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Coin Collection: 10 Easy Ways To Save $500 By Christmas

Times are tight. Here's how to pocket a little extra cash to Christmas shop with.

Finance

It's kinda crazy how, every year, many of us will tell ourselves that we won't overspend on the holidays the next year—only to turn around and rinse and repeat. Well, after a year like 2020 (whew chile), if there was ever a time when counting our pennies and making them stretch mattered, this would have to be it.

I know we're down to the wire when it comes to just how close we are to Christmas. Still, believe it or not, you can save a good little chunk of change leading into it. All you've got to do is apply at least 3-5 of the money-saving hacks that I'm about to share and you could find yourself easily pocketing $500 by December 25th. No joke.

1. Get a Side Gig

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Back before Upwork decided to up and charge folks (aside from the huge percentage that they already take out of the gigs that you get on their site), I made some pretty good extra money on their site. It was cool to know that if I had a bill coming up, I could pitch my portfolio to a client who was in need of some last-minute work and get paid by the end of the week. While more times than not, the money wasn't super mind-blowing, it was steady and I could easily make $750-1000 a month. So yeah, out of all of the tips that I'm about to share on how to accumulate $500 over the next few weeks, probably the most obvious one is to consider getting a part-time job or getting in some contract work between now and ho-ho-ho day. If you need a little bit of inspiration, Millennial Money Man has 40 side hustle ideas. You can check out the list here.

2. Budget

I remember once reading an article that stated fewer people are budgeting, even though they know that they should. And boy oh boy, should they. When it comes to this year specifically, if you take the pandemic, job losses, evictions, food shortages and the mass amount of folks who don't have any type of health insurance, those are reasons enough to be intentional about counting every coin—about making sure that you hold every penny accountable.

Back when I didn't budget at all, man, it really was a trip, just how much money I wasted. It was nothing to go into a store, thinking that I was going to spend ten bucks, only to end up spending 75 of 'em. That's because, when you're not paying attention to how you're using your money, you really can throw a lot of it down the drain on things that are, at the end of the day, pretty inconsequential. So yeah, if you want to keep a little more money in your pocket this Christmas, the first thing you should do is put a budget together. And listen, don't think that you've got to spend every coin once you've decided where it should go either. At least until the new year rolls around, consider only getting the things that you absolutely need while putting the rest into a savings account. Trust me, the "wants" will still be there in 2021. Get them when you can better afford them. Oh, and if you'd like to check out a few budgeting apps, you can do so right here.

3. Use Your Debit Card

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This money-saving hack is one that I used to really underestimate yet trust me, when you apply it, it really does work. Instead of pulling cash out from an ATM, commit to using your debit card (not your credit card; if you wanna save money, you might wanna scale back using it too) instead. The reason why I say this is because, if you pull out $20, it's a lot easier to spend all of it rather than if you use your card, so that it only takes out the exact cost of the purchase. If you apply this tip to the budget point that I just made, you can end up saving, at least a $100-200 easily each month.

4. Get Generic Brands

Did you know that you can easily save 20-30 percent of the money that you currently spend by opting to purchase generic brands of items? What are some examples? Canned foods. Cleaning products. Vitamins. Pet food. Shampoo, soap and lotion. Baby formula (lawd, baby formula is high!). Bottled water. Baking supplies. Cereal. Gas.

For instance, say that you spend $150 every week at the grocery store. If you go the generic route on everything that I just mentioned, you could easily pocket $45. 45 times 4 weeks is 180 and 180 times 2 months is 360. $360 saved. See how easy that was?

5. Nix the Netflix 

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Netflix is like entertainment crack for a lot of folks. And just like a crack dealer, once it had subscribers good and hooked, they decided to increase the price. From what I've read, the standard plan is now $14 a month while the premium tiers are now $18. Cutting Netflix out altogether (at least for a little while) could give you $28-36 back. Hey, it might not seem like much but that will be an extra $50-60 dollars that you'll have to play with by the end of December.

While we're on this topic, if you've got a cable plan, temporarily disconnecting it could probably get you super close to $500 in two months too. My cable/internet package is $150 before taxes; taxes puts it at around $170. $170 times 2 is $340. Trust me, I have this conversation with myself, at least once a month (le sigh).

6. Skip the Nail Salon

I know a lot of folks are out here acting like we're not still in a pandemic (we are by the way) and so they're out here wilin' on the going out tip. That said, I personally don't think that there's anything wrong with getting your hair or nails done, so long as the salon that you go to follows proper COVID-19 protocol (appointment-setting to cut down on traffic, mask-wearing, etc.). What I will personally say is used to be an avid nail salon person. I would get powder put on my natural nails and then, there's no telling what kind of design I would get, every other week. That bill would easily be somewhere between $50-80 a pop. Then, if you added my pedicure into the mix, that was another $40 (before a tip). Now, since I'm not out in these streets, I've kept my nails alone and I only get a pedicure once a month. That's $100-160 back into my pocket. You might not wanna apply this personal saving hack, but it's just something to think about (check out "Uh, About That Salon Manicure. How To Treat Your Nails While You're Stuck At Home.").

7. Use Coupons

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It's when I actually use coupons that I find myself mad-and-some-more-mad that I don't use them more often. Coupons at the grocery store have easily saved me $25 or so every visit and promo codes (like the ones on RetailMeNot's website)? Whew, don't even get me started on those. I actually read that, by using coupons regularly, we save ourselves $30-50 each week. 50 times 4 is 200. 200 times 2 is 400. $400. Just sayin'.

8. Don’t Eat Out (or Order Takeout)

I don't know about y'all, but I've had my fair share of takeout during this year. Something that comes into my mind, at least every fifth order, is an article I read about the fact that the average American spends a whopping $3,000 each year on going to restaurants or ordering food delivery. Three thousand bucks, y'all.

So, you already know what I'm gonna say. If you order takeout pretty frequently, you can easily save—looka here—$250 a month but opting to cook for yourself instead. It might be less convenient, but it can sho 'nuf put some real dollars into your pocket if you do it.

9. Fast from Alcohol

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I think all of us enjoy a tall glass of something, every once in a while. At the same time, trips to the liquor store ain't all that cheap either. Why the site The Thrillist decided to go with Smirnoff and Grey Goose as the bottles they wanted to share the prices for across the country is beyond me, I'll just say that in my state, a bottle of Smirnoff is reportedly $11.09 per bottle while a bottle of Grey Goose is $25.39. As you can see, drinking can pull up quite a tab. So, if you're just at the point of clearing $400-450 or so, not purchasing alcohol until New Year's Eve is another way to reach your $500 goal.

10. Don’t Forget About the Sex Jar

A couple of years ago, I wrote the article, "5 Reasons Why Every Married Couple Needs A Sex Jar" and I still firmly stand by it. If you're skimming this article and don't have time to click on links, the gist is, every time you have sex with your partner, you put money into a jar. Then, at the end of every 3, 6, 9 or 12 months (the longer you wait, the better), you count up your collection and spend it on something that you both will enjoy. The real catch about this extremely fun money-saving approach is, the amount of coins that you collect is totally up to 1) how much sex you have and 2) how much money you put in. Yet just think—if you had sex, every day, from 11/15 until 12/20 and you each put two dollars into the jar, that's $100 right there. A series of orgasms and some extra money to spend on Christmas! Just something to think about, sis. #wink

Join our xoTribe, an exclusive community dedicated to YOU and your stories and all things xoNecole. Be a part of a growing community of women from all over the world who come together to uplift, inspire, and inform each other on all things related to the glow up.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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Every day, Black women elevate the world. We are trendsetters and visionaries; the shapeshifters that lead by virtue of presence alone. In a world that sells our identities for consumption, we remind everyone that joy is our birthright and the grace we carry will always be authentic. Our existence is not a social experiment but a crafted emblem of perfection. And for that, we deserve everything good this world has to offer.

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Sometimes, when things are a little "off" when it comes to our health, there are simple steps that we can take to get ourselves back on track. For instance, did you know that around 92 percent of Americans are considered to be vitamin or mineral deficient in some way? And since there are core nutrients that all of us need in order to function properly, it's important that we're aware of what certain deficiencies are directly linked to.

Today, that is the focus. Here are eight health-related issues that, oftentimes, if we'd just add more of a vitamin or mineral into our system, we will start to feel better in no time (technically a couple of weeks but you get my drift).

1. Muscle Cramping

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Something that happens randomly to me sometimes is I'll have a muscle that cramps up, seemingly out of nowhere. Then I'll snack on a banana and start to feel better. You know why? It's because bananas are high in potassium and potassium is a nutrient that our system needs in order for our muscles to easily contract. If you sweat a lot or don't have enough fluids in your system, you can become a high candidate for being potassium deficient. As far as how much your body requires on a daily basis, it's somewhere between 3,000-4,000 mg a day. Foods that are a good source of this mineral (that is also an electrolyte) include mushrooms, zucchini, cucumbers, sweet potatoes and lentils.

2. Lip Cracking

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If your PMS is off the chain or you've been catching a lot of colds lately, it could be because you need some more Vitamin B6 in your life. However, a telling sign that this is almost definitely the case is if the corners of your lips are cracking or even if your tongue feels a bit swollen.

The main thing to keep in mind with this point is if you're noticing indications that you could stand to have more Vitamin B6, there's a pretty good chance that your system has gotten close to totally running out. And just how much does your body need of this vitamin on the daily? About 1.3 mg. Up it up to 1.5 mg if you're over the age of 50.

Foods that are loaded with Vitamin B6 are peanuts, poultry, oats, avocados and pistachios.

3. Brittle Nails

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If it seems like no matter how much pampering you do to your nails, they are brittle and breaking, that could be an indication that you are low in iron and/or Vitamin C. The reality is that just our periods alone can make us vulnerable to having lower iron levels. And just how much should you be getting into your system? A lot of healthcare professionals recommend somewhere around 14.8 mg each day. As far as the Vitamin C goes, not only can you have brittle nails when you're not getting enough of it, this is a nutrient that makes it easier for your body to absorb iron too. 75 mg per day of it is recommended (120 mg each day if you're pregnant or are breastfeeding). Foods that are high in iron include beef, dark leafy greens, quinoa, pumpkin seeds and broccoli. Foods that are a good source of Vitamin C include citrus fruits, peppers, potatoes, berries and Brussel sprouts.

4. Allergy Symptoms

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If you've got allergy symptoms that are driving you totally up the wall or you're someone who deals with asthma or eczema, these things can be so much worse for you if you are low in omega-3. Long story short, they're fatty acids that pretty much every part of our body needs from our skin and hair to our reproductive system and our heart. Matter of fact, I actually read once that if you tend to have an excessive amount of earwax, that can also be a heads up that omega-3 is lacking. As far as how much is good for you, 1.1 grams daily is enough. And as far as foods that have omega-3 in them, those would be walnuts, spinach, salmon, chia seeds and eggs.

5. Weakness

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Magnesium is both a mineral as well as an electrolyte that helps to regulate muscle and nerve functions and keep your blood sugar in balance. Well, when you don't have enough magnesium in you, it can cause you to experience extreme amounts of fatigue and weakness. A part of the reason why is because magnesium is what helps to keep your potassium levels where they should be. So, when your potassium levels are low, your muscles will not perform with as much strength as they should. Somewhere around 315 mg each day is what your system requires. Foods that are loaded with magnesium include whole grains, pumpkin seeds, halibut, bananas and dark chocolate.

6. Hair Loss

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One of the main things that all of us need in order for our hair to flourish is zinc. It's a mineral that assists with hair tissue growth and repair, fights dandruff and, it also helps your scalp to produce the sebum that it needs for your hair follicles to remain healthy. That's why it makes a lot of sense that if you're low in zinc, you could possibly suffer from some hair loss or, the very least, hair breakage. What can keep your tresses in good condition is if you consume around 8 mg of zinc daily. Foods that are high in it include Greek yogurt, cashews, black beans, sesame seeds and kale.

7. Sleepiness

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OK, if you're out here getting less than six hours a night on a consistent basis, that's probably not an indication that you are lacking a nutrient; what that probably means is you are sleep deprived.

However, if it seems like no matter how much sleep you get at night and/or naps you take during the day, you are still sleepy as all get out, what that could be telling you is that you are low in Vitamin B12. I can personally attest to this because I was sleepy a lot (and I get no less than six hours a night and sometimes a nap) until I started taking a B12 supplement. When you're low in this vitamin, it can trigger sleepiness or even sleeplessness because it plays a significant role in maintaining your energy levels.

It's kinda crazy that a lot of us are Vitamin B12 deficient when most of us only need .002 mg a day of it. Anyway, foods that are a good source of this nutrient include liver, fortified cereals, shellfish, nutritional yeast and milk alternatives (like almond or oat milk).

8. Food Cravings

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Last fall, I wrote an article about signs that you've got a sugar addiction going on (you can check it out here). One indication is if you're constantly wanting to eat sweets all of the time. Well, along these same lines, if you're experiencing food cravings, that too could mean that you've not some nutrient deficiencies happening. Sweets typically mean that you can stand to have more magnesium or tryptophan. Fatty foods mean you need more calcium. Red meat, caffeine or the desire to chew ice means you're low in iron. Salt is oftentimes connected to dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance.

Wanting to eat bread all of the time could also mean that you could use a tryptophan boost (because you are looking for something to make you feel better and bread is a comfort food. Tryptophan helps to produce the feel-good hormone serotonin so that you don't want bread as much). Foods that are high in tryptophan include tuna, cheese, turkey, milk and apples.

While I certainly wasn't able to tackle all of the nutrient deficient-related issues that exist, take this as a bit of an intro cheat sheet. Again, if you are currently experiencing any of these issues, try getting more vitamins and minerals into your system. You might be surprised just how big of an impact...a little bit of tweaking can make.

Join our xoTribe, an exclusive community dedicated to YOU and your stories and all things xoNecole. Be a part of a growing community of women from all over the world who come together to uplift, inspire, and inform each other on all things related to the glow up.

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