31 Ways to Save in 2011: Six ways to "fund" your Amazon addiction!


If you’ve been reading my blog for long, then you know I have a bit of an Amazon addiction. I cringe when I hear people say that they have Amazon gift cards that they won’t use because “they can’t really find much on Amazon.”  Over the past year, I’ve bought all sorts of things our family “needs” ranging from diapers and Pull Ups to batteries, a booster seat, over the counter medication, toilet paper, laundry detergent, and razor blades along with some fun things like toys, movies, and books!  The best part is that I’ve spent very little out of pocket on these items because I’ve been able to pay for them using gift cards!

Here are some ideas for ways that you can earn gift cards to fund your Amazon addiction and stick to your budget, too!

1.  Change jar ~ Since we use cash only, last year, my husband and I decided to start a change jar where we would keep all of the change we earned from purchases.  We were very surprised that we accumulated almost $200 last year by doing this!  Part of it went to help pay for a family vacation we took last summer.  The rest of it was “cashed in” for Amazon gift cards to buy Christmas gifts.  When you visit a Coinstar machine, you have the option of “cashing out” but then you have to pay 9.8 cents per dollar. They also have an option where you can get “free coin counting” if you opt for a gift card or gift certificate instead. Amazon is one of the choices and the e-certificates you get for Amazon never expire! They also offer gift cards for Albertson’s, Borders, Cabela’s, CVS, Eddie Bauer, iTunes, JC Penney, Lowe’s, Old Navy, Overstock.com, Regal Entertainment Group, and Starbucks.  We’ve already started filling our change jar again this year and my husband got me a cool digital coin counting cup as a stocking stuffer.  I can’t wait to see how much money we save this way this year!

2.  E-Poll ~ Epoll.com is a survey site that I have been with for several years now.  The surveys are typically fairly easy and usually relate to TV shows.  I usually get 2-3 surveys each month.  You earn points for completing the surveys which can then be exchanged for gift cards to Amazon and a number of other retailers including Best Buy, Target, Home Depot, and Red Lobster.


3.  My PointsMy Points is an easy way to earn gift cards for Amazon or a number of other retailers.  All you have to do is read the e-mails they send, print and redeem coupons, shop through links on their site, or submit Bzz Agent reports.

4.  My Survey ~ With My Survey, you earn points for completing surveys.  They will send you a short screener, which is usually worth 5-30 points and then, if you qualify for the actual survey, it is usually worth anywhere from 150-400 points.  I have also done product testing for them for everything from cleaning products to diapers.  You can “cash out” your points for a check (in $10 increments), merchandise, or gift cards.  Some of the gift cards that they offer are:  Amazon, Paypal, CVS, and Bath and Body Works.  They also offer gift cards for restaurants such as Applebee’s, Chili’s, and Cracker Barrel.

5.  Opinion Outpost ~ Opinion Outpost is a survey site.  They will send you links when you potentially qualify for a survey.  Complete the screener and if you qualify, you will be able to complete a longer survery and earn points. You earn points for completing surveys and for every 50 “opinion points” you earn, you can choose to cash out for a check, a $5 Amazon gift card, or a $5 Citibank pre-paid credit card.  I joined last March and earned $272 just for completing surveys throughout the year!  You can learn more about Opinion Outpost here.

6.  SwagbucksSwagbucks is one of my favorite “rewards” sites.  You earn points just for searching the web, which is something you do are probably doing on a daily basis anyway!  You can find out more about Swagbucks here.

Also, check with your bank to find out if they offer rewards if you use your debit card.  We recently found out that we were earning points from our bank for using our debit card and one of the participating retailers that we can cash out for gift cards with is Amazon!

By doing these simple things, you’ll be well on your way to cutting your budget on household expenses or funding your 100% cash Christmas!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.

Happy New Year and my goals for 2011!

Happy New Year to you all!  I wanted to thank you all for reading my blog and joining me on my savings journey!  I revisited my “goals” that I set last year and I did well in some areas and not as well in others.

Here are my goals for 2010:

1.  CONTINUE OUR DEBT FREE JOURNEY ~ We started on our journey to being debt free in March of 2009 when we took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class.  We’ve had a few setbacks along the way, but we’ve also made great progress. I’m looking forward to getting rid of this debt!

2.  PHYSICAL FITNESS ~ This is always a struggle for me.  I go through stages where I am really consistent about working out, but then I hit a slump and it’s hard for me to get back into a routine again.  I really want to find a way to stick with this all year.

