Category Archives: Credit

RECOVERING FROM IDENTITY THEFT

What is identity theft?

By Alex Santiago

Identity theft is a serious crime. Identity theft happens when someone uses information about you without your permission. They could use your:

  • name and address
  • credit card or bank account numbers
  • Social Security number
  • phone or utility account numbers
  • medical insurance numbers

How will I know if my identity was stolen?

Here are ways you can tell that someone is using your information:

  • You see withdrawals from your bank account that you cannot explain.
  • You find credit card charges that you didn’t make.
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says someone used your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job.
  • You do not get your bills or other mail.
  • You get bills for utilities or medical services you did not use.
  • Debt collectors call you about debts that are not yours.
  • You find strange accounts or charges on your credit report.

What is IdentityTheft.gov?

IdentityTheft.gov is a website that helps you recover from identity theft. You:

  • answer questions about what happened to you
  • put in your name, address, and other information
  • get your Identity Theft Report
  • get a recovery plan created just for you

You also can create an account. The account helps you through the recovery steps and tracks your progress.

What is an Identity Theft Report?

An Identity Theft Report helps you fix your bills and your credit report. Your Identity Theft Report tells your creditors that you should not have to pay for what the identity thief spent.

You get an Identity Theft Report when you report a problem to IdentityTheft.gov. This is your statement about what happened. It lists what accounts are not yours and what charges you did not make.

What is a credit report?

Your credit report is a summary of your credit history. It lists:

  • your name, address, and Social Security number
  • your credit cards
  • your loans
  • how much money you owe
  • if you pay your bills on time or late

Who creates my credit report?

A credit bureau creates your credit report. The credit bureau gathers information about you and your credit history.

There are three main credit bureaus:

  • Equifax
  • Experian
  • Transunion

What is a fraud alert?

A fraud alert tells businesses that they must contact you before they give someone credit in your name. You put a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert makes it hard for someone else to open new accounts in your name.

There are a few kinds of fraud alerts. They are all free:

  • Initial fraud alert – lasts for one year. Use this if you thinksomeone stole your identity.
  • Extended fraud alert – lasts for seven years. Use this if you knowsomeone stole your identity.
  • Active duty alert – lasts up to one year. Use this if you are in the military and deployed.

What do I do when someone steals my identity?

It is very important to act fast.

First, call the companies where you know fraud happened.

  • Explain that someone stole your identity.
  • Ask them to close or freeze your accounts.
  • Then change your password or personal identification number (PIN).

Then visit IdentityTheft.gov or call 1-877-438-4338.

  • Report the crime and get a recovery plan that’s just for you.
  • You can create an account. The account helps you with the recovery steps and tracks your progress.

For Example

Why is it important to act so fast?

If you wait, the identity thief has more time to cheat you. That means there are more problems to fix. Acting fast means there should be fewer problems to fix.

Why should I use IdentityTheft.gov?

IdentityTheft.gov helps you fix problems related to identity theft, like these:

  • mistakes on your credit report
  • accounts that are not yours
  • mistakes on your bills
  • getting extended fraud alerts

IdentityTheft.gov also gives you a recovery plan just for you.

What comes first in my recovery plan?

The first step of your recovery plan is to call the credit bureaus. Ask the credit bureau for an initial fraud alert. It is free and lasts for 90 days. The fraud alert makes it harder for thieves to open accounts in your name.

The next step is to ask all three credit bureaus for a credit report. If someone stole your identity, your credit report is free. Look at your credit report for things you do not recognize.

How do I fix mistakes on my credit report?

Send a letter to the credit bureau to fix mistakes on your credit report. IdentityTheft.gov gives you letters that are filled out with your information. You can print the letter, sign it, and send it to the credit bureau.

How do I fix mistakes on my bills?

You might find mistakes when you read your bills. There might be charges you do not recognize. You can send a letter to the company that has the mistakes. Ask the company to fix those mistakes.

IdentityTheft.gov gives you letters filled out with your information. You can print the letter, sign it, and send it to the company. Use the address the company gives for disputes.

Then change your password and PIN with the company that has the mistakes on your bills.

How do I close an account that is not mine?

Your credit report might list accounts that you did not open. You can send a letter to the business that has the account. Ask them to close the account.

IdentityTheft.gov gives you letters that are filled out with your information. You can print the letter, sign it, and send it to the business. Send a copy of your Identity Theft Report with the letter.

