Note: You will still need the $9 donation to help with shipping (a bargain) unless your church or other community group raises the money for this cost.
- Order online via Swagbucks at Wal-mart and other stores–this is how I rack up most Swagbucks.
- Daily to do list
- Occasional searches
- Swag Codes
This takes almost no time! I barely bothered with it this year and I still came up with over $35 in Walmart gift cards! You can sign up here (THIS ONE I WILL GET PAID FOR–I usually refuse to make money on my blog but anything I earn on Swagbucks goes to charity) Sign Up for Swagbucks
I’m not a big consumer of convenience food, booze or restaurant meals, but I managed with minimal effort to earn over $35 in Walmart gift cards with Ibotta! Many, many of my items were the “Any Item” variety. You can sign up for Ibotta (same deal as with Swagbucks, yes I get some points if you sign up, but I use them all for charity). Ibotta Sign Up link.
3. Found Money I “earned” this year
- Unexpected freelance work or side jobs
- Product rebates
- Unexpected checks–dentist refund, class action settlement, etc
- Change found in the car, sofa, laundry
- Sold unwanted gift cards or cashed in balances too small to buy anything
Some Ideas I Still Haven’t Made Myself Do:
- Take the “total savings” from your grocery receipt and put the actual amount into an OCC “account”.
- If you “save” by changing car insurance, phone plans or other put that actual amount into your OCC “account.”
Learn to Shop
Learning how to shop at various stores helped SAVE a tremendous about this year. There’s more than just Kohl’s Cash to use for huge savings! Here are the ways I’ve learned to save this year:
- Dollar General stores have a weekly $5 off $25 coupon.They have occasional penny deals, too. I haven’t learned that but have accidentally gotten two 1 cent pencil pouches! And, the mark things down to 70% or more off, so be patient. Always make them check the shelf if they argue about a sign. It works.
- Wal-mart’s app lets you scan prices–this is helpful as they don’t always replace stickers or signs when they lower prices. I’ve occasionally had to re-scan an item to show it came up at the price I claim, but it’s always been honored. I’ve saved a ton with this–for my family as well as for OCC.
- Target’s app has Cartwheel offers even fro Clearance clothing and shoes–this includes shoes, too, so again I’ve saved on items for myself as well as for shoeboxes
- Big Lots discounted all their summer flip-flops and sandals 90%. I hope this is an annual event.
- Dollar Tree marks down Christmas merchandise on December 26–I got tons of pencils this way and a few stuffies.
- Target marks down their Dollar Spot at the end it’s run–super bargains on socks, pencils, toys, bags, and other items.
- All stores mark down Valentines. Tagert and Walgreens went down 90% eventually and I got all the Valentines with pencils or erasers for next-to-nothing. (I used these for pencil packs for Pencil Granny and Friends who make them for under-filled shoeboxes –find them on Facebook.
- All stores eventually markdown school supplies, too. I got pencils bags for 50 cents or less at Walmart and a host of other bargains.
- Walgreens and Dollar General marked down their summer toys to 70 to 90% off. I got soccer balls for toddlers for about a dollar at Walgreens and more toys at Dollar General for under a dollar each–and those were on they the toys I felt were worth buying.
- Plastic shoe boxes are deeply discounted each January. I found great deals on 20 or 30 packs of them at Target and Walmart.
- Walmart marks packaged underwear down to $1 a certain times per year.
Big Lots summer shoe blow-out
4. Free Stuff
These all need to pass the “Would My Kids Like/Use this?” test. I don’t refuse good quality logo-ed water bottles, string backpacks and similar. Clothing I’m not wild about but it depends what it is. Excellent quality is the key with freebies. Some corporate toys are fine–who doesn’t love a squishy stress ball or similar? Logo-ed pens and other school supplies I take. They do the job for the kids just fine.
Freebies I Used This Year
- Socks from a pack I bought myself in a color that I just didn’t want
- Office supplies from a friend’s closed business
- Kid’s T-shirt from a friend
- Stickers from a co-worker
- Notepads, pens, water bottle, lanyard and non-breakable mug from co-worker as well as the same from me from our conference (multiple boxes got these!!)
- Homemade craft kits from my stash [ok not “free” but….]
- Cosmetic bags (for pencil bags) from co-workers and Sunday School classmates
- Two small stuffies from friends
- Cool bookmark from an event
- Free fire safety coloring book
- Shoeboxes from lots of people
- Unopened post-its found inside cosmetic bag that no one wanted back
- Hot Wheel car left in my car and not wanted back
- Unclaimed shirt left at my house (for bigger kid)
- Misc hair things left behind by my daughter (unused still on the card)
- Cloth wine bottle bag free at garage sale shortened into a pencil bag
- Toys from Free box at the thrift store and garage sale–some still in packaging
- Sticker sets and games from fast food kids meals at one place I go for lunch–kids meal is enough for me!
- Passed-as-new Hot Wheels, dinosaurs and other small toys from a friend’s grandson. [Always inspect them in bright sunlight.]
- Office supplies donated by guests at my office who said “throw or donate”. I got them–included 2 sets of 8 markers and 2 sets of 4 markers plus unopened Post-its.
Guess what? This was almost a full box for a 5-9 year old child (going on the t-shirt size). I could then use my gift card From Swagbucks or Ibotta to buy that cool little LEGO set or Barbie doll who swims with the dolphin or whatever for the WOW item and a few other little treats like Hot Wheels or Barbie clothes.
All of this let me pack 102 well-filled boxes that contain high-quality items kids need and will enjoy. All have school supplies, a full outfit of clothing and underwear, high quality WOW item, a stuffie, and more. Over half of my shoeboxes this year had shoes.
Need an illustration of all this?
Here’s how this videoblogger did a free Toddler-aged box