Sunday, February 20, 2011

Maximize Your Earning Potential !!!!!!!!!!!!

I posted here about earning more and I wanted to follow up to talk about maximizing your earning potential with these online earning sites.  At the end of the day it can get confusing but if you take the time to learn and understand the rules and offers on these sites you can really cash in for an extra minute or two of your time.  These ideas go beyond the basic search and win and shop for rebates uses of these sites. 
Here are some additional ways to earn that you may not have thought of:

At MyPoints you can earn 10 points for every coupon you print and redeem from page on the MyPoints site.  On top of that you can earn 25 bonus points for every 10 coupons you print and redeem from, SmartSource,com, or Cellfire. 

At Swagbucks you can also earn 10 swagbucks for every coupon you print and redeem from the page on the Swagbucks site. 

What you need to remember to maximize your earnings:
1) As you are reading through blogs and see coupons deals and match ups with printable links keep an additional browser(s) open for the site you choose to print from and see if that coupon can be printed from the rewards site first.  
2) We can usually print two of each coupon per site, and many of us have access to more than one computer so we can probably print two coupons from each of the sites above- earning us 20 points per site!  
3) Pair up with a friend if possible.  Perhaps you have a friend who uses diaper coupons and you don't.  Print those coupons for your friend, and earn more points on coupons you do not even use!  Make sure to return the favor if  you friend has coupons that they won't use.  Not only are you getting money off your grocery purchase, you are earning additional points!
4) At MyPoints you can translate those points into gift cards at stores you'll be redeeming coupons at, such as CVS, Target, RiteAid, & Walmart.  As you can see, once you get started, you can keep rolling those rewards over and over and before you know it you are really maximizing those rewards.  It takes 1600 points to get a $10 CVS gift card!    At Swagbucks the best deal to redeem is 450 Swagbucks for an gift card.  If you use a lot of daily deal sites (more on this below)  to purchase gifts or other items, you can redeem 700 swagbucks for a $5 PayPal credit.  It is very important to look at the rewards you can earn and have a goal.

Daily Deal Sites
I just posted here on how to double your budget with daily deal sites and I even realized a few more things since I posted that an hour ago!  I am going to try and not recap that post here.  I will stress again the importance of budgeting the daily deals and not going crazy on them.   Your goal is to save more- not save more by spending more!  Groupon deals can be purchased through Ebates for 3% cash back and maybe more on special days, and your local deals from Groupon can also be purchased on your Daily Deals page from Swagbucks.  Right now my local deals are worth 315 Swagbucks!  That is over halfway to a $5 Amazon credit!   

Some daily deal sites cannot be purchased through a reward program, but the product you purchase with those deals are often for online purchases so check your Ebates, ShopAtHome, and other similar sites to see if you can earn cash back there as well.  If you happen to have a credit or debit card with rewards you can use it to make your purchases through Ebates, Groupon, Swagbucks, etc to earn even more rewards! 

Many of the daily deals have restrictions such as expiration dates, in store or online only, or shipping may or may not be included in the deal.  It may be easy to get overwhelmed with this so organization is key, and remember you will not be buying daily deals everyday (I hope).  I would use a simple Excel spreadsheet to keep track :

Store Total Credit Expiration Date Shipping Incl.? Online/Local
Artisanal Prem Cheese 50 4/21/2011 Y Phone Only   

If you have difficulty keeping track of expiration dates you can write it on a calendar, set up an email reminder or use your reminder system on your cell phone if possible. 

It can be difficult to remember to check this site and that site and spreadsheets etc. so when I start out I keep a sticky note reminding me to print coupons from this page, or check Swagbucks for this Groupon until it becomes part of my everyday habits.  Also, start with one, if it is more important to get save with coupons and earn points start there, after you have mastered that, start incorporating maximizing the daily deals.  I might also suggest subscribing to a blog which posts these deals, such as Daily Deal Mojo, Groupon Girl, or another favorite of yours, so you can get these deals delivered to you, instead of spending time searching.  These bloggers are spending time gathering these deals and that helps you maximize your earnings by saving you time! 

If you have any tips to add, please leave a comment! 

