Earn gift cards for searching online

Search & Win

I recently discovered Swagbucks, which is a site that allows you to earn points that can be exchanged for gift cards when you search online. I just do a few searches every day and have earned points pretty quickly. Cash out for the gift cards starts pretty low (Amazon starts at 45 points and Starbucks starts at 50 points). Other retailers include: Subway, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Target, and Exxon.

Sign up here today and enter code FREESWAG for an extra point.

My New Years "Challenges": $40 a week grocery budget and more savings!

I thought I’d share my personal New Years “challenges” (I don’t want to use “resolution”) with you all to explain some of the changes on my blog. Feel free to participate, too, if you’d like!

My weekly posts will basically stay the same, but beginning on Sunday, I will be making these two weekly changes:

*Mondays will change from “More Savings Monday” to “Menu Planning Monday”

*Saturday will still be “Savings Saturday” but I will also post my total savings for that week

Here are my challenges for the year:

*$40 a week grocery budget (this is for a family of four) – This will include all of my groceries. I do an overall monthly budget, but rather than allotting a certain amount for the month, I am going to try to stay within the $40/week to make it easier for everyone to follow. I do my grocery shopping on Saturday, so the details from this will be posted in “Savings Saturday” but my menu for the week will be posted on Mondays.

At this point, my grocery budget does not include paper products. I don’t really budget for these things because I basically have a six month to year supply of most of these products thanks to CVS/Walgreens. Any additional paper products I do buy will most likely be covered by ECBs or RRs. It also does not include health & beauty products (I have at least a year supply of most of these and buy most of the rest using ECBs or RRs) and does not include our expenses for eating out. This comes out of a separate category in our budget.

The $40/week will be based on my out of pocket expenses. If I use gift cards, coupons, RR, or ECBs, those will not count toward the $40 weekly budget.

**I wanted to add that I see this as a possibility for me because I have a stockpile of items already to work with. If you don’t have a stockpile, it may cost you a little bit more to get started, but I will be posting items that you should stock up on while they are super cheap as they come along. Also, two of the major grocery stores around me triple coupons up to .39 and double coupons up to .50. We also don’t have any food allergies or dietary restrictions that we have to accommodate and I don’t have any babies eating baby food or formula right now.

*Meeting the following savings goals without touching our monthly paychecks

Each month, we save for some things such as auto maintenance/registration; property insurance/taxes/HOA fees (we do our own escrow after a bad experience with our escrow company a few years back); planned vacations; clothing, and long term emergency planning. If you don’t have an ING account, this is a great place to keep all of your “extra” savings accounts because you can create sub accounts and track everyone in one place.

The following savings accounts will not be funded through our monthly paychecks. I will use the “extra” things I do to fund these accounts. You can follow my savings progress through the tickers on the right side bar of the blog.

*Gift savings – This will include Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, and other gifts that we need to pay for throughout the year.

*Baby emergency fund – If you follow Dave Ramsey, you know that this is. Basically it’s $1000 that you keep on hand to cover any emergencies

*Rolling entertainment fund – We have a monthly entertainment budget, but this will cover any spur of the moment “extras” like a weekend getaway or an unplanned family excursion. It’s “rolling” because if we use the money, I’d like to rebuild it 🙂

Here are the ways that I plan to fund these savings accounts:

*Mystery shopping

*Payment from various survey companies – Mysurvey.com and Pinecone Research are my two favorites right now

*Checks from rebates (I earned about $800 last year from rebates and many of the rebates I submitted were for products I bought for “free” using ECBs or RRs)

*Garage sales – we have two community garage sales each year

*Ebay sales – every six months or so, we do a clean out of our house and items that are not being donated or sold at our garage sale get listed on Ebay

*Payment from articles that I write for Associated Content

*Money from our cash back rewards credit cards – this works well for us because we pay these cards off in full every month….I don’t recommend this route if you’re not in a position to do that

More Savings Monday: JC Penney and Bath and Body Works deals!

