Earning Free Amazon Gift Cards – How I’m up to $112.88 so far in 2017!

I currently have $112.88 on my Amazon gift card balance from earning sites.

photo courtesy for amazon.com
photo courtesy for amazon.com

December was good to me in many ways – one of them being I was able to cash out on a lot of earning sites that had high earning rates for the holidays!  Here is how I racked up this random amount of cash in December.

Ways to Earn Amazon Gift Cards

$40.00 through Inbox Dollars
It took me 6 months to earn $30 – and then less than a month to earn the additional $10 in the higher bonus time of December.  Now…it took me 6 months because I didn’t spend much time with it until the last 2-3 months when I actually got into some surveys, played videos a lot, and did a few e-mail offers.  I earned $67 in 2016 through Inbox Dollars and I think it would be more worth it if I spent more time with it….but I’m trying to limit my earning site time in 2017!

$17.88 through Job Spotter by Indeed
December is PERFECT for Job Spotter because everyone is hiring for extra holiday help – I cashed in for all sorts of help wanted signs and now it’s become a game I can’t stop playing.  I like to walk around on my lunch breaks and find now hiring signs!

$5.00 through Perk.com
Probably the longest $5 it took to earn – from my understanding, people make the most money from them running phones all day and it just seems overly time consuming.  I enjoy their Word Search and Pop Quiz (trivia) games but am no longer working any harder than that to earn.

$25.00 through Swagbucks
Ahhhh Swagbucks.  My love-hate relationship that is more hate every year.  The earnings are not as great, the videos longer, and the surveys just never want to hear from a 30 year old female from 19145.  Yet I can’t seem to stop running videos on my phone at home or checking in when I’m on the laptop.  For that,December was an easy earning month sand I’ve got $25!  I earned $255 in gift cards through Swagbucks in 2016

$25.00 from Verizon Rewards
I earn rewards for just having Verizon – I have things set on auto pay and I earn rewards monthly so in December I cashed out for another Amazon gift card.  I earned about $75 last year in giftcards from Verizon so it’s nice they give a little back despite their ridiculous prices.

 

 

 

BJ's List for Today.

BJ’s List Hack – why haven’t I thought of this until just now?

2016-12-17-10-19-36

I’ve gotten very sick of trying to rustle through the coupons and trying to do math at the same time in the aisles – so I’ve made it slightly more idiot-proof!  I have this list and I will not deviate from this list.  Everything we need to get through the winter without ordering delivery every night.

The IB circled next to some is for iBotta – it’s a cash back app where you unlock rebates, scan the items you buy and take a pic of your receipt, and then when you hit $20 in rebates you can cash out to Paypal, Venmo, or other types of gift cards.  Sign up for iBotta with my referral link and get a bonus.

My First Meeting with a Financial Advisor

“You already know the right person…”

That was the subject line of an e-mail I received from my bank last month – offering a free meeting with the “Relationship Banker” for my area.  I looked the guy up on brokercheck (as you should always do when someone wants to deal with your money!) and he’s a new financial advisor.

As you may have guessed by now based on this blog, I am obsessed with trying to figure out what to do with my debt and how to take care of it the fastest.

I scheduled a meeting to meet with the guy at 9:30am on Saturday morning.  I erred on the side of TMI and spent Friday night printing the most recent versions of the following:

  • Paystub
  • 2015 Taxes
  • Retirement Account Statements
  • Credit Card Statement
  • Student Loan Statement
  • Mortgage Statement
  • Insurance Policy Summary
  • 2016 Expenses – exported from Mint.com

It was an hour of relaxed conversation that gave the RB a better understading of my situation and he was able to give me a gameplan.  Here were my key takeaways:

