I’m going to let you in on a little secret – I save for Christmas all year, but it isn’t because I’ve set up automatic direct deposits into a special Christmas Savings Account (though that’s a legit and great thing too).
I save for Christmas by banking cashback I earn throughout the year on various money-saving, cashback, shopping, and receipt apps, and cashback reward credit cards and then cashing it out during November and December.
The main reason I do this is so I don’t have to worry about automatic savings and never see the money in my account, tempting me to touch it before Christmas arrives.
We have successfully saved up hundreds of dollars throughout the year using the following apps, programs, credit cards, and websites. We let the savings accumulate (and most have a minimum cash-out threshold anyway) until the holidays arrive, redeeming points or kicks or cash for store gift cards.
While these things may not cover all of our expenses for the holidays, it’s an easy way to let simple actions help defray the costs.
You could use these savings for other things like a vacation or something. Totally up to you! But, these things are EASY and add up to a little something every year.
Table of Contents
Cashback Credit Cards
Money Saving Apps
Additional Ways to Save
Cash Back Credit Cards
All year my husband and I charge and then automatically pay off our rewards credit cards, earning us hundreds of dollars back each year!
*NOTE: If you have a spending problem, or prefer only using cash, or can’t pay off your charges in full every single month, then do NOT apply for a credit card! I do not encourage you to go into consumer debt, ever. Been there, done that, and I advise you to avoid it like you try to avoid COVID-19.
The American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card
With our American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card, we’ve earned back over $650 this year.
The card gives us:
- 6% back on Supermarkets & streaming services
- 3% back at Gas Stations
- 1% back on everything else
That’s a lot of Christmas presents we can buy for free now!
Plus, they also offer additional bonus savings offers for shopping and spending certain amounts at different retailers, like you can get $25 back when you spend $250 or more at Best Buy, for example.
If you are looking for a good rewards card, I recommend them.
You can get $300 back after you spend $3000 in purchases on your new card in the first six months after opening (we easily spend more than that on groceries in six months) with my referral code.
Plus you’ll get 0% intro APR for 12 months and a $0 intro annual fee. You can apply for one here.
Sam’s Club MasterCard Cash Back credit card
We also use the Sam’s Club MasterCard Cash Back credit card.
We use this one for all of our in-club purchases (getting 1% back on those) and then all of our gas and gas station purchases as we get 5% back on those.
We also charge any dining and fast food on this card as we get 3% cash back on those purchases. We’ve earned almost $200 cashback from this card (plus the additional cash back we get as Plus Members).
If you aren’t a Sam’s Club member, they are running a special Groupon deal to join for just $25 (normally $45) plus get free pizza or for $35 and get pizza, cheesecake, and dinner rolls.
If the Groupon deal isn’t currently live, you can still join as a Sam’s Club member with my referral link here which will give you a $20 e-gift card for Sam’s Club!
We’ve been Sam’s Club members for like 6 years now. Big fans!
Money Saving Apps
One of my favorite things about having a smartphone are the money-saving apps you can use with it! I use several that earn me cash back on my grocery and home purchases from the grocery store (including warehouse stores) and even when shopping at clothing and other retail stores too!
If you are looking for an easy way to be rewarded for being healthy (tracking those steps, counting those calories) sign up for the free Achievement app! All you need is a fitness tracker, and you can start earning cash!
I forgot I had set this app (you do NOT need to install it on your phone – you can just use the desktop version) and BOOM! I had earned enough points to cash out for $30! Pretty amazing!
Achievement rewards you simply for connecting your fitness tracker, giving you points for being fit.
You walked 8,166 steps? Here’s 22 points! You tracked your heart rate? Take 6 more points. You tracked your sleep? Another six points for you!
And those are awarded to you every single day. It’s seriously that simple!
Once you hit 10,000 points, you can cash out for $10, paid via Paypal.
If you are not a Rakuten member, or haven’t used it, now is the time!
I have been a Rakuten member (formerly called Ebates) since June 2012! I’ve received over $1500 cashback from them in that time!
Anytime I am going to make a purchase online (excepting Amazon who doesn’t offer cashback currently), I hit up Rakuten first (or use their bookmarklet before I checkout) in order to get money back for my purchase.
I use it often for any and all Groupon deals (making them even better deals), Target (though they don’t offer cashback on all categories), when I order contacts or glasses online, when I buy kid clothes, buy a domain name from GoDaddy, and more.
Use my referral link and you will get $40 bonus cash back when you spend $40 in your first 90 days after signing up! It’s normally only $25 so this is a great time to join if you haven’t already!
If you buy pampers diapers or wipes, download the Pampers Club app! They run special cashback promos for making Pampers purchases, which can be cashed out for as low as $1 to your Paypal account!
Plus, they always reward you for entering the special Pampers codes on their diaper boxes, wipe tubs, or wipe packages.
Each code entered earns you points which can be redeemed for rewards like $3 off Pampers coupons, Shutterfly prints or cards, Photobook American Personalized products, teething rings, or e-Gift cards to places like Amazon, Burger King, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Barnes & Noble.
*If you purchase Huggies, you can join the Huggies Rewards+ app that is powered by the Fetch Rewards app (mentioned below).
This is definitely a smaller way we save money for the holidays, but throughout the year I scan our receipts with the following grocery apps in order to save additional money, letting it accumulate all year until I can cash it out during the holiday season for gift cards or cash:
- Fetch Rewards App (I’ve earned $35 this year)
- iBotta (I’ve earned $15.30+ this year )
- Shopkick (see my full post on how Shopkick works)
- Receipt Hog (just started using this one)
Several of these apps let you connect eReceipts too to places like Sam’s Club, and Amazon!
