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American Express Charge Card Flip Video Camera Holiday Giveaway

by Ryan Guina

It’s the holiday season, which means most people are probably out there spending money to buy gifts for their friends and loved ones, and maybe the not-so-loved-ones-but-it-might-be-awkward-if-you-didn’t-get-them-anything people in your life. (C’mon, admit it, you have one or two people like that on your gift list… it’s your boss, isn’t it?). ;)

Most of the time, gift giving means spending money, and if you aren’t careful, you can quickly go overboard. That’s where the American Express holiday giveaway promotion comes into play. American Express wants to let people know about the American Express Charge Card, which comes with the Membership Rewards program.

If you aren’t familiar with charge cards, they are similar to credit cards and feature all the same benefits, but they must be paid in full each month, whereas you can carry a balance with a credit card. Charge cards offer more flexibility than debit cards and don’t take money directly from your account, so you don’t have to worry about an overdraft penalty if payday is just a couple days away. Since you pay your bill in full each month, you don’t have to worry about interest eating you alive.

The Membership Rewards program features a points rewards system which you can use to turn around and buy gifts, including some of this season’s hottest items, such as an HP mini, cool video games or a Flip video camera.

Win one of 10 Flip video cameras

Flip-UltraHD-CamcorderAmerican Express was kind enough to offer 10 Flip Mino Video Cameras to lucky readers to promote their new charge card. How do you win one of these cameras? It’s easy – simply answer the following question:

“What is the savviest way you have made your money work harder for you this holiday season?”

I will select the 10 savviest money tips. To enter, leave a comment, or write an article on your blog if you have one, then drop a link to your article in the comments section so others can read about it. The goal is to share ideas to help others become more money savvy – and the best 10 tips will win a Flip video camera!

Entry rules:

  • No purchase necessary; void where prohibited
  • One entry per person; US residents only
  • All prizes are provided by American Express, and shipped directly to winners.
  • Contest ends Saturday, December 19, 2009.

My tip to make my money work harder this holiday season:

My wife and I had our first child this summer and we opened a CollegeAdvantage 529 Plan for our daughter so we could start saving for her college. The best part was that we got almost $200 in Bonuses for opening Ohio 529 Accounts. Anyone can take advantage of this offer, but it expires on December 18th, so you’d better hurry!

What is your savvy money tip?


Published or updated December 29, 2011.
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1 Her Every Cent Counts

I have tons of tips for how to make money work harder for you this holiday season, but I’d say the best for me is using Mint’s personal finance tools. Using their website to create a budget and my iPhone to track my monthly spending, I’m able to keep track of how much I can save in any given month. Based on your budget and average or expected income, Mint will display how much you will save over the month or the coming year. Seeing how $100 savings one month can amount to $1200 each year is a great way to encourage saving. I don’t work for Mint or anything, I’m just a huge fan of their budgeting tools. Since starting to use Mint I’ve become so much wiser about where my money goes. My mom, who is clueless about money, needs to learn soon (my dad is ill so she will need to take over family finances unfortunately sooner than later) and I had her sign up for an account on Mint to get started. My goal is to help her use the budgeting tools like I do to track her expenses. One day when I have children I’ll get them set up with a Mint account to learn about how to manage their personal finances. If you don’t have a Mint account yet, I highly recommend signing up for one this holiday season to track your expenses… it’s really easy to overspend in these last few weeks of the year. Don’t let yourself slip, Mint holds you accountable. It keeps this shopaholic in check.

2 Darryl

Pledged to not buy any more gadgets, and try to win them instead. :-}

3 Karen

It’s as simple as budgeting and watching where your money is going. It’s amazing how much further money goes when you give it a purpose.

4 Eric

I tried to go for more bang than more people. Rather than buy a lot of presents for a lot of people, I limited it to the people I care most about and got them something nicer.

5 Anne L.

Regarding holiday shopping…. I do it all on-line. I use the comparison websites to find the best prices on what I want, then the coupon sites to find any applicable discounts or free shipping. Saves money, time, and gas(the environment). Works for non-gift shopping too! It is amazing the deals you can find on-line for some of the things you buy all the time.

6 Peter

I’m making my money work harder for me this year by not putting anything on credit, and instead saving up for the things we buy. We saved up our cash in the past year for our Christmas spending so that now when we get to Christmas there’s no need to put it on credit -and no need to pay hefty interest rates or late fees. Of course, some of the things we’re still putting on credit because we get free cash rewards – so why not? Of course after we put it on credit, we pay it off as soon as it hits the account.

