Thursday, October 4, 2012

Gifting- Think Outside the Box (Day 2)

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 If you're keeping up with our early Christmas prep series, by now you should have completed 1) a list of the names of people you plan on gifting, and 2) your projected gift budget. If you're just joining in today, don't worry- you have plenty of time to catch up! Each project should only take 10-15 minutes.

Yesterday I promised to share several ideas with you on how you can increase your gift budget without spending a dime. For many people living in this tight economy, limited spending resources is a great concern.

Today we are going to "think outside the box" and brainstorm creative ways to give us more wiggle room within tight budgets. I'll share several ways I've found to get gifts without opening my wallet, and I would love if you would add anything I don't cover in the comments!

Swagbucks. If you haven't signed up for this genius invention, please do it today! Money Saving Mom has an excellent tutorial on how to earn points on Swagbucks. I'm not going to give an in-depth explanation of what it is and how it works- no need to improve upon what Crystal has already provided!

I will tell you that for every 450 swagbucks you earn, you can cash them in for a $5 Amazon gift card. Other prizes include Starbucks gift cards, baby care items, ebooks and magazines, etc. The only way I try to earn points is 1) I installed the search bar onto my browser, and 2) every website I visit I type into the search bar first. I manage to make anywhere from 10-40 Swagbucks a day with very little effort.

If you go this route, know that it will take two weeks for your gifts cards to be available for use. I recommend cashing in points immediately to avoid a frustrating delay with December purchases! Not that any of you will be buying Christmas gifts in December- since you are following this series ;).

Pampers Rewards. If you use Pampers diapers or wipes, you really ought to take advantage of their rewards program! We've been stocking ours up, and I'm planning on selecting our daughter's Christmas gift from their prize selection. Especially when your child is young enough to not have a specific wish list, this is an excellent option!

Free Kohls Gift Cards. Every month or two I receive in the mail a free $10 gift card to Kohls- no purchase necessary to redeem. Maybe you don't get these mailers in your area, but if you do, don't let it expire! I've often used them for a pair of earrings, or a baby outfit for showers and birthdays. With clearance and sales you can sometimes even buy a dress or blouse with the $10. Be sure to take advantage of any similar offers you might be fortunate enough to find.

Coupons. Coupons cover more than just food and toiletries! I've seen coupons for bags of coffee (a nice gift for more casual relationships, or it can be added to a gift basket with two pretty and inexpensive mugs for a nicer present),toys, select DVD's, cosmetics, photo calendars (excellent for grandparents!), and nice lotions and perfumes. Head to Coupons.com for printables, check out your weekly newspaper inserts, and keep your eyes peeled in stores.

Is it cheap or tacky to give gifts that cost you hardly a penny? Ultimately your conscience alone can answer this question. In my opinion, it is being a good steward of the resources you have (especially when your financial resources are limited). Rewards programs take your time (entering in codes, searching, surveys, etc.) and money (in the case of Pampers)- it did cost you something. As long as you are putting thoughtful effort into selecting gifts for individuals, I think it is just fine.

If you are being stingy, have plenty of extra cash to spend on gifts, and hoard your wealth to buy goodies for yourself, that is another matter all together. But as true Christians, I believe that most of us have the desire to give generously- we just struggle to find the means at times. The bottom line of stingy giving is a heart attitude, not a dollar amount.

Another thought on saving: If you are part of a large extended family, why not suggest drawing names instead of gifting everybody? This will save you a lot of money and headache, and provide the opportunity to give a more thought-endowed gift. Call up your family members today and shoot it by them!

Today's Assignment: Take a few minutes to sign up for any rewards programs applicable to you, and research how they work. If you haven't yet done so, check out Money Saving Mom's series for the month of October "31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas." She is posting great ideas daily!

If it applies to your situation, call a few key family members and ask if they'd like to draw names for gifts instead of buying for everyone.

And if you have a little more time, start jotting ideas of specific gifts you'd like to get for individuals on your list.

Your turn: What great ideas do you have for expanding your gift budget? Please share in the comments!

Tomorrow we will ask the all important question- "to make or to buy?", and we'll explore frugal yet lovely homemade gift options!

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Other posts in this series:

Introduction
Day 1- "Gifting: Your Plan of Attack"

Linked With: The Purposeful Mom, Our Simple Country Life, Serving Joyfully, and Passionate and Creative Homemaking.

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