Cashback Bonus = Christmas Budget

by Debt Destroyer on October 27, 2008

I know it seems early to be bringing up Christmas (especially with the economy possibly crumbling around us), but the displays are going up in stores, so I guess it’s never too early to starting thinking about it.

For the last few years we here at the Debt Defier household have been funding our Christmas shopping with our Cashback rewards from our credit cards.  We both have a Discover Card and until we recently decided to start paying for a lot of items with cash, the cards were how we bought everything.

One good thing about buying everything using plastic, is that you build up a pretty decent cashback reward in no time.  Of course if you don’t pay off the balance in full each month, the interest you end up paying will more than wipe out any reward you earn.  So be careful.

Back in the good old days when Discover would let you turn $20 of your cashback in to a $40 giftcard this made shopping a breeze.  My brother and sister would always end up with something from Borders.  And my folks would get a Red Lobster certificate.  And I’d be a big hit, feeling like I didn’t spend a dime.

Then I got married.

Not only did my network of people I had to buy presents for increase greatly but Mrs. Debt Defier wasn’t all that keen on giving gift cards as presents.  This led to her doing most of the shopping our first couple of years as a couple.  But that ended after she busted our budget on presents…BIG TIME (Like doubled it)!!

Soon she saw the light on my “Cashback Christmas” system.

By this time though Discover wasn’t nearly as generous as they used to be.  Now $20 Cashback could only be turned into a $25 card.  Still not a bad deal if that card is for a store you’d actually shop in, but they spoiled me with their more generous offer so now I usually just request a check and we start from there.

We also time our Target purchases so that we receive a 10% off coupon in time for the holiday season.  This can be a little tricky, but it’s rather easy if you pay attention (We’ll miss out on this added benefit this year, due to our Cash experiment).

This year it looks like we’ll have $400+ to blow on crap.  We’ll stretch this by giving homemade gifts to a few people, and we also usually re-gift something that we received before but never used (Yes I’ll admit it, I’m a re-gifter).

I think I’ll cut this off here before I turn this into a post asking whether or not commercialism has ruined Christmas.  But I promise to revisit this idea again as we get closer to the holidays.  I really just wanted to present my “Cashback Christmas” budget system to all the fine Happy Rock readers.

Of course if we stick to the cash plan, this will be the last year that we’ll have any decent amount of dough to work with.  But if the economy doesn’t turn around, we’ll probably have to scale back anyways.  You know what that means…

Homemade gifts for everyone!!!

So now that I’ve shown you mine, you should show me yours…holiday budget system that is.  Whether you use an envelope system, buying clubs, do your shopping in July, or go crazy on the 24th, let me know how you deal with the frenzy that is Christmas Shopping?

Until next time,


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

hayze November 1, 2008 at 5:16 pm

“This year it looks like we’ll have $400+ to blow on crap.”

This made me laugh out loud. I like your cash back plan. If you know you can pay the credit card off on the next due date it is like free money. Although I usually just end up applying it toward my balance.

Thanks for the post.


jacquelin November 1, 2008 at 9:13 pm

One of the “accounts” that I put money into every week is the Holiday/gifts account. (actually an envelope) I put $20/week in it-so that’s $1040.00 a year that I spend wisely on Birthdays and Holidays.
I don’t know how much this would cost you, but one thing that I would absolutely love from you if you were in my family would be a family portrait. Either of your family alone, or with extended family-taken by your wife of course. (and of course, with her in it!)


Ed November 3, 2008 at 10:07 am

Say no to “cashback” systems.


ChristianPF November 3, 2008 at 10:57 am

We start saving up in October and then make a list of everyone we are going to buy a gift for. We then decide how much for each person and save up that much for CHristmas. It has worked out well for us the last few years…


cat November 4, 2008 at 3:19 pm

looks good, once i decided to count how much money i will spend on my friend’s presents, and it was about 5000$, it’s too much for me


The Debt Defier November 7, 2008 at 1:17 am

Thanks for all the comments!

@hayze – It just seems like most of the stuff that I’ve given/received has been crap.

@jacquelin – Those are exactly the kind of gifts we’ll be giving to folks this year. Shhh, don’t tell.

@Ed – It’s too bad that it doesn’t show up on this site, but the email I got with this came with a great Admiral Ackbar “It’s a trap!”

@ChristianPF – As long as you have something that works for you.

@cat – $5000 – Holy Buckets! I wish i was your friend :)


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