7 FFB

On Black Friday ING had a deal for their Electric Orange checking account where they would give you $121 to open an account and make three purchases with your debit card. We already have savings and CD’s with them so a free $121 to open a checking account with them was a no-brainer. BAM, $121 in our pockets! And now that I’m linked to my savings I’m thinking of ways we can utilize the checking for budgeting purposes.

8 Becky

Not only did I decide ahead of time what my budget would be, I watched coupon deals for toys. My biggest “no-money” idea was to save all my points from Mypoints and credit/debit card transactions and use those to purchase gift cards. My biggest point generator is from by checking account since I pay all my bills with my debit card. Easy money just from paying my monthly bills!

9 Jan

We have been saving all year long for gifts and had the money in an ING savings account (earning interest). We bought most of our gifts when they were on sale online via ebates or mypoints, thus getting points for the purchase. I then used my credit card to pay for the purchases, earning some reward points there in the process too – essentially double rewards. And then promptly paid off the credit cards with the money saved up. The gas I save by not going to the malls and spending more time with my husband in front of the fireplace is just a bonus :-)

10 DJ Sartin

This year, I shopped only with cash thus avoiding that old trap of paying in the New Year for gifts given this year. I also contacted other family members and we went in together to co-gift loved ones with nicer gifts than each could have purchased singly. And I totally resisted buying new Christmas decorations of any kind, even tho those luring store displays were up early.

11 Evan

My Money Saving Move this year was reevaulating my Insurance needs and carrier. Instead of just paying what I always paid, I shopped my Auto and Home Insurance.

12 Mike

My grocery store carries a number of different retailers gift cards. I use my AMEX Blue Cash credit card to buy gift cards there since I get 5% cashback at grocery stores.

13 Don@MoneyReasons.com

Lunch Savings!

I use to go to lunch with friend at work and spend 10 to 12 dollars for lunch at a time. Often time, it would be too much food, and I would end up feeling bloated (not to mention the addtional pounds I’ve packed on over the years).

This year I decided to do an experiment using a “Spot Budget” with a focus on packing lunches (or eating soup when I do go out) instead of having worktime lunches at restaurants.

I ended up saving $2,500 (actually $2,496). This is a win-win, because I’m investing the money in a dividend yielding stock, and I’m going to use that money for lunch next year, and I’m starting to lose a little weight!!!

14 Jeff Rose

This is the first year that we used a credit card to make all our purchases. We pay off all our complete balance at the end of the month and then collect our points. Easiest money we’ve ever made.

15 Matt Purdy

Instead of buying gifts based on dollar amount I’ve worked this year to get gifts that people will 1) use and 2) have sentimental value over. It might be something as simple as a brick from a campus where they earned their undergraduate degree from or a homemade calendar, ala shutterfly. Just trying to focus first on feelings rather than the monetary value.

16 Mrs. Micah

Talking about it. Family on both sides had little discussions about the combination of the economy and the fact that the “kids” are all adults, except for 2 babies (who don’t need presents yet from anyone but their immediate family, if that).

We did agree to buy gifts, but talked about a low price range, buying only for one person, etc.

So we’ve spent much less than $200 total on gifts.

Then I saved up some Swagbucks which I redeemed for Amazon gift cards & used because we bought most gifts from Amazon. Also, buying from Amazon we got free shipping because the order was over $25. But they’re shipping separately so that we’ll get some before others, even though we still don’t have to pay.

It’s been a very low-stress low-expense Christmas.

17 Samir

Before thanks giving I got new membership of COSTCO wholesale and did lot of shopping in thanks giving earning a good 2% cash back. Also bought everything from CVS which had EB on them, used first EB to buy the 2nd thing, the chain worked out great.

18 Mandy Rose

I have really started to utilize internet coupon codes this year! We are building a house and it is AMAZING how much money you can save by ordering from websites that have coupon codes, no tax, and free shipping. My husband, who is a CFP, is thoroughly impressed by how much I have saved us!

19 Lalita

I only shop whereever has some special big sale especially shop online which is a lot cheaper than retails. Even better if I shop thru website which offer me a cash back for example ebate.com or retailmenot which give me a coupon code for more discount. Also make sure that I use my credit card which give me the most benefit such as cash back, reward or collect points.

20 No Debt Plan

Paying down our second mortgage + not spending money on Christmas gifts for each other this year.

