Save Time (and Possibly Money) This Christmas — 61% of Americans Now Prefer To Give Cash (or Gift Cards)

Shopping cart with gift card, Christmas gifts and gingerbread man.
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If you want to know what to put under the Christmas tree this year, here’s a tip: head to your nearest ATM. In a year of runaway inflation, most Americans plan to give cash (or a gift card) over a traditional present this holiday season, according to a new survey from MassMutual.

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The MassMutual Consumer Spending & Saving Index, based on a recent survey of 1,000 U.S. adults and 500 Massachusetts adults, found that nearly half (47%) of Americans plan to spend less this holiday season compared with last year. More than six in 10 (61%) plan to give cash or a gift card this year rather than a traditional gift.

If you’re looking for a Grinch, blame inflation. Forty-one percent of Americans say they are stressed about their personal finances, and an even higher percentage (45%) have had to dip into their savings to pay for expenses.

“While many [Americans] have proven to be resilient, our latest index reveals the increasing toll of inflation along with dampening prospects for the holiday season,” Mike Fanning, head of MassMutual U.S., detailed in a press release. “The good news is that people can take steps now to better secure their financial future. As we approach the end of the year, people should create a plan that is flexible enough to weather times of uncertainty and help position them to reach their longer-term financial goals.”

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In periods of high inflation, those steps might include everything from reevaluating your budget to earning extra money through side gigs. In terms of stretching your holiday dollars to stay ahead of inflation, one good move is to take advantage of coupon sites and apps that can help you save money.

Discount Codes, Coupons, and Holiday Gift Card Deals

For example, the RetailMeNot app will send you discount codes on items or brands when those items are available. When you install the browser extension, RetailMeNot will automatically alert you if the store you’re shopping from has current promotional codes. Other browser extensions include Honey and Capital One Shopping — the latter of which will give you a percentage back on your purchases at participating retailers.

Another site, CouponFollow, delivers promotional codes that can help you get as much as 70% off certain items. In a similar vein, sites such as DealNews can show you the latest sales going on to help you save on holiday shopping.

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If you are among the more than 60% of Americans who plan to give cash or gift cards this holiday season, take the time to scout out where to get the best deals on gift cards. Here are three recommendations from the MoneysMyLife financial blog:

  • Raise.com: This gift card exchange sells previously owned, merchant-branded gift cards at a discounted rate.
  • Gift Card Granny: Specializes in branded gift cards from various retailers as well as Visa and Mastercard gift cards. You’ll be able to get discounts and cash-back rewards with your gift-card purchases.
  • eBay: You can buy gift cards at face value through the eBay Gift Cards Store, or bid on gift card auctions and maybe score a discount from the face value.
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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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