A business might ask you to use a form to close an account. If they do, send that form.

What happens when my initial fraud alert expires?

You can put an extended fraud alert on your credit report. An extended fraud alert is good for seven years.

IdentityTheft.gov helps you place the alert. Contact each credit bureau to ask for an extended fraud alert. You might have to give them a copy of your Identity Theft Report.

18 WAYS TO GET FREE MONEY FROM THE GOVERNMENT

Editor’s note – You can trust the integrity of our balanced, independent financial advice. We may, however, receive compensation from the issuers of some products mentioned in this article. Opinions are the author’s alone, and this content has not been provided by, reviewed, approved or endorsed by any advertiser.

Normally the government takes our money. In some cases, however, it hands out cash. Here are 18 ways to get free money from the government.

Nothing in life is free, or so they say. But what if I told you that we know of 18 government programs where you really, truly can get free money (or services)? If you’re anything like me, I’ve probably piqued your interest.Below are some of the ways you can get your hands on money that’s rightfully yours. We’ve also included was to find assistance and funds when you need it most.

1. Find Unclaimed Money

Ok, full disclosure: this isn’t really a way to find “free” money. However, it can help you collect on funds you didn’t even know you were missing.

Simply visit unclaimed.org and enter your information to search whether you have money waiting to be returned to you. The National Association of State Treasurers created the site to connect consumers with forgotten funds. These can include insurance reimbursements, apartment deposits, forgotten savings bonds, old utility payment overages or deposits, or paychecks you never cashed.

You can search by specifics like your full name and address. Or you can even just browse the results from your last name alone. (I found a few unclaimed health insurance reimbursements for my mom this way, to the total of $400!)

2. Find Unclaimed Pension Funds

Okay, one more not-really-free-but-yours-already resource. If you’ve left a company due to acquisition, merger, or layoffs, you may have been too preoccupied with your next career move to remember pension funds. Luckily, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) can help you reconnect with this forgotten money.

Visit pbgc.gov to check your name and information against their database. There are currently almost 73,000 names on their unclaimed pensions list. So you may very well find some money you had forgotten all about!

3. Get Help With a Down Payment

One of the biggest hurdles in buying a new home is likely the down payment required. Luckily, the government is willing to provide help if needed.

Each state has its own funded down payment programs with unique requirements and benefits. To see the state-sponsored programs in your area, visit the FHA’s down payment grant page and search your state.

For example, Texas offers a statewide program that can cover down payments and closing costs up to 5% of the total mortgage price. They also offer a Hill Country-specific program for Travis County, if you’re looking to live “deep in the heart of Texas.”

4. Apply for Educational Grants

College is expensive. We all know that. In fact, the 2017-18 school year saw tuition averages of almost $35,000 for private colleges and just under $10,000 for state colleges. Ouch.

If you want to further your education but can’t afford the high costs of tuition, room, board, books, and more, an education grant might be a great option. The best and most broadly-offered funding source is the government’s Federal Pell Grant. This awards as much as $5,920 (2017-18 school year) to students each year that they qualify for need. And it doesn’t need to be repaid (unlike student loans).

In order to qualify, you’ll need to complete a FAFSA. You can view all of the details for the Pell Grant at ed.gov.

Beyond that, though, there are hundreds of excellent grants available to students based on interests, major or career sought, and even local areas. I was surprised to find that some organizations even offer grants to students who are left-handed!

You should, of course, shoot for the government’s Pell Grant first. But then fill out as many grant applications as you can find from other organizations and companies. A great place to find them is the College Grants Database.

5. Get Assistance with Childcare Expenses

Paying for childcare is expensive. For families in the D.C. area, where I live, the average annual cost is $22,658. That’s absurd and, frankly, impossible to cover for many families.

If you are employed and looking for assistance with childcare expenses, the government has a program to help. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers assistance in the form of the Child Care and Development Fund, which has state- and territory-specific allocations to assist with care expenses (typically for children 13 or under).

To find funding options for your area, visit the CCDF’s web page here.

6. Accept Healthcare Credits

Along with all of the confusion and frustration involved with healthcare in this country, we also get to deal with skyrocketing costs. This can make it difficult or even impossible for some folks to pay for much-needed premiums, especially as monthly prices continue to climb.

