Friday, July 22, 2011

A Little Shameless Self-Promotion

As you may have noticed by now, I like to look for assortment of ways to help our financial bottom line. Two very simple things that I do are Swagbucks and Ebates.

Swagbucks, as described by their website, "[I]s an online portal dedicated to helping you earn digital dollars called "Swag Bucks", which can be redeemed for exclusive merchandise." My favorite way of redeeming these "bucks" is for Amazon gift cards. So far I've collected over a hundred dollars worth of Amazon money--very helpful at Christmas time! Pretty much all I do is use the search bar, which is super simple to download. I generally win 10-50 "bucks" a day with my normal search routine, more on days that I am online a lot. I find the results similar or slightly lacking compared to a Google search. There is a slight "pyramid scheme" aspect to it as well--the more people that sign up under you the more "bucks" you can earn. That being said, here is my referral link. Other ways of winning include surveys, games, polls, etc.

Ebates is a little different. This is for when you are making an online purchase. In their words, "Shop though Ebates, and earn up to 25% cash back at your favorite stores." I have yet to see this magical 25%, but I have been able to get 8% back a couple of times--which is really nice when you were going to make the purchase anyway! They have a long list of stores that participate, all you have to do is go to Ebates and then click on the store that you want to shop at. This will open a tracking ticket for you and then you just shop as normal. They send out checks a couple of times a year. My only complaint is that Amazon is not a part of Ebates. (Ebay is though!) It also rewards for referrals, so here is my link.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

You Know You're Old When . . .

. . . You drool over a refrigerator.

Right now we have a very boring, slightly dated, incredibly basic apartment model. While I can't see over the top, I am a little taller than it--which also illustrates the fact that it isn't very large. It doesn't cool very evenly, on the top shelf things can get icy and the bottom shelf often doesn't keep a can of pop cold enough. (In my humble opinion, but I do like my pop extremely chilled.)

A fridge was the first major purchase Peter and I made after we got married. At the time we owned a small house in Indiana. It sounds very silly, but I loved that fridge! I liked the versitility of the side by side. I loved having ice and water in the door. I also loved how bright and fresh it was. Here's the best picture that I could find:

I do miss that fridge AND the kitchen. Peter put a lot of work into the kitchen and it really did pay off! (I should find the "before" pictures someday, the best way to describe it would be that whoever painted it was high.)

So, what type of fridge am I drooling over today?

This model! I love the snazzy stainless steel. I have heard that it can be a pain to keep clean--but it just looks so cool! I really am a fan of the French-door style. I love the drawer freezer. The upper drawer can be used for whatever you need it for: cool, cold, or frozen. The refrigerator section has so many storage options:

Sadly, with a price tag of almost three grand, I doubt that it will be in our price range anytime soon--if ever! But, hey, a girl can dream!

(And when the time comes, I will check all of the clearance sections, scratch and dent models, floor models, etc of every home improvement store in the area. In addition I will scour Craigslist and try to use all methods available to me to maybe, just maybe, score a deal!)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Frugal Stuff and Freebies

As my earlier post about coupons might indicate, we tend to/try to live a frugal life style. Especially now that I am a stay at home mom we simply don't have a whole lot of income while my husband finishes up his PhD. So for now we shop at Aldi, enjoy the fruits of my coupon hobby, watch Hulu and Netflix instead of going to movies, limit the number of times we eat out, watch clearance sections at local stores, etc. I also follow a lot of frugal blogs; and I often fill out the surveys, requests for free samples, and enter the giveaways that these blogs point me to. Sometimes it surprises me what comes to my door. There is the constant stream of free magazines, various trial size boxes of cereal, three packs of baby diapers, travel packets of shampoo and body wash, coupons of all kinds, etc. However, today's freebie takes the cake.

A free Pandora bracelet. Yep. FREE jewelry knocked at my door this morning! It was complete chaos this morning--Catherine had just discovered how to take shelves out of the bookcase that holds her clothes and diapers and had dumped the contents of my coupon binder--when the FedEx man hammered on the door. He handed me this:
Of course it was in a plain padded white envelope, he didn't just hand over a bracelet. It was a thank you for filling out a survey about Pandora Jewelry. I was incredibly honest while taking the survey: I've never shopped there in my life, don't plan on shopping there, find much of their stuff too over-the-top for my tastes, and I think that it is absurdly overpriced. (On the last note, guess what they value this bracelet at? $95! Can you believe that?!?! Of course, you can find similar styles on ebay for about $10.) I have to admit, I do rather like this bracelet. The overall style is simple and the bead is pretty.

It just goes to show you that you never know what will show up on your doorstep!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

One of My Hobbies

I love couponing!

I have been having fun with it for a couple of years now. It isn't something that controls my like (think TLC's Extreme Couponing) but is a definite presence. There will be a month or two that I won't really find any deals, or really even look for them, but then I will have a month or two of fantastic deals!

I am still trying to come up with the "perfect" system for me. I have a large binder and a small organizer that fits in my purse. The binder is large enough to fit all the store ads and uncut coupons in the front pouch and then I put the cut coupons in baseball card sleeves in the main section. The tough aspect of this system is I have to cut the coupons pretty quickly and put them in the binder--which can be difficult with Catherine hanging onto me (and trying her best to eat the coupons). I put special coupons (free items and high value) and coupons that I know I will use in the small organizer.

I have so much to say on this topic, but I need to go...I have to run to the store and use coupons for two free gallons of milk that expire today!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Eat less, move more.

Before I begin, I am in no way a health nut. One of my favorite meals is pizza, cheese puffs, a Dr. Pepper, and some ice cream for dessert.

Lately I have been saddened by the lack of care that people give to their bodies. So many people are obese today, it truly seems to be an epidemic. In my own family--including myself, parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc, (all of whom I care dearly about)--many of us could stand to lose a few pounds, some of us more than a few. One of my elder relatives, who I highly respect, and I had this conversation at a party recently:

Me: "How are you doing?"
Him: "Not too bad. I'm getting old and have old people's problems."
Me: "I'm sorry. Anything I can do for you?"
Him: "Nope. Dr. C asked me a question many years ago and I should have listened to him."
Me: (Quizzical look).
Him: "He said,'What would you say if I asked you to carry around an extra 35 pounds for the rest of your life?' I told him he was crazy, of course I wouldn't do that. His response, 'Well, then lose it.' I wish I would have listened."

Thirty-five pounds! Sure, in some ways that is a lot of weight, my kid doesn't even come close to that, but in other ways it is such a small amount that could have had a positive impact on his life all these years later. He didn't need to lose 50, 75, 100, or even 200 pounds, just losing 35 pounds would have made the doctor happy. It is such a well documented fact that having a healthy weight makes your life better. It also seems that every little bit counts! Even if you are 500 pounds it is better to lose 15 pounds than to stay where you are.

I recently began to get more serious about health (again). I am trying to run five days a week, fit in various exercise videos, and whatever else Catherine will allow me to do! I am also trying to eat less junk food and more raw foods. I have a simple mantra for now: Eat less, move more.

(For full disclosure, my morning "run" consists of running, jogging, walking, and just barely dragging myself along.)