So, let’s talk religious items.
Protestants don’t really have “religious items.”
(In fact, they don’t tend to like the term “religion” at all. It sounds stiff, superstitious, and fake to them. They tend to prefer terms like “faith” or “belief.”) For the most part, if a Protestant has a Bible, they’re good to go. Or, if they are the more scholarly type, books too. Many books. I’m sort of a minimalist, but books don’t count – you know, like you can kinda still be considered debt-free even if you have a mortgage. 😉 Or so I’ve heard. Debt-free has eluded us thus far, I’m afraid.
Now, when you convert to the Catholic Church, you don’t have to buy anything.
You don’t have to own one darn thing to be a Catholic (just remember St. Francis, naked in the town square and again at his death). Further, things that are good to have will come to you. We were given a new Bible (with all the books in it!) by our parish. Friends sent us a pile of rosaries before we had any idea what to do with them. We received a lovely crucifix as a gift from our sponsors, and another from new friends when they moved. If you would like a Miraculous Medal, you can get one for free. No shipping. No strings. No problem.
But, there are definitely things that a new Catholic may wish to buy, if they are able to. Sacred art, a special rosary, more books, religious items for children, liturgical helps. So, if that’s you, or you are looking for a gift, I want to share with you a way that you can save a good bit of money when you buy religious items online. I’ve mentioned Ebates before – it’s a pretty neat program.
Ebates is an online cashback program that gives members a cash payout for a percentage of purchases at over 2000 retailers, including:
- Etsy: 1% cash back
- The Catholic Company: 5% cash back
- Walmart: 1% cash back
- Playmobil: 2.5% cash back
My favorite thing about Ebates is that it’s free – and actually not just free, but also they add a $10 Welcome Bonus for new members. How is that, anyway? I was suspicious when I first heard about it a few years back, because we all know nobody gives money away without making it up somewhere.
How Ebates Works
It’s pretty simple.
Ebates is contracted with the retailer, who pays Ebates a commission for sales that come to them through Ebates. Ebates then shares that commission with you, the member. So what Ebates is doing is using a cut of their profits to offer cash back to members – who then will choose to use their Ebates toolbar to automatically get cashback when they do their usual shopping. Ebates makes money – but from the retailer, not from you. I imagine they recoup the $10 new member bonus pretty quickly!
I also like that they make it easy to get your cash.
Ebates lets you install a button in your browser that will notify you when you are shopping on a qualifying retailer, and how much cashback you can get. Then, you just click “activate,” and go on with your shopping. Your purchases will be tracked in Ebates and your cashback will be credited to you. When you have $5.01 or more in cash back, you get your money paid out.
The Welcome Bonus is paid out after spending $25 or more at Ebates retailers. So, say you were after a chewable rosary (good heavens, these are adorable. It makes me want another baby even more than I already do!). Here’s how it would work:
- Rosary: $38.00
- Shipping: Free
- Ebates Welcome Bonus: $10.00
- Cash Back: $0.38 Meh, cash back at Etsy isn’t nearly so good as it is at Amazon or The Catholic Company. Even so:
- Your total after you get your payout from Ebates: $27.62. Not bad for a $38.00 rosary.
It’s a pretty good system with no risk – if you sign up and never shop through it, you haven’t lost anything.
That’s good for me, because I have a bad habit of forgetting to cancel free trials, or thinking something will pay off but ending up having spent money instead. That can’t happen with Ebates, because they never charge you a cent. I haven’t shopped much lately (and honestly, I am reminding myself that I have been forgetting to use it when I do!). A few years ago when I signed up, I used my Welcome Bonus stacked with a special at Walmart to get a free copy of Frozen when it was new on DVD. Including that and with very minimal shopping after that, Ebates has paid me a total of $163.58 in cash back.
So, try it out, and then I guess it’s back to the Christmas shopping madness – unless you are amazing like my MIL and are all done already. In that case, well, you can still save when you shop online next time.
Speaking of Religious Items
We’ve been Catholic for just a couple of years, and we have a tight budget what with all the kids and moves and, you know, job loss. All that. We haven’t done much shopping, but there are a couple of items which I am really glad to have. One is my St. Francis rosary. Our parish gave it to at the dinner they put on for new RCIA grads, and it’s just one of my favorite things. I’m in formation to explore if I may have a vocation to the Secular Franciscan Order, so I doubly love my little free St. Francis rosary! The other thing I’m delighted to have is a yard statue of Mary that we bought before Mark lost his job.
I wouldn’t have believed that I could ever want to own such a thing, but it pleases me no end to have this in a pretty corner of the yard. Over time I plan to put a little rose garden around it.
What is your favorite religious item? If you are a convert, is there something you were gifted or bought for yourself that you are just delighted to have? Is there a favorite gift you’d give to a new Catholic? Mark is sponsoring a fellow in RCIA this year, so we need to think sponsor gifts.
Remember to check into Ebates to save on religious items for gifts or for your own home. Let me know if you do and if you felt it was worthwhile!
Plus, I spent an hour combing through all 2000 Ebates retailers looking for Catholic stuff, so you don’t have to. Pick up my master list of retailers that participate in Ebates and carry Catholic goods – there’s jewelers, booksellers, gift shops, and more.