If you purchase coverage through the Healthcare Marketplace and meet certain income eligibility requirements, you can receive government assistance in the form of a tax credit. You also have options for this credit. You can either take it in equal allocations, allowing you to reduce (or eliminate) monthly premium payments, or you can “save” it for the end of the year. If you choose the latter, you’ll receive the credit in the form of a tax return when you file with the IRS.

Visit Healthcare.gov to learn more, qualify for your tax credit, and enroll in a health plan.

7. Get Free or Reduced Healthcare for Your Kids

If you are having trouble paying for health care for your children and meet low-income requirements, you may be eligible for free or reduced coverage through InsureKidsNow.gov.

Here, you can learn more about services like CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) and local Medicaid programs. You can also find health care providers in your area–even dentists!–and apply for your state’s specific programs.

8. Get Assistance With Utilities

The average American spends over $300 a month for basic utilities. It’s easy to see how these bills can be difficult to manage for some–especially in the summer or winter months. The government’s LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) provides funds to those in need across the nation.

These grants are available to assist residents with their heating and cooling expenses. They are managed through state programs (funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). To search for your state’s available programs and aid, visit the LIHEAP website here.

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9. Winterize Your Home

Do you need assistance with updating and improving your home to winterize it? You may be able to get government it as a grant through the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Weatherization Assistance Program Technical Assistance Center (WAPTAC) can connect you with state-specific grant programs for home improvements to reduce energy expenses. If you have children, a family member in the home with a disability, or are over age 60, you’ll get preference for approval. In fact, the DOE estimates that as many as 20-30 million homes are eligible for weatherization grants.

10. Low-Cost or Free Phone Service

If you meet income requirements for eligibility, you may be able to take advantage of the Lifeline Program. This is the FCC’s free and reduced-cost cell phone grant. This allows access to cell phones and service for safety, well-being, and job-related needs.

The amount you’ll get per month varies by need. But you can choose from a number of cell service providers if you qualify. Eligibility requirements are as follows:

To learn more and see if you’re eligible, visit the FCC’s Lifeline website here.

11. Avoid Foreclosure

Since the housing crash of 2008, it seems that we all know someone who has been affected by a foreclosure. If you are at risk of foreclosure yourself, there is a program to help.

Called HOPE (run by the Home Ownership Preservation Foundation), this program offers assistance in setting up plans that allow you to stay in your home. They also offer advice if you’ve been the victim of a mortgage scam or if you are interested in a mortgage modification.

You can call their hotline at 888-995-HOPE or visit 995hope.org to learn more to see how this foundation can help you for free.

12. Get Free Tax Preparation

Tax filing time is just around the corner, but some of us may need a little help with preparing our taxes. Unfortunately, tax pros can be quite pricey.

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If you meet low-income requirements, you may qualify for free tax preparation help through the IRS’s VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) initiative.

Assistance is generally limited to those who make less than $54,000 a year, persons with disabilities, or those with limited English-speaking abilities. However, the program is available and free to all, so it can’t hurt to apply for help.

If you are age 60 or older, you can also take advantage of the TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly) program, another IRS initiative. This program offers free assistance for those nearing retirement who have questions about their pensions, retirement, income, and taxes.

To learn more and apply for assistance, visit the IRS’s website here.

13. Replace Damaged Currency

If your dog destroyed your wallet or your toddler took a pair of scissors to your bank withdrawal, you aren’t necessarily out of luck. Don’t throw those shredded bills in the trash just yet!

You can sometimes replace currency too damaged to be spent it at your local bank branch. If it’s so mutilated even they won’t take it, though, you can also send it to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for replacement.

You’ll need to submit a claim online. The process can take between three and 36 months (depending on how bad of shape the money is in). So don’t expect a quick fix. However, this is a great solution for currency you may have thought was just a loss.

14. Apply for Unemployment

If you’ve been laid off or otherwise lost your job, you may be eligible for unemployment assistance while you’re looking for a new position. The Department of Labor offers temporary benefits to workers who find themselves unemployed through no fault of their own, until they are able to find suitable, replacement employment.

To see if you are eligible for one of these Federal-State programs and apply for benefits, visit the DOL’s website here.

15. Pay for Necessary Home Repairs in Urban Areas

If you are 62 years of age or older, live in an urban area, and meet income requirements, you may be eligible for a government grant to complete improvements on your home.

The Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants program offers both loans (repaid over 20 years at 1% interest) and grants (free money that doesn’t need to be repaid) to homeowners in rural areas. The grants are for up to $7,500/ You can use them to remove or repair health or safety hazards (such as lead paint, collapsing structures, etc.).

To learn more or apply for a grant and/or loan, visit the Rural Housing info page here.

16. Refunds for Past FHA Mortgages

If you had an FHA-insured mortgage in the past, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) may owe you a refund. You can search the HUD database to see if you’re eligible for a refund through their website. You’ll need at least your last name or your FHA case number to search.

17. Food Assistance

The government offers a number of programs that give low-income families nutrition assistance and education on healthy eating.

These programs include WIC (for women, infants, and children), SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), programs for seniors, and various food distribution options. If you are interested in learning more, visit the Nutrition.gov page here.

18. SSI for Elderly or Disabled Individuals

If you are temporarily or permanently disabled, have a child who is disabled, or are over age 65 (with or without a disability), you may be eligible for supplemental security income (SSI) benefits.

These benefits are limited to those that meet certain income requirements. If you have worked long enough to qualify for Social Security benefits, you may be able to collect both Social Security retirement benefits and SSI benefits.

To learn more, visit the Social Security Administration’s page here.

Things to Remember

It’s important to keep a few things in mind when seeking out free money from the government (or anywhere, really).

First off, a Google search for “free money” is almost sure to net you some scam results. You need to ensure that any website you are visiting–especially if you give them your personal information–is a trusted entity. This means searching for .org, .gov, and similar web addresses. You should also make sure that the program is indeed government-sponsored.

If a website is offering you free money, make sure it explains how you’ll get said money. What is the application process? What are the eligibility requirements? Is the site transparent in explaining the process and what’s offered?

Also, make sure it doesn’t ask you for any sort of up-front money or fees in order to apply for free funds. No legitimate government program will ask you for money to receive assistance.

Free money is out there in various forms. Just be careful where you look and who you trust–if it sounds too good to be true, it just might be.

Author Bio

 

Stephanie Colestock is a respected financial writer based in Washington, DC. Her work can be found on sites such as Investopedia, Credit Karma, Quicken, The Balance, Motley Fool, and more, covering a range of topics such as family finances, planning for the future, optimizing credit, and getting out of debt. She is currently working toward her CFP certification. Her full portfolio can be found at stephaniecolestock.com

30 BEST WEBSITES FOR WOMEN TO SHOP

1. Boohoo

Boohoo is one of the world’s fastest-growing e-commerce sites. The booming retailer offers non-stop fashion with up to 100 new pieces hitting the site every day. The majority of styles on offer are under AU$100, and some are even as low as $2, so fill up your basket without any pesky spending guilt.

2. Nasty Gal

Created by “girlboss” Sophia Amoruso, Nasty Gal began as a humble eBay store selling vintage clothing. Since then, the brand has grown into an e-commerce giant that sells a broad range of genuine vintage and new, vintage-inspired pieces. This site is perfect for girls with a little bit of attitude who like to have a lot of fun.

3. H&M

Do we even need to introduce H&M? The Swedish super-retailer is everyone’s first choice for affordable, fast-fashion clothing, and its online store makes it all available from the comfort of your home. Sit on the couch while stocking up on great basics, lingerie, trends, accessories, workwear, activewear, and even homewares.

4. Free People

If you’re a free spirit or a hippy at heart, Free People is the online shopping destination for you. This bohemian retailer dishes up the goods when it comes to dreamy designs. Fill up your basket with wonderful pieces that are fit for brunch, the beach or a trip around the world. Also, take a look at the brand’s Movement label for great activewear.

Nordstrom has been a leading fashion retailer for over 100 years and is continuing to uphold the title. Although the brand’s online store is obviously a lot younger, it follows suit from Nordstrom’s physical stores in terms of excellent service and extensive product range.

6. Mango

Mango, also known as MNG, offers a broad range of minimally chic clothing and accessories. The brand’s designs are pieces that can be worn every day that easily blend into the rest of your wardrobe.

7. Luisa Via Roma

From sporty to chic, this site has it all. It offers pieces fresh off the runway, exclusive collaborations and discounts across some of the world’s biggest labels. If you’re after curated styles that will make you stand out from the crowd, you can’t look past Luisviaroma – it’s the one-stop-shop for all things beautiful.

