PF Weekly Grab a Brew #46: Gift Exchange Wish List and Holiday Contests Win $1000+ cash


Ah, the good old saying that you can’t win if you don’t play reminds me of budgeting.

You can’t get ahead financially if you don’t play the budget game and know exactly where your money is going.

The budget is a game because you play to beat yourself at spending less than you earn.

Sure you can be one of those people who can figure it all out in their heads but I personally am a fan of seeing the numbers on paper and knowing where my cash is going at all times.

I’m not one to judge but we all manage our finances the way we want and if you are getting ahead and meeting your goals, more power to you.

It was early this morning the Christmas gift giving text came in as we had to draw names again due to a glitch in the system… OK I confess we forgot to draw names in January like we traditionally do so it had to get done as soon as possible.

This year we are now spending up to $150 per person that we have to buy a gift for in our family gift exchange. That’s not too bad although I believe that we budgeted for $100 per person same as last year but clearly that has changed.

I’m sure price inflation has something to do with that jump in cost although I don’t think $150 in unreasonable given the costs of most gifts that people circle off on their holiday Christmas gift wish list.

I’m confident that we will be much more diligent in 2014 with picking the names on New Years like we always do and not let the bubbly get in the way of our tradition for a second year in a row.

I really did like how my mate and his family have the celebrate like Scrooge gift exchange as I think it’s a great way to have a laugh and remind ourselves that spending tonnes of money on Christmas gifts is not always what we should be focusing on rather spending time with loved ones.

The great thing about the wish lists are that we can typically look all year-long for gifts online or in-store and we save up our Shoppers Optimum Points so we can redeem them around Christmas time to buy gifts and stocking stuffers that way rather than spending money in our Christmas budget.

Essentially redeeming our Shoppers Optimum points is like free money and we are free to do what we please with it and it makes saving the points all year worth the extra effort that we put towards earning them.

Even so extra cash for the holiday season is a bonus no matter if you earn it through plastic points or if you win it in a holiday contest.

When my mate Stephen who blogs over at emailed me to tell me about this amazing Christmas contest he was holding I was more than happy to help him out by spreading the word.

He’s giving away one of the biggest cash prizes for the Christmas holidays.

Enter today and you might win some extra cash to put towards your Christmas budget.

The holidays can be a huge cost to the family budget and if Christmas is not a projected expense and saved every month up until December you will need to have alternate means to pay for any gifts, food, clothing or travel expenses that you need to fork out for the big day not to mention  boxing day and New Years Eve parties.

The money that gets splashed around this time of year is huge and for many they spare no expenses when it comes to having the best of the best in their homes for guests who come around.

Although we go to the relatives for the holidays we do tend to pick up specials or deals we find throughout the year to make quick Christmas gift bags or baskets for when we are in a pinch for a quickie because someone drops by with a bottle of wine and a gift of their own.

We are always prepared for these drop-ins’ and sometimes we include our homemade crab apple spice jam for the homemade touch. Keeping gift giving simple and frugal is not hard to do at all. Not everyone wants to give either and that’s perfectly fine as it’s all about what you want to do not what others do.

Last year for the Thanksgiving holidays my wife entered an online contest after sending in 100 words about what Thanksgiving meant to her and even though she is a contest skeptic she won the $200 in PC gift cards and now enters contests more often than she ever thought. You can’t win if you don’t play or enter, that is correct.

So, head over to Stephens blog and Enter to win his Christmas Contest and you might be a lucky winner of one of his prizes totalling over $1000.

Do you enter contests more around the holidays and have you ever won a contest?


Top recipe

caramel pecan pie

Every day Food Bloggers from around the world pass by my other love the Free Recipe Depot Facebook page to share a daily recipe which I share with my fans.

This weeks Top Recipe comes from a blog called Bunny’s Warm Oven and she is no stranger to CBB as I just adore her recipes. When I saw her photo and recipe for Luscious Caramel Pecan Pie I melted it looked so good.

You have to check this recipe out and be sure to review it after you make it because I sure know that I’m going to be making it. Thanks Bunny for posting your recipes at The Free Recipe Depot you are my Top Recipe pick of the week. 


