NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Americans spend about $700 on holiday gifts each year. But believe it or not, one woman was able to buy gifts for her entire family without spending a dime.

Staci Gerardi bought all of her gifts, worth more than $800, for nothing.

“I got for both of our children, I got for my parents, I got for my nana, our nieces, nephews, a family friend,” said Gerardi.

She didn’t win a contest and it’s not charity. Gerardi actually bought all of those gifts using reward points she racked up by visiting a handful of websites over the last year.

“It’s like a jackpot,” she said. “I don’t understand why people don’t get this.”

Here’s how she does it: Every day, Gerardi says she spends about 20 minutes browsing through reward sites. Every time she completes an activity like clicking on an ad, watching a commercial or downloading an application, she earns points or “digital dollars.” These points can then be redeemed for real dollars in gift cards.

“They’re gift cards to Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Walmart, K-Mart,” she said.

“I’ve talked to a number of people who have been able to get at least part of their holiday shopping done using just the rewards they’ve earned throughout the year,” said consumer expert Kelli Grant with Smart Money Magazine.

Grant says it’s an easy way to get something for nothing, but it does take time and effort. For every task you complete, you only receive one or two points.

“There are all these different sites to help you,” said Grant.

The most popular of these sites are, and All you have to do is sign up and provide some simple information like your name, age and email address and start browsing.

This is the second year Gerardi has been able to buy all of her Christmas presents for nothing, but that’s not all. Her digital dollars are a big financial help throughout the year.

“It helps with food shopping, it helps with the house,” she said.

Gerardi has gotten so good at racking up reward points, she even wrote a book about it.

For more information, click here.

What do you think? Sound off below in our comments section…

Comments (9)
  1. Amanda says:

    I did the same thing this Christams. I work full time, but spend my extra “surfing” time participating in survey sites and whatnot. I’ve gotten over $500 worth of merchandise, gift cards and checks in the last six months, which I put towards Christmas, and spent almost none of my own money.

  2. Robyn says:

    Way to go Staci! I have been “swagging” since October. I got at least $250 worth of Christmas gifts for my 3 boys. If it weren’t for Swag Bucks, Christmas would have been very sad this year. Thank you for sharing your story with your community!

  3. Jen says:

    What a great story! Most of us have time we’re “wasting” surfing the internet – why not make that time work for us? I’ve been using some of the “deal” sites, but not very actively. This inspires me to turn some of my surfing time into more actively checking out these sites to hopefully help my family in the coming months! Thanks for the great story!

  4. doc in NJ says:

    insensitive story, at worst… 9% unemployment, some folks not able to buy presents for their children, and CBS reports on one person’s coupon prowess with her free time. Surely there’s more salient stories…

    1. Good story says:

      A story to save money in this bad economy is the perfect story — I am glad you’re a “doctor” in NJ and stay there please.

    2. Nick says:

      I believe the woman was unemployed. She lost her job and started her blog to HELP other people learn how to save money, shop smarter, find free things to do with family, etc. She HELPS people who are struggling, just like she did. Instead of just saying “let people figure it out for themselves, I had to” she started the blog to HELP them. And if you listen, it’s not just about buying gifts for the holidays. That isn’t what the holidays are all about. This can help people throughout the year pay for things they need, like food and clothing. I, for one, think she should be thanked and not treated poorly.

  5. Marie says:

    The time spent on this is within the course of the day. While watching TV, while answering or checking emails, while on the phone. So she’s earning points without giving up her time. She’s not sitting in front of the computer every day for 20 minutes earning points and that’s all she’s doing.
    What do you do with your time?

  6. Len says:

    Good for her, proving once again time is in fact money.

    1. Nick says:

      If you read her blog, you would see the “time” she devotes to this is when she’s doing other things. So she’s earning points for her family to be able to help with her budget when she’s on the phone, or watching TV, or checking things on her email, etc. It’s time she’d be wasting – so why not spend it earning something to benefit her family?

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