Thursday, October 29, 2015

5 Ways to Get Free Money for Christmas


Are you an heiress? Independently wealthy? Yes? Then this article isn't for you. This is for those of us who need to pinch our pennies and make every dollar stretch, especially during the most wonderful time of the year which, incidentally, is also the most wonderfully expensive time of the year. The following are five different ways to get money or gift cards to help stretch your Christmas budget so you can buy presents and surprises for those you love.

SWAG BUCKS
Swag Bucks
OVERVIEW: Get rewarded with 'Swag Bucks' by completing activities, quizzes, trying out new products, and searching the Internet. Redeem these 'Swag Bucks' for gift cards to Amazon, Starbucks, Visa, etc.

PROS: You can get Swag Bucks for doing things you'd likely already be doing or for purchases you'd already be making. Planning on buying some clothes from Kohls? Go through the SB website to get to Kohls and you get Swag Bucks. I've also found quite a few amazing trials of products that I would have been interested in purchasing anyway, but with Swag Bucks, I get a bonus gift card along with it. One Swag Buck is the equivalent of one penny when getting a reward.


CONS: This website is confusing. There are so many offers, so many ways to get rewards, it's difficult to manage. If you aren't careful, you can waste time doing projects and offers that give you almost no Swag Bucks- be selective about which offers your complete.

CONCLUSION: Although you can waste time here, if you are careful not to get overwhelmed, you can really get some savings and get lots of good gift cards.

IBOTTA
Ibotta
Image result for ibottaOVERVIEW: Ibotta is essentially reverse couponing. Instead of presenting a coupon for a dollar off of a package of diapers, you buy the diapers, come home, scan your receipt, and get a one dollar rebate. Using an app on your phone, you scan the available offers, buy them at the store, then come home and scan your receipt and the product's bar code to get your rebates. The money you save accumulates in your account until you are ready to transfer it to either a PayPal or Venmo account or else a gift card to Amazon, etc.

PROS: You can use a coupon for a product at the store AND get a rebate through Ibotta on it, so it's double the savings. There are rebates for things like milk, eggs, bread, and produce. The offers are always updating and there are hundreds of offers at different stores at any given time.


CONS: It's a bit time consuming. You have to go through the app, select offers and interact with the product information, then scan the bar code AND take a copy of your receipt. It's not a terrible amount of effort, but it does take a bit.

CONCLUSION: I'm a fan. I use Ibotta every week and am able to accumulate a fair amount of money, which I usually use to surprise my husband with, since he doesn't have any idea how much money I have in my Ibotta account. It's my favorite.

BING
Bing
OVERVIEW: Bing is a search engine owned by the Mircosoft. Create an account and use Bing to complete your searches. By doing so, you can get 'Bing Rewards' points, which are redeemable for gift cards and prizes.

PROS: It's simple. You just make sure you are logged into your Microsoft account and then all the web searches you do earn you a certain amount of points.

CONS: It takes a little while to actually get a prize.

CONCLUSION: Honestly? You're gonna be searching the web on your phone/computer every day any way, so why not use Bing and get rewarded for it? I have found I prefer Bing to Google in several aspects anyhow, so using Bing feels like a win-win.

WALMART SAVINGS CATCHER
Savings Catcher
OVERVIEW: Walmart promises that their prices are the lowest. If they aren't, they will give you back the difference in price in the form of a gift card. You use the Walmart app to scan your receipt after you shop, and if a competitor has advertised a cheaper price somewhere else, you get that money back.

PROS: Simple. Just scan your QR code on your receipt as you walk out the door. Whatever you have overpaid goes onto your account, which you can turn into a Walmart gift card whenever you want. No minimum amounts.

CONS: Doesn't work for produce and some more expensive items.

CONCLUSION: No reason not to use it. It's really easy, and if you just scan your receipt each time you go, before you know it, you'll have a pretty sizable amount in your account that you can easily turn into a Christmas surprise.

WALGREENS BALANCE REWARDS
Walgreens Balance Rewards
OVERVIEW: Shop at Walgreens. If you buy selected offers, you get points added to your Balance Rewards account (requires card sign up). 5000 points=$5 Walgreens gift card.

PROS: I've found that many of the selected offers that give me Balance Rewards Points are products that are on sale, have a coupon, and I would normally purchase anyhow, so a little extra bonus makes shopping there extra appealing. You also get a small number of points for every purchase, regardless of what you buy.

CONS: Sometimes the offers are on products I don't want? Maybe you don't like shopping at Walgreens? I don't really have cons for this one.

CONCLUSION: Walgreens is already my pharmacy of choice. I get points for each prescription, plus random purchases I make on diapers and shampoo. Once I get enough for a reward, I find there are more than enough fun things to use them on, as their seasonal selections are surprisingly diverse. Candy, stockings, toys, nail polish.... And all at rather reasonable prices, especially for a drug store.


Bottom line: I use Swab Bucks sometimes, but the rest I use regularly. I'm mostly buying and doing the things I would normally be doing and buying without any incentive, but by following these programs all year, once Christmas rolls around, I have MORE than enough money for gifts, surprises, expensive dinners, and crazy amounts of Amazon shopping. (I'm all about shopping online during my kids' nap time. ) So, it takes a little effort, but when you're on a budget, taking that little bit of effort is entirely worth it.


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