It’s a billion times easier to spend money than it is to save it.
But I’ve discovered a way to save money while spending it.
Sounds fishy, right?
Like I’m about to introduce a Timeshare or something.
Nope. It’s legit. You make purchases online, and money gets placed in a savings account, college fund, or even a “Let’s Head to Vegas” check to cash.
Since money involves numbers, and numbers are usually annoying to the semi-exhausted parent, I was challenged to write this article in a fun, useful, and logical way.
In other words, I quickly realized I needed an example.
Meet the Cash Family
Let me introduce you to “Holly”. Holly is married to Noel and they have twin babies: Mary and Kris. (Yes, those are deliberate Christmas puns. You’re welcome.)
Let’s follow Holly as she gets her family set up for the Christmas season, Upromising her purchases. Then we’ll tally up the totals and see how much cash back she would receive.
The first thing Holly has to do is set up a Upromise account to track her purchases. Then she adds all her credit cards, all her husband’s credit cards, and her grocery and drug store loyalty cards.
Upromise will use this information (all encrypted and safe) to help her catch the extra savings that drip out of her day-to-day spending.
Now that her Upromise account is started, it’s time to start shopping!
Shopping Upromise List
(Let the Experiment Begin!)
Upromise the Holiday Cards
Holly decides to do something different this year for the Cash Family Christmas Card.
Rather than send out a typed letter or a single-photo Holiday Wishes card, she decides to mesh those two together, choosing the new “Year in Review” option at Snapfish.
20 Year in Review Holiday Cards from Snapfish: $40
Upromise Earnings: $3.60 (9% of order)
Upromise the Grandparent Gifts
Both sets of grandparents live several hours away, so Holly wants to pick out something meaningful that’s also a cinch to ship.
“EUREKA!” she shouts, “I’ve got it!” (Finger in the air, of course.)
A photo album! Taken from all her uploaded Facebook and Instagram photos.
One Saturday afternoon she logs into her Upromise account, heads back over to Snapfish and starts arranging photos like the Memory Boss she truly is.
A few hours later she not only has memory books for all the grandparents, she has a keepsake for the Cash Family as well. (Goodbye stagnant photos rotting in a computer file…)
4 Hardcover 8×11 Photo Books from Snapfish: $120
Upromise Earnings: $10.80 (9% of order)
Upromise the Holiday Decor
It’s Holly’s turn to host the family for the holidays this year, and she is beyond excited.
Finally! A chance to dig in and decorate!!
Searching for “Decor” on Upromise.com, she finds some of her favorite home decor websites:
She finally settles on a red/silver theme at Pier 1, choosing a gorgeous red & pheasant feather wreath for the door and several Nutcrackers and greenery for a table centerpiece.
Pier 1 Holiday Decorations: $240
Upromise Earnings: $12.00 (5% of order)
Looking over the corningware dishes they use every day (they were handed down from Grandma), she realizes that picking up some nicer “adult” dishes for dinner is a must.
She Upromises over to Anthropolgie and finds a stunning cream Ceres Dinnerware set. It’s love at first sight. (Bonus: it’s a simple enough design to be used again at Easter!)
Anthropologie Ceres Dinnerware Set & Service for 8: $466
Upromise Earnings: $23.30 (5% of order)
Upromise the Holiday Outfits
Noel is taking Holly to see A Christmas Carol downtown for their monthly date in November.
She needs a new outfit so she logs into her Upromise account and then clicks through to Ann Taylor Loft where she finds a gorgeous teal lace overlay dress.
Stunning Ann Taylor Lace Overlay Dress: $119
Upromise Earnings: $5.95 (5% of order)
Obviously, she can’t go barefoot! So back to Upromise.com she goes, clicking through to Shoes.com and falling in love with Nine West pumps.
Dainty Nine West Heels: $89
Upromise Earnings: $5.34 (6% of order)
Noel’s wardrobe is looking more like “Sunday Football” and less like “Downtown Date”, so she Upromises over to Brooks Brothers and together they pick out a nice buttoned shirt and tie.