ONE: The majority of my debt are investments

Aside from $1,700 on a 0% interest balance transfer card – my debt are student loans and a mortgage.  I wouldn’t be making the salary I’m making or in the field I’m in without that Master’s – even if it’s not what I went to school for.  I once asked my supervisor if she thought I’d be able to pass the insurance license exam and she looked at me when I was crazy and said “Uh, yeah, you got a Master’s!”so I need to think of this debt as an investment and accomplishment and that it is something tangible.  He pointed out the window and said “there are guys out there right now with $76,000 in CREDIT CARD DEBT”

TWO: Calm down about my student loans

I’m on the Income-Based Repayment plan so as long as I make on-time monthly payments, they will be forgiven in 25 years.  I can’t see myself getting such a raise in income that I will no longer qualify for these so I was advised to make my monthly minimum payments and not really worry about them right now.

THREE: Do something you love and always be open to new opportunities

He strongly suggested that I get back into art and creating and try to find some profit in it – he even suggested blogging!  And I’ve felt it recently and may have even flat-out told my boyfriend that I wanted Windsor & Newton Oil Paints for my birthday next week.

He also mentioned that I should always keep my resume updated and be open to new opportunities because the only way to make more money in our industry is to move around.

FOUR: “Don’t just micro-save, macro-save”

An exact quote form my Relationship Banker on my way out after explaining how Digit and Qapital work and how I’ve been trying to use them for savings.  He also said I should hold off as long as possible on the kitchen remodel.

Instead of throwing all of my money into all of my debts I should be putting my extra money into savings and my mortgage.  Instead of keeping myself poor trying to pay these off I should be building savings so I don’t have to use credit cards when emergencies crop up.  He told me to build up my savings and then look at everything in August and start allocating some of the savings into different debts.  I have until October to pay off that $1,700 before it accrues interest so there’s no rush.  There’s no rush!  Just stop accumulating credit card debt and this will be handled!

This guy is available to me via phone or e-mail anytime I have a question and has a file ready for when we meet again in a year.  I feel renewed and excited for the new year with a new gameplan.

Have you ever met with a financial advisor?  If not, would you?

April: A Fail in Frugality….or Win?

So….April has been incredibly expensive.  Like…WTF expensive.  My Mint.com is red all over the place – and it’s interesting because it started with such good intentions!

April started off rather fantastically – I got a legitimate tax return for the first time in 3 years.  I had done really well with saving in February and April and was sitting pretty on a nice amount of cash in all accounts…and I was thinking of actually paying off my smallest student loan.  I was waffling because it would leave me completely without an emergency fund…so I threw 1/3 of the amount into the loan instead.

Man…I’m really glad I kept the emergency savings!  Here’s why:

On April 11 I stepped out of an appointment and by the time I got to work was hobbling with excruciating pain in my right foot and ankle.  Nothing was relieving the pain.  So here’s how that financially broke down:

  • $50 copay from PCP to be told she had no idea and got a referral to a podiatrist
  • $60 for the podiatrist
  • $20 for the prescribed ankle brace
  • $89.19 in ubers/taxis between work and the doctor’s offices over the course of a week
  • $110 for a new pair of sneakers

My sneakers were so old they they lost all their ankle support and that is why I rolled my foot and severely strained a tendon in the first place. I walk and workout too much to not replace my sneakers every 8 months….it had been a year and a quarter.  I was holding off on this because they are expensive but I didn’t realize it had been THAT long…….and if I had just spent the $110 a few months ago this could have been avoided.

$329.19 so far

When I moved in December my new home was left with an ancient Frigidaire….and I do mean ancient.  I’m 75% sure they actually painted the front of this fridge to hide rust.  It has probably been an energy nightmare this whole time…but sometime over the weekend the freezer door popped open and I have not been able to get it to fully shut since:

  • $50 for the groceries lost (I am guessing this because I’m really not going to go back and itemize but I have spent $277 so far this month on groceries and a lot of that went into the freezer.
  • $596 for a new refrigerator – I will get some help with this down the road but I did have to put up for it first.  I pre-approved for the Lowe’s card and got 10% off.

