. All you have to do is commit to doing one thing a day, over 12 days this holiday season. Maybe set an alarm on your phone or something. Then do that one thing. Then carry on with your holidays.
Once this song is over, you’ll be so much better off, financially — we hope.
Are you ready? Let’s do the whole song all at once. C’mon, we know you know the melody.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me …
Twelve items let go,
Eleven dollars saved up,
Nine emailed receipts,
Eight scratch-off tickets,
Seven online shoppers,
Six retirement accounts,
Fiiiiiive looooost pounds!
Four Ubers driving,
Three French breads,
Two cable bills,
And tips from Credit Sesame!
Yay, we did it! OK, let’s catch our breath.
Let’s go back over those, one day at a time.
Twelve Items Let Go
Out with the old, in with the new. You’ve got to make room in your place for all those sweet, sweet Christmas gifts you’re going to be getting. It’s time to clear out some stuff you don’t need — and get paid for it.
Clear out your old DVDs, Blurays, CDs, video games, gaming consoles and old phones with the Decluttr app. Scan the barcode with your phone, and Decluttr will make you an offer. Use FREE5 at checkout and you’ll get an extra $5 for your trades.
You can also sell nearly anything through the Letgo app. Just snap a photo of your item and set up a listing in about 30 seconds.
Eleven Dollars Saved Up
Give yourself a long-term gift. Open a micro-investing account with Acorns.
Once you connect it to a debit or credit card, it rounds your purchases up to the nearest dollar and funnels your digital change into an investment account.
Because the money comes out in increments of less than $1, you’re less likely to feel an impact in your bank account. You can also set it up so it doesn’t round up every single purchase.
When you sign up, you get a free $10 to start investing.
On the tenth day of Fixmas, make a quick $25 by taking some surveys for JOANY, a healthcare concierge service.
In order to best cater to customers, it needs you to answer some survey questions. This takes less than 10 minutes, with fewer than 50 questions. In return, you’ll pocket $25.
To get in on this, you must meet these qualifications:
- You purchased health insurance for 2017 through your state exchange, Healthcare.gov, a broker or a plan, such as Oscar or Aetna.
- You don’t receive health insurance through your employer or school.
- You aren’t on Medicaid, Medicare or VA health insurance.
Nine Emailed Receipts
It’s the holidays, which means it’s shopping season. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about? Other than that whole peace-on-earth-goodwill-to-men thing, I mean.
With an app called Earny, you can get money back on purchases you make online. It scans your inbox for receipts and tracks the items to find price drops. Then it takes advantage of retailer and credit-card company price-protection policies to negotiate money back on your behalf.
The app works with a bunch of online retailers, including Amazon, Gap, Jet, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Old Navy, Overstock, Target, Walmart and Zappos.
Eight Scratch-Off Tickets
On the eighth day of Fixmas, check out a free app called Lucktastic.
Each day, it releases a new assortment of digital scratch-off tickets. Instant wins range from $1 to $10,000. You can also earn tokens, enter contests and play games.
The app is free to download — and play.
Seven Online Shoppers
It’s time for more shopping to get you in the holiday spirit!
Dosh is a new cash-back app that pays you for making purchases at more than 100,000 hotels, online stores and restaurants — including Starwood Properties, Marriott, Cost Plus World Market, Nike, Target, Chuck E. Cheese’s and many more.
Download the app and sign up. Securely connect a debit or credit card. Watch the cash-back roll in.
In addition to cash back, you collect an immediate $5 bonus for hooking up a card to Dosh.
Six Retirement Accounts
Once again, time to give yourself a long-term gift. You’ve probably heard that Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement.
Not sure how your savings stack up? Try this calculator. It’ll tell you how much to start saving to stay on track toward a decent retirement.
Not sure if you have the right amount invested in stocks versus bonds? Sign up for a robo-advisor like Blooom, an app that’ll optimize and monitor your 401(k) for you.
