Budgeting · Family

Working Toward a “Free” Christmas

It’s been nine months of staying at home with the kids instead of working and I feel like I have just FINALLY gotten into the groove. We make time to play, read and exercise every day and recently I’ve even found myself with *gasp* a little bit of free time during their afternoon nap. For a while I’ve been using that time to Netflix and Chill with various snack foods but recently I got to thinking that there has got to be a more productive yet equally relaxing way to spend that time. What I came up with? Working toward a free Christmas.

Now what exactly does that mean? Well, over the years we have cut back our Christmas purchasing drastically in the hopes of saving money and eliminating stresses. We don’t buy gifts for friends or co-workers (although we do bake some treats for them because we’re not total grinches) and within our large extended family we only buy presents for the children, our spouses and our parents. Even with these cuts it gets expensive (there are 10 children in the family at the moment) and slightly stressful every year. So when I recently started reading about couponing and side hustles with the vague notion that I might start doing something to earn or save a few extra bucks it struck me… why not use these tools to pay for Christmas at the end of the year?

So I started to research. I read up about side hustles and looked into different apps that would help to save or even make money. I spent a large amount of time reading articles on The Krazy Coupon Lady‘s site and while I’m not ready to become a full on stockpiler I feel like I got some good tips to save money throughout the month to put toward my Christmas goal. After compiling what I found I decided to do the following to see how close to my goal it will get me while expending the least amount of time or effort.

SWAGBUCKS – I joined Swagbucks on April second and in the past month have made approximately $35.00 laying in bed and taking surveys when I have the time. Essentially, you sign up and then complete different tasks on their site to earn “swagbucks” which you can then cash in for gift cards. Although there are some aspects about their site that I am not a fan of, overall I’m really enjoying it. Instead of idly scrolling through Facebook or half watching something on Netflix when I need to chill out, I take surveys about different consumer products and earn moolah. Some of the surveys are actually really fun to take too! I have done several that utilize virtual shopping environments and it feels more like playing a video game than taking a survey. They also have a great referral program where if you get friends to sign up using your unique referral link (mine are linked to above) you will earn $5.00 as well as 10% of their future earnings AND they will earn 150 swagbucks just for signing up.

IBOTTA – I downloaded the Ibotta app three days ago and have already made $15.00 just by making my normal, everyday purchases. Ibotta works like this, on their app they have lists of cashback offers which you add to your account and then redeem by submitting store receipts. I’ll give you an example. I browsed all of the cashback offerings available at Kroger stores the other day and saw that there was a 25cent rebate for buying any brand of bread, a 25cent rebate for buying bananas, a $1.00 rebate for buying Halo Top ice cream and a $1.00 rebate for buying any other item of your choosing. Those were all items I was already planning to buy so I added them to my account, went to the store and did my shopping and then at the end of my trip I opened the app, used it to remit photos of my purchase receipt and within 24 hours the cashback rebates were posted to my account. The rebates can be redeemed for cash via Venmo or Paypal or for gift cards to popular retailers. Like Swagbucks, they also have a healthy referral program. If you get people to sign up using your refferal link or code (my link is HERE or you could sign up using refferal code obtmvqg) you get $5.00 and they get a $10.00 welcome bonus. It’s a win-win!

COUPONING – While I’m not sure exactly how much this will help me get to my Christmas goal, I do know that having a better knowledge of couponing will save me money throughout the year. In theory I will save money and then set the remainder of my grocery budget aside for gifts but in practice… I may wind up just buying more fancy fake meat or other items I don’t need because that’s just what grocery stores do to me, especially when hungry. Oof. Specifically, I use the Cartwheel App every time I go to make purchases from Target, I always check the coupon circulars that come in my mail, I browse coupons.com for their offerings and I trade coupons with other moms within my local Mom’s Club. And seriously, I can’t recommend reading The Krazy Coupon Lady enough. It’s eyeopening and I feel like I’ve just been throwing away money for years.

So far I’m feeling pretty good about my start toward a “free” Christmas and even if it’s not completely free I know it will be subsidized enough by these activities to take a lot of the load off! I’m open to any other strategies too, so if you are doing something you love to save or make a little money LET ME KNOW!

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