21 Eric

This year, we planned ahead better and, with list in hand, we got 90% of our gifts at yard/garage sales and thrift stores. For the other 10% we worked the online deals and paid very little for any of it. For instance, we took advantage of the Kodak Friends $15 giveaway for the two of us (for a total of $30) so we could print out $30 worth of pictures of our son from the last 5 years to send to the grandparents and other relatives. We also traded in an old Playstation game for credit on Amazon for $22 and used another free $3 in credit from Amazon they were giving away to get a gift for a niece who has to contend with her Bday being right next to Xmas.

Aside from shipping, we’ve probably spent under $75 dollars for us and all of our immediate family members for Xmas using the power of thrifting and online deals.

22 Jason

We do many things to help with the holiday expenses.

We started a savings account just for the holidays, and have worked with our families to be ‘reasonable’ with gifts. All of the kids are spoiled but we (as an extended family) have chosen to only give homemade gifts, or photo’s to the adults in the family. This has been a change for the extended family over the past few years, but it is easier as the years go on.

While the kids are spoiled by our brothers, sisters and grandparents with gifts, we try to limit our gifts to a few fun things, and the rest of our budget for the kids is spent on clothes and things they ‘need’ more than their ‘wants’ or gadgets. Our kids are pretty laid back anyways, my 6 year old just wants a ball and some books, which makes us laugh. He is getting both, and some other fun things as well.

We also comparison shop, and completed most of our shopping on Amazon. Our shopping was done early to give us time to ship it slowly and to consolidate shipping (which was free once for the amount we were shipping.) We could find a few bargains here and there vs. Amazon, but once shipping was added in we found most things to be equal or more expensive. We also used a rewards credit card (Amex actually!) and will pay off the bill when it arrives. The rewards will be used for purchases down the road.

Finally my parents are in Florida, while we live in Massachusetts, and they are not able to travel this year to see us. We spent most of the fall searching for cheap airfare for the 4 of us and decided to drive (1500 miles each way). This last week however we did a final search and found an airfare that was reasonable on a budget airline from an alternative airport (DirectAir). We are choosing to fly on Christmas and return on New Years to save $50 per person. While not really a money saver we did compare the costs of the flights ($1300 total) vs. the gas, hotel and food for the round trip. The flights are actually about $300 more expensive in the basic analysis, but 8 hours of flights vs. 48 hours of driving made a lot of sense to us. We also get to spend Christmas morning at our own house vs. in the car and should save us some sanity, wear and tear on the car, and maybe a marriage depending on traffic!

23 Sarah R

Two simple words: CASH ONLY.

And to make that work, I have an easy but extensive budget tracking system. Not only do I set up my monthly budget ahead of time, but I also track every cent going out. It makes me double and triple think about purchases during this very tempting season. I also prepaid this month’s bills so I couldn’t pretend there was more slush money in my account.

I also planned ahead for the first time ever. I was done with my shopping by December 1. No gorgeous mall displays or online sales to excite me into spending money I don’t have. It’s just as fun to shop in October and November as it is in December–and I got some rockin’ deals because there wasn’t anyone else in the shops.

I’m in control for the first holiday season ever. It’s what’s keeping me on track in paying off my debts. And it will allow me to set up a very secure future.

24 Hank

I have made my money work harder for me this holiday season by using peer-to-peer (P2P) lending sites to squeeze out a few more percentage points on a small portion of my portfolio. I have lent money to others on both Lending Club and Prosper.

25 Financial Samurai

Hey Ryan,

This is great you’ve teamed up with AMEX to provide these giveaways. Seems like AMEX is really doing some good gorilla marketing this holiday season!

One of the savviest ways I’ve found to make money work harder for me is by buying presents in bulk, COSTCO style.

The idea is to figure out a present that is scaleable, much like an internet site for attracting business for example. Once the idea is set, implementation is quite easy.

My idea this year is simply getting long sleeve shirts to my various friends and family members around the country. I went on a particular custom T-shirt site, and branded each T-shirt with a particular logo. But on each shirt, I customized the lettering to say “Dad”, “Mom”, “Uncle Joe” etc.

With several clicks of the button, I’ve been able to send out 25 custom shirts. Not only do I save time shopping online, I save on unit costs since I’m buying in bulk.

It’s about efficiency (internet), branding, and scale to save money, and to make money!

