Hacking Holiday Shopping to Spread More Good

Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.

One of my favorite things about the holidays is when people use it as an opportunity to give back. Of course, we all know that giving back shouldn’t be a seasonal activity as need lives on around the year, but we all get busy and sometimes need a reminder to look up and do something for someone else. The ‘season of giving’ can serve as that cue.

The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express

Luckily for us in this hobby, we can give even more effectively than many by knowing about stacking deals and offers that can stretch our charitable dollars. I’m not at all against giving money to a legit charitable organization as there are many largescale needs that they can meet much more effectively than individuals ever could, but I also enjoy cutting out the middleman at times and buying exactly what a family needs directly.

Social media makes it pretty easy to find those asking for help, and this direct assistance strategy worked out very well for us during Hurricane Harvey. We were able to network with others to raise some funds and get help where it was needed very quickly without waiting for any organization to go through their processes. Some of you were a part of that effort, so thank you again for all that you did when this area was in serious crisis mode.

Anyway, when you are the one connecting directly with what folks want and need, you can be sure to maximize every dollar you plan to spend the same way you would if you were shopping for yourself. This in no way is selfish (in my mind), but is instead quite the opposite, as you can then use the amount you planned to spend to help more people or get the people you had already decided to help even more than you expected.

Just to give you some ideas of how you can do the same whether shopping for your own family or another in need, here is how we stacked deals to stretch our cash and do more than we thought we would be able to do for a family that lost much of what they had in the hurricane earlier this year and needed some help to make the holidays special for their three kids.

‘Tis the season for trees and helping others

Use coupon codes and time purchases with sales.

We all know that coupons save you money, but finding all of them can sometimes take a little effort. Target was recently offering some Buy One, Get One 50% offers on some items, especially in the clothing department – for those not familiar, the Target line Cat and Jack is a very solid and affordable children’s brand. I did a little Googling and found a valid $5 off $50 target promo code on top of their BOGO 50% off offer.

There was also a sitewide (with some exclusions) 20% off code that was available for those who spent $50+ at Target on Black Friday. I did not have one of these and saw them for sale in various corners of the internet, but asked on Twitter if anyone had one they didn’t think they would be able to use before it expired, and an awesome person donated theirs to the cause. It never hurts to ask on social media when you are working on a project like this as your friends may have a code they won’t be able to use that they will be happy to donate.

All three of these discounts stacked to drop the total by a good amount.

Buy discounted gift cards.

Yesterday Target offered 10% off gift cards, as they often do at least once this time of year. Knowing roughly what we planned to spend on this project, I bought $150 in Target gift cards for $135. This immediately resulted in $15 of savings, though in hindsight, I should have bought more. I didn’t max out this 10% off promo because I didn’t want to fall into the curse of spending more than I planned just because I had a Target gift card burning a hole in my pocket.

There are other sites that also sell discounted gift cards all the time, though I don’t personally dabble in that world and prefer to just buy discounted gift cards directly from the retailers when possible.

Go through a shopping portal.

In the end, the total spent at Target.com on this order was about $226, which is getting close to the $300 you need to cumulatively spend from 12/1 – 12/17/17, to trigger the 1,500 mile “last minute bonus” available via the AAdvantage Shopping site. Along with other purchases, I will be able to hit that $300 threshold and trigger the 1,500 mile bonus which doesn’t help anyone in need directly at the moment, but it also doesn’t hurt anyone.

What would have cost at least $264.97 in this order without using codes and stacking deals ultimately cost just $211.97 and earned close to 1,500 American Airlines miles in the process, which means more for this family and more to help the next.

Network with Others to Do More Good

I also have to give a huge shout out and thank you to the Mommy Points’ reader on Twitter who caught wind of what I was I was doing yesterday and contributed to the cause, allowing us to increase what we were able to do for this family. I know some say that talking about doing good diminishes its value, but I would argue that the good of spreading the opportunity for others to get involved outweighs the bad and amplifies the impact.

If you feel driven to do this sort of informal ‘adopt a family’ process, I recommend keeping an eye on this Hurricane Harvey Facebook group. Of course, there are tons of large-scale toy drives in the area as well, but I have found that those with the greatest need are often unable to take advantage of those structured opportunities due to lack of transportation and other resources, so right now I’m partial to the direct approach of giving if you have the time for it.

Another awesome opportunity to do good pretty directly exists via Operation Puerto Rico. This group did a ton of amazing work right after Puerto Rico was hit hard by the hurricane and they are now back at it getting holiday gifts to the kids on the island. It may be getting close to the deadline to send toys, but perhaps there is still time if you use a quick shipping method, or I’m sure they will still take cash donations.

However you choose to spread joy this holiday season, I applaud your efforts. Thank you for making the world a better place.

I’d love to hear your family’s stories of spreading hope and happiness this season!



Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. My office is collecting winter coats, perfect way to use up my stash of plenti points – stacked with 30% discount and 10 points/$ via the chase shopping portal…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *