Everyone wants to save money, am I right?
In general, it’s a thing.
It seems to be easier, though, when you’re saving towards a specific goal or occasion. It’s easy to say no to something you don’t need if you’re putting money aside towards a vacation, new car fund, or Christmas.
Let’s talk about Christmas, tis the season after all.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that it comes round every December 25th, and yet the scramble and the financial pinch is felt for most people every year, it seems like.
What if you could set aside money throughout the year without feeling that pinch and just start putting things in your [physical or digital] cart after Thanksgiving without the stress and not have to spend hundreds of dollars you don’t really have or at least spend a few hundred less than usual?
I was able to cut my Christmas spending by 67% this year by employing these methods.
Here’s how I did it.
I earned $95 worth of gift cards that I converted to Amazon gift cards from the following resources:
Swagbucks -I didn’t even use this website to its maximum potential but plan to execute it differently next year.
There are lots of ways to earn through Swagbucks but I primarily do a few things:
I defaulted my search engine to the Swagbucks search and am awarded a random swagbucks at least once a day (depending on number of searches) simply for routing my queries through their search engine, which utilizes Yahoo search.
I enter swagcodes whenever they are available and I can catch them. If you follow the Swagbucks Facebook page, they post swagcodes (a unique code) a few times a week that you can then copy and paste into a box on Swagbucks.com and be awarded swagbucks.
I have started watching the Inbox feature on swagbucks.com. There are frequently offers inside to sign up for free products or download free apps on your phone for large amounts of swagbucks.
I used to do surveys pretty regularly as well, but became frustrated when I would get screened out of 80% of them. That being said, there were times when I would hit the jackpot and do a 2-3 minute survey for 70-100 swagbucks, usually late a night. Next year, I plan to do a more consistent combination of these things to yield more consistent earnings.
You can then turn your swagbucks into gift cards. I like to check the ‘on sale’ gift cards near the end of the month and purchase those, if they will benefit me. Last month, for instance, instead of simply buying a $25 Amazon gift card for 2500 swagbucks, I chose a $25 Mastercard that was ‘on sale’ for 2300 swagbucks and then used it to buy a $25 Amazon gift card directly through Amazon. Little tricks make a difference, people.
This is a free app for both iOs and Android phones and you simply upload your receipts for your regular spending. It is a slow and steady endeavor and you can get coins for connecting your Amazon account, your email address, your Facebook, etc. and you earn coins and/or slot machine spins (where you can win additional coins) for every receipt that you upload. Certain store receipts earn coins (and the coin awards depend on the dollar amount of the receipt you upload; the higher the receipt amount, the more coins awarded) and certain stores earn slot machine spins. A lot of times you don’t win any coins on the spins (like regular slot machines, haha) but sometimes you get lucky and can win 2, 10, 20 or 40 coins from one spin. You can upload receipts from a household so anyone that lives in your home and spending money, tell them to save their receipts and scan them all.
As you move up levels (every week of participating counts towards moving up a level), you earn additional rewards. The first 11 levels earn you additional spin rewards and once you get to level 12 and above, you earn coin rewards. The higher the level, the longer it takes to advance, but the reward is better.
It’s not going to make you rich, but it’s free money you’d be leaving on the table otherwise.
Slidejoy is an Android only app that puts an ad on your lock screen and is essentially one more screen to swipe off to get to your home screen. It was a little annoying for me at first, but after a few weeks, I got used to just swiping twice to get to my lock screen and was able to earn $20 in Amazon gift cards. I have more points available, but the catch here is that they are not able to be redeemed until the 18th of the following month so I can’t unlock some of mine still. This app would probably be best utilized over the span of a year (start in January for Christmas, for instance) so that there is time for the points to accrue and then become available for redemption.
Cross Media Panel
This is a new application I’ve recently put to work. It is a research panel that is powered by Google that obtains usage statistics on devices that you install the meter on. It studies how you interact with the internet by seeing how individuals interact with websites, etc. You can install it on up to 3 devices and earn an initial $6 for those 3 devices (or $4 for 2 devices, $2 for 1 device) and then $1 per device each week.
For simply installing the extension on your computer and 2 other mobile devices, you can earn $162 in a year.
I just added it recently and will only be adding $25 worth of Amazon gift cards to my Christmas spending pot, but next year will be able to use that full year’s amount.
The other ways I funded my Christmas spending:
I use a rewards credit card for all of my regular spending and earn free money for simply being responsible with my credit card usage.
It keeps my credit score healthy, is safer for making purchases (I’m not losing a dime if there is a data breach), and earns me money for spending I have to do anyway.
I transferred $100 of my credit card rewards from my Citibank Double Cash Card.
There are so many cards out there that earn rewards, it’s silly not to harness that. Do a little research to see which card makes the most sense and is the most beneficial for your type of spending and then use the rewards efficiently.
I utilized an offer through Amazon.com to open an Amazon Visa credit card to save $50 on my order. Again, if you have good credit – use it to benefit you. Your credit only matters when it’s bad.
I deliberately changed my spending methods to pay cash for anything under $5 and painlessly saved that change for the past couple months to set aside $50 to go towards Christmas spending.
So, in total:
$95 worth of earned gift cards
$50 Amazon credit
$100 credit card rewards
$50 extra change
My total spending this year is about $450, meaning I only really had to fork out $155 for all of my Christmas gifts.
Next year, I plan to harness these methods FOR ALL OF 2017 and not pay 1 cent for Christmas shopping.
Wouldn’t it be such a glorious season of giving, Christmas trees, puppies dressed up in sweaters and sweets if you didn’t have to figure out how to pull together money to buy Christmas gifts?
Dare to think differently.