OK, fine. Worry isn’t the right word. But I am *thinking* about Christmas in July. And if you celebrate that holiday or have any other big end-of-year plans, you should probably be thinking about it, too.
Because if you plan far enough in advance, it can be painless and, dare I say, enjoyable. In fact, that’s part of why I actually laid the groundwork for our Christmas spending in…January.
While I might have impressed some and offended others with my obnoxiously early post back then, I realized that I haven’t exactly been keeping tabs on my Christmas savings. Since summer is always such a spendy season for me, I figured a little Christmas in July sinking fund check-in is in order.
Here’s how my money stacks up:
The Christmas Sinking Fund Plan
Originally, I set out to pay for Christmas using different apps and cashback sites.
Then, I got lazy. Clever. Efficient. Elon Musk-level brilliant. Lazy.
Early in the year, I realized we had about $400 sitting in cashback with Discover from some previous months’ spending, so I thought, “Hey! Let’s use this cashback and not even care about apps.”
But you know me. I love a deal, and I love to make a game out of money. Plus, we buy a lot of booze over the summer for entertaining, so Ibotta is basically my BFF.
Now, I don’t mind tapping the credit card cashback at all. But I’m also curious about where things stand with my original plan. Let’s run the numbers, shall we?
Did I Really Earn Cash Using Phone Apps?
A lot of apps seem too good to be true. Or more work than they’re worth. But I’ve stuck with a handful of low-commitment ones, and I think I’ve actually earned a considerable amount.
Or enough to write a post about anyway.
Achievement – $10 PayPal
This is easy. Almost too easy. In fact, it probably qualifies as “set it and forget it” to a fault. I never check in with this app, so sometimes it loses connection to my Fitbit. A few clicks and it’s back on track usually.
Checkout 51 – $23.65 PayPal
I don’t tend to shop the brands featured here often, so I usually forget to even check.
Drop – $20 Amazon
When it works, this app is my favorite. It requires you to sync a card, but then you don’t have to do anything. Unless you’re bored. Then, you can play a game on it a la Snake from your early 2000 Nokia phone. I hooked up my card for Target because wow does that thing get a workout when it’s time to buy diapers!
FetchRewards – $33.45 Amazon
This is a good app if you host parties and serve alcohol. I try to double dip with Ibotta.
Ibotta – $38.80 PayPal
When I shop a lot at Aldi, I can go for months without much of anything happening here. But it’s been great for different baby/toddler items at Target.
Job Spotter – $35.34 Amazon
I’ve actually probably made three times this amount, but I deposit them into my Amazon account each month. I was previously using it for baby wants (Color Wonder coloring books!) and classroom library books. This month, though, I’ve decided to start stashing toward Christmas again.
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ReceiptHog – $40 + $20 PayPal
This app only got good once I started qualifying for surveys. It happens when we first started buy formula, wipes, and booze. Now, I usually get a few hundred points a week in surveys.
Shopkick – $10 Target
I don’t scan items usually, but I do walk in Target and Carters a lot.
Grand Total: $231.24
It’s obviously worth noting that some of this isn’t cold hard
cash PayPal. But we do shop at Target quite a bit, and I begrudgingly also still give Amazon some of my dollars. We definitely already have a good chunk of Christmas covered just from phone apps!
How is my Christmas in July savings looking overall?
Phone apps: $231.24
This seems like a lot. Everyone says they just add up to peanuts, but these are some expensive ones, no?
Ebates/Rakuten: $21.94 + $18.55 + $33.35 (pending) = $73.84
See my spending tick upwards? Ugh. The good thing is that I can earn cashback on some of my Christmas spending in the final quarter, too!
Credit cards cashback: $20.51 + $60.59 + $128.08 + $157.93 = $367.11
Just like Rakuten (OK, guys, it’s Ebates. The Sears Tower is the Sears Tower and Ebates is Ebates), it’s fun to think that I can keep earning cashback on my 3rd and 4th quarter spending.
Grand Total: $672.19
I am so excited, and I honestly would not have guessed this number unless I totaled it up. It’s fun when money surprises go this direction!
If you include the additional $400 that I had floating around on my Discover card at the start of the year (from the previous year since I apparently hoard online dollars like arcade tickets), we actually already have more than enough money to cover the cost of Christmas. In July. In December. Or something like that.
The best part is that this is mostly painless and typically effortless. The best best part is that I’ll still be able to do my regular shopping and include gift receipts (for all the people who don’t just get gift cards or bottles of wine).
So it’s over, right? I mean, mission accomplished. Ah, yes. But I do love a challenge.
I’m not going to give up on apps. I’m also going to keep swiping my credit card (though, hopefully a lot less!). In fact, I’ll be playing a new mental money game of sorts. I’m
bad unmotivated not dedicated lazy travel hacker. But we’re finally cashing in our American Airlines miles for a little jaunt over winter break. So now, I’m going to try to earn enough money to offset at least part of the costs of other parts of that trip.
I mean, I’ve never been, but I might have my work cut out for me since I intend to eat at least 97 beignets. More on that to come!
Pssst. If you want a quick and painless app (and want to contribute $5 of someone else’s money to my beignet-fund!), you can download Drop using my link (or enter code 9az66) You get $5, too! And no, this isn’t sponsored. It’s just probably the lowest commitment app on the list, and I wanted to share the wealth!
So Tell Me…Do you have any looming end-of-year expenses? Do you have a plan to take the sting out of them?