In my family of seven (me, my husband, and five kids who range in age from almost-one to twenty years old), I’m not just the mom – I’m also the grocery shopper, the gift buyer, the accountant, the budgeting specialist, and the scheduler, among many other duties. And with such a large family, the budgeting specialist part of my duties is especially crucial when it comes to birthdays and other holidays. For some reason my kids don’t think getting a carefully wrapped package of Ramen noodles as a gift is nearly as amusing as I do.
I do most of my gift shopping online, taking advantage of sales and specials and promotional codes to save as much money as possible, and then topping off the savings by paying with a credit card that offers rewards or cash back or an extra discount. (Incidentally, this is also my technique for buying school supplies and clothes and such for my horde of children). But sometimes the promo codes don’t work, or sometimes you can’t wait for a great sale, like when your kid comes home from school with duct tape holding the soles of his shoes to the upper. (Yes, that has actually happened, and more than once – I don’t know WHAT my 11-year-old does to his shoes at school, but he comes home with his shoes duct-taped together at least once per school year). And that’s why I also use Giving Assistant for my online shopping. With Giving Assistant, I get cash back on every purchase that originates through their marketplace, on sale or full price, whether I use a promo code or not. (And you can get a $5 sign-up bonus by using my referral link!)
Okay, so what exactly is Giving Assistant? Briefly put, Giving Assistant is like a “go-between” between shoppers and retailers – when you click through their website to go shopping, you get a percentage of your total purchase back. How much you get back depends on the retailer – there are over 1,800 to choose from. All you have to do is head over to Giving Assistant, find the retailer you want to buy some goodies from – say, Etsy or VTech – and click the “Shop Now” button. That will take you right to the retailer’s website, and you just go shopping like you normally would. Except you’ll be getting money back on whatever you buy!
To get your money, you can opt for either PayPal or a check in the mail as soon as you have over $5.00 in earnings. Checks are mailed out four times per year, whereas if you opt for PayPal, your earnings are paid out every Monday once they’ve been released from your pending earnings.
As an added bonus, Giving Assistant also shows you a list of current coupon codes for the retailer you’re buying from so you can save even more! My 11-year-old is as hard on his clothes as he is on his shoes, and also he won’t quite growing, so I’m going to be replenishing his wardrobe in the next day or two. When I click on Giving Assistant’s link for JCPenney, there’s a huge list of coupon codes to choose from. Clicking on a coupon code opens the JCPenney website in a new tab, and provides me with a code to enter when I check out. So not only will I be able to save some money by using a coupon code shared by Giving Assistant, but I’ll also get 3% cash back on my purchase. I LOVE stacking up the savings!
And here’s what really sets Giving Assistant apart – not only can you get cash back on your shopping, but Giving Assistant also GIVES back – and you can too! For every qualifying purchase that originates from their marketplace, Giving Assistant donates a meal to a needy family on your behalf via the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity, Feeding America. So far they’ve donated over half a million meals!
Additionally, when you sign up with Giving Assistant, you can choose to donate a percentage of your cash back earnings to an organization of your choice – from major charitable organizations like Doctors Without Borders or the American Red Cross, to local schools and organizations. A search for the small town I live in brings up groups like the sports boosters, the school PTO, the Philharmonic Club, and the Community Chorus (among quite a few others).
The slider bar lets you adjust the percentage between your cash back amount and your charity donation. If you’re going through a tough financial time, you can set it so you get 100% of your cash back; if you’re feeling particularly altruistic, you can give 100% of your cash back amount to charity. Or you can split your earnings 50/50, or any other way you like. And you can change your charity, and the percentage you want to donate, at any time. So even if you’re not interested in getting cash back for yourself, it’s still well worth it to go through Giving Assistant and donate your earnings to your favorite charity.
And to further bulk up your earnings and/or donations, you can ALSO get cash back by referring friends (or blog readers – hint hint!) When you use my referral link to join Giving Assistant, you’ll get a $5 sign-up bonus. Then after you’ve earned at least $0.01 in cash back (not counting the $5 sign-up bonus), I earn $5 for referring you. And then you can use your own referral link to refer your friends and family, and get a $5 bonus for each person who signs up and earns cash back! So go get signed up, earn some cash back, and maybe my kids will each get TWO packs of Ramen noodles for Christmas!