8. ASOS

If you haven’t shopped online at ASOS, you’ve seriously been missing out. This site is a one-stop destination for all of your fashion and beauty needs at a reasonable price. Filter through thousands of on-trend products from a variety of brands as well as the ASOS house labels.

9. The Outnet

Created by the people at Net-A-Porter, The Outnet is the ultimate destination for exclusive discounts on more than 350 designer labels. Some of the featured brands include Chloé, Stuart Weitzman and Oscar de la Renta. This is a great place to visit if you’re after your first luxury piece, but don’t want to spend your entire paycheck on it.

10. Farfetch

There’s only one of you, so why wear something that everyone else has? Finding your perfect piece of clothing shouldn’t be a hassle, thanks to Farfetch. With vintage pieces from the labels you love like Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Versace, you can be seen in something that no-one else is wearing.

11. Shopbop

Since its launch in 2000, Shopbop has become a site that fashionistas know and love. It’s the perfect place to shop for both contemporary and designer labels and has an impressive selection of apparel, shoes, bags, and accessories. Another major highlight of this site is that it offers lookbook and wardrobe advice features, which makes the online experience all the more enjoyable!

12. Revolve

You can always count on Revolve to bring you the most trendy pieces you’ll need for a season update, and the site features many prominent designer brands. They’ve even added face masks to their list of products —  so you know they’re keeping an eye on current trends and needs. For convenience, fashion lovers can also get their favorite beauty products on the site, which is super appealing because you don’t have to order from multiple retailers. Revolve’s Shop This Look section is also a fantastic way to find outfits you want to recreate, and their dedicated customer service team will help with any issues.

13. Nordstrom Rack

If you love a bargain, then Nordstrom Rack is the place to go! We all know that designer clothes can come with a high price tag, but this is the site that helps you save money while also getting your hands on your dream brands. At Nordstrom Rack, you can get up to 70 percent off the original department store and boutique prices, and they are continually adding new items to the inventory. Be sure to check in weekly for new arrivals and shop your favorite styles, which can be done from the comfort of your living room. If you want to browse on-the-go, the mobile app also makes shopping super easy!

14. Saks Fifth Avenue

Most people have heard of Saks Fifth Avenue, the famous New York department store, and their online site does not disappoint. Saks is known for fashionable and exclusive items, and you can now shop them from the comfort of your home. Choose from a wide range of designers, pick the trendiest apparel, handbags, and shoes, and finish off your looks with interesting pieces of jewelry and chic accessories. If you need inspiration, The Edit highlights seasonal favorites and trends, and the editorials are always impressive.

15. Topshop

One of our favorite British high street brands, Topshop, is also available online. This site offers all the great styles that you’re used to finding in-store at the same affordable price. Tall, petite and maternity ranges are also on offer for those who want Topshop’s on-trend style but need a different fit. On top of all that, standard international delivery, which is up to nine days, is free when you spend over £100.

16. SSENSE

For the lovers of luxury fashion and independent designers, look no further than SSense. With thousands of incredible curated pieces available, you can find a one-of-a-kind piece that others will adore, or the latest items fresh off the runway. Whether you’re gaga for Gucci or a lover of La Perla, this is the site for you.

17. Uniqlo

Uniqlo is the place to go for basics on a budget. You may not find the most fashionable pieces here, but you will find some great, quality pieces to be the core ingredients of your casual wardrobe. Think comfortable cotton hoodies, cashmere sweaters, down puffer jackets and essential seamless underwear, all for the lowest prices imaginable.

18. Verishop

Verishop is the one-stop-online-shop customers love because they have so many different apartments. From men’s and women’s clothing and apparel to beauty and wellness or stylish pieces for your home, this is the best way to find items you love or the perfect gift for friends and dear ones. Shop from both global and digitally native brands, including Billie the Label, and leisurewear brand LETT. Another highlight is the fast and free shipping and 24-hour customer service, which makes the whole experience easy and fun!

19. MyTheresa

MyTheresa has been around for over 30 years, first as a fashion hotspot in Munich, and later an online extension of the exclusive store. What can you expect from this site? For starters, fast delivery within one business day, free returns within 30 days, and an impressive collection of designer items! The site stocks over 250 international designers, and is known for being one of the best sites to purchase luxury buys, with big names including Acne Studios, Emilio Pucci, and Fendi.

