I'm one of those people who enjoys shopping. I actually used to be one of those people, who would scour the clearance aisles at Target and buy all the crap, just to have it.
I learned, about 4 years ago, while I was cleaning out our spare bedroom to convert it into a nursery, that my hoarding the Target clearance, needed to end! I remember saying, as I would buy stuff, "This would make a great gift!" or, "I can so use that for a craft or something!"
Of course, I'd find it a year later in a bag in a closet, pretty much just wasted money.
I am reformed now. But, Target is my main shopping store. I love it! And, it really is cheaper than Wal Mart.
Now, on to the good stuff. I'm not sure if you ever pay attention, but Target has A LOT to offer. I was able to buy the new iPad 2 (last year) for FREE, thanks to Target (and ShopKick!).
|ShopKick is a free app! Check it out. Free money! (Photo from ShopKick)|
First things first. This didn't happen over night. I saved for a year. If you can utilize Target and Shopkick the same way, you can use that money for Christmas Gifts, Hanukkah Gifts, Birthday Gifts, Grocery Shopping for a month, etc. That way, come the end of the year, if you find yourself strapped for cash, you don't have to worry about the gifts.
How it happened...
Every month, a few times a month, I go to Target and buy the stuff we need. Things like toilet paper, diapers, baby wipes, laundry detergent, stuff like that. We don't have a Super Target here (we should), so we have a few grocery items, but not enough to replace the trip to the grocery store.
I would use this trip to do my ShopKick'ing as well. It's a free app you download, and each time you walk into certain stores, you get points. While in these stores, you can scan the listed items and get more points. You can use these points instantly to get free gift cards sent to your phone and to use at check out. Target happens to be one of the big users of this app. They also have coupons to Target on there, as well as for Children's Place, American Eagle, Old Navy, etc. It's not just for Target, but this place I used my points last year. It's kind of like a scavenger hunt, while out shopping. If you're going there anyway, might as well get paid to go, right?
I found out that Target will take one target coupon and one manufacturer coupon for items. Basically, making some items cheap! (Yes, I do coupon, but NOT for anything we don't use, and NO I don't have a stock pile.) You can even apply these coupons to clearance items. I've been able to pick up some items for practically nothing.
Now to the good part. Target always has a "Buy this get a $XX gift card free," deal going on. Some change every week, and some are up for close to a month at a time.
|Photo from Target.com|
Most of the items are things we use, like toilet paper, paper towels, diapers, baby wipes, tampons, etc. Just about ALL of these items, are items I have coupons for as well.
|Photo from Target.com|
I always found myself buying toilet paper. Honestly, when I would buy the toilet paper I would say to myself, it's already on sale, and I have coupons, might as well buy 2 and get the gift card and bulk up.
The problem got to be, that I would get these gift cards and ALWAYS forget to use them the next time I was at the store. My mom would always laugh at me, because I would forget to use my "Target Money."
I added my little gift card stack up and I had almost $75. That's quite the chunk of change, when you think about it. I checked out my ShopKick app points too, and found out I had acquired enough for a $25 gift card to Target. I had $100, in free money. That's pretty much enough to cover Christmas Shopping in this household.
I was kind of in awe by that. This is money that didn't come out of our budget, that could be used on pretty much whatever we wanted. (And trust me, I WANTED an iPad from the moment I laid eyes on Steve Jobs holding the first generation in his hand!)
This was only the around end of April early May,and so I decided to make a little game out of it. Only buying the things we needed and taking advantage of the deals that Target had to offer, plus ShopKicking. It was such a thrill!
Around Thanksgiving to Christmas, Target came out with a ton of spend $50 get a $10 gift card and other type deals like this. Pretty much made the iPad totally acquireable for me.
When the big day came, for my get my iPad, it was a surreal scene. I brought my Target Bags (you get $0.05 credit for every bag you bring in and use, awesome!), my gift cards, my phone with the ShopKick app pulled up and ready with the gift cards, and down to the iPad section I went!
As I was ringing up, the guy behind me was floored. Five dollars or so at a time, the price dropped, and continued dropping, down, down, down. He was so amazed at what he was witnessing, he didn't mind the long wait to go through all those gift cards, and then he asked, after it was all over, if I'd be his personal shopper, because I was his hero!
To add to it, Target was having a deal, where if you bought the iPad, they gave you a $50 gift card. I kind of, got paid to buy it. I used it to purchase a case/cover for the iPad. It was a separate purchase. Can you say, "Thrifty!"
|My giftcard stack before I started!|
My receipt to show you I really did it!
This year, I again, started with the saving of the gift cards. I've gotten quite a lot and unlike last year, where I decided I wanted to save for an iPad, I don't really have anything in mind to purchase this year. I've thought about a really nice camera, like a Canon Rebel, but I'm not really a great picture taker. As you can kind of tell from the photos on my blog. I kind of thought about converting that into cash. I was thinking that my goal might be to try and buy EVERYTHING from Target during November and December and save that money that I would have budgeted with and use it for something else special. I haven't quite come up with anything, but it's definitely fun to think about the possibilities!
Anyway, I know this might be a little late in the holiday season, or maybe it isn't. I just wanted to share some tips with you, for this year, or for next year. It really has been a lot of fun, and like I said, you can pretty much do whatever you want to with the gift cards you save!
What would you use your gift card stash on??? What is the one thing you REALLY want this year? Any other really great ideas or stores to shop at for stuff like this?!
I'd love to hear from you!
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Plans fail with no counsel, but with many counselors they succeed.