Best,

Sam

26 Cherri

2009 will be the year Social Networking has made me an even savvier shopper. I have always comparison shopped prices and quality of products online before purchasing. I would peruse weekly store circulars and shop on Black Friday.
But, this year I added Social Networking to my arsenal of shopping tools by becoming a fan of my favorite stores on Facebook and following stores on Twitter. I asked my Facebook friends to make recommendations about products and purchases before buying.
The result has been the biggest savings I’ve ever experienced. I found a one-day pre-Black Friday deal offered to Facebook Fans of my favorite electronics store. I printed off the Facebook offer and was first in line at the store when it opened.
The funny thing was, the salesperson at the store was unaware of the offer and had to clear it with his manager. When they found out it was accurate, they took my computer printed page and brought out an armload of the remaining laptops they had in stock. I was one of only 3 people who showed up for that computer buy. It was such a bargain I purchased two laptops for my kids for less than the full retail price of one, and I have yet to see a Black Friday price that could touch what I paid.
This shopping season I have also used sites that leak the Black Friday sales circular specials so that I didn’t purchase anything too early. I relied on RetailMeNot.com to find promo codes for free shipping on a couple of purchases I made online.
I purchased a couple of items from a small independent wholesale company that buys truckloads of scratch & dents and discontinued merchandise. I bought Godiva Chocolates and saved when I became a member of their Rewards Club for free.
I purchased gift certificates through a local radio station promotion (which I found online via Twitter) offering 2 for 1 gift certificates if you buy online at a set day/time. I got 2 $25 gift certificates to a local vineyard/winery for only $25.
In all, I spent less than $1300 on 15 people. For that money, I purchased 3 laptop computers, 2 GPS systems, a solid wood coffee table with a top that pulls out to meet the couch, a professional waffle maker, Godiva Chocolates and many unique goodies.
I am typically very frugal at Christmas. As it turn out, this is the most I’ve ever spent for Christmas and the most I’ve ever saved at Christmas. I spent a grand total of $1300 for this season and saved a little over $900. 2009 is shaping up to the best Christmas we’ve ever had for buying big ticket items for our family.

27 Kyle

The savviest thing I did this year was to open my first investment account not associated with retirement. This is going to allow me to make my money work harder for me so I don’t have to.

28 San

There are a lot of ways to save money during the holidays

* Use credit cards to pay for purchases and earn rewards for buying something you already would (but only if you have money to pay it off the same month)
* If shopping online, use rewards sites like mypoints to hit up some points. Also most sites have free shipping coupons floating around
* If you have to travel during Christmas, try flying out on the day of Christmas to save money. This way you can spend Christmas morning at your home and yet meet family and fares will definitely be cheaper
* Another tip would be not to get too caught up with Black Friday deals and such. Find out the cost of the item a week before and see if you are truly getting a discount. Sometimes even when the store tells you it’s 50% off, it might be at 40% off otherwise
* Use swagbucks, Coinstar, mypoints and redeem for gift cards that can be given out as gifts or can be used to purchase gifts
* Homemade cookies, fudge etc can be a great Christmas gift, especially for bachelors and other kitchen challenged people. Double points if you can give something that can be frozen and used for a long time

29 Penny

One of the most frugal changes I made this holiday season (and there were several), was to successfully institute a no-new-money gift exchange with my adult siblings and all of their significant others. This year, each adult will bring an item they already own all wrapped up for someone else to enjoy….books, movies, tools, games, etc. We’ll then trade them and such via a classic dice-rolling-game. We’ll have 14 participants, which is a NICE chunk of change saved.
The goal is to avoid spending any “new” money. In our family, we have chosen to continue traditional gift-giving for the >18 crowd (not that there are many of them just yet!).

30 Piya

I don’t wait for the holiday season to shop. Everytime when I go to the store I always check out the sale and clearance and buy stuff and save it in my closet. I also check out website such as ebates to see if the store I shop at is on the list for extra percent of saving. So far I got almost $200 back from ebates.

31 Scott B

My tip is to consider a home mortgage refinance. The rates are still really attractive. We did ours this year and will save tons over the long haul. One of the considerations was to choose between a 15 yr or 30 yr fixed. Since this is our only debt, we want to pay it off as soon as possible. The rate difference was only a half percent but the mortgage payment was significantly higher for the 15 yr. In the end we chose the 30 yr so that if I were to lose my job, we could still reasonably make the monthly payment. I also took back responsibility for paying the property taxes and insurance (escrow). So I get to keep that money in my high yield savings account all year and earn interest.

Now, we still want to pay off the mortgage early and I’m still thankfully employed. So I went out to one of the many online calculators and figured out how much more I need to pay each month in order to pay off the loan in 15 years. I pay my bills online, so I simply setup my monthly bill payment to cover the minimum, plus the additional. Keep in mind, every dollar you pay over the minimum goes directly to the principle (total amount you owe). Just like credit card debt, if you pay more than the minimum you pay it off more quickly.

