November 14, 2014

2015 Packing Experiment: Shoe Boxes Packed & Shipped with $0 Out of Budget

Packing OCC Shoe Boxes for Free Experiment 2015

Now that my 2014 shoe boxes are packed, I have an unusual packing experiment planned for the 2015 Operation Christmas Child collection.  I am going to see how many boxes I can pack and ship without spending any money from my personal budget.

I think it is safe to say most everyone who packs a shoe box wishes they could pack another.  Those who pack many wish they could pack many more.  So I have decided to seek out ways to pack more and share my journey here at Simply Shoe Boxes so others may be able to take advantage of some of these and also have the opportunity to pack more boxes.

Below is a list of many of the ways I hope to acquire items to fill my boxes.  As I go thru the year I will elaborate more on each one and hopefully post reports on how my stock is adding up.  And I
hope to find more ways I can fill more boxes.  Being mostly home bound and having to depend on others for running all errands makes it a little harder to find free sources.

Ways I Plan to Fill and Ship OCC Boxes for Free:

Shoe Box Items for Packing
  • What I have on hand
    • I have dozens of items left over from this year's packing.  I often send these as fillers to the processing center, but this year I am going to hang onto much of it to incorporate into next year's boxes.
  • Swagbucks (goal:  earn $5 to $10/monthly)


    • By spending just 5 minutes a day in online activities I can easily earn $5 in CVS or Amazon gift cards each month. They offer dozens of gift card options, but these two are what I stick to.  I will focus these on hygiene items and pick up items at Amazon that I am short on at the end of the packing year.
    • If I have a more time to spend I can earn much, much more.
    • You can check out this earlier post for information on how I earn:  Financing Shoe Boxes: Earning Money Online ~ Swagbucks Introduction.
    • From their website:  "It's available in all of the following countries where Swagbucks.com has official presence. "
      •   a. US 
      •   b. UK 
      •   c. Canada 
      •   d. Australia 
      •   e. Ireland
    • Links in this post are my referral link.  When you choose to sign up under me at Swagbucks I earn 10% of what you earn.  I will use all earnings towards filling more shoe boxes.
  • MyPoints
  • Gifts
    • I will request birthday and Christmas gifts that I can put in my shoe boxes.
      • I've already put in a request for toys to go with the dresses I make for the 2 to 4 year old girls.
        • I'm going to make a Pinterest board of Christmas wishes -- I think it will look much like a toddler's wishlist :-) .
      • And I've added a bulk roll of elastic to my Christmas wishlist from my mom--I use this with my pillow case dresses.
  • Enter blog giveaways daily
  • Sew/crochet/craft from what I have in stock (pillow case dresses/bags/marble mazes/hats/scarves/mini blankets/other OCC craft items)
    • I have been given a good bit of fabric for gifts, from an online sewing buddy, and inherited from my sister and mother-in-law and I still have many pieces left.
    • I had birthday money last year and when the local craft store had closeout bias tape for just 25 cents I stocked up big time!
    • I inherited dozens of skeins of yarn from my Mother-in-law.
  • Upcycle
    • Find something new to make out of something old
      • use clothing, cards, paper towel tubes, etc.
  • Spread the word that I am packing
    • Let others know I hope to pack lots of boxes so they have the opportunity to share items if they choose
  • Request free samples
    • Companies often offer free products or prizes
    • Pick up free items at fairs, etc.
  • Use coupons for free products
    • Often items can be found at Dollar Tree or other stores on sale that a coupon is available for and covers the complete cost (I got a lot of toothbrushes this year this way)
packing Operation Christmas Shoe Boxes for kids in need
I wonder how many I will be able to pack?


Earning Cash to Pay for Shipping
  • Income from blogging (approx. $5/month)
    • I hope to earn $5 a month above my blogging costs.
    • This is in the form of cash so I will save it for shipping the boxes.
  • SavingStar
    • SavingStar is  a service that offers coupons on grocery/household items.  They are attached to your store loyalty cards and when you buy the item it is deposited in your SavingStar account.  When you build up $5 you can cash it out.
    • Each Friday they offer a Friday Freebie:  an item worth about $1.  This helps it add up fast.
    • From SavingStar:  "Earn cash back on your groceries with exclusive freebies, healthy offers, and BIG savings on your favorite brands. There's nothing to clip or print. Link deals to your store loyalty cards or submit a picture of your receipt to earn money in your SavingStar account. Save 20% on a fruit or vegetable every week. Get a free product every Friday-Sunday.  SavingStar now works at over 60,000 stores nationwide. The service is free and easy to use.  Click here for SavingStar. "
  • Ebates
    • I do a lot of my shopping online, for shoe boxes and for personal items, because I can't get out of the house much.  Ebates is a cash back service for shopping thru their links at my favorite stores.  You can see my earlier post here for more details:  Earning Rebates for Online Shopping
    • I will use my cash back checks for shipping the boxes.

