Christmas in July – 4 Pain-Free Ways to Save for Christmas

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you). I only recommend books and products that I genuinely use, read, and love!

Guess what?  It’s only five months until Christmas. With five kids and a large extended family saving for Christmas is definitely on my mind. While I will put back money out of our regular checks from our jobs, I also try to incorporate some other strategies that easily allow us to save money and increase our Christmas budget.  Here are some of my favorite ways to painlessly save money for Christmas or any other goal you might have.

1. Ebates

I have been a member of for several years and have earned over $1,200 in cash back on purchases I already make online.  To use Ebates, you simply sign up for an account.  When you are shopping online, check Ebates to see if the store you are shopping at is part of their program.  If it is, go to that site by using the link on Ebates.  When you make a purchase, a percentage of your purchase will be credited back to you. There are tons of stores and companies that are part of the Ebates program and we use it for just about everything.  We even bought a riding lawn mower once through and Ebates in order get a percentage of our purchase back.

Ebates pays you the money that you have collected via PayPal four times a year.  My next payment from Ebates will be paid on August 15 and I’ll get another payment on November 15! There is also a handy browser button that you can install if you use Google Chrome that allows you to activate an Ebates shopping trip without ever going to the actual Ebates website.

2. Ibotta

Ibotta is a nifty app that allows you to choose items from their list to receive a rebate from.  Once you purchase that item from a participating store, you just take a picture of your receipt and you are credited for that rebate.  Ibotta also pays via PayPal but you choose when you are paid.  As long as you have $20 in your account you can cash out.  I cashed out over $100 in May.  I currently have $18.55 hanging out in my account and I don’t intend to cash it out until I’m ready to start Christmas shopping. Since I started using Ibotta, I have made over $300.

Ibotta is also unique in that you can build a team and work together to complete bonuses.  By completing bonuses you get extra money credited to your account.  I would love for you to join my team!  You can use this link and receive a $10 welcome bonus!

3. Checkout 51

Checkout 51 is another app that I use to collect rebates on items we buy.  It is very similar to Ibotta. However, I don’t tend to earn as much on Checkout 51 as I do on Ibotta.  I currently have about $7.25 in my Checkout 51 account.  Like Ibotta, I won’t be able to cash out via PayPal until I hit the $20 threshold. Sometimes the rebates on Checkout 51 and Ibotta overlap which means that I earn double rebates on the same items.

4. Fetch Rewards

Fetch Rewards is also similar to Ibotta and Checkout 51 but you don’t collect cash.  You receive points for scanning your grocery receipts.  You can then use the points that you accumulate to get gift cards to various places.  There are gift cards available for everything from Sephora to Best Buy.  Using gift cards to help with you Christmas shopping cuts back on the amount of cash you have to spend so I love collecting gift cards to help me save for Christmas.  Use code TT0AM when you sign up for Fetch Rewards to earn an extra 1,500 points when you upload your first receipt.




How I Made $200 Online Last Week

I woke up this morning with more than $200 that I made online last week ready to be transferred to my checking account.  Stay tuned and I’ll tell you how I did it!

Bye, Bye Debt. Hello, Travel

I have found myself struggling with not being busy since finishing my master’s.  I like to have a goal in mind and I like to feel productive.  Since I am no longer focused on graduate school all the time, I’ve decided that I need to hone my focus in on other areas of my life that I have wanted to see change in for a while.

One thing that Daniel and I have talked about extensively for years but never really focused on was paying off all our debt (hello, student loans!) I’ve read and own all of Dave Ramsey’s books. We know what and how to tackle it we just haven’t really put in the effort over the past few years.  So many other things have held our attention that gardening our finances wasn’t really a priority. Without graduate school though, I have all the focus in the world to throw at it now!

In addition to eliminating our debt, my dream is to be able to make viable income online so that I can work on my own terms and be my own boss and travel whenever I want. I would love to be able to work from home and be more available for my kids.  So as I tackle our debt and save for future travels, I also plan to explore online employment and freelance opportunities.

It is also important to me to look for ways to diversify our income. In addition to online freelance work, I would also like to begin developing passive streams of income.  I’m not totally sure how I am going to accomplish all this but I know it is possible. At this point, it is one big experiment and I plan to report my findings here as I go along.