32 Cat

I planned out exactly what my budget was for each person, stuck to it, and bought everything through websites that participate in Ebates or Upromise and offer free shipping. I spent my $200 budget and have gotten $8 back from Upromise and $12 from Ebates. It doesn’t seem like too much, but I effectively got 10% off, never paid for shipping, and only paid sales tax on one transaction. If you count my rebates, I came in 18% under budget!

33 Cathy

My tip is to cut down and scale back. In my case, I cut back on the number of gifts, the amount I spent, and the time I spent. For the grandparents and great-grands, I decided not to make the time-consuming photo calendar I’ve made for the last few years, and simply went with free/super cheap photobooks, and free prints. I also took advantage of free/cheap photo card deals, which will make holiday cards a lot easier when I get around to them. Thank you for the giveaway!

34 Sarah

First I list down all the things/gifts that I plan to buy. Search those gifts online and see if I can find some great deals. Discount coupons and the like are love. I also compare the prizes of an item in every store that I can think of. And buy the cheapest one with a good deal.

And there are also times that it’s hard to pick a gift for someone so I just decide to make a personalized card for them. It’s really cheap since I only use materials available in our house like cutouts from a magazine, glue, paper puncher, stamps, etc. and recycling the used papers I have. I only need to spend an extra amount of my time and a little bit of money to finish the card. I guess the message inside would do all the talking. Anyway, it’s better that you remembered that special someone, right. :)

35 Izzy Corbo

I opened a Perk Street checking account with $1,000 from my credit card and will receive a 1% reward bonus from my credit card and a $50 bonus from Perk Street in 3 months. I opened a Lending Club account and received $64.62 as a promotion–I used my Perk Street checking account to transfer $935.38 over. Now I’ve invested $1000 and hopefully will receive 10% back (if the people I’ve loaned don’t default!). So if everything works out I will have made just shy of $150 in the next 3 months ($50 bonus from Perk Street, $10 from my credit card, $64.62 from Lending club and around $25 in interest).

36 Writer's Coin

I traded my first option in an effort to find more ways of earning additional income.

37 Jason@Frugal Dad

This year my family reached a long-awaited milestone – we became debt free (save the mortgage – that’s next!). Paying off debt is normally considered a pretty savvy move, but in a down market, even moreso. After all, with our average credit card rate hovering around 10%, we locked in a guaranteed 10% return by paying them off!

Now our income is freed up to invest for our future, and our children’s future, and we can now begin to give some of it away. This is something we’ve felt called to do, but struggled with in the past with thousands in debt hangining over us.

38 amanda h

I entered a lot of giveaways online to get presents for family members. It was a very cheap (free) way to get them all something nice! Just required alot of work but was totally worth it. I also signed up for alot of store newsletters because usually when you first sign up for their emails, they give you some kind of promo deal and every percentage off helps! I signed up for a Macy’s card too to get an extra 20% my purchases that day so I made sure to get more than a few gifts there! It was awesome. And I also attended Walmart’s PRE BLACK FRIDAY Saturday sales and saved a bundle on electronics, which like the giveaways, took extra time and effort on my behalf but saved me alot of money! And if I win, I am giving this flip to my friend Jaime, she’s been dying for one for her upcoming honeymoon! Thank you!!!!

39 CDub

Research product prices and features online, so you can be prepared to bargain when you enter the stores.

For example my wife wanted a new camera. We found the one we wanted on Amazon for $299, but we were not ready to purchase without being able to use/hold first. We went to our local photography store with price we would pay in mind. We told them how much we could get it online for and they were happy to make the same deal and throw in a free memory card. Plus, we didn’t pay shipping and handling cost, so we really came out $30-40 cheaper than online.

The salespeople/stores are hungry to make sales this Christmas Season. To get the best price/save the most money you have to know what you want and the cheapest price you can get it elsewhere (online). Also, you have to be willing to walk-away if they can’t lower the price.

Bonus tip: Department stores (Dillards, Belk, Macy’s) are much better places to get amazing deals than at the Mall.

40 DJ Sartin

Being a senior on a fixed income, I really took advantage of the Amazon/Walmart price war this year. With Amazon’s lightning specials, and free shipping, several of us in the family co-gifted our loved ones with way nicer gifts than we each could have afforded individually!

