Monday, December 12, 2011

American Express Holiday Shopping Challenge $250 Giveaway

There are generally two groups of holiday shoppers.  The people who make it their goal to be finished before Thanksgiving and the people that don't even start until Black Friday.  Now that the craziest busiest shopping season of the year is upon us, it is finally time for me to start tackling my shopping list.  I love the fun of Black Friday, but surrounded by the crowds and deals it is pretty easy to go overboard.  It is really important for me to go in with a plan, so this year I am teaming up with American Express to share some of my favorite holiday smart shopping tips.

One thing that I find essential is to have a list, a real list written out on paper, that has the name of each person I am purchasing a gift for, the budgeted amount of money for that individual, and ideas of what present to purchase for them.  In the perfect world I would already know exactly what I was going to purchase and would have found the cheapest place to buy it, but I am never that ahead of the game.  The list helps me keep track of what I have purchased and helps me to stay within my budget.

Another trick to staying within my budget is saving money ahead of time.  Nothing squashes the joy of a holiday like getting your credit card statement afterwards.  It is a lot less painful when I have planned ahead and have the money waiting to pay off the bill when it arrives.  It is sometimes hard not to spend the extra money that is sitting around, so a trick I have picked up is to purchase gift cards to my favorite retailers throughout the year.  Plus, if I only have the gift cards with me, I can't go over budget.

And my third favorite holiday shopping tip is taking advantage of rewards cards!  I am a huge fan of reward credit cards.  We have used them to pay for vacations, buy gift cards, and I have a television and a refrigerator that were purchased with my American Express Rewards points.  And using your American Express card can save you money in other ways, like providing an extended warranty on eligible purchases so you don't have to purchase one.

American Express is letting me put some of my tips to good use for my own holiday shopping.  They have given me a $250 gift card and 40,000 American Express Membership Rewards Points Rewards to use towards my holiday shopping.  Next week I will be sharing my fun purchases with you.  One of which will be purchased from The Common Thread to celebrate Small Business Saturday.  On Saturday, November 26,  you can support the small movement by making a purchase from a local small business.  And to show their support, American Express will give you $25 of your small business purchase back.  You need to register your card to be eligible, so you can check out all of the details on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page.  You can also use the Facebook page to find local small businesses.  That is another $25 you can add to your holiday shopping budget!

Oh, and there is one more thing!!  American Express is giving away a $250 gift card to one of my readers.  Leave a comment on this post letting me know how you stay within your holiday budget and you will be entered to win!  For a prize this great, one chance to win just isn't enough, so you can share another tip on Facebook and one on Twitter too.  That is three chances to win.  Make sure to link to this post in your Facebook status or Tweet.  Then come back here and leave another comment (one for each entry) that includes a link to your tip.  (Please leave a link to your status update or your tweet).

You have until Wednesday, November 30th at midnight (CST) to enter.  One winner will be chosen at random from all entries and contacted via email.  Please make sure you leave a valid contact email with your entry.

***The entry period for this giveaway has ended***

***Disclaimer - This is a sponsored post from American Express.  All opinions expressed in the post are my own.***