  • Gifts
    • My Father-in-law usually gives us cash for gifts, and I will save this towards shipping costs.
Empty shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child

This does not mean I will not be spending any money on Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes this year, it just means I am going to see how many I can pack without spending any thus increasing the number I am able to give.  My goal is twofold:  one -- pack more boxes and two -- help others find ways to pack more boxes.

How do you find ways to stretch your shoe box packing dollars?  What helps you to be able to pack more boxes or do your box more inexpensively?

EDITING TO UPDATE 10/2015:  We were able to pack and ship 50 boxes for free this year with some goodies left for next year as well as sending fillers to the processing center.  We will continue with this experiment in 2016.

Happy Packing!

15 comments:

Carla said...

If you sign up for e-mails from Dollar General, they often send out coupons to use on Saturdays- usually $5 off a $25 purchase. I shop there anyway for household supplies & will go on Sat. to get laundry detergent & paper goods for the house, then use my $5 off to get $5 of free stuff for shoeboxes. I used several of them this year. I like FREE stuff for shoeboxes!

Cheryl said...

Great idea, Carla! Thanks. We moved a couple of years ago and there is a Dollar General just a mile away so we shop there often, too -- love their clearance items for shoe boxes, too.

Lori Goebel said...

Have you hear of mypoints. It's another points program. THey send a few e-mails a day and if you click on the links you get 5 points. About once a year I have enough points to redeem for a $25 gift card. If you would be interested in joining I could send you a referral e-mail and then I will get a few points each time you earn some.

I also do swagbucks and use my amazon gift cards for items for shoeboxes as well.

I live close to Menards and like to buy free after rebate items there. THey have lots of great things for the older boys shoeboxes.
This sounds like a fun challenge and is definitely something I would like to try!

Cheryl said...

Thanks, Lori. yes, I used to do MyPoints years ago but I was getting so many emails that did not offer points that the time was getting too much for me to check them all. I decided it was easier for me to do Swagbucks only, but maybe I should try it again this year.

Maybe some other readers would like a referral. Leave a comment if you do.

Lori Goebel said...

They've changed the format at the top of the e-mail so it tells you at the top whether it is worth 5 points or not. Makes it much faster to go through and delete the ones that aren't worth it.

Cheryl said...

Ah, that sounds much more promising. I think I will start looking at them again and see if I can earn a little something. Thanks a lot.

Cheryl said...

Lori, I just went thru all my old emails -- well, until I started hitting expired ones -- and I got 50 points. I have about 1400 points from before so hopefully I can get something for sure. What else do you do on MyPoints. I used to do some little simple survey questions that were right on the homepage, but they are gone. Not sure what else to do.

Joyce Ackley said...

I use my bank card as credit instead of debit and I get points. Gift cards can be purchased with the points, or they can be turned into cash and added back to your checking account. I also have a lot of Bing points that I can redeem for gift cards. I will be on the lookout for free items through merchants, banks, etc. I got a lot of nice free stuff this year, including coloring books, pens and pencils, note pads, erasers, 6 inch rulers, and other items.

Cheryl said...

Wow, that is a great list of freebies from last year -- I would love to put 6" rulers in all of my boxes. I have heard of Bing but haven't pursued it, thanks for that reminder. Nice on the bank card rebate. Happy Packing & thanks for sharing with us.

Denise Marie said...

I have been out hitting Christmas clearances 75-90% off, using CVS bucks/Kohl's cash/store deals. I have been inspired by your challenge. I am truly looking forward to using what I have on hand to craft some shoebox joy! I have always meant to craft but never pulled it off. I am finally gonna be organized w/bins & tally sheets & deals/steals follow-thru. I feel brave enough to ask my Dentist if he'd wanna partner w/me in prayer & donating dental hygiene kits to my boxes!

Cheryl said...

Way to go, Denise! Thanks for sharing your shoe box plans with me -- I love to read what others are doing. Sounds like you will have a productive shoe box packing year! Keep in touch and give me updates now and again.

Nikki said...

I am planning to save my Walmart Savings Catcher e-Gift cards to use on shoebox items this year. We waited till last minute - the day before our church was collecting - and then filled one shoebox for a boy each of my 4 boys' ages. We hope to do more this year . . . and cheaper.

Cheryl said...

Great idea, Nikki! It is fun to collect all year as clearance deals come along and Walmart is a great place to find them from I have seen on Clip with Purpose--our Walmart is difficult to get to so we rarely get in on any. Happy packing! Let me know next year how many you end up with.

cathy wallace said...

To pay for shipping, I quit ordering drinks like tea or soda when we are out for meals, and put the $2 in a jar when I get home. I also clean out the change that I drop in the bottom of my purse for the jar. It is adding up quickly and I don't miss it at all.

Cheryl said...

Fantastic, Cathy! It's amazing how little sacrifices can make such a huge difference.

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