From that title everyone who has read it must think I am crazy. “A no spend Christmas, how on earth do you pull that off?” It’s not as hard as you’d think actually.
Well let’s take a flashback to this past spring. Broke post graduation me found an article on the benefits of having a no spend Christmas and how to pull it off using the cash back on my credit card.
Over the last nine months, I have saved most of the cash back I get from buying the basics on my credit card and I’ve been using Swagbucks to get some extra cash back in the form of gift cards. I’ve also been crafting with new methods via a Dremel and using my camera to make basic gifts. Plus, a side gig I have left me with lots of extras that I can’t sell right now so there were lots of options in the quest for the no spend Christmas.
What brought this idea on?
In America, Christmas can be summarized as “buy, buy, buy,” whereas in other places around the world the holiday has the meaning of family and traditions that go back centuries. Gifts are involved but not to the same extent as we Americans go. About to head back to school for my master’s degree, I hated the idea of going into debt (again) over Christmas and decided to get inspired from my European friends. In writing there’s a phrase: K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid.) For the holidays I figured it wouldn’t hurt to apply that work motto to real life and here’s what I’ve found while working on the gifts.
Making something or giving something of quality and even giving something useful has a satisfying feeling. I know that whoever gets the gift will truly need it because if they didn’t, I’d have found something different to make. You’re giving something that is unique and if you give something of quality you may be giving the person something that will last a long time. It may even turn into an heirloom piece for the receiver. Every adult has a bit of a child in them (I’m just as much a part of that group as anyone) but when everyone shows that practical gifts, the gifts that get used the most, are realistic you can’t really go wrong. (No one likes the socks but face it, we use those things more than anything in the wardrobe if not the whole house.) Aside from that, the gifts we treasure the most are ones that have sentimental value to us too. To this day I’d say the best gift of my childhood wasn’t the dollhouse or even video games, it was when my grandpa deemed me old enough to own my grandma’s jewelry box (with her jewelry inside.)
It’s too late to join in but what tricks can I take away from the No Spend Christmas?
If you use sites like Ebates or Swagbucks, use them when buying your last minute Christmas presents or while using the nice shiny gift cards you get for Christmas online. I’ve used Swagbucks for a little while but what I like is that the two sites I use the most – Vitacost (food) and Amazon (everything else) – are on their list of stores. One gives me a 15% return and the other gives me a 4% or 5% return on my order.
So to illustrate, I buy a lot of my GF food items from Vitacost. The other day my order was a few dollars shy of an even one hundred. The Swagbucks I got from stocking up on GF flours, getting spices I ran out of slash spices I use a ton of, and GF ramen equaled out to $13 dollars! Amazing right? Just remember to keep in mind though that such sites like Swagbucks and Ebates are not entitlements to spend more, it just rewards you for the shopping you have to do.
When it comes to cash back one thing you can do to recover holiday shopping costs is to have your credit card apply the cash back balance to the CC balance. Yes, they can send you a check or you can use it on your next shopping trip but by applying it to the CC balance you’re going to make the bank account balance less weepy.
After the holidays I’ll give an update on if this was a flop on the wallet or a success on my budget.