Guest post from Ai of Less to More
It was 2 years ago. Thanksgiving was fast approaching and after all the feasting and pounds gained, the days following would be filled with lots of shopping and gift wrapping. Or at least, that’s how it was in the past.
When, normally, my husband and I would have a budget set for Christmas gifts, this particular year, we had nothing. My husband had been out of work for a few months, and we had been rapidly depleting our emergency savings.
We were prepared to let our families know that we wouldn’t participate in any gifts exchanges that year. We knew they would understand.
Then, it occurred to me. We had money, “hidden” in store loyalty rewards and forgotten gift cards.
Store Loyalty Rewards
Much of our reward dollars were from drugstores and office supply stores. Not your typically Black Friday destinations, but we definitely avoided the crowds by shopping at these places. We actually found some nice gifts at these stores.
Gifts that Give Back
Typically on Black Friday, the stores with customer loyalty programs mark even more items that generate reward dollars or gift cards. By focusing on these items, we essentially got them for free … paying for them with our rewards and walking out with more rewards to use for the next trip.
Before my husband left his job, he often met with clients outside the office, and his employer reimbursed him for all his expenses: meals, mileage, etc.
We rarely use a credit card, but to keep his business expenses separate from our personal ones, my husband used our credit card whenever he was working. By the time holiday shopping season came around, we realized that all those credit card charges accumulated a nice amount of cash-back for us.
Lost Gift Cards, Found
Don’t you get excited when you empty pockets before doing the laundry, and you find a $10 bill all crumpled up next to the pocket lint? That’s how I felt when I realized there were gift cards in my purse from I-don’t-know-how-long ago.
Being forgetful did pay off that time!
Though this is the busiest shopping season of the year, I know not everyone can afford to buy presents for Christmas.
With no income coming in, we certainly thought we couldn’t. But after digging a little deeper, we realized we still had some resources to be able to give to our loved ones, even during such a lean financial time.
And of course, not every gift can be bought from a store. Sometimes, those made with love are the best kind.
What are some of your frugal gift ideas?
Ai is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a homeschooling mother of 4. She loves to spend time with her family, savoring every moment that she has with them. One great lesson in life is that everything is a gift, whether money or time or food or shelter or relationships. She blogs about making the most of the gifts that we have at Less to More.