Weekly reads


Every week I share a few of the best personal finance blog posts that I read over the past week with all of you.

Well, that’s a wrap for this Friday’s grab a brew #46 so happy saving and I’ll see you here again next week when I do it all over again.





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The Celebrate Like Scrooge Christmas Gift Exchange


Now I know that old Ebenezer Scrooge has a reputation, and it isn’t as a suave investor or brilliant saver. I imagine him walking about in a house coat with a grimace and a hook for a nose. Not exactly the kind of guy I want babysitting my three kiddos. But let’s not deny that he was a hard worker who amassed a large fortune by spending very little and sacrificing where required. Besides his gruff exterior and dislike for Christmas, isn’t he just a wise spender!

There is a lesson here, I can sense it

In honour of Ebenezer Scrooge’s wise habits I am going to change my giving this year and would like to have you join me in this new tradition. I am going to cut back on non-essential gift giving, and definitely not go into debt while shopping. That’s right! I am going against the social norm to start a new tradition. No more generic $20.00 trinket or gift card. My friends and I are going to give each other crap from our basement. To participate with me, just find something hideous or broken in your basement and wrap it up in newsprint to give to some poor sucker in a Christmas gift exchange. It works better if everyone has the same idea, otherwise you might not get invited again next year. But If everyone is on board, it’s a real laugh watching people open up the strangest things that others had stored away.

It puts the fun back in dysfunctional

Now I don’t want you to get the wrong impression about me. I put up a Christmas tree and decorate with lights. I enjoy watching my kids open presents (bought at a real store ), but I don’t like the pressure of gift giving to people who don’t live in my house. So for all the rest of you, we have this other exchange. I have tested it on friends and last year even my family. Long story short, it’s a HIT! It’s spreading like wildfire and coming to a town near you. For those of my family and friends we call it “crap from the basement Christmas”, but if you wanted to call it “Freeat33 Christmas” or “Free Christmas”, I wouldn’t object! LOL.

Christmas Exchange

Free at 33 Crap From Your Basement Christmas Exchange

Some of the crazy things we have seen?

  • A ten-year old tax strategy book
  • A broken clock
  • A talking Santa Christmas decoration
  • Someone’s Grandmothers kitten cookie jar.
  • A guide to bodybuilding written by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

One year someone put in hockey tape and people went crazy for it. Next to crap from the basement, hockey tape was like getting a diamond ring! People were talking about how they wish they got that one.

In fact besides the hockey tape (boy I wish I would have scored that hockey tape ), everyone else spends the night trying to purge of their “present” by hiding it in other people’s purses/coats/cars etc. Sometimes they don’t know they took it home with them.

It’s a whole new kind of fun.

Suddenly getting a lump of coal doesn’t seem so bad…..

This year for Christmas instead of mindlessly buying that CD or DVD for your cousin, suggest the Freeat33 Christmas gift exchange. I guarantee it’s a blast.

Question: What is really important to you? Is it really the CD?  Or is it the company?

You might just find that this is a great excuse to forget about all the holiday stress. It’s also a great reason to go through the basement once a year and really question why you have saved something.

The Best Part

At the end of the night, everyone leaves what they couldn’t get rid of with the host. I hope you consider joining me in this Freeat33 tradition Christmas Exchange and celebrate like Scrooge!

Merry Christmas.

Thanks to CBB for this guest post opportunity.

Editors Note: Gift Giving doesn’t always have to be brand new items. The Holidays should be about spending time with loved ones. We do “new to me” gifts like a mate of ours. If someone on our list needs something and we can find it used, practically new or new still in the package on kijiji for cheaper we will do it. All of the immediate family is ok with that. Our mate is no Scrooge she’s just a smart saver who shared her smarts with us and a gift exchange like Derek suggests is brilliant.

Derek Knight Free at 33

Derek Knight Free at 33

Guest Post By: Hi, I’m Derek Knight, and I write about challenging the status quo in life and finance at Free at 33. My readers and I are part of a unique gang of Freedom Kn’ighters.  It’s always better, faster, and stronger for us.  If this sounds like you’re kind of misfits, then stop by and check us out.

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