JC Penney is having a HUGE clearance on toys. Here’s the link:

If you go through Ebates.com to place your order, you will get 4% cash back (and you will get a $5 bonus for joining if you are new and a $10 bonus if this is your first purchase before 12/31/08).

Use the following codes at check-out to sweeten your deals:
For free shipping – GIVETHX
For $10 off a $25 purchase – JCP
For $10 off $50 or $15 off $75 PC42AM
For 15% off your order – NOVSURV8
Bath and Body Works is offering a free item (up to $13) with any $10 in store purchase. The printable coupon can be accessed here:

If you shop online, you can get 5 full size signature collection items for $25.

More Savings Monday: Get $50 for Opening an ING Electric Orange account

I have been a fan of ING for years. Shortly before my oldest daughter was born, they were offering a $50 bonus if you created an account. It sounded like a great way to start a savings account for a new baby. Both of my kids now have savings accounts there and it’s where I keep all of our “sinking funds” (escrow, vacation, auto repairs, clothing budget, Christmas fund, etc.).

I love it because the interest rate is usually higher than regular banks. If you’re not familiar with ING, it’s basically an online bank. You link your accounts to your checking account at an actual bank so that you can transfer money back and forth.

They started offering checking accounts about a year ago. They are now offering a $50 bonus if you open an “Electric Orange” checking account, activate the ATM/debit/Mastercard associated with the account, and make 3 purchases using the card in the first 45 days. This is great news for me because I keep our Christmas fund there anyway. So, I transferred our Christmas fund money to the checking account and I can now use the debit card to pay for my purchases! Then, I’ll get $50 to start out my Christmas fund for next year 🙂 I will not be using this as our primary checking account, but the debit Mastercard will make it easy to access money from various accounts when I need to pay for things.

To get the details on this promotion, click here:

Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Click ‘Apply Now’
  2. Open your Electric Orange
  3. Activate your Electric Orange MasterCard® Debit Card
  4. Use your Electric Orange Card to make at least 3 signature-based purchases in the first 45 days after your account has been opened
  5. Your $50 bonus will be automatically deposited into your Electric Orange 50 days after your account has been opened

If you’re not familiar with ING and have questions, click here:

If you’re new to ING and want to open a savings account, you can also receive a $25 bonus if you are referred by a current member and open the account with an initial balance of $250 (If you’d like a referral, send me an e-mail and I will send you one….my e-mail address is in the upper left hand corner of the blog).

More Savings Monday: Get extra $ for Christmas

I found this information on Money Saving Mom.

*If you have old electronics, cell phones, computer equipment, etc. sitting around your home, you may be able to turn it into cash or gift cards. Sam’s Club, Costco, and Amazon are all offering trade-in and recycling programs.

Here are the details on the Sam’s Club deal:

Do you want to recycle an old printer? Or trade-in an iPod? We make it easy through our Trade-in and Recycle Program. If you’re a Sam’s Club Member, you can trade in qualified used electronics items. In exchange, we’ll give you a Sam’s Club gift card for the value of your item. If your item doesn’t qualify, we’ll help you recycle it.

Follow these simple steps:

Sign-in to samsclub.com. You must be a registered Member of samsclub.com to use this program. –>
1. Visit www.econewonline.com/samsclub
2. Enter details about the electronic item you want to trade-in.
3. Find out whether your item qualifies as a trade-in.
4. If your item qualifies, ecoNEW, a company we’re partnering with, will tell you the trade-in value.
5. Learn how to recycle items without trade-in values.
6. Follow packaging instructions for your trade-in or recyclable item.
7. Receive a Sam’s Club gift card in the mail for items with trade-in values.

Here’s the link if you’d like more information about the trade/recycle program at Costco:

At Amazon.com, you can recycle old phones or iPods for Amazon gift cards here:


Get a $10 Holiday bonus from Coinstar when you exchange $40 in change for a $40 gift card (participating retailers include: Amazon.com, Starbucks, Circuit City, JC Penney, i Tunes, Borders, Old Navy, Pier 1, AMC, Lowes, and more). Details and participating locations can be found here:

Get cash for books you have sitting around your home at Cash4Books.net. Details are below: