For more than 20 years, at Good Morning America and now at Dr. Oz, I’ve been helping people like you to save money and spend smarter. Along the way, I’ve gathered tons of tips and uncovered the best ways to find deals and “hacks” to put as much money back in your wallet as possible. That’s why I love Swagbucks – you can earn free gift cards and cash just by doing the things you already do online and on your phone. So much so, that I’ve partnered with them to help spread the word and share my best advice with you.
3 Ways To Snag Holiday Gifts For Free —Yes FREE!
By Elisabeth Leamy
The holidays are fast approaching and even though it feels like we just packed away our shorts and swimsuits, I have a few very good reasons why it makes sense for you to start thinking about your gift list now – namely, extra cash you can put toward those purchases! Think of this as my Holiday Card to you. Holiday Cards are always full of good wishes, right? For holiday season 2015 I wish for you to be:
And get all of your shopping done for FREE!
Sound about as possible as a snowball fight in Florida?
Allow me to show you how it’s done.
Earn Free Gift Cards from Swagbucks. Americans spend more than three and a half hours a day on the internet doing research, shopping, updating social media and so forth. So what if I said you could earn free gift cards just for doing those same things online, but by doing them through a rewards website? And not just any site. The one I always recommend is Swagbucks. Signing up is free and you can immediately start earning points toward free gift cards at quality retailers like Amazon, Target and Walmart. Swagbucks offers multiple ways to earn points —most of them free— simply by using the site as sort of your “lobby” when you enter the internet. You use the reward site’s browser to do your usual web surfing and shopping, maybe take some surveys and watch a few videos, and you earn points toward free gift cards. I’ve heard from several moms who got good at this and earned enough gift cards to purchase ALL of their presents for free last holiday season. Swagbucks recently announced that it has given away more than a hundred million dollars in cash and gift cards so far, so there’s your proof that the points add up! Why not snag some of the next hundred million for yourself?
Find Unclaimed Money. Would $42 billion help you pay for your holiday gifts? You, me and the rest of us! That’s the amount of unclaimed money currently being held by the 50 states on behalf of their citizens. About 1 out of every 10 of us has a claim to some of that cash! Unclaimed money is YOUR money that’s gone missing. Things like final paychecks you never cashed, apartment security deposits you didn’t get back, and stock dividends that went to the wrong address. Think you’re too organized to have lost track of your money? Then perhaps there are forgotten funds waiting from a deceased loved one. This is frustratingly common with things like life insurance policies and safe deposit boxes because surviving family members often don’t know about them so don’t claim them. People often ask me to help them find their unclaimed money, but, the truth is, in the time they spent emailing me, they could have searched already. It’s that easy! The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators operates afree website where you can search one state at a time. (Never pay to search for unclaimed money.) You simply type in your name and then verify based on your address. If you get a match, you fill out a form to claim your money. Voila! Want to really dig deep to make sure you’re getting what’s owed you and your family? Check outmy article on more obscure sources of unclaimed money.
Cash-in Miles. When gunning for an all-free holiday shopping season, don’t forget about alternative kinds of currency other than cash. One of those that can have tremendous value is airline miles. First idea, if you are flush with miles, is to give somebody a trip somewhere. This is especially great for those “person who has everything” people on your list who are more likely to enjoy an experience than a thing. Send your artsy college student to New York City for a weekend of museums and shows? Bring Mimi into town for some quality time with the grandchildren? It used to be hard to transfer miles. No longer! The airlines have made it crazy-easy as they try to reduce the number of unredeemed miles hanging around out there. Option two: use your miles to buy stuff at the airline’s online shopping mall. I only recommend this if you are cash-poor but miles-rich, because you can often find these same products for less elsewhere. But here’s the caveat: many people don’t realize that airlines miles expire if you don’t keep them active. It’s depressingly true. Of 15 airlines I checked, 13 had programs where your miles expire if you haven’t flown the airline in awhile —usually 18 to 24 months. So if your miles are going to be grounded before you get a chance to take off, you might as well let your fingers do the flying —over your keyboard for some free holiday shopping.
Elisabeth Leamy is a 13-time Emmy award-winner, a critically acclaimed personal finance author and a 20-year consumer advocate for programs such as Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show. Connect with her at Leamy.com.
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