20. & Other Stories

If you live in the U.K., U.S., or one of a selection of European countries, then you are lucky enough to be able to shop online at &OtherStories. The brand focuses on the whole outfit, making accessories an essential part of its business. The clothes are nice, but the pieces to buy are bags, shoes, sunglasses, and jewelry.

21. Coggles

Discover your next favorite piece of clothing on Coggles. Featuring designers like Victoria Beckham, Balmain, and Kenzo, you can filter through thousands of beautiful clothes and accessories to find something perfect for you. From sneakers to fine jewelry, it’s the perfect shopping site for a friend or yourself.

22. Missguided

Missguided is your online shopping destination for young and fun fashion. This site is perfect for anyone who’s not afraid to show a bit of skin. Low cut tops, bodycon dresses and short shorts are a regular occurrence here. Pick up a few of the brand’s continuously on-trend pieces as a cheap way to spice up your usual wardrobe.

23. MatchesFashion

Everyone deserves to treat themselves once in a while, so why not do it on Matches Fashion? From the essentials to the exquisite, this site offers unmatched assistance. If you’re having difficulty making a decision or you need a bit of extra help, let the MyStylist service help you out. Whether you’re unsure of how to put a look together or you need to spark some inspiration, this team is here to help.

24. Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters stocks a huge range of brands and styles so that you can find what you need for the price that you want. Filter products by categories, styles, lengths, sizes, colors, brands and prices to quickly hunt down key items, or just click through pages and browse all the lovely styles.

25. Forever21

Forever 21 offers super-affordable casual wear that is both cute and stylish. This user-friendly online store is the perfect place to pick up all the trends that you want to try without investing too much financially. The brand also loves social media and often re-posts customers’ photos, so get buying and then get snapping to feel the online love

26. ModCloth

Visit ModCloth if you’re on the lookout for indie, vintage, and retro-inspired clothing and accessories. This brand’s democratizing approach to fashion is incredibly refreshing, featuring a variety of models on its site and selling styles to suit everyone. Take a look at the dress section to find some truly beautiful pieces that are perfect for summer days and picnics in the park.

27. Miss Selfridge

Miss Selfridge, which initially began as a part of Selfridges department store in the U.K., is now a part of the Arcadia Group, which owns Topshop. Visit this retailer’s site if you’re looking for fun party dresses or gorgeous day wear.

28. COS

COS is like the older, cooler and much more refined sister to H&M. Made by the same company, COS steers away from fads and passing trends while H&M embraces them. Offering a range of minimal and modern wardrobe essentials, COS will provide you with pieces that last beyond the current season. Although you will pay more than you would at H&M, you’ll get your money’s worth.

29. Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer, which launched its Australian web store this year, offers a range of relaxed and chic styles that are all well within budget. Check out the brand’s extensive range of accessories to find affordable pieces to match every outfit. Also, explore the M&S & Alexa Chung Collaboration for great vintage-inspired styles.

30. Princess Polly

Shopping multiple brands that you love in one spot is as convenient as it is fun. Proving this point is the online retailer, Princess Polly. This site carries several fashionable and affordable brands, including Evil Twin, Minkpink, Somedays Lovin, The Fifth Label, Windsor Smith and Nobody Denim

BEST SALES PROMOTIONAL EXAMPLES

Successful companies know that sales promotions are among the most effective methods of increasing sales and building customer satisfaction. Sales promotions have been used for decades to great success, and no matter what your industry or the size of your business, there are sales promotion tips and techniques that can benefit you. With so many ways to promote your business with or without money, there is no need to suffer from sluggish revenue.

What is a Sales Promotion

A sales promotion is any undertaking by an organization designed to increase sales or encourage the use or trial of a product or service. Sales promotions take many different forms, but they all focus on persuading a target audience to make a purchase or become a client of a business.

Sales promotions are just one type of marketing strategy but are often confused with advertising. In fact, the two are different, as each appeals to a different nature of the consumer. Advertising is emotional in nature and invites consumers to purchase products or services through visceral images, sounds, or alluring experiences. Sales promotions, in contrast, appeal to a customer’s logic and rational mind. Sales promotions—“buy one, get one free,” for example—are immediately quantifiable in a customer’s mind.