Fetch Rewards App
I love the Fetch app because it is just so straightforward and easy!
You scan your grocery (and other stores) receipts via the app and it awards you 25 points or more for every single receipt. You earn bonus points for purchasing special items (which you can identify in the app before shopping as “special offers”).
They even allow you to connect your email so you can submit your eReceipts, which is super handy if you do any online shopping or grocery pickup orders like Walmart Grocery Pickup, or opt for paperless receipts at checkout.
You only need 3500 points to cash out! For 3500 points you can get a $3 Amazon Gift card! There are other stores and even charities you can cash out for as well.
If you use my referral link, you can get $2 in Rewards (2000 points) when you sign-up! Be sure to enter U1AFH when you are downloading the app to use my referral code and get your bonus points (you need to scan your first receipt to get the points).
The iBotta savings app also rewards you for scanning your grocery receipts but in straight-up dollar amounts!
The app requires you to add offers to your redemption list (which can require you to watch a very short video ad), then scan your receipt with those items on it from that participating retailer/grocery store.
You can earn as little as 10 cents for a qualifying item (including “any brand” items like milk, cereal, bread, oatmeal, etc), up to several dollars per item. You can also earn bonuses for buying so many like items, as well as get bonuses for redeeming so many offers each month, and if your “teammates” (aka friends who also use the app) redeem more offers.
If you buy a lot of name-brand products, it helps you earn more back via this app. I have redeemed up to $40 in cash back in the course of a year.
You can also use the app before making online purchases to get instant cash back.
You need to accumulate $20 before you can cash out, which you can do via Paypal or direct deposit into your linked bank account.
Use my referral code WKCEEA you can earn an extra $10 when you sign up and redeem your first rebate.
Another grocery rewards app, Checkout51 rewards you cash back when you buy specific items in the app though the retailer where you buy those items doesn’t matter (unlike the ibotta app).
Every receipt you scan can also have you added to their monthly $500 drawing.
You can also use the app to shop online (at a handful of retailers) and be rewarded cash back for those purchases.
You need $20 accumulated in your account before you can cash out to your bank account.
There is no longer a referral program. But you can still download it here.
I have a whole blog post about how the Shopkick app works, as there are many parts to it, but basically, you can earn kicks by doing things like visiting stores, scanning items while shopping, buying specific items in the store and scanning receipts with those items on it, checking out in-store with linked cards, and using the app before shopping online at certain retailers.
You can earn a few kicks (as little as 5) for simply opening the app when you enter a store and up to thousands for purchases of specific items!
You can redeem gift cards to various retailers, starting at as little as 500 kicks. You can redeem 1250+ kicks to a wider selection of retailers for $5.
Use code FAGANS when you sign-up and you will earn 1250 kicks ($5)! You just need to be a new user and earn 60 kicks (easy to do) within the first 7 days of downloading the app.
Once activated, the bonus will automatically deposit into your Shopkick account!
*If you forget to add it while registering, just tap the person icon in the top left then scroll to “Add invite or promo code” under “Promotions” and add FAGANS there!
The amount of coins you earn depends on how much money you spent (or at least that’s how it appears). You’ll earn at least 5 coins per valid receipt.
You need at least 300 coins to redeem coins for cash via Amazon, Visa, or Paypal.
You can download the app here.
Additional Ways to Save
Of course, a great way to save money all year is buying clipping and cutting coupons! I used to be so much better at this, but at least now they have the mobile Coupons.com app which you can sync up with your grocery store’s loyalty cards, or scan the app at checkout.
The great thing about the printed coupons is that they don’t count against you when you also use the above apps! You can save with a paper coupon, scan the receipt in various apps, and continue to get cash back or other savings for those purchases!
You can still get free printable coupons though online and print at home! Check out the printable coupons before you shop!
In addition to Coupons app, many major grocery stores have their own grocery store apps that allow you hook up your store rewards cards, upload coupons automatically to your cards, bank additional points and savings, and so on.
Local Grocery Store Apps
Target Gift Cards
If you are a frequent Target shopper, then you know they are all about those gift card deals!
“Buy 3 P&G Items, get a $5 Target gift card.” “Spend $100 on Baby Items and get $20 back in Target Gift Cards,” and so on.
Every Target Gift Card we get back in this way, we set it aside until the holidays! We can accumulate quite a few gift cards this way, adding up to $70+ usually!
Lastly, I love using Groupon for local events, date nights, eating out, beauty products and services, and more! Supports local economies and saves me money! They are often running additional saving promos too, so I can save a bundle!
If you are looking for a little extra cash in your pocket, you can also look into survey sites for moms that pay cash.
And those are some ways we save for Christmas! We keep Christmas simple, but we also have several kids to buy for, and buy some great things for ourselves too. We also love to serve and give back during this time of year by buying gifts for others, donating money to organizations, and so on.
If you have other tips and ideas that you do for your family to save on big expenses throughout the year, I’d love to hear them!
Here are some other family finance posts you may enjoy!
- How to Create a Monthly Budget that Works – Complete with a FREE downloadable Excel spreadsheet for the whole year
- 10 Smart Ways to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons
- How to Save Money on Contacts and Eyeglasses
- How to Get Free Stuff