41 Ibrahim Husain

I created a faux “hedge fund” for my dating budget. I allow myself $75 per week, and any money that doesn’t get spent during that week is automatically transferred into a “surplus” savings account, which I can transfer back into the date fund within the month if needed. If there is still a balance in the “surplus” savings account by the end of the month it automatically transfers into my Roth IRA.

Automation for the win!

42 Johanna

Throughout the year I shop for toys. Each store will place great toys on clearance for a fraction of the original cost. Places such as Wal-mart, Meijers, Target, and others want to move their inventory to make way for new packaging and updated toys. By taking time to stroll through the clearance section every time you shop you can save hundreds of dollars before the Christmas season. For example, I was able to pick up Polly Pocket toys reduced down by 75% in October because the store was making room for the new shipment. This saved me at least $170 compared to buying the toys during the holiday rush. I also pick up reduced toys to give to others, charity, and for birthday gifts. This helps to alleviate some of the stress of running around at the last minute to find an appropriate toy for the child.
Another way I work to be a savvy shopper is to find the deals for Buy 1 get 2 free. If you have to get 3 children in different families gifts why not buy them all the same thing? That way there isn’t any arguing or resentment of what the other family received. I also recommend joining the free rewards clubs many stores offer such as Best Buy. As the points and rewards add up you can stretch your dollar by shopping for one person, then getting the rewards dollars to shop for the next person on your list. And like many others, I use a credit card with a cash back reward to earn money one each of my purchases. By paying off the balance each month I can avoid any charges for using the card and still reap the benefits of the cash back.
Good luck to everyone in their quest to be a Savvy shopper this holiday season! Merry Christmas!

43 Jeff@MySuperChargedLife

We were patient and looked for deals on the things we wanted to buy. Knowing what we wanted up front was the key. This allowed us to shop locally and online to find the very best deal. Retailers offered some great bargains that we were able to take advantage of with this strategy!

44 Danny

Not only do I try to save money, but I try to save money by saving in ways that help others or help me be healthier. I normally shop at Whole Foods (which everyone knows is expensive), I try to cut back on how often I go there and try to plan the trips there only when I know I need something that is only offered at Whole Foods or hard to find otherwise. I reuse my bags and save 5% to help the environment while giving myself a discount. Believe it or not, this is pretty close to how much the mark up is at WF compared to regular grocery stores. While I am there, I purchase items that are on sale and make food for the week. I use leftovers for lunch and have completely stopped buying my lunch each day from take out places.

I currently live with my parents and am not charged rent. I started putting “rent” in an account that I am using to save for a house. I put my savings into a CD with no fees and I use my check card as much as possible rather than cash to benefit my “keep the change” program. I even upgraded my card to get 10% back on my keep the change rather than 5%. I also switched my visa card to an interest free, cash back program. It should be known that my American Express is still my card of choice though!

I traded in my leased car early and negotiated the trade in to be $1000.00 more than the buy out. I used the savings for a down payment on a car that uses cheaper gas and has a lower monthly payment. Also, I took advantage of the tax rebate for buying a new car.

I stopped shopping at designer stores and purchase my clothes from TJ Maxx and Marshalls. I find they have the same styles at an upwards of 70% off the normal price. The first place I check is the clearance rack. I am still wearing Lucky Jeans, but not many people know that I got them for 6 dollars rather than 75.

I am doing a lot of group presents this year. My Girlfriend and I are treating my parents to a dinner and a night out, rather than both buying them each separate presents. I am using rewards points from my corporate American Express card to purchase the dinner and the show we are going to, and using Marriott points from my travels to pay for the hotel we are putting them up in. Normally that would have been a 600 dollar night. The only thing we will pay for are tips and taxi’s instead! (I only use the hybrid taxis!)

There are many ways to save, but try to keep the environment and others in the loop as saving can be contagious! Show people how you save, and they will want to do it and so on!

Happy Holidays everyone!

45 Tristan

Two things we’ve been doing:
1) Instead of buying friends gifts, we’re inviting everyone over for a fancy dinner that we’ll be making ourselves (healthy, cheaper, and fun). We’re also thinking about doing a $5 limit white-elephant party along with the dinner.
2) For those who are getting gifts from us, we’ve been buying things that have either longer warranty periods or lifetime warranties/guarantees. The items may cost a little more upfront, but they’ll be able to replace the products when they break or wear out further down the road. I’ve personally done this quite a few times and feel that the added cost makes my money work better for me in the end.