Sales Promotion Examples

There are many different types of sales promotion activities you can pursue. Unlike advertising, sales promotions don’t necessarily present upfront costs. Sales promotion activities are common in both consumer and business-to-business markets, and can help your customers in their decision-making process.
Here are some sales promotion examples for your reference:

1. Google Promotions

Did you know that you can get free promotion on Google through your Google My Business profile? Google My Business allows you to create four different types of social posts: What’s New, Events, Offers, and Products. Use our Google My Business Posting Guide to identify the best way to make your promotion known.

Of course, in order for your promotion to get exposure, your profile needs to show up in search results. Use our free tool below to make sure your Google My Business profile is optimized to get found on Google search.

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Get your Google visibility score
In 30 seconds, find out whether your Google business listing is optimized to get found and stand out on search.

2. Free Gifts

Fairly self-explanatory. There are many ways to utilize this particular sales promotion techniques. A restaurant, for example, may offer free dessert with the purchase of a meal. An electronics store may offer free batteries to customers. Chik-Fil-A recently launched a popular promotion where they offered the first 100 customers to their newly-opened stores free chicken sandwiches for a year. Massage Envy often offers a free one-hour massage with the purchase of a $150 gift card—who doesn’t love a free massage?

3. Free Samples

Costco uses this method with great success. By providing samples to all customers in the store, regardless of whether they purchase something, they encourage customers to buy products they may not have considered before. Small businesses don’t have the budget that Costco does but can still provide free samples to customers.

Do you have a new product that you’re trying to sell? Give out samples! This works best with food but can also work at spas and salons with tester lotions and perfumes or aromatherapy products. If you’re promoting a new face product, let people try it out! People like something they can try before buying.

4. Discounted Prices

Everybody loves a deal, and as Black Friday and Cyber Monday consistently demonstrate year after year, consumers will go crazy over a good price. Use holidays and events in our Marketing Calendar to your advantage by having sales or specials at your business.

5. Joint Promotions

Joint promotions can be done both between brands owned by a single company, or between brands owned by separate companies. Joint promotions are easy if you know other business owners in a similar or related industry. Offer them some of your products or services to be bundled into a package at their business and offer the same bundle at yours. This is free promotion for each of you at the other owner’s business.

6. Vouchers and Coupons

These are offered in magazines, newspapers, on product packaging, and online. You can offer vouchers and coupons via email to your email list or as a thank you when people subscribe to your blog or email newsletter.

7. Social Media Contests and Giveaways

Purchasing a product provides a consumer entry to these giveaways. Such sales promotions are particularly popular with food items such as chips and sodas, which provide prizes related to the business inside the packaging or offer codes on bottle caps. But you can do the same with a Facebook or Instagram giveaway to get new customers interested in your business.

8. Fair-Trade, Made in the USA, and Cause-Related Products

Products that are either fair-trade or contribute to a charitable cause are sales promotion tools that are rarely recognized as such. However, such products can not only benefit a charity, but also the business selling them as well. GAP and Apple, for example, both received great reception to their (RED)-branded products, a percentage of whose sale prices went to supporting HIV/AIDS programs in Africa.

But small businesses can do these promotions as well. If your products are produced or manufactured domestically, brand your business as “Made in the USA.” If your coffee shop’s coffee is all free-trade, make it known! People seek out businesses whose values are aligned with their own so if something is important to you, chances are it’s important to customers.

9. Buy One, Get One Free

Buy-one-get-one-free deals (aka BOGO) are among the most well-used promotional methods. Within business circles, they are often referred to as “self-liquidating” promotions because they encourage the clearing of stock. Still, rarely do buy-one-get-one-free promotions cost a business anything. In fact, they are designed to increase revenue. For example, say it costs a business 10 cents to produce a loaf of bread. If that bread is sold for two for $1, that business still makes a profit. In fact, profits soar because more bread is sold.

BOGO deals work with more than just product-based businesses; they also work for services. Fitness studios, spas, salons, consultants, and trainers can offer BOGO deals on their classes or trainings as a way of filling their schedules or getting new clients during the slow season. Since service-based businesses are more time than product-value related, the only thing you’re losing is time and during the off-season, a BOGO deal will be well worth the investment if it leads to new customers in the long run.

10. Customer Loyalty Programs

Punch cards are a common example of customer relationship incentives. For example, a customer gets a stamp for every coffee drink she buys, and after the 6th stamp, she is eligible for a free drink. Other customer retention and loyalty programs include an insiders club where there is a small fee buy-in that gives customers extra discounts and first pick of services as well as client referral programs.