Double Your Budget with Daily Deal sites

Daily Deal Mojo has a great post about doubling your budget with daily deal sites at Money Saving Mom.  This is a must read!  Then check out Daily Deal Mojo to read about all the daily deal site offers.  I think these daily deal sites can be very helpful for stretching your budget, but I would caution you to set a budget for spending on them, or include them as part of the budget category they fall under.   Personally, since these can be used for gifts, groceries, eating out...well, just about anything....I am making a budget category for them and I will filter a few dollars from my grocery, entertainment, gift budgets, etc.  I am also considering taking any leftovers from the budget categories and moving some into Daily Deals budget, and the rest to savings. Also, do not forget to check Ebates (or other rebate shopping sites) to get your cash back on these purchases!  You may want to think of devoting the cash back from those purchases into the Daily Deals budget line. 

I think this can be a great budget stretcher, but caution you not to go overboard!  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

If you can't save more, you can Earn More....

As I mentioned in my previous post I am not enthusiastic about the deals lately.  I have been working consciously to earn more money instead.  I have been focused on a few different methods but one in particular is Swagbucks.  I currently estimate I am earning about 25 to 30 Swagbucks each day.  This is without actively chasing down the special codes that are given out.  Here is a breakdown of my earnings:

Download Toolbar: 1
Daily Polls: 1
Search & Win:  11 to 20
Swagbucks TV: 5
Surveys/Miscellaneous Points: 10
28 to 38
x 30
840 to 1140

Last month I was able to cash in 2 $5.00 gift cards and those were eligible to be redeemed this week.   I currently have $15 in gift cards on the site,and I spent $13.00 last week.  It was really nice to know I could purchase something I wanted with no money!  I've already been looking around the site for a wish list of things I need, maybe want as well.  I would really like some new chef pants for school, and am trying to plan in advance for the upcoming birthday season in our lives.  Birthdays around here start in Spring and end  around Fall.   Penny at The Saved Quarter posted about a $100 Holiday Challenge this year and they are making these rewards part of that.  I like that idea as well.  You can shop as you earn or stockpile the rewards until fall. 

One thing about redeeming Swagbucks:  You can only redeem points for 5 of the same gift per month.  As you can calculate you are not going to get rich but you can make a great dent in your budget.  The Amazon cards are the lowest amount of points you can redeem,so more bang for your buck.  The next best one was a $5 Paypal credit for $750.00. 

I am going to be writing some more posts about earning and how I keep track of what I am earning, and what is due to me...Happy Earning!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Money Knowledge: Where is it going?

I do not know if I am unreasonably frugal or the deals are leaving little to be desired. I have had to step back and take a good look at my finances now that we are living on one income and I am a student.  I have also been working to change the way we eat and this does not seem to “match up” with coupons & sales as much anymore.  Maybe that is why you have not heard from me…at all.   I am trying to eat more fresh fruit & vegetables, and foods like quinoa (keen-wah), and taking my vitamins. 

So, how am I “Shopping Without Money”?  I am focusing on keeping track of my spending on a simple Excel spreadsheet.    For the month of January I saved all of our receipts for gas, groceries, and little expenses.  I made categories such as Food & Non-Essential Food.  Non Essential food is chocolate, coffee, etc.  Things we don't need but like.    I added a category for Groupon and alike spending as well.  I want to see if I am saving money here or if it is costing me money to save money!  We can get caught in that trap very easily.  

When all was said and done for the month of January we had spent $129.00 more than we made!  I believe that my math is off a little.  We do not EVER use credit cards so I am wondering how this happened.  My bank account is in the positive.  I think I counted money spent on gift cards that we had, we had $150.00 in Walmart gift cards so I used those for groceries last month ( I spent more on groceries that $150.00).

Here is where keeping this spreadsheet helped me:  If I had not had those gift cards would I have overspent anyway?   Would I have put my bank account in the negative, costing myself even more money?   Now I have a starting point- I can see the categories where I spent too much, and work on reducing those.  Already today I switched to a cheaper cable package with a lot less channels.  I have found that the TV is rarely on, and after a bit, we won't even remember the mindless shows we were watching.  I also called my credit card company on another matter and was informed that they have a new program where I can earn 20% back on any payment above and beyond my minimum payment.  The 20% goes toward paying down my balance- it is not toward airline miles, etc.  Next on the list is researching my cell phone bill and data plan. 

So get an envelope ready for receipts, and use pen & paper or Excel, or something, to start keeping track of expenses!