Fiiiiiive Looooost Pounds!
This verse has always been my favorite part of the song. It’s yours too, isn’t it?
Fun fact: Although the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” dates from way back in the 1700s, the version of the tune where the singers magically prolong the lyric, “Five golden rings” is a more recent development. It dates from the early 1900s.
We don’t have “fiiiiiivve gol-den riiiinnggs” for you, but getting paid for five lost pounds would be cool too, right? Here’s how to do it.
Make a bet with a company called HealthyWage, which will pay you to accomplish your weight-loss goals. Enter how much weight you’d like to lose (10 to 150 pounds) in its calculator, how long you’ll take (six to 18 months) and how much you want to bet ($20 to $150 per month).
Each month, you pay your promised amount into the program. In return, HealthyWage provides support through expert advice and weight-tracking tools. If you meet your goal in your allotted time frame, HealthyWage pays you!
Four Ubers Driving
Christmas shopping gets expensive, cash back or not. Scratch up some extra money over the holidays by driving with Uber, the popular ride-sharing app.
As an Uber contractor, you set your own schedule and work when you want. Your pay is calculated on a base fare, plus time and distance traveled for each pickup. Uber charges a service fee of 20% to 35%, depending on your city.
For some context, the average Uber driver made $556.22 a week in November.*
If you want to give it a try, you must be at least 21; have three years’ driving experience; have an in-state driver’s license and a clean driving record; and be able to pass a criminal background check.
You can also capitalize on tips, money for canceled rides and longer trips.
* This opportunity with Uber is for an independent contractor. Stated trip earnings of $556.22 per week are based on 40 hours of driving per week using the net median national earnings of partners from November 2017. Median earnings in your specific location may be lower than the national figure. Actual earnings vary depending on number of rides accepted and taken, time of day, location and other factors.
Three French Breads
In all seriousness, we know perfectly well the holidays aren’t just about shopping. We’re not that shallow.
The holidays are also about eating food — am I right? Lots of yummy, delicious food.
Check out Ibotta, a free cash-back app that offers cash back at grocery stores, restaurants and bars. It’s a good way to get money back just for taking a picture of your receipt. Here’s how it works:
- Sign up. You just need a name and email address to start.
- Browse through the cash-back offers in your area the next time you go to a store, supermarket, restaurant or bar. (The offers change every week). Pick your cash-back offers and scan your receipt.
- Once you’ve reached at least $20 in earnings, request payment via Paypal or Venmo.
Right now, Ibotta is giving new users a $10 sign-up bonus, just for redeeming their first receipt.
Two Cable Bills
This holiday season, you’ll probably have some time off to chill out in front of the TV.
Since we’re thinking along those lines, go ahead and install Trim, a Facebook messenger bot that will negotiate your cable or internet bills down for you. It works with Comcast, Time Warner, Charter and other major providers.
You sign up with Facebook, upload a PDF of your most recent bill, and Trim’s AI-powered system gets to work. If at first it doesn’t succeed, it’ll keep negotiating until it can save you some money. (If it saves you any money, it keeps 25% of the savings tab.)
And Tips From Credit Sesame!
Finally, here’s your partridge in a pear tree. It comes in the form of one last long-term gift to yourself.
Sign up for Credit Sesame. This free service shows your credit score and explains it to you. It shows your balances on any unpaid bills, credit cards or loans. It offers personalized tips on reducing your debt and raising your credit score.
Having a higher credit score should come in handy next Christmas — or the next time you’re buying a house or car, or applying for any kind of loan or credit card.
And with that, we’ve concluded the “Twelve Days of Fixmas.” Are you feeling financially fitter yet?
For those of you wondering about the lyrics to the real song, don’t bother to Google them. Here they are:
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me …
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Fiiiiiive gol-den rings!
Four calling birds,
Three French hens
Two turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree!
Mike Brassfield (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He is a lord a-leaping.