Christmas Shopping the Easy Way –
While retailers everywhere are gearing up for Black Friday, I’ve spent the last week shopping from the comfort of my own home. It seems I do more and more of the Christmas shopping online with each passing year. There are no crowds. It saves on gas, considering I’m twenty minutes from even a Walmart and thirty minutes from a mall. There’s no getting in and out of the van to brave the cold. I can easily compare prices between multiple retailers. Best of all, not only can I sit at my computer Christmas shopping in my pajamas, I can also earn money while doing it.
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Any money I earn while Christmas shopping reduces the burden on the family income. At The House That Never Slumbers, we don’t believe in Christmas debt. If we can’t afford it, we can’t buy it. Debt adds stress and strains marriages. Debt imprisons the borrower. Although we would love to be completely debt-free, we do carry a reasonable debt on a mortgage, one low van payment, and a zero-interest Care Credit balance for one child’s braces. We have always been cautious to keeps the payments on the debt we do have well within our means. We refuse to add the heavy burden of debt to overindulge for a consumer holiday and unnecessary material goods. Avoiding Christmas debt though, means we have to be really creative in getting the best deals possible on the gifts we want to give. My favorite way to get more for less is by earning money while Christmas shopping.
These are three very easy ways to earn money while Christmas shopping!
I’ve been using Ebates for a couple of years. I use it to earn on purchases all year, not just for Christmas shopping. It’s free to enroll. If you want to earn the Ebates while shopping on a mobile device, you have to do your shopping through the app. If you are on a desktop or laptop which is how I prefer to shop, you can install the Ebates function on your toolbar. This is very helpful because when you go to a retailer’s website that has Ebates available, a little box will pop-up to ask if you want to activate Ebates for that retailer. I have a hard time remembering to use it without that reminder, and not using it is just throwing money down the drain.
I just received an email notice from Ebates yesterday for some Christmas items I ordered for the newlyweds from LTD Commodities.
The dollars can build up quickly while you are Christmas shopping. Ebates also has coupon codes for various retailers. If you have the toolbar button installed, it will ask if you want to apply those coupon codes to your shopping cart at checkout. When I ordered all my daughter’s senior pictures from Shutterfly in May, my original shopping cart total was $124. After Ebates applied all the available coupons, it brought my total down to $83, and I was able to add 25 more free prints because one of the deals was 40 free 4×6 prints, and I only had 15 of that size in my cart prior to that. You can both earn and save money with Ebates.
Swagbucks is slightly different than Ebates because you earn Swagbucks instead of actual cash. The Swagbucks can be redeemed for gift cards which you can then turn around and use on other shopping. There are other ways to earn Swagbucks besides shopping.
You can earn points by searching if you use the Swagbucks search engine instead of Google, so I try to remember to do this throughout the year. You can also earn Swagbucks by watching videos and completing surveys. It seems those points add up very slowly. The points awarded for shopping are the most substantial. When I checked my account just now, I had 4700 points. I immediately cashed 2000 of those Swagbucks out for a gift card because one of the retailers we use a lot was offering a $25 gift card for only 2000 points when it’s normally 2500. Swagbucks also has a lot of shopping deals and special offers available. Sometimes those are different than the ones offered from Ebates, so I usually check both before purchasing to see which is giving the better savings.
Signing up for Swagbucks is free. Just click here to join.
3.) Credit Card Rewards Dollars
This last strategy should only be used with extreme caution. If you do not have the self-control to pay off the credit card balance every single month, you should not use a credit card. If you carry a balance or pay any late fees, you will not see any savings from this method. You would only see losses that way. You could get yourself into a whole heap of financial trouble. However, we have been using a credit card to earn rewards dollars for nearly twenty years without any issues.
We earn points all year this way, but they add up more quickly while Christmas shopping. We have several monthly bills (HughesNet, Total Wireless, etc.) that we have automatically charged to the credit card to earn the points on those amounts as well. WE PAY THE BALANCE EVERY MONTH! You have to pay the balance every month for this to work.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you cannot pay the balance one month, take the card out of your purse or wallet. If you haven’t paid that balance by the second month, you need to shred the card. DO NOT carry credit card debt. It will wreck you financially.
If you have the self-discipline to use credit without ever paying interest, you can earn huge rewards over time. We once watched a man at Bass Pro Shop buy a boat with his rewards dollars. He was a small business owner and put all his business expenses on that card. We switch between using a Disney Visa and a Bass Pro Visa because my husband and I take turns on reaping the benefits of the rewards. We are supposed to be alternating the cards every year, but we’ve actually been using my card for a few years in a row because we weren’t able to go to Disney the year that we meant to go. He has not made me switch cards. That is called Happy Wife, Happy Life!
The last time we took a trip to Disney, we had a $500 balance to spend. We were on the free dining plan, but the tips are not included. Our Disney Reward Dollars covered all the tips and every bit of the souvenirs we purchased that week. We did not spend a single dollar out-of-pocket while at Disney World for eight days. Each of the kids had their own card with a portion of the rewards dollars to spend as they wished. At the end of the week, we still had dollars left on our card and ended up doing a ton of Christmas shopping at the toy store at Downtown Disney (which I think is called something else now). I currently have $1282 in rewards dollars waiting to be redeemed. None of them start expiring until July 2019. The points can also be used at Disney Stores, but we will eventually go to Disney World again with ours.
Sign up here to get your own Disney Rewards Visa. If you sign up right now through my Refer-a-Friend link, you can get a $200 Disney Gift Card by making $500 in purchases on the card in the first three months. That’s actually a really good introductory offer. You also get to choose a cute Disney design for your card.
When we first started using the card, you couldn’t choose a different design for each cardholder, so RiflemanDad was stuck with a Tinkerbell card too. All the clerks at every retail establishment thought it was so cute when he would swipe that card. Now you can have separate designs, so he has Mickey, Donald, and Goofy which doesn’t get nearly as many comments or giggles.
We hope you have a safe and Merry Christmas! Spend responsibly this holiday season because it’s not about the stuff! Let’s all strive to focus more on the people we love and less on what everyone’s buying each other. Get more value by spending less money.
If you are looking for an opportunity to teach your children about giving, check out our Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Packing Party post. Or if you’re in the mood for some Christmas fun, I’m sure you won’t want to miss our Best of the Ugly: Christmas Sweaters Gone Wild (I’m still gagging over some of those!).
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