21 Ways to Make Christmas Affordable

On my way to work the other day, I was listening to the local radio show.  They were talking about Christmas, and all the craziness that ensues, and then they said this:

“Bring on the credit card debt!”

Come Again???

Now, I know that even with the best on intentions, keeping Christmas affordable is tough!  Your kids want certain toys, your husband wants some power tool, and you just want a massage?

Ring a bell?

Christmas doesn’t have to be that way.  You CAN have a bountiful Christmas – complete with the latest toy – but without credit card debt.  And I’ve compiled a list of 21 ways to make Christmas affordable!

make Christmas affordable

Search Smarter, not Harder:

Today, there are hundreds – literally! – of ways to earn money just by searching the web as you would normally!  It may not be a lot of money, but using several different search reward programs in conjuction with each other can earn you a nice pile of gift cards!

Search with Swagbucks.comSwagbucks.com rewards you for using their search engine.  You can also earn by shopping through their cash-back store, or completing surveys, but I like it as a search engine.   Plus, if you sign up with this link, Swagbucks & I will reward you with 100 Swagbucks to get you started! And yes, the results are almost exactly the same as Google.  450 points = $5.00 amazon Gift Card Amount Earned/Year: $240.00

Use Bing Rewards – My workplace blocks Swagbucks, so at work I use Bing as my search engine.  It’s simple!  For each 2 searches, you earn 1 point, no matter what.  Points can be cashed out for merchandise or gift cards.  For example, you can receive a $5.00 Amazon gift card for 475 points.* Amount Earned/Year: $75.00

Use Qmee – One of the things I like about Qmee is that it can be used in conjunction with Bing Rewards and Screenwise Trends panel (We’ll talk about Screenwise Trends Panel Next).  Qmee is an browser extension that works with whichever search engine you choose.  When you enter your search terms, Qmee pops up with a couple of their results.  If you click on them, you are rewarded with a bit of money in your “bank.”* Amount Earned/Year: $50.00

Screenwise Trends Panel – Also a browser extension, Screenwise Trends Panel pays on a weekly basis based on which devices you have it installed on, up to $2.00 a week.   The extension monitors your browsing habits (not specific data) so that advertising companies can learn how to better market their products.  You can install it on your computer, phone, and tablet in order to earn money.   Screenwise Trends Panel can be used in conjuction with both Bing Rewards and Qmee.* Amount Earned/Year: $104.00

eBateseBates is a cash-back site  that rewards you when you shop through them.  Say you’re looking to shop online at Lands’ End.  eBates offers a certain cash back percentage when you first go to eBates, and then click through to Land’s End’s site.  Then, each quarter, you receive a check for all of the cash back you’ve earned.  Basically, eBates earns a commission for referring you to merchant’s websites, and then they share part of that commission with you! If you join now, you get a $10.00 bonus when you make your first purchase!  Amount Earned/Year: $100.00

Shop at Home – Shop at Home is similar to eBates, in that when you click from their site to the merchant, you earn cash back.  Once a quarter, Shop at Home mails you a check.  It was through Shop at Home that I only paid $7.90 for my first ENTIRE YEAR of hosting!  You can Check out Shop at Home Here.  Amount Earned/Year: $75.00

make Christmas affordable

Shop Strategically:

There is no reason to buy groceries or pharmacy items without a rebate anymore!  Well, that may be an exaggeration, but I frequently buy produce, eggs, milk and more commonly purchased items and receive a rebate back on them!  If this sounds good to you, check out all of the programs you can earn with:

Ibotta – Ibotta is a rebate app only valid at certain stores.  Aldi, for example doesn’t work with Ibotta, but almost every other grocery store does, including Sam’s and Walmart.  On average, I earn $1.50 a week with Ibotta! Click Here to Learn More About Ibotta!  Amount Earned/Year: $78.00

SNAP! by Groupon – This app allows you to save not only on name-brand products, but on fresh milk, bread, and produce!  It does not require a smartphone (you can submit receipts from you home computer), and rebates are processed within a few hours.  You can read this post for more information about SNAP by Groupon, or you can go directly to their site to sign up! Amount Earned/Year: $156.00

Checkout 51 – Similar to SNAP, Checkout 51 works at any store and allows you to save on produce, bread and milk by uploading your receipt.  Offers change weekly, but you can use both SNAP and Checkout 51 on the same receipt.  Click here to learn more about Checkout 51.  Amount Earned/Year: $78.00

(How does that work?  Say you purchase bananas at Aldi.  That day, both SNAP and Checkout 51 are running a promotion that gives you cash back when you purchase bananas.  You can upload a picture of your receipt to SNAP and Checkout 51, and get a rebate from both!  How cool is that?!?!)

Make Good Use of Your Spare Time

Amazon Mechanical Turk – Have some down time?  Amazon Mechanical Turk is a micro-task engine that allows workers to pick their own tasks and set their own hours.  You won’t get rich doing this, but spending a few minutes a day can add up to some really money over the course of a year.  Check out this Redditt forum that lists the best paying Hits on Amazon Mechanical Turk, so you can maximize the amount of money you make per hour.  Over the course of this year, I’ve made almost $600! Amount Earned/Year: $600.00

Opinion Outpost This survey site is one of the best-paying that I’ve found. Like Amazon Mechanical Turk, you won’t get rich on Opinion Outpost, but over the course of the year I’ve made $300 while sitting on my couch and taking surveys while watching TV! Click here to learn more about Opinion Outpost.  Amount Earned/Year: $300.00

make Christmas affordable

Let Off-Season Work for You

Shop Yard Sales – Toys are a dime a dozen at yard sales, and they can almost always be found in great shape!  Buy during the summer, sanitize them in the dishwasher and then sock them away from Christmas presents later in the year.  Amount Saved/Year: $100.00

Shop early: There are so many ways to save money just by shopping with the right timing!  Buy spring clothes when they’re on sale in the fall, and buy winter clothes when they’re on sale in the spring!  Keep an eye out for sales on items you know your kids want (or that they  need and you’re getting them for Christmas).  Amount Saved/Year: $150.00

Buy FreebiesOn Ten Minute Savings, I have a Freebies & Deals section where I post everything from free Christmas Cards & photo books, to $1.00 ink sales and photo canvas prints for FREE.  Take advantage of these deals as they spring up periodically throughout the year to have presents at the ready come Christmas time!  Amount Saved/Year: $200.00

Shop late – Without a doubt, the best prices on everything can be found the day after Christmas and into the first part of January.  No matter what you’re looking for be it toys, electronics, or clothes, shopping right after Christmas and store the gift until next year saves time and stress! Amount Saved/Year: $200.00

Also, if you’re just starting to accumulate Christmas decorations, shopping right after Christmas is a great time to score stuff for 75% off or more! Try shopping more out of the way stores, like your local grocery store, or discount store for the best deals!

Reuse, Reuse, Reuse – Wrapping paper is great, but what about using gift bags and decorations from year to year?  Better yet – why not buy reusable gift boxes with the intent of reusing them from year to year?  Not only do they look better, you don’t have to buy gift wrapping!  Amount Saved/Year: $50.00

Become Friends with Your Credit Card

Utilize Credit Card Rewards: One very easy, very sneaky way to find some extra cash in time for Christmas is to utilize credit card rewards.  So long as you have a responsible relationship with credit, use your credit card for everything in your budget and ignore the reward points you’re racking up until Christmas rolls around.  If you put $1200 a month on your credit card each month (and pay it off in full each month) you would earn $288.00 in a year on a card that gives 2% cash back.  Amount Earned/Year: $288.00

Gain some Perspective:

Sometimes, the best way to keep Christmas affordable is an attitude shift.  With a little focus, you can drastically reduce the cost of Christmas and still keep traditions alive.

Keep it in perspective – This year, my daughter will be 1 for Christmas.  She is not going to remember a thing, and will probably have more fun playing with wrapping paper, present boxes, and the ornaments on the tree than her actual gifts.  Therefore, we’re only getting her a few things – most of them clothes and shoes that she needs – and focusing more on spending time together and taking lots of pictures.  Pictures and memories are virtually free, after all!

Consider Traveling less – While it’s lovely to see every single family member around the holiday, it is also expensive!  Stick to one Christmas with extended family to save a bundle on travel costs.  There is nothing stopping you from skyping with the rest of the family in order to visit and celebrate the holiday!

Host a potluck – Asking everyone bring a dish to holiday dinner will both reduce the stress on the host and cut down costs for everyone.  My family has always been great about doing this, and as a result, the holiday were less of a financial burden, and everyone got to eat their favorite foods!

Use this Mantra:

One thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to wear, one thing to read.

I came across this on Pinterest, and while I’m not sure of the original author, I love this concept!

Bonus: Have Christmas AFTER Christmas!

This idea is a bit more radical, but it’s growing on me.  Having Christmas after Christmas not only allows you and your family to focus on family during the holidays, it allows you to shop the day after Christmas and get the very best deals on everything.

Win $500!!!!

In the spirit of Christmas, I am participating in a $500 Christmas Cash giveaway sponsored by Chippmunk.  Why Chippmunk?  Chippmunk is a resources for people to  learn how to shop  smarter and take advantage of big sales and deals happening through out the holidays with articles like these:

This giveaway is open to US Residents only and ends 12/15 at 12:00 am

What Are you waiting for?

Enter Now! —> a Rafflecopter giveaway

What is your plan for the holidays?

Does it entail loads of credit card debt, like I heard on the radio?  Or does include well-thought out purchases, extra money you’ve made over the course of the year, and teamwork to make Christmas both affordable and memorable?

