Do you utilize any reward point programs like Swagbucks? As you read this, my husband and I will be on our way to a three-day getaway funded almost entirely with reward points and gift cards earned through several different programs I participate in. Points are paying for a portion of the hotel and we have enough gift cards to cover nearly all of our meals….and it’s taken me very little time to earn enough to do this!
Now I’m well on my way to paying for a good part of Christmas and funding several fun family activities in the next couple of months using reward points and gift cards. Living on one income often doesn’t leave much extra for fun stuff, and we’re on a super-strict debt pay-off budget right now with no room in it for things like getaways, movies, or eating out, so having these options is truly a blessing!
Here are the main programs I take advantage of:
- Swagbucks. I signed up for Swagbucks over a year ago, but didn’t really utilize it much. Since I’ve started paying attention, I’ve been able to build up bucks pretty quickly! Probably the best value as far as rewards go are the $5 Amazon gift cards. I’ve been saving them up for the last month, and I’ve got a good chunk toward Christmas gifts for the kids already. I don’t have a lot of time to spend completing offers and doing tasks. I focus on getting the daily goal most days, and when I’m able to do that, the bonus points rack up pretty quickly! I basically just use the search engine and try to complete one survey each day. Sometimes it takes a few tries to find a survey I qualify for. I spend maybe 15-20 minutes first thing in the morning over breakfast getting as close to the goal as I can, then use the search engine throughout the day as needed.
- Shopkick. My husband introduced me to this fun shopping app! It works on iPhones and Android devices. You can get “kicks” just for walking in to many retail locations, and more if you scan certain items in the store. Since my hubby works in retail, he’s able to get “kicks” every day! I’ve scanned items a few times, but I mostly get points by checking in whenever I run errands and collecting the bonuses available. We earned enough between us to get gift cards for our meals on our trip, and now I’m saving points to use for various other gift cards. Right now we have almost enough to get an iTunes gift card so we can download a season of a favorite tv show we’d like to watch as a family.
- Reward checking account and/or credit cards. We own several reward point type credit cards, but are only using one very sparingly right now for groceries and gas, paying it off each month. If you have the self-discipline to use them wisely, some offer great reward programs! Our checking account also offers us a reward program. We get points every time we swipe our debit card and for every bill we pay online! Since these are the main things we use our checking for, the points add up quickly! We’ve earned a Fandango gift card we’re saving to take the two older kids to the opening night of The Hobbit in December, and have earned various gift cards to use for date nights and special treats for the kids. We also have the option to convert the points to cash.
I love having the opportunity to do some fun things with and for my family very frugally! We’ve been able to do some great stuff for little to no money out of pocket. Of course, my time is also valuable. The most time-intensive of these is Swagbucks, and I spend less than 20 minutes a day on it. With Shopkick it’s just a matter of remembering to check my phone while out and about to see if I can check in anywhere (Target, Best Buy, Walmart, plus many more and even some local businesses show up on my list). For the reward accounts, I don’t have to do anything except pay bills and buy groceries and gas!
These programs are proving to be a great tool in my household budget, giving us the ability to put more money toward essentials and debt-payoff without totally giving up the extras!
In the interest of full disclosure, the links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if someone were to sign up through them, I would get bonus reward points.