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Saving money is a curious term with two meanings: 1) To spend less, as in “I buy things on sale to save money,” and 2) To physically place money where it is safe from being spent, as in “I save money in my secret savings place.” 

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Okay, that’s fine. But here’s the problem. It’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking that 1) and 2) are the same. They are not unless of course, you stop by the bank to actually deposit the difference between what you would have spent had the stuff not been on sale, right into your savings account or wherever it is that you stash cash.

Actually, that is one clever way to boost your savings this year. Here are eight more:

1 Tax yourself

This year assess yourself a specific “tax” each time you make an ATM withdrawal. It might be $5 or $10, you decide. Whatever the amount, make sure you become a tough tax collector AND that you carry through and put the tax you collected into your safe savings place. No slacking, no IOUs.

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According to a survey by the folks over at WalletHub, gift cards were one of the most highly desirable gifts this holiday season. If you were the recipient of your most desired gift—a gift card to your favorite retailer or service, that’s fantastic!  

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But sometimes a gift card doesn’t quite hit the mark, making its way to the back of a wallet, the bottom of a drawer or—gasp!—hopelessly lost in all the spent gift wrap and ribbon that was hauled to the trash.

Consumers spend more than $130 billion on gift cards per year—and roughly $1 billion goes unspent. Every year! Believe it. It’s as absolutely true as it is mind-boggling.

If you got a gift card from a store you’ve never heard of or one you’ll most likely never use—you may be wondering if there’s a way you can exchange it for cash. 

Good news. There is. And not only that new gift card. You may be able to get cash for other gift cards you’ve been collecting—even the ones that you’ve used but still have a decent balance remaining. Read more