46 Kelly P

One of the savviest things you can do this holiday season is to compare prices online and make sure you get free shipping. In some cases there is a price qualification for free shipping so I just buy things that I know I will need – say I’m buying a gadget on Amazon as a gift but the total doesn’t qualify for free shipping. Did you know Amazon sells toilet paper? I know I’ll need to buy that anyways, so buy it at the same time as the gadget to bump the total sale amount up and vuala shipping is free!

47 Dustin | Engaged Marriage

My savviest move for saving money this Christmas season was developing a plan for our extended family gift exchanges. As everyone continues to get married and/or have children, the Christmas gift-buying lest was getting very long & out of control.

I suggested that instead of buying a gift for everyone, we should draw names and each buy only one, nicer gift for one individual. Everyone loved the idea! Now we have less stress and will spend less cash on our gifts this year.

48 MrBill6666

A 3%APR CD matured and the current rates are very low at less than 2%APR, so I placed the money in a municipal bond mutual fund that is paying about 3%APR and has appreciated in value too. Also, I reinvest those dividends, which are paid monthly in more shares of the fund. And the dividends are tax free. Also, I am not locked into a one-year time frame, as I can cash-out the funds at any time. No more bank CDs for me!

49 Shanny

I saved money all year and paid cash for Christmas!

50 Peter

It’s a radical concept, but I’ve actually started saving some of it in a bank account we can’t touch easily. That results in us having money to spend when we need it. (Plus a little interest.)

51 Jean

We booked plane tickets for longer duration so they were much cheaper (still not cheap though), and are working remotely for a few days!

52 Lisa

My tip: Instead of Christmas gifts to teachers, coaches, etc. our family gives Thanksgiving gifts. It takes a bit of preplanning, but it’s a great was to save money, reduce stress at Christmas and stand out from the crowd. While Christmas shopping, there’s usually Thanksgiving-themed merchandise (kitchen towels, hand towels, throw blankets, tablecloths and runners, picture frames, other Thanksgiving decorations) at substantial discounts – sometimes 90%. I will tuck these away to use next year. My son, husband and I sign a Thanksgiving card, being sure to include a reason why we are thankful for this person. The Thanksgiving gift stands out because no one else does this, and the gift is actually used, since not many people buy specific Thanksgiving decorations. The comments we have received over the years have been overwhelmingly positive. Thanks for asking for ideas!

53 Ken

For thankgiving, my wife and i flew into a smaller regional airport. Saving us 50%, $250 off per ticket.

And for my mom to visit, shes flying into one airport, and out of another. Not only was it cheaper but more convenient. Also i had enough rewards on a CC to pay for the ticket.

54 Some Lucky Dog

I was able to save quite a lot this Christmas by planning ahead and using the internet. I made my shopping list and then watched for and searched for sales, free offers, discounts, and coupons. I was able to get great deals on all the gifts I wanted and free shipping on most it! There have been lots of printable coupons, too, that I was able to use at local stores for things like toys, clothing, and toiletries. I subscribe to many blogs that post these deals and also to newsletters of the shopping sites. It really takes only a few minutes a day to skim through what’s available and it’s been well worth the time! An added bonus…I did a lot of my Christmas shopping in my pajamas with a cup of hot cocoa at hand!

55 Lazy Man and Money

I found an out-of-print album available as a legal, DRM-free, digital download from Lala.com for the wife. Getting the physical album would have cost me more than $35 on Ebay. The download was under $8. My wife would just put the music on her MP3 player, so it’s one fewer step for her too…

56 cheryl

I started shopping in August. Made a list & several gift ‘ideas’ & then started shopping a rummage & bazaar sales.
When I shop online I’m shopping thru shopathome & ebates to at least get some money back & I try to always get free shipping

57 NICOLE D.

FIRST I RE-USE STUFF FROM PREVIOUS HOLIDAYS. LIKE BOWS, RIBBON, CARDS, & ECT. THIS COMES IN HANDY FOR CRAFTING GIFTS. I ALSO SAVE MASON JARS, CANDLE JARS, COFFEE TINS, ECT. THESE WORK WELL IN CRAFTING SOME GREAT GIFTS, EXSPECIALLY WITH CHILDREN. I ALSO SHOP AFTER CHRISTMAS AND SAVE 50% TO 75% OFF TO PUT UP FOR NEXT YEAR. I ALSO SHOP ONLINE USING COUPON CODES, OR BUYING AN ITEM THAT OFFERS A FREE GIFT. FREE SHIPPING IS ALWAYS GREAT TO ONLINE. I ALSO GET AMAZON.COM DEALS. I USE MY ONLINE SURVEY PROGRAMS TO MAKE MONEY & GET GIFT CARDS. I ALSO SHOP AT MY LOCAL DOLLAR STORE FOR THEIR WONDERFUL X-MAS SELECTION, AND MOST TIMES THEY HAVE NAME BRAND STUFF. LIKE CANDLES, MAKEUP, DISNEY STUFF. POSSILBILITEIS ARE ENDLESS. MAKES FOR GREAT GIFT BASKETS OR STOCKING STUFFERS. TAKING ADVANTAGE OF CVS ECB PROGRAM ALSO. USING COUPONS EVERYWHERE I SHOP HELPS SAVE TONS. AND OF COURSE FOLLOWING THESE WONDERFUL BLOGS! :)