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This post contains affiliate links.  Read my disclosures for more information

*Swagbucks, Bing Rewards, and Screenwise Trends Panel are all able to reward you because they monitor your search patterns.  This sounds scary, but I would never recommend a service that monitored anything that could potentially compromise your personal information.  Search monitoring with these reward programs is limited to your “search terms” as well as what results come up, and the monitoring does not continue once you click a link in the search results.  I have used these programs for more than 4 years and have never once encountered a problem.


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  1. Great advice! We definitely work hard not to spend too much money on Christmas and Thanksgiving. Our biggest money-saving tactic is flying to visit my family in January, when flights are a fraction of the cost they are the week of Christmas. We’re happy to celebrate Christmas on a slight delay with them and it’s a much easier time to travel too!

  2. We have bought “used” items for our daughter the last two years. She wanted My Little Ponies and Littlest Pet Shop stuff and they are expensive brand new at the store. However online there were plenty of mom’s who were clearing out their daughters items that they had grown out of. We bought whole collections for $25 the last two years and save tons! Only issue is now we have toys galore, but at least they were cheap.

  3. Great tips! Each member of my family committed to making one other person a very personalized gift for under $5 last year. The inexpensive well thought out gifts we received are the only ones we still remember.

  4. I like all these tips – thank you!! We just moved away from family, so Christmas this year will be relatively inexpensive as we’re not flying or traveling. I do have to ship gifts now, so that’s something I’m trying to get creative with! I’m thinking small packages, gift cards and even having stuff shipped directly to my family’s house as opposed to coming here first, getting wrapped by me then paying for shipping again.

  5. I always shop early (I’m talking August) and start looking for deals on things. It usually saves me a good deal of money on Christmas gifts and it’s nice to have everything done well before December.

  6. Very great tips here, especially about letting the credit card rewards rack up. I also love that mantra! I wrote recently about the Advent Conspiracy – that’s how we do our Christmas shopping. Check out my post – Christmas in July, if you are interested. Love the tips here – thanks!

  7. Thanks! This is great. I’ll definitely be using a few of your ideas.

    This year my husband and I came up with an idea to help our wallets and not gather so much stuff during the holidays. With my side of the family, we are planning to share a great experience instead of gifts for Christmas. We live in the cold north, so we decided to go to an indoor water-park that has a hotel attached. If we go from a Sunday to a Monday, the cost is below $200. This will cover the major gifts for my husband, kids, and myself. Then with my family by agreement, we won’t get them any gifts but spend that time together. The same goes for them. They pay for their trip and we pay for ours in lieu of gifts, and we have a great time at a cool (well, warm) place.

    I hope that makes sense. Compared with last year, we will save a good bit. For me, having less useless stuff in the house is a gift in an of itself, and everyone including the kids is super excited already.

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  9. Wow! So many great ideas! I need to check some of these out. For some reason I’ve been intimidated to look into swagbucks … not sure why. Our biggest Christmas expense is buying gifts for the kids. The rest is usually pretty inexpensive or homemade! I do need to get the kids’ lists so I can start watching for deals;0)

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  14. These are good tips for taking the sting out of the holidays.

    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

  15. Hi Gretchen,

    I found your post on the Mommy Monday blog hop. Nice to meet you :).

    I am definitely all for saving money this Christmas and if I earn a little cash back that would put the M in Merry for sure ;).

    We usually go all out for our kids but since we’re moving next year we decided as a family to exchange one gift so we can put the rest in our savings.

    Definitely passing these great tips along! Thanks for sharing.

    • Nice to meet you too, Corina! I love how you’re taking into account the fact that you’re moving next year in Christmas this year, and getting the whole family involved in cutting back just a bit. Good luck on your move!

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  17. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Our daughter is due in November, so I do want to get her something…but she’ll be a month old. She won’t remember it AT ALL. So, it’ll probably be some toys for when she gets a little older and maybe any essentials we need for her. :) I’ve been considering using the model of something you want, something you need, something you wear, something you read. I don’t know if I’d stick to exactly 4 things, but using that as a criteria.

  18. I LOVE this! This is amazing advice and I cannot wait to use these sites and tips! I am pregnant with my first and we are so concerned with saving and making money for our family that this post is an eye opener and a great help. Thank you for this!

    Love, Lauren
    Social Work Mom

  19. We’re Messianic, but these ideas will work well for Hanukkah as well! I love the thoughts on keeping things in perspective. It helps so much to take the stress out of the Holy-days if we keep our priorities straight. Great post! Thanks!

  20. These are some great tips! Christmas is going to be a more subdued affair this year since my entire family is heading to Disney World–but I still want to get a few little things without breaking the bank. Thanks for sharing! :)

  21. My fiance and I decided to not get each other Christmas gifts this year because we want to save for our wedding! That will be our gift for the year :)

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  25. These are AWESOME tips! We never go into debt for Christmas. We just keep our gift giving modest and within our means. Some years we have more to work with but we never go crazy. Our kids like presents like any other kid but they understand that Christmas is about giving, not receiving :) Happy Holidays!

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