It’s crunch time! Hey, someone has to finalize the Thanksgiving menu, make the grocery list, and decide whose turn it is to sit next to Uncle Ted this year.
And before you even have enough time to regret how many helpings of pumpkin pie you indulged in, it will be time to drink eggnog and unwrap presents.
While the expectations of Christmas seem to have risen drastically over the years, here are five practical ways military families can save money and have a remarkable holiday without breaking the bank.
Yes, you could stand in a line that extends outdoors on Thanksgiving night or wakes up before the roosters on Black Friday to score a tablet for a ridiculously low price, and that would perfectly fine.
Or you could wait until the Monday after Thanksgiving and score the same and often even better deals online without changing out of your pajamas or even breaking a sweat. For those of you who struggle with a calendar, Cyber Monday falls on the 28th.
Cyber Monday is quickly becoming a preferred alternative to the hassle of Black Friday. In 2013, Adobe reported that shoppers spent over $3 billion on Cyber Monday. The numbers are expected to be even higher this season.
Like they do with Black Friday, many retailers release their Cyber Monday deals weeks in advance.
In order to find your favorite retailer’s Cyber Monday deals, Google the name of the store plus the term “Cyber Monday.”
For example, if you want to see Target’s deals, Google “Target Cyber Monday.”
Then sit back and enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend with no crowds, no checkout lines, and no rainchecks!
Another way to save the maximum amount of money, both on Cyber Monday and on any other day throughout the holiday shopping season, is to utilize coupon codes.
There are two ways to do this:
- You can go to each retailer’s website, sign up for their newsletters individually, and hope they email some coupons eventually.
- Or you can access those coupons hassle-free without signing up for anything. Websites like Groupon, Coupons.com, Living Social and Retail Me Not feature significant savings from top brands like Sears, Best Buy, Carter’s, and Toys ‘R Us.
Not only do these sites give you a significant percentage off, many of the coupon codes include free shipping!
Did you know there are websites that will reward you with points or cash back for your purchases?
Some sites even offer double cash back when you use their website to shop your favorite brands.
Well-known rewards shopping sites include FatWallet.com and Ebates.com.
The best part about these sites is that you earn rewards for shopping at the places where you already shop! Sephora, JCPenney, Kohl’s, and Wal-Mart are just a few examples of the participating retailers at rewards sites across the Internet.
It’s quite simple really, especially if you plan on shopping online. As a matter of fact, Ebates is offering you a $10 gift card just for signing up.
In order for you to earn your $10 cash bonus, you must spend at least $25 or more at your store of choice through their shopping portal. Benefits you’ll receive is access to over 1,800 online stores, cash back percentage, and store discounts.
Military Specific Assistance
If you don’t have the spare cash for Cyber Monday, you’re not alone.
According to Military.com, the unemployment rate for military spouses is roughly 26 percent, and one-fourth of military families struggle with consumer debt of over $10,000.
Consequently, many military families don’t have enough cash to spare at Christmas time for expensive gifts or holiday meals. Thankfully, there are programs out there to assist you; you just have to know where to find them.
Here’s a couple that I’ve recently run across:
- Operation HomeFront assists families by providing holiday meals and gifts.
- Full Circle Home assists deployed troops with sending gift boxes back home to the special women in their life.
- Soldier’s Angels sponsors an “adopt-a-family” program that you have until December 1st to sign up.
- Operation Christmas Spirit adopts families each year and provides gifts and holiday support.
- Toys For Tots collects unwrapped toys and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to children.
- Tree for Troops, sponsored by the Christmas Spirit Foundation, offers free Christmas trees for military families.
Gift Card Swaps
In 2015, Barron’s reported that over $1 billion in gift cards goes unredeemed each year.
And it’s happened to all of us. A well-meaning friend or relative gives us a gift card to a store we know we will never use. We tuck it into our wallets and forget all about it. Until now.
There is a way to take the gift cards you know you’ll never use and convert them into ones you will use! You can then give these gift cards away as Christmas gifts or use them to purchase gifts for your family.
Websites like Raise and Card Pool allow you to trade or sell your unused gift cards. And here’s the best part: even if you aren’t lucky enough to have unused or unwanted gift cards to swap or sell on these sites, you can buy other people’s unused gift cards at extremely discounted prices.
Gift card swapping and selling sites have a wide array of merchants to choose from including your favorite retailers like Best-Buy, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart.
Who knew saving money at Christmas time could be as easy as a few clicks of the mouse? You don’t even have to put on a coat and brave the crowds.