How I Made $200 Online Last Week

One of the first things I am doing to contribute to all our financial goals is to begin finding viable online streams of income. Last week I spent time working on two different websites that resulted in over $200 made in just my spare time.

I knew that I needed to find something where my specific set of skills would be useful.  With two degrees in history and working as an English teacher, my writing, editing, and proofreading skills are probably my biggest assets so that is where I started.

The first website that I worked on is Upwork is a market place for freelancers. Clients post jobs and freelancers submit proposals for specific jobs that they would like to complete. The jobs range from proofreading to graphic design. If you are chosen to work on a job by a client, then a contracted is started. Depending on the contract, you are either paid hourly or a fixed price per project.  I have read many excellent reviews on Upwork. Several freelancers are making $5,000 to $10,000 a month completing projects through this website.

I signed up as a freelancer in mid-May. I landed my first job as a proofreader the last week of May.  I was hired by a publishing company to do a last read through of a novel before it is officially published.  They supplied the novel in PDF format. After I read it, I supplied the client with a list of the grammatical errors that I found. It was a fixed price project and I was paid $150. The project took me roughly three days to complete. After the client approves your work, the money is held in an escrow account for five days as a security measure. After those five days, then you are able transfer the money to your personal bank account.

The other side hustle that I worked online was Rev provides transcription, captioning, and translation services. I signed up as a transcriptionist because I have fairly good typing skills after writing so many papers in college.  The pay for each audio file varies but once you get the hang of it, it wouldn’t be hard to make several hundred dollars a week if you’re willing to put a little time in.  I have been averaging about $30 a week just transcribing a couple of hours after the kids are in bed one or two nights a week.  I imagine if I was willing to transcribe every night or even during the day some I could make quite a bit more.

Rev pays weekly.  On Mondays, your earnings from the week before are deposited into your Paypal account.  This is one of the quickest paying online jobs that I have found.


So what are the cons?

There are a few cons to both Upwork and Rev.  We’ll start with Upwork.  First, there isn’t any guaranteed work.  The best you can do is try to write an excellent proposal and put yourself out there.  Of the more than 30 proposals I submitted, I was only hired for one of them.  Once you are hired it is important that you do the best job that you can.  The clients are given the opportunities to rate you as a freelancer.  Those ratings are displayed on your profile for other clients to see.  Once you start getting work and more ratings, your chances of securing more jobs increase.

The second con that I’ve found with Upwork is that they take a 20% service fee out of your earnings.  This means that of the $150 I was paid for the proofreading job that I did, I only netted $120.  While it’s still not bad money, it still stinks having that percentage taken off the top.

Rev is a great option for people who are wanting to break into transcribing work. Most transcribing jobs requires you to have some experience. However, Rev will hire you without any experience so it is a great way to build your transcription experience.  The downside to Rev is that you have to pass several grammar and typing tests to be hired.  I didn’t find any of the tests very hard but if you struggle with grammar and punctuation or typing just isn’t you thing, Rev may not work out for you.

May Online Income Report

I’ve been fascinated by other income reports I have seen posted on several blogs.  After much internal debate on whether or not I should share how much I make online, I’ve decided to go ahead and share my results at the end of each month. I made this decision for a couple of reasons. First, I find other people’s online income reports super inspiring.  It helped me to realize that earning an income online is possible even if it is not a full time income. Second, it allows me to track my progress and see what is working and what I’m wasting my time on.

While earning an income online has been an interest of mine for a while, I really didn’t put any effort into it until after I graduated on May 12.  So, the income I’m reporting was really only earned the last half of May. I did make a small amount of money from the affiliate links and ads that are found on this blog which I have also included in this income report.

Online Income Total for May: $216.83

Here is where that total came from:

  • Upwork: $120
  • $90.52
  • Affiliate Links: $4.66
  • Ads: $1.65

I’m happy with this income for May since this was the first month that I really devoted any time to working on these income streams. And in all reality, I only put that effort in the last two weeks of the month.  These results aren’t too shabby for a couple hour’s work over the last two weeks.  I can’t wait to see what I can accomplish in June. Check back at the end of the month for the June online income report!