“He Belongs to Me, Ladies” Men’s Wardrobe Adjustment: $134
Upromise Earnings: $6.70 (5% of order)
It seems unfair to dress Mom and Dad up, without picking up a little holiday cuteness for Kris and Mary. Holly jumps back to Upromise again (see a pattern here?) and then clicks through to The Children’s Place.
She finds a gorgeous red mesh flower dress (with headband) for Mary and a dapper sweater-suit for Kris.
See How Cute My Kids Are? Outfits: $45
Upromise Earnings: $2.25 (5% of order)
Upromise a Family Disney Adventure
Noel and Holly decide to take their family of four to Orlando as a one-week “Let’s Use Dad’s Bonus for Some Sweet Memories” family adventure.
She selects Upromise Travel and books the flight, the hotel, and two adult and children 5-day passes to the Disney Parks. How easy was that!
Travelocity Vacation Package (Flight & Hotel): $5,912
Upromise Earnings: $236.48 (up to 4% of order)
Best of Orlando Disney Tickets: $1,386
Upromise Earnings: $41.58 (up to 3% of order)
Could she have gotten more savings? Sure! They could have stayed longer and used Upromise to give them additional cash back on…
- Universal Studios tickets (4% of order)
- Seaworld tickets (4% of order)
- Car rental to freely move around, with unlimited mileage through Priceline Name Your Price (5% of order)
- Participating Upromise restaurants (5% of order)
To further drop your jaw, let me tell you she could gain another 5% in cash back on most of these purchases, including participating restaurants, if she uses the Secret Savings Weapon below…but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Counting Up the Totals:
How Does $348.00 Sound?
How did Holly do so far? Let’s add it up what she’s getting back:
- Upromising the Holiday Cards: $3.60
- Upromising the Grandparent Gifts: $10.80
- Upromising the Holiday Decor: $35.30
- Upromising the Holiday Outfits: $20.24
- Upromising the Family Fun: $278.06
So far, her earnings total is $348.00.
Not bad! Getting $348 back in your pocket feels good.
That said, I still think she can do better.
The Secret Savings Weapon to
Increase that by $427.55
If she had made most of those purchases on the Upromise MasterCard®, and then paid it all off at the end of the month (because debt isn’t a friend), she could have saved an additional $427.55. (That’s 5% more on every eligible purchase.)
Here’s what her savings would look like if she had paid for them with the Upromise MasterCard®:
- Upromising the Holiday Cards: $5.60
- Upromising the Grandparent Gifts: $16.80
- Upromising the Holiday Decor: $70.60
- Upromising the Holiday Outfits: $39.59
- Upromising the Family Fun: $642.96
The new total is $775.55.
This means she has received $775.55 by spending money she had already decided to drop on the holidays anyway.
Still, there’s one huge holiday spending category we’re missing here.
If Holly had Upromised her toy shopping, that number would be a LOT higher.
- Toys R Us Online = 3% cash back (8% if she used the Upromise MasterCard®)
- Babies R Us Online = 3% cash back (8% with Upromise card)
- Lego Online = 5% cash back (10% with Upromise card)
How to RedeemYour
So now that Holly’s sitting on a virtual vault of $775, how does she redeem all that into something green and made of paper?
She and Noel have four choices to redeem their money:
- Set up a Upromise GoalSaver Account and have it automatically deposited there, taking advantage of a 10% annual match program. (So that $775.55 becomes $853.10 by this time next year.)
- Pay down a Sallie Mae Student Loan (and start saving for a house)
- Put it into a 529 college fund for the children. It’s easy college savings.
- Take the check and run!
Back to Realville
Okay, I realize many of you aren’t going to spending as much as Holly in my example.
Heck, there’s no Disney trip on my calendar either. (Yet…)
The point is not how much she’s spending.
The point is she was saving money automatically while spending on normal things – like holiday cards and Christmas outfits.
When you’re dead-exhausted and just trying to get through the week, little things like “automatic savings” is a must-do.
I started my account last week.
Take a few minutes and set up your own Upromise account.
It’s completely free to sign up, so you’ve got nothing to lose. (Except for $775.55…)
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