3.  FIND FUN AND HEALTHY MEALS FOR MY FAMILY ~ I feel like I did really well with meal planning during 2010, but this year I really want to focus on finding healthier meals, which will also help with the physical fitness goal I mentioned above.  Because of this and also because my kids are getting older and eating more, I’m going to increase my weekly grocery budget to $50.  I don’t even know this is feasible because I really am hoping to change our eating habits, but I figure it’s a starting point.

4.  WORK ON EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS ~ I’ve got a decent stockpile, but I don’t really have a good system in place for tracking and rotating what I have.  I’d like to be more organized with this and to know exactly what I have and to be prepared to use it.  I’ve known too many people over the past year who faced unexpected layoffs or other emergencies, and I want to be as prepared as possible for “the unknown.”

5.  SAVE FOR ANOTHER 100% CASH CHRISTMAS ~ This was a goal for me last year and it’s a goal again. I hope you guys will decide to join me in this journey. It is completely possible and I can’t tell you what a relief it has been to realize that we won’t be hit with monstrous credit card bills from the holidays in a week or two.  I will be writing different posts to share my ideas about how I’m doing this with you, but basically I plan to put the “extras” I get from things like garage sales, eBay sales, rebates, surveys, writing articles, and other things toward our Christmas fund.

What are your goals for 2011??

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.

Survey sites that really pay: E-poll, Opinion Outpost, and Pinecone Research

One of the ways that I save extra money to use for our “100% cash Christmas” is by completing surveys. Through the years, I have had some ups and downs when it comes to survey companies. Nothing is more frustrating than signing on with a survey company only to find out that they send you lots of screener surveys that you spend a lot of time completing only to be told that you “didn’t qualify.” I have been with E-Poll and Pinecone Research for several years now and one of the things that I love is that they send you surveys that you already qualify for! I just signed on with Opinion Outpost in March, but I’ve already had great experiences with them!

Pinecone Research

Pinecone Research is currently accepting new female applicants. If you are not familiar with Pinecone Research, you can only sign on with them during active recruiting periods.  Once you have been accepted by them, they send out a set of “Household Questions” to gauge your interests and buying habits every few weeks and based on your responses to those questions, they will send you surveys that you qualify for. You receive $3 (you can choose to be paid via Paypal or check) for every survey that you complete. I usually receive payment the day after I complete my survey. I have also completed product tests for them. You receive compensation for completing the product test and for the surveys associated with it.

The surveys I have received from E-poll typically relate to TV shows. They are quick and fun to complete.  You usually receive 500 to 1,000 points per survey.  You can exchange the points for gift cards to a variety of places including Amazon, Target, Best Buy, and McDonalds.  I usually save up my points throughout the year and then cash out in November, so I have gift cards to use for Christmas.

Opinion Outpost

I receive more survey opportunities from Opinion Outpost than I do from Pinecone Research and E-poll.  You will receive an e-mail from them when there are ‘available’ surveys for you to complete.  You will be asked to complete a short screener and then, if you meet the criteria for the survey, you will be directed to the actual survey.  You receive $1 for every 10 points that you receive and payment is via check.  You can choose to cash out every time your balance reaches a minimum of $5.  You can learn more about Opinion Outpost here or sign up here.

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.

Thrifty Thursday: Saving for a cash Christmas!

Can you believe it’s July already? All month we’ll be talking “Christmas in July.” My goal for this year is to save for a 100% Cash Christmas. If you have a similar goal, it’s coming up fast than you think and it’s time to kick it into gear if you’re going to be ready! All month, I’ll be sharing ideas to help you stash some extra cash for your Christmas spending.

This week, I’ll be focusing on survey sites that pay. Completing surveys is one easy way to earn a little bit of extra Christmas cash, but nothing is more frustrating that signing up with a survey site and then being turned down every time you try to apply for one of their open surveys.  I’m sharing some survey sites that I have had great experiences with and also sharing the details on how they “pay.”

Epoll ~ Epoll is a survey site where you earn points for completing surveys.  The points can then be redeemed for gift cards (Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Pay Pal, Olive Garden, etc.).  The surveys are relatively quick and easy to complete and typically deal with TV shows or actors/actresses.

Banner Ad
MySurvey ~ I have been with My Survey for almost six years now.  You earn points for completing surveys and in the past, you could cash out the points for a check (in $10 increments) or merchandise.  Just recently, they added the option of cashing out for gift cards, too, and I love it!  Some of the gift cards that they offer are:  Amazon, Paypal, CVS, and Bath and Body Works.  They also offer gift cards for restaurants such as Applebee’s, Chili’s, and Cracker Barrel.  They will send you “screeners” which are usually worth 5-10 points and if you qualify for the survey, they will let you know how many points that is worth and about how long it will take to complete the survey.  I have also done product tests for them.  Overall, it is a great site!  If you haven’t already, check it out!

