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Share your holiday money-saving tips and win a $250 American Express gift card!

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**CONTEST CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO WINNER MICHELLE ANTHONY!**

Like many people, we’re on a tight budget this holiday season. So when American Express contacted me with the opportunity to test out their Membership Rewards program while also offering one lucky reader the chance to win a $250 American Express gift card, I jumped at the chance.

Here’s the catch: to enter to win, you just need to share your money-saving or budgeting tips for the holidays. Easy, huh? (Selfish confession: I plan to glean from your fantastic advice).

American Express launched Membership Rewards 20 years ago as a first of its kind program. Today, they offer more than a million rewards from over 500 brands and millions of Cardmembers have redeemed their points for everything from movie tickets to trips to the world’s finest resorts.

Small Business Shopping

American Express is a great supporter of small businesses so I headed down to one of my favorite shopping districts, Olde Town Arvada. The area has unique, delicious fare; it’s tough to beat Manneken Frites (a Belgian fry shop with a huge variety of dipping sauces) and Cheesecake Therapy, a quaint bake shop with a huge variety of cheesecakes in all sizes. I’m also a big fan of Penzeys gourmet spices (I could spend an hour in there just inhaling), Into the Fire pottery studio (check out their birthday party packages and Kids Kamps) and Lovely, a unique boutique carrying affordable, hand-picked fashions for women.

(A sampling of Scruptious' treats)

This year, I was in the market for stocking stuffers so I appealed to my family’s sweet tooth by going to Scrumptious. Hands down, this is my favorite ice cream and old-fashioned candy shop in the Denver-area and I was excited to see they’re all decked out for Christmas with an onslaught of fabulous treats.

Some things the kids will love: poop brown jellybeans for a reindeer, Santa, penguin, and a polar bear (named “poolar bear”). Also for Christmas, Scrumptious has gourmet candy canes, Christmas PEZ, and small bulk chocolates in the shapes of nutcrackers, snowmen, and Santa.
If you are looking for non-Christmas themed items, mustaches and bacon are super popular right now and they have a plethora of different styles of mustaches. They also have many bacon-flavored items like toothpaste, toothpicks, frosting, and many others.

Money-saving Tips

Now that I have my small purchases under wraps (literally), I’m reading to delve head-first into my holiday shopping. A few of my tips include:

1) Make a list. Mine was in the form of a spreadsheet for everyone I’m shopping for this season.
2) Research it out. I pretty much live and breathe off of the reviews posted at amazon.com or consumerreports.org and have saved myself many poor purchases! Writing down the products I want to buy also helps me avoid impulse spending, something I’m prone to do (especially for my kids).
3) If you’re not a mall shopper (like me), make sure to take advantage of Free Shipping Day on December 16, 2011. There are over 1,400 companies that are participating including J.C. Penny, Kohls and many more!

Contest

And now it’s your turn! American Express is giving you the opportunity to win a gift card of your choice valued at $250! Please go here to enter to win and share your personal tips for staying within your holiday budget through our entry form, tweets, and Facebook posts. Contest deadline is December 22, 2011. Note: Mile High Mamas is participating in a two-part campaign with American Express.

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