Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Getting Through Christmas Without Breaking the Bank

Christmas is a time of year that it can become very easy to just slap down a card and "worry about paying for it later". I did that a bit last year.... I am DETERMINED not to do that this year. I've finished most of my shopping and while I still have a few things left to get --- I'm on a much better track than I was this year.

It helps that the Princess doesn't have one BIG item on her list -- well she does -- a new car stereo and speakers because hers went kaput --- but her Dad is getting that for her. So, no other big "wow" item. Everything else on her list is pretty small and I've been able to pick them up on the cheap, using various cheapskate methods.

One of those ways was through Groupon --- as you probably know, Groupon is a daily deal site. It can be a real hazard if you don't have good discipline. However, if you know what you're looking for and can resist impulse spending, then it can be a GREAT benefit. In this case, the Princess wanted her teeth whitened. The ZOOM! whitening process can be pretty expensive at our dentist's office -- like $400 so that would have been a HUGE purchase. But then OUR DENTIST offered a groupon for $99 plus I had a $15 off first Groupon purchase credit. Making the deal $84. Trust me, I wasn't going to trust those teeth that I've paid a small fortune for to just anyone, so this was a great deal for us!

Another way was through Swagbucks -- if you aren't doing Swagbucks, you SHOULD! Basically, you earn Swagbucks from searching the web through their search engine, entering "secret codes", referring friends, taking polls, watching videos, printing and redeemening coupons and even shopping -- those Swagbucks can be redeemed for various items -- although I think the $5 Amazon gift cards for 450 Swagbucks is the best deal out there. Through Swagbucks I earned $95 this year in free Amazon Gift Cards, which I have used for various FREE Christmas gifts for the Princess, as well as a couple of little things for me. This has to be my favorite way of getting free stuff for Christmas.

A slightly more tedious way to earn holiday extras is through My Coke Rewards. Bascially you collect the reward codes inside bottle caps or cases of Coca-Cola and enter them on the website to redeem for rewards. In the past, I've redeemed them for tickets to the World of Coke Museum in Atlanta, Coca-Cola 12 packs, magazine subscriptions and the like. This year, during their 12 Days promotion, I just redeemed some points for a $25 Wal Mart gift card. The rewards add up slow, but if you're patient, you can get some good deals --- and just so you know -- I do not buy Coke products just for the rewards -- I just save them when I do buy them!

One very time consuming way I found to TRY and get stuff for Christmas was through blog giveaways! I've kind of had a low ratio of time spent vs. items won on this endeavor, though. In the past couple of months I've won copies of The Lorax and Despicable Me, 2 coupons for Purex Laundry Detergent, 16 boxes of Thermacare Heat Wrap and a $5 Arby's gift card. Considering the time I spent entering the various contests, not a great win ratio -- HOWEVER, most of that time was when I was on the couch recovering from surgery or watching tv anyway, so not too bad. And the Purex Coupons helped me take advantage of the Publix Gas Gift Card Deal last week -- so its all good!

How about you? What are some ways YOU try and reduce your Christmas spending?

***NOTE: The links featured above are my referral links.***


  1. Have you ever tried Loclly.com? I am in Atlanta so they have it for our city but basically you get the half off gifts cards but they actually send you a real gift card. Not to be cheap, but then it looks like I spent more then I did. I was able to score one to a local restaurant as well as one for fro yo!

    Another one I like is halfoffdepot.com. Which again in Atlanta seems to have a lot of great stuff. I scored a half of gift card to ace hardware which I will use to buy an uncle a gift as well as to Kilwins chocolate which their candy will make great stocking stuffers!

    If you join I can send you my referral link (shameless plug) hah.

    1. Please feel free to send me your referral links! I'd be happy to check them out --- I haven't heard of those before!

    2. http://www.loclly.com/atlanta/rewardsref/index/refer/id/23256/

      I checked halfoffdepot.com and they don't have referral links, but check it out!

      Also, forgot to ad this in my original comment. I have been scoring a lot of great deals of ebay. Just last week I got a brand new with tags pair of Sperrys for $30!!

  2. Sounds like you have a great plan for getting gifts and keeping your costs down! I just got 2 $10 Starbucks giftcards from MyPoints, which one will be a stocking stuffer for DD and one will be to add with my son's girlfriends gift. Gotta love free stuff!

  3. Oh! I totally forgot about MyPoints!!! Its kind of slow -- but the Princess is getting Starbucks in her stocking too, courtesy of MyPoints!

  4. I'm on a fixed income (parental leave) this year, so being strategic in gift-giving has been essential. We started our list months ago. We've filled up some significant slots with very nice gifts we were able to get for free through credit card bonuses and such (e.g. a Sony Internet Player, AMEX gift cards, and an internet-connected toy bank). I'm happy to report, the last gift was wrapped late this evening :)

    1. WRAPPED? Haven't even BEGUN to think about wrapping yet!!!!! Talk about having it all together!