Opinion Outpost ~ I just joined Opinion Outpost on March 12th and it is definitely my favorite survey site right now!  In the past, they offered Amazon gift cards as a “reward” but for new members, they only offer cash rewards.  Every 10 points you earn from completing surveys is worth $1 and you have to have earned a minimum of $5 to cash out.  Since March 12th, I have earned $103.40 from completing surveys with them.  I usually get two or three survey offers each day and the surveys are usually fairly quick and easy to complete.  They are worth varying amounts ranging from 8 points to 50 points (based on what I have completed so far).  You can learn more about Opinion Outpost in this post here.

Don’t forget that Swagbucks has also added a “trusted surveys” feature so you can increase your Swagbucks earnings by completing surveys with them, too!

Are there other survey sites that you have had good experiences with or do you have other ideas for saving cash for Christmas? Feel free to comment or link up with those ideas and any other Thrifty Thursday tips you may have!

Do you have another Thrifty Thursday tip to share?  Feel free to link up below!

For more Thrifty Thursday ideas, check out Coupon Teacher, Madame Deals, and Life as a Mom.

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.

Website of the week Wednesday: Swagbucks

Search & Win

Swagbucks is by far my favorite website. If you’re not familiar with Swagbucks, you earn “Swagbucks” by searching online and your Swagbucks can then be redeemed for gift cards or other prizes and merchandise. I typically redeem mine for Amazon gift cards.  I joined Swagbucks last January, saved my Amazon gift cards all year, and used them to pay for most of our Christmas!

If you haven’t signed up for Swagbucks yet, now is the perfect time! This week only (through 5/7 at noon PST) if you sign up for Swagbucks and use the code SWAGNATION5, you will get a bonus 50 Swagbucks!

This week, Swagbucks is also doubling the amount of “winning moments” awarded throughout the day which means that if you use Swagbucks as your search engine throughout the day, you will have more chances to win.  They will also be awarding Swagbucks in larger increments!

The new “Daily Poll” was also introduced yesterday.  I got one “buck” just for participating!  If you submit a poll and they decide to use it, you’ll earn 100 Swagbucks!

Here are a few tricks that I have learned to help you make the most of your Swagbucks account:

*Do a few searches every day until you win at least once. I search for things that I would normally be searching for online anyway and I have found that I can easily earn 10-30 Swagbucks each day by doing this. Your searches do need to be “natural” searches. If it does not seem like your searches are legitimate, they may freeze or even close your account.

*If you have a Facebook account, become a “fan” of Swagbucks on Facebook. Click here to do this. If you check out the wall, there are bonus codes posted from time to time that you can add to your account. (To add bonus codes, log into Swagbucks, and then click on the icon that says “You have X Swagbucks.” There will be a box that says this: Have a SwagCode? Just enter it here and receive your SwagBucks instantly! Enter your code and click GIMME!)

*Publish your Swagbucks winnings on Facebook – when you “win” a buck, you now have the option of posting your win on Facebook. It shows up on your profile and it’s another way to promote your Swagbucks account (and get more ‘friends’)

*Read the Swagbucks blog (you can access this here). Bonus codes are posted here, as well.

*Sign up for the Swagbucks newsletter. They send bonus codes embedded in the newsletter, so it’s an easy way to earn extra Swagbucks!

*Download the Swagbucks Toolbar onto your internet browser – Click on the “toolbars” option on the left hand side of the website after you log in and follow the instructions!

*Post the Swidget on your blog or your Facebook page. You can download it here.

*Tell all your friends – When your friends sign up under you, you win when they win for the first 1000 Swagbucks (this does not include any Swagcodes that they enter)

I have found that I typically earn at least 30 Swagbucks per day just by doing the things listed above. That adds up to 900 Swagbucks in one month’s time (or 2 $5 Amazon gift cards!). I work full time and I only do searched from home (non working hours) and I’m able to do this, so it isn’t something that you have to spend a lot of time on, but you should easily be able to earn $120 in Amazon gift cards in a year’s time. If you’d rather have gift cards for somewhere else, that would give you enough to cash out for $100 in Target gift cards (these can only be used online) or for 8 $10 Starbucks gift cards. If your goal is to do a 100% Cash Christmas, this will help you get started!