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Coupon Mom: How to pay for Christmas (or birthdays, or weddings, or any other occasion) for free!
Don't drain your savings for holidays.
The holiday season can be financially draining. You can spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars on gifts for others leaving your bank account drained and your credit cards maxed out. There is a way however, with a small amount of effort that you can have your wonderful holidays all for free. For the last three years I have not spent a penny on Christmas, and I have five parents, seven siblings, and twelve nieces and nephews to buy for – not to mention friends. Even if you only choose one or two of these ways of getting free money, you can still make a huge difference in your holiday budget. Here are my top 5 ways of having a FREE holiday!
5. Those Gift Cards Target Gives You
Have you ever seen those tags hanging on the shelf at Target that says something like, “Buy 2 bottles of shampoo, get a $5 gift card!” They can make a great deal when you pair them with coupons, often making the items free once you count the value of the gift cared you receive. However, instead of sticking the gift card in my wallet, I put the card in a box at home. After doing this all year, I usually end up with between $100-$200 in Target gift cards that I can either spend on gifts for people, or give the card itself as a gift. Did you know that if you take in all of your gift cards, they can combine them into one card for you, or onto multiple cards? This means that if you are giving the card as a gift, go get a cute Christmas gift card and ask them to transfer the balance onto a nice one.
Ebates is a trusted, tried method of getting paid for what you do already. I love to shop online, and I do so at least once a month. If you make an account with Ebates, you can earn cash back for all the online purchases you make. The average cash back is around 2-4%, but they have specials that change all the time, right now you can get 14% cash back at Nordstrom and Macys and 42% cash back at magazines.com. They have over 1600 participating stores including Amazon, Walmart, JCPenny and many more. I use Ebates every time I shop online, and then around October I have them transfer my balance into my Paypal account giving me several hundred dollars some years to spend on Christmas gifts.
3. Inbox Dollars
I like Inbox Dollars for a few reasons: They are trustworthy (I have used them for over 5 years now), they are simple, and they are hassle-free. The way it works is this; they send a few emails a day to your inbox. You click on the “confirm paid email” button in the email. You get a few cents in your account. Simple. You don’t get other spam email, they don’t sell your email, and you don’t have to do any more than click on the email. There are other things on the website you can do to earn money in your account such as surveys, searching the web, participating in free special offers, signups and such – but you don’t have to. I will occasionally take a survey or do a special offer, and I cash out around $100 a year. Last year I was ambitious and cashed out $300, it all depends on the time you have to spend.
Checkpoints began as an iPhone app. Now, you can earn online, on your iPhone, and on your android device. I LOVE checkpoints. If you are honest and follow the rules you can earn a lot of gift cards through them. You have several options for earning. The best way in my opinion is to scan products in the store. You take your Smartphone to a specific store; Wal-Mart is usually one of them. Open the app, and look for the items on the list. Scan the barcodes for each item, and with each scan you get points and coins. You can later play the coins in a slot machine game for more points. These points can be redeemed for various gift cards, my favorite being Amazon. Last year I cashed in over $500 worth of Amazon gift cards with Checkpoints. This is a fun way to keep your children busy. While you shop, send your (well-behaved) kids on a “treasure hunt” for the items on the list – you waste no time and the kids are occupied and happy.
Learn More about Swagbucks
Swagbucks is my number one favorite site. It’s the one I recommended to my mom and sister, that if they were going to do only one site, this should be it. There are numerous ways of earning “Swagbucks” the virtual currency you can spend on gift cards and other items. You can search the web twice daily for points. I installed the toolbar (yes, I hate toolbars but this was worth it) and instead of typing a web address into the address bar, I search for it through the Swagbucks search bar. I get to my website, and I have a chance of earning anywhere from 7 to 50 Swagbucks. This can be done once in the morning and once in the evening. At least three times a week I try to complete a trusted Survey. You get 60 Swagbucks for it, and it really makes them add up quickly. There are also special offers you can do, such as signing up for a newsletter (use a junk email address!) or taking other surveys, participating in free trials and such. I do these occasionally but don’t always have the time. One $5 Amazon gift card only costs 450 swag bucks. If you did seven surveys, and searched the web 5 days a week, that could add up to one $5 Amazon gift card each week or two. Do a little extra, and you could easily have over $250 in Amazon gift cards for the year. I’m looking through my Swagbucks account for last year, and I had a pretty ambitious year and managed to earn nearly $400 in Amazon cards for the year.
Which way are you most likely to use?
So, let’s add this up, if you used each of these methods you could end up with $900-1700 of free gifts for your holiday! Even if you only chose one or two ways you could still take a nice chunk of money out of what you will need to spend. Pair these ideas with Sales, coupons, and smart shopping and you can have a great holiday for little or nothing.