Monday, June 17, 2013

Five Ways We Pay for Christmas (in June)

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Yes, I know it's the start of Summer Vacation and Christmas is still six months away.  But if you're like us you need a bit of help to make your money stretch further in December to pay for the extra expense of Christmas (we also have four birthdays in the six weeks after Christmas!).

While tips like limiting the number of gifts you give, setting up a small savings account just for Christmas and giving homemade can help, there are other things you can be doing now to be ready for Christmas.

1. Credit Card Rewards

If we purchase anything online, anything that costs more than $100 or anything we may need to return, we use our credit card.  With the credit card we currently have, we earn 1 point per $1.00 spent (I know there are some other cards that are even better). We save up the points we receive for using our credit card all year long and cash them out in early November for gift cards.  We then use the gift cards to purchase our presents.  Some debit cards may still offer rewards (most banks have done away with this though).  You have to be disciplined to save your points and your gift cards until you need them!

Please only use this option if you are disciplined enough to pay off your credit card balance each month!  Paying interest on a credit card negates any perks you receive from using it.

2. Rewards Programs

A few companies offer rewards programs and I save up my points and redeem them in early November for gift cards or presents. Many of these companies offer bonus codes or points for surveys, so even if you don't buy the product regularly, you can still accrue quite a few points in a year.

For example, we have redeemed points for a skateboard from Disney Movie Rewards, a puzzle from Pampers Gifts to Grow and a piano toy from Huggies Enjoy the Ride.

A few I use:  My Coke Rewards, RecycleBank, Disney Movie Rewards, Pampers Gifts to Grow, Huggies Enjoy the Ride, Old Orchard, Purell Loyalty and Kellogg's Family Rewards.

Any rewards programs I've missed?

3. Swagbucks

I don't use Swagbucks exclusively as my search engine, but I set it as my home page to encourage myself to use it a couple times a day.  Whenever I reach 450 points I cash them out for a $5.00 Amazon gift card.  Since there is a limit of how many gift cards you can redeem each month, this is the one program I redeem my points as I go instead of all at once in early November.

4. Surveys

I participate in a few survey programs and cash out my points for gift cards.  Taking surveys is a personal preference and time management decision though -- some surveys can take 45 minutes each.  Once or twice a month I sit down in the evening after the boys are in bed and take all the surveys in my inbox while my hubby and I watch tv.  For me, it's not worth my time to do more than that.  Just working one or two nights a month is enough for a few gift cards a year.

A few I've used:  My Points and Ipsos I-Say

There are tons of survey sites...make sure it's a legitimate site and worth your time before you join!

5.  Shop Clearance All Year Long

Twice a year Target clearances about half of their toy department:  once in January and once in October.  We use the Target gift cards we've saved up and wait until the toys are 70% off and stock up.  This past January we went to all three Huntsville area Targets on the day the toys were marked down to 70%.  Again, you have to be disciplined to hold onto them for a few months and find a good hiding place so your kids don't dig into them in April (:

What suggestions do you have for saving money at Christmas?

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