icRKphJXQm-ezth8lntKydifkDg The Loose Screw: A debt-free Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A debt-free Christmas!

It's the worst feeling to go into credit card debt buying Christmas presents!  I don't know about you, but with the way the economy has been the past few years, our salaries are shrinking more each year with budget cuts and increases in insurance premiums, etc.  We've cut back a lot. The best way to handle Christmas is to put away a little money every month.  We've tried that.  Then guess what happens?  The car breaks down or there is a dental emergency. Gone is the Christmas savings. 

In mid-2010 I started trying something different.  This year (2011) was my first full year of using this method, and I think it was a success!!  Here's what I did:  I am signed up on several survey sites and sites where you collect points in exchange for money or gift cards.  I also scan all my purchases for Nielsen. All year I took every opportunity I could, and as I redeemed points for gift cards I tucked them away for Christmas.  I only got cards to places I knew I would use, like Amazon and Target.  I also used the Target promotion when they would have something on sale that we use, and I had coupons for it as well (often both Target and mfg coupons), and if you bought a certain amount during the sale week you would get a $5 gift card.  I did this all year with toilet paper and paper towels, as well as a few other things. By the end of November, I had just over $300 in money and gift cards!!  I was SO excited!!

My husband and I don't usually do gifts for each other for any occasion, including Christmas (except cheap stocking stuffers). After almost 23 years of marriage we both know we love each other, we both hate wasting money, and would rather put that money away for ours and our kids' futures. It just works for us.  This year we made gifts for our parents, and we are also making our neighbor gifts which will be a minimal cost.  So, getting a handful of neices and nephews a little something, our homemade presents, and then with our three kids, $300 was plenty of money for gifts!  We don't go crazy on big expensive gifts for our kids, and everyone is still just as happy!  Another lesson learned from years of experience.

A word of warning:  You may think all these surveys and clicking on things would be very time consuming.  It isn't. Maybe 3-5 hours a week at the most.  But-I must say at this point I am a bit burned out, and I'm taking a break from surveys.  I will be back at it soon though!

Here are some of the companies I've been using.  These are all companies that I have used all year, and have received gift cards/prizes from them all, so I know they are legit. They worked for me, hopefully they will for you too!

Swagbucks  (I have a button on the right sidebar you can click as well)
Valued Opinions
Campus Fundraiser Surveys
Mills Advisory Panel
Nielsen Homescan

I just joined JD Power and Associates, they are taking applications now.  I've heard good things about them.  I've been trying forever to get into Pinecone, but never fit the criteria they need.

*I will not get any compensation for you clicking on the above links, with the exception of Swagbucks.  If you go through my link, I will receive bonus points*

I also want to stress requesting free samples as there are many that could be stocking stuffers, or just use them to save a little more money toward your savings goal!

I have tried many survey/points websites, and some I didn't care for. There are so many out there!  Some are hard to get into (Pinecone!).  Have you had any success with survey/points websites? 

Well, that's how we paid for Christmas this year.  Of course presents are fun, but  I want to make sure my family remembers and focuses on the real reason for this Christmas season: our saviour, Jesus Christ.


Erika@RaisingLeafs said...

I use a few of those myself. They are definitely a blessing. I must say, Pinecone is by far my favorite! You do have to meet certain criteria, you're right. My mom joined a year ago and has never gotten a survey. I've made about $150 this year alone doing it. Keep trying!

Heidi said...

Great ideas! We've been doing MyPoints for years now and use our rewards to buy restaurant gift cards that we use when we travel. :)

Athena said...

That's a good idea too, Heidi. I'll have to remember that. Erika, wow-that is a lot to make from one company!! I will keep trying for sure-thanks!

Laura said...

Thanks for all the links Athena. I have been doing swagbucks for awhile now and was thinking of trying some of the others.

Chronicles of a Real Estate Junkie said...


Thank you for this tip. Who knew.. Well I didn't. Such a great idea. I am going to click on those links and find out more info. The gift cards are great as well. We save and do the same thing, spend it on something else.

The Zoo Keeper said...

I like your thinking, with the samples being stocking stuffers! I save mine all year and use them for just that! There are a few reward sites you are missing, You can check my site for buttons if you like:
http://craftyzoowithmonkeys.blogspot.com They are on the left sidebar, along with low entry giveaways! Also, if you'd like to join Superpoints, let me know and I'll send ya an invite link. It's points are worth a penny each!