$646…
$975.19

My dog came down with an unexpected itching problem and I had to take him into the vet.  While about 70% of this will be covered by pet insurance, I have to pay up first!

$138…
$1,113.19

There has been an article by The Atlantic circulating my frugal blogs entitled The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans that talks about how, based on a study from the Federal Reserve Board, 47% of Middle-Class Americans do not have enough savings to take care of a $400 emergency.

I failed this month in the sense that a lot of these things could have been avoided if I had just taken care of them in a more timely manner and I’m going to do better about this going forward!

The win: I am able to pay this off thanks to keeping my emergency savings.  It’s what it’s there for and I’m glad I took this bit of advice from most of the big wigs of budget blogging.  You know that box of ebay items I keep talking about?  This weekend would probably be a good time to get on that….

Let Me Tell You About Paribus

Paribus is a website that tracks your purchases through e-mail and issues refund tickets for you when prices drop within a week of buying something online at participating retailers.

Here is my referral link for 5% off the fee

Fee, you say?
Yes – they take 25% of each refund and charge your credit card at the end of the month.  You can reduce this fee by getting referrals.

Today I got 2 e-mails: 1 from Paribus saying they had found a price drop in the dog food I ordered on Amazon this week! 2 was from Amazon saying that they had issued a refund for my price drop ticket.$5.34 – their fee will be $1.33 at the end of the month.  I still made back $4.01 just to do what I was already going to do.

Still haven’t signed up?  Here is my friend’s 5% off code.

 

My Top 3 Lazy Earner Websites

Okay…so today I promoted Ebates on my Facebook and a few people got interested….so here is my favorite list of “lazy earners” – sites/apps/extensions I use to earn points that can be turned into paypal money or giftcards…usually of the Amazon persuasion.

1. Swagbucks.com
So with SB…you get what you give for the most part – you do stuff to earn their virtual points referred to as “swagbucks” and then exchange them for various rewards – usually e-giftcards to awesome places like Amazon, Starbucks, Target, Walmart, etc.  They have a Shop & Earn section where you can earn for shopping at places like Groupon, Living Social, rotation Amazon categories, and MANY other physical and internet stores.  The rest of the website is basically getting a few bucks to watch ads or try new products (sometimes for free, but usually for trial and whatnot)

Average Earnings: $25- $40 per month in Amazon and Starbucks giftcards.  
I use the Shop & Earn for daily purchases and run the mobile apps whenever I have free wifi.  When I’m lazing around at home I’ll run the SBTV in the background or do surveys…though it is easy to spend 30 minutes just disqualifying for surveys.  I also try to use their search function as often as possible (It’s yahoo and kind of sucks…but I’ve just started searching google.com and have received swagbucks for it!)

Click here to sign up for Swagbucks and get swaggin’

2. Recyclebank.com
You sign up and slap a sticker on your recycling bin (or don’t.  It’s whatever since I’ve been earning well after that poor bin was stolen) and earn points that can be used for coupons to local establishments, e-giftcards, magazine subscriptions, etc.  You can also earn points by doing the activities on their website that often give you great energy-saving tips.

Average Earnings: $15 and a magazine subscription per year.  
Not a huge payout – but I’m dragging the recycling to the curb once a week and this is giving me something for that!

Click here to sign up for Recyclebank and earn for helping the earth and stuff

3. EBates.com
They will send you paypal money, giftcards, or even a check in the mail just for shopping at websites you usually do – Groupon, Amazon, etc.!  You just have to check their website or download the browser extension and it will do the rest!

I Don’t Have Average Earnings Yet
I just started using this in 2015 though I have friends that say they have earned $200-$300 over the years in “cash back”

Click here to sign up for EBates.com


 

Today I bought a Groupon and used both EBates AND Swagbucks so I got about $5.20 back from a $40 Groupon purchase!  May not seem like much…but it all adds up.