It should go without saying, but this year has been a year unlike any other — there’s a global pandemic, unemployment is too high for comfort and the economy is struggling.

Now, the holiday season is quickly creeping up and that spells money — which is something millions of Americans are having trouble with right now.

In the spirit of saving, we’ve put together a list of five uncommon ways to save this holiday season.

1. Gift your skills

Knick knacks and money are fun gifts, but the best kind of gifts are the ones that you know came from the heart. Rather than spending your money on another generic gift, think about what you have to offer.

Are you a skilled photographer? Take family photos for a relative. Maybe you’re a handyman? Consider lending your labor toward a project you know someone close to you has been working hard on.

These types of gifts are not only more meaningful and practical, but they can also save you and your loved ones money.

2. Trade-in old electronics for new ones

Are your electronics in need of an upgrade? Consider trading them in for cash or a newer model at your local pawn shop or resale store. You likely won’t get enough of a return to fully afford a new item from the trade alone, but it could get you a couple hundred dollars closer.

3. Sell unwanted items

As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. If you have things lying around that you don’t have any use for, consider selling them online.

Some popular resale platforms include:

  • Facebook Marketplace
  • OfferUp
  • Craigslist
  • Poshmark

You never know, your listing could be exactly what someone else was looking to buy. Better yet, it could be her gift for someone else — you earn money and she saves money by buying secondhand.

4. Use a rewards credit card to save

Credit cards can be a great saving strategy if used responsibly. This doesn’t mean putting yourself into further debt, but instead, using your credit card strategically so that you can earn valuable points or cashback on all of your purchases.

There are two ways you could approach this. The ideal approach would be to use a rewards credit card to earn valuable points or cashback on all of your purchases. This way you’ll save money on every purchase, even if it’s a few cents here and there. However, remember that these rewards are only rewarding if you pay your balance on time and in full every month.

The second option would be to use the points you already have to pay for gifts or gift cards. The latter won’t give you the highest rate of return on your points, but it will save you some extra cash. And during uncertain times like these, cash is king and you can always earn those points back.

If you don’t already have a rewards credit card, now might be the perfect time to get one: You could earn a valuable welcome bonus that could help offset some of your holiday spending. Just be sure to do your research beforehand to find a card that fits your spending habits and lifestyle in the long run — not just your holiday spending.

5. Take advantage of online shopping portals

If you’re not already using shopping portals while shopping on the internet, now is the time to start. You can easily install these money-saving tools into your browser and they will automatically alert you anytime there’s an opportunity to save.

Rakuten, for example, offers users real cashback just for online shopping. You might be wondering what’s the catch, but we’re happy to report there isn’t one. Simply put, merchants pay the portals a portion of your purchase in exchange for directing you to their site. It’s that easy.

Of course, these tools will track your data and it may result in some targeted ads. So long as you’re okay with that, you can enjoy some extra cash in your pocket.

Bottom line

The holidays can be a stressful time when money is tight, but the season of giving doesn’t mean that the gifts have to cost you your savings.

Try creating a plan of attack before you start your shopping, so that you can get a better gauge of how it will fit into your budget. Better yet — consider these out-of-the-box ideas to save you a couple of bucks.

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