VROOM: Holiday Spending

Love it or hate it November – January is what we call “Holiday Season”.  From Thanksgiving to New Years and everything in between it is two months of eating, gifting and spending.

Did you read that…SPENDING!  It doesn’t matter how you twist it unless you are doing a white elephant of gifts from your house for everyone you will end up spending some money some where, it’s inevitable.

Since holidays are nothing new our  house has been planning for them all year.  Yes, all year!  After Christmas last year my husband and I sat down and reviewed.

-We both enjoy gift giving and are huge fans of giving thoughtful, meaningful gifts.

-We also don’t have a lot of time to go shopping together so we know that online shopping is something that we can do together and can be cost efficient.

-We don’t have a huge budget.

-We aren’t very good at DIY projects or homemade gifts.

With all those things in mind we came up with a plan of attack.  Buying gifts for free!

There are a lot of ways to earn points, earn rewards, earn discounts and earn gifts/gift cards.  If you look at your spending habits (those within your budget) and your online usage (search engines, blogs, etc.) you should be able to locate several of these opportunities for yourself.

For us it has panned out this way:

Chase Rewards: We have a debit card that allows us to earn rewards every time we use it.  This is great because we have set up bill pay using this debit card and points have acquired pretty quickly just because we pay our utilities and student loans via that card.  We have earned over 10,000 reward points.  What does that many points get us?   A lot of things but one of them is $100 gift card to Target.  We can get the gift card and either give it to someone or use it to purchase smaller gifts for people. (In full disclosure we did have to pay $25 to sign up for the program so our net is only $75.  The sign up was a one time thing and I still think that $75 is a good return for no extra time or effort on my part.)

SwagBucks: SwagBucks is a search engine that awards you points for searching.  You can then spend those points in the SwagStore to purchase various items and again, giftcards.  I have not been as diligent as using this as I could have been but between my husband and I we have acquired almost 4,000 points.  We plan to turn those into Amazon gift cards that we then use for buying gifts.

Change Jar: Everyone has a change jar right?  We have a blue piggy.  It was actually given as a flower arrangement when our son was born but it is glass and he is 3 so we have it in our room.  Every time we have change we put in in there (except for quarters:  those are used for laundry!).  So far this year I have turned in almost $150 worth of change which I then set aside for gift buying at this time of year.

Between our rewards and change we have over $350 that we can use to purchase gifts.  It has taken time and a small amount of effort but overall it has been worth it!

Take a look at your spending habits, debit cards, credit cards and web use.  Where can you acquire a few extra bucks for the 2011 holiday season?

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~ by Rachael Judd on November 8, 2010.

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