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Maybe it’s because I’m old fashioned or maybe it’s because I’m an introvert – either way, I HATE Black Friday. Back in my day, stores were closed on Thanksgiving and the day after so employees could enjoy spending time with their families. Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where that no longer happens (unless you live in the south). Our culture’s growing affection for consumerism has been distastefully on display with the advent of new technologies which causes discontent and further exacerbates the problem. Black Friday is no longer (and probably has never been) about how you can be the best steward of your finances while blessing your loved ones in a tangible way. Rather, it’s become a petty consumerist competition whose aim is to help us (and of course, our loved ones) keep up with the Joneses.
My husband and I want our children to enjoy things on earth knowing that, every good and perfect gift comes from above, however, we don’t want them to have so much that they lose sight of this. Our hope is that as we image our Heavenly Father who gives good gifts (Matthew 7:11 & Luke 11:13), our children will exhibit hearts of gratitude and praise to God who has given His children the best gift – salvation from sin and eternity with Him!
This year we are adopting the Want, Need, Wear, Read philosophy (something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read) of gift giving in our family to keep the focus on what is really important. Since we currently have just one child, this will be rather easy. I am planning on buying Addie this Curious George tea set because every little girl needs a one!
Whatever your gifting philosophy may be, please enjoy my top 10 tips to help you get the most gift for your green.
1. Shop Around
It seems that whenever we want to shop online, the first store we look to is Amazon. In recent years, Amazon has become a leader in online shopping due to it’s low prices and the many benefits of it’s Prime Membership. We currently don’t have a membership with Amazon so we typically make purchases on Jet.com (which is now offering 15% off your first 3 orders for new accounts) and Walmart.com which both typically have prices that are lower than Amazon. If you do have Prime, however, it may make sense for you to utilize Amazon.
2. Maximize Your Cash Back
If you’ve read some of my previous blog posts, you may be well aware of the ways you can save with ebates and Swagbucks which are both great options but I also want to point out TopCashback. What I love about TopCashback is that there is no payout minimum so once your transaction is processed, you can request your cash back right away. Swagbucks has a $5.00 minimum and ebates has a $5.02 minimum (referrals don’t count toward this) and only pays out quarterly. TopCashback has a $10 referral rate, just like ebates and it can be withdrawn once the individual you refer signs up and makes their first purchase. Additionally, TopCashback typically offers a higher cash back percentage when compared with Swagbucks and ebates. Be sure to check all 3 sites for special deals especially on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I utilized ebates last Cyber Monday and made over $120. Planning on traveling soon? Check these sites to learn how you can make the most of your travel budget by earning cash back as you make your reservations!
3. Buy Used Gift Cards
Raise.com offers discounts on used gift cards for almost every retailer. I’ve used Raise to purchase used gift cards on the cheap and then used them to buy items that were already in our budget. Additionally, you will receive $5 off your first purchase when you sign up for Raise by clicking here. By referring your friends, they will also receive $5 off their first order and you will get $5 if they make a purchase within 30 days. To top that off you can go through TopCashback or ebates to earn an additional 1-2% cash back on Raise purchases.
4. Sign Up for Emails
I know this is the step that most of us are reluctant to take since our inboxes are crowded as is. I recommend creating an email account used solely for promotional emails and only signing up with retailers you primarily shop with. Most stores will give you a coupon the first time you join their email list and will provide you with additional savings opportunities later on. There are only five retailers whose promotional emails have made their way to my primary inbox. I receive emails from each of these stores with coupons and sales alerts every day so it has been worth it to sign up.
5. Follow on Social Media
If you’re wanting to keep up with the latest sales from your favorite retailers, go ahead and click that Like button. Following stores on social media is an easy way to get great deals and they often provide coupon codes as well.
6. In Store Pick Up
Most retailers offer this service free of charge for everything from groceries to clothes. I have ordered many household and baby items from Walmart and picked them up in store so I could earn cash back and not have to spend time searching the store for what I needed. In addition to being a time saver, this service is a money saver because it removes the temptation to make unplanned purchases. What I like most about this service is I don’t have to spend a minimum amount to quality for it which is typically a requirement for free shipping.
7. Free Shipping
This is an option for when #5 isn’t. I LOVE using Jet.com because of the amazing deals I am able to find. Since it’s not a brick and mortar store, however, I usually fill up my cart with discounted household items to meet the $35 minimum. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday approaching, be sure to check with all of your favorite retailers for this service as most will offer it without requiring a minimum amount in your shopping cart.
8. Coupon Codes
In addition to giving you free money, sites like ebates, Swagbucks and TopCashback each provide coupon codes for various stores in addition to what the stores are offering. In some cases, you can combine coupons from these sites with coupons from the retailer. Be sure to check each site for the best deals.
9. Retailer Apps
Most retailers offer a coupon for first time app downloaders so this a quick and easy way to get additional savings. Coupon policies vary by stores so be sure to check the policy to verify whether or not you can combine these coupons with other deals.
10. Savings Apps
These free apps are the icing on the cake in my book. You may not earn a ton outright, but overtime the savings do add up. I like to use the funds we earn from these apps for small household items (soap & trial size wipes). The first app I typically use is ibotta which provides rebates for items ranging from produce to clothing. Ibotta is great because you can earn money as you refer friends and earn cash back when making purchases from other stores (of course make sure you compare the rate with the sites mentioned in tip #1 to ensure you get the most bang for your buck!). The second app I like, is Receipt Hog. This app is easy to use, but it does take quite a bit of time before you actually accrue money. Users earn a certain amount of coins for each receipt submitted and once a certain amount of coins is reached, you can cash out. You will have to decide for yourself whether or not this one is worth your time.