We are on a pretty tight budget, as I am sure many of you can relate to. However, I still really enjoy giving gifts to my children, and all of the people in our lives during the holidays. I have found a few tips and tricks that help me to be able to shower those I love with gifts while spending no money (or next to no money) out of pocket, and thought I would share!
1. Credit Card Reward Points. I know many people use a credit card that gets them travel reward points to redeem for airline miles, and while that is a great option for some, we don’t travel enough to make that our best option. Instead, we have a credit card that sends us $25 Barnes and Noble gift cards every time we reach a certain number of points. We use our credit card for everything we possibly can, and then pay off the balance each month. When I receive these gift cards, I store them away until the end of the year. When it comes time for Christmas shopping, I pull these out and either use them to buy merchandise at Barnes and Noble, or I use them to buy cute gift cards (in varying amounts) for people on our list. We always give these as teacher gifts for our childrens’ classrooms, and they are always much appreciated!
Hint: If you save all of your gift cards to redeem in December, Barnes and Noble does a “buy $100 in gift cards, get a $10 gift card free.” They typically let me use my own reward gift cards to buy other gift cards, and then I get multiple $10 gift cards for free.
2. Shutterfly. The online photo storing and photo gift company, Shutterfly, is a great option for gifts for friends and family members! They have giveaways almost weekly throughout the year, and I take advantage of every single one. Every time there is a giveaway, I make a gift for someone on our list, and store it away until the gift is needed. FYI- when ordering these free gifts, you do have to pay shipping, but I almost always have something additional to buy (photo books, Christmas cards, etc), and when your order is over a certain amount, shipping is free, so I add the giveaway deal to my cart, and get it shipped for free as well. This year alone I ordered for free: several calendars, photo books, decks of cards, puzzles, shopping bags, pet ID tags, placemats, notecards, notepads, and much more.
Hint: For those people on your list who are not into items with photos on them, Shutterfly has great options for monogrammed items that do not include photos.
3. Diaper Rewards. We buy a lot of diapers, and spend a lot of money on diapers throughout the year. It helps to lessen the strain on our bank account just a bit to take advantage of the rewards programs that several of the major diaper companies have. Both Huggies and Pampers have stickers on their diapers (and wipes) with codes that you can enter into your profile to save for rewards. Now, it takes a long time to rack up enough points to order a significant reward, but I find the time commitment to be worth it. Rewards include everything from boxes of diapers to magazine subscriptions to gift cards to popular retailers. This year, I saved enough points through Huggies to get a $50 gift card to Gap brand stores.
Hint: Even if you are loyal to one brand of diapers, it might pay to research another brand’s reward program. I typically only buy Huggies, but I also buy one package of Pampers wipes per month so that I can participate in their (awesome) “Grow On” program (which gives you an instant win of a great Shutterfly product every 3 months when you enter one code).
Hint: I find that a lot of people are not interested in taking the time to use these reward points, so I always ask mom friends and other moms at daycare to save their reward stickers for me, and they all happily oblige. Never hurts to ask!
4. Store Coupon Mail Outs. Every time I check out at a store that asks me for my email address, I give it to them. Yes, this makes for a cluttered email inbox, but it also gets me a lot of store coupon mail. Most of the time, these coupons involve spending a certain amount to get a percentage off. However, this also means that I occasionally get coupons in the mail for a dollar amount off without spending anything, or a free product with no purchase necessary. Kohl’s is a great example: EVERY month, I get a coupon in the mail that allows for $10 off of a $10 purchase. Every time I get this, I go to Kohl’s and pick out an item (most often a Carter’s baby outfit that is already on a great discount) for close to $10, and get this item for free. Other stores that offer great promos are: Charming Charlie (I had never shopped there before, but got a $10 gift card in the mail, so used that to buy 2 pairs of earrings and a bottle of nail polish for my Secret Santa at work), Bath and Body Works (every month they send a coupon for a free small product), and Victoria’s Secret (monthly free product).
I hope you enjoyed my shopping tips, stay tuned for Part 2 of this post coming soon!