58 WALTER

By being kind of a scrooge & not spending any money & saving it. lol

59 Julie

By investing my money in college so i can get a great degree & make lots more money!!!

60 Tony

I’ve stopped counting how many times I’ve needed to go out and buy a new string of Christmas lights to replace the ones that no longer work because they have a mystery bulb (that I can’t ever seem to find) burned-out. So, this year I’m making a savvy investment in L.E.D (light-emitting diode) Christmas lights!

My research told me that they:
Use 90% less energy. They have a 50,000 hour bulb life. And, if you shop around you can get them with a guarantee.

So far, they work great. They use less energy, so I’ll be saving on my electric bill. They’re Energy Star approved, so they’re better for the environment. But, the savings that I’m most excited about are the savings in my time spent not trying to find and replace those burnt-out little bulbs that keep breaking the circuit, and consequently breaking my wallet.

61 Darwin's Finance

When buying gift cards for family, by buying through swap sites like plastic jungle, you can get up to 10% off gift cards to major stores. Since people can buy what they want and they think you actually paid 10% more, it’s a great combo!

62 Evolution Of Wealth

I think my best financial decision is participating whole life insurance.

My best economic decision this holiday season is arguably my boycott of gift cards. I’ll explain this on my Monday blog post.

63 Theo

I took advantage of Bing CashBack to save 15% off purchases from eBay.

One purchase was a $500 Target gift card for a total price of $412.25 – over 17% off! Not only that, eBay has their own reward program called eBay Bucks which gives another 2% back.

I shop Target anyway so spending a few minutes online buying gift cards makes my money go further.

64 MLR

My Xmas strategy goes as follows:

1) Make a list in Excel of what I want to get everyone and list the MSRP price next to it. (A month or so ahead of time)
2) Set up price alerts with Price Grabber to alert me when anything drops below 50% off. You’d be amazed how often this happens.
3) Frequent Slickdeals.net to see if anything I want to get has a crazy sale going on. The forums are full of deals where people will stack coupons and special promotions to get the product very cheap and even free sometimes!
4) Sign up for an Amazon Prime trial. This entitles me to FREE 2 day shipping on all Amazon purchases. A lot of deals I find are through Amazon, so no shipping is a great deal.
5) If I have family / friends I won’t be seeing until after Xmas anyways, I don’t stress. Hopefully some after holiday sales will pop up :)

Last year I beat my Xmas budget by about 70% (I budget @ MSRP of all the gifts I want). I’ll usually donate half my savings, still falling well within my budget.

65 MBAbriefs

The savviest way I made my money work harder for me this holiday season was to have the kids give homemade and personalized gifts for friends and family and to have everyone spend more time doing volunteer work and helping elderly neighbors. I want the kids to understand Christmas is way too commercialized and isn’t supposed to be all about expensive gifts, and homemade baked goods and arts and crafts type presents make great gifts too.

66 Jamie

I use reward sites like Swagbucks to earn Amazon gift cards to purchase holiday presents. I’m able to purchase to gifts at little or no cost out of pocket to me!

67 RC@Thinkyourwaytowealth

My wife and I made it a point to plan ahead this year, and by doing most of our shopping in advance, prior to Thanksgiving even, it allowed us to avoid getting caught up in the mad rush of holiday spending and stick to our planned budget. It has also made the week before Christmas a lot more relaxed!

68 Bridget Farrington

“What is the savviest way you have made your money work harder for you this holiday season?”

For me it was Saving all our visa point rewards and using them for gift cards, I also did lots of surveys n saved up. Then I bargin hunted online. Save money on gas n got free shippin n some great deals. Then I also made baked goods n handmade stuff for bosses n peeps that I know who liked hand made stuff!

69 Ryan

Thanks for the comments, everyone! The winners have been selected and notified via e-mail. :)

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