Monday, December 07, 2009

More Than a Match

I'm getting pretty close to the end of my Christmas list this year, and despite money being a bit tighter than usual, I think this will be one of the best years (for gifts) we've had. A good portion of the funds have come from my mom and I listing on eBay, but I wanted to share with you a few of the other ways that I purchase gifts each year without spending much at all.

#1 is a neat website that offers points as rewards for visiting their sponsoring partners. I receive anywhere from 1-5 emails from them a day, and every time I click thru the email to their partner, I get 5 points. Then whenever I'm going to make a purchase online, I do a search of their partners before purchasing to see if I can gain extra points through them. The Lakeside Collection, which is similar to LTD, gives me 500 points for each $25 purchase (I've collected at least 4 of those this year). gives 10 points per dollar spent, and there are a ton of other partners you can shop through. This year I'll collect $50 in gift certificates just for a few clicks and shopping normally.

#2 is a website that asks participants to take surveys in return for points throughout the year. This website doesn't offer me as many opportunities for points, but it's still worth the small effort. When I signed up, I listed every member of the family's age and gender. I receive emails from them weekly or so with a couple of surveys that are specifically geared toward our demographic. I have occasionally received samples of new products to try (2-1 gallon bottles of Tide Free) and those offer lots of extra points. This year I'm collecting $25 in gift certificates for about an hour total of my time. Well worth the price in my opinion.

#3 collects the points printed on almost all Coke products. You can find them inside the caps of bottles or printed inside cases and then enter them online. The prizes offered change monthly; my favorite are the Snapfish prizes. I can't tell you how many prizes I've claimed from this site, including three photo books for Mom's Christmas present last year, Doogie's graduation party, and Mia's birthday party last year. I'm especially thrilled because they added a certain item to their December catalog that I had intended to pick up for my parents anyway, but now I can get them for free (shhh!).

#4 asks you to enter the points on the slip of paper in most Disney movies. The points on this site accumulate quickly (unlike some other sites) and the rewards are unique to the site. Another perk of belonging to the site is that when you purchase certain movies, they offer rewards not found anywhere else (like a stuffed Baby Kevin with the purchase of Up! again shhh!).

I like to save up my rewards all year for Christmas time because I can do more for my family this way. I'm getting all of my gift certificates for Amazon so I have a wide variety of gifts to choose from.

Another great way to save money this year is to regularly visit the website If there's a deal to be found online, Slick Deals has it! Just today there's a $10 off a $10 purchase at JCPenney and a printable coupon for a free $13 item with a $10 purchase from Bath & Body Works. They also have a great group of forums where people post more deals. If you are looking for any item online, do a search of their site before purchasing to see if they have any coupon codes or deals.

If you happen to sign up at either MyPoints or, make sure you list me as your referrer, I'll get points for anyone signing up!

More Than a Match by Michael & Amy Smalley is an enjoyable and incredibly honest look at how to successfully go from dating to happily married. The authors are brutally honest about the mistakes they made in their dating and early in their marriage, offering up their errors as lessons for the reader. They focus on the compatibility studies from various dating sites that promise a perfect match, but marriage is more than being compatible. It's about communication and respect, and the authors, both counselors, have plenty of advice. They encourage readers to make a check list of what's most important to them and then honestly evaluate relationships in the light of the list. Their insight on sex (especially the wedding night) is right on the money and almost shockingly open. While the book is aimed at those in the dating pool, it also has great advice for communication for everyone, even couples with several anniversaries under their belt. This book may be a bit too mature and graphic for teen audiences, but for college age and up, it's a terrific guide to getting relationships right.

I'm starting a new book contest today for Donna VanLiere's The Christmas Secret. VanLiere is best known for her classic story The Christmas Shoes which was made into a hit song and a Lifetime movie. This new book is about a woman at the end of her rope who in saving someone else's life just may have saved her own. I've got two copies to give away, so send me an email or leave a comment on any of my blogs this week to enter. Contest ends at 10 pm Thursday, Dec. 10th. Good luck!

Today's picture is of my Uncle Kenny with Mia at Mom's for Thanksgiving. He was this much fun when I was a kid too.