Getting Things Free

I know I haven’t blogged in forever. My once a week goal is not going so well, is it?

Starting over, again. We’ll see how it goes this time.

So I opened my blog today determined to blog and leave it open until I did. I figured I’d tell some really cute story about my kids, or talk about how proud I am of them. B/c I am! But, my thoughts today have been on my new obsession: Getting things free.

Maybe it isn’t an obsession, but more of a challenge. With gas being so high I have been sticking to home a lot as a way to save some money, but also I have just been watching what I spend in general. I am couponing again after some what of a hiatus (which when I think about how much I spent instead of saved it makes me sick). I still use savingsangel.com. And love when I see items for free, I practically want to run to the store to grab them, whatever they are. But I have yet to reach the status of “Extreme Couponer” like the show, and am not sure I want to be. But, I have come to the conclusion that there are many ways to maximize my spending power in other areas of necessity (and some wants). So I am trying to participate in all that I can and use the rewards for needs instead of silly little extras.

What am I talking about?

Things like mycokerewards.com provided us with a free movie and dinner for Valentine’s day. (Granted we didn’t use them for Valentine’s day, or even yet, but I included them in the card to Anthony as my gift for him, so I count it as Valentine’s day.) Oh, and yes, I do consider time alone with my husband a need and not a silly little extra.

Recently I have discovered, or actually rediscovered, Swag Bucks. Its a website where you do different things (daily polls, play games, search the web, take surveys, etc) to earn points. You can then exchange points for merchandise and gift cards. My exchange of choice will be $5 Amazon gift cards which go for 450 points. In 3 days I have enough for 2 of them. I don’t have a specific goal in mind, but I do plan on using these gift cards towards Christmas and I’d like to have at least $200 in gift cards from Swag Bucks to put towards Christmas this year. But I may raise that goal depending on how much I am able to earn in the first month.

If you’re interested in trying this out go here: http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/jcraiker

Speaking of Amazon there is also a new feature for trading on Amazon. Its reselling your books and movies (maybe other things I am not sure) directly to Amazon. They credit your account and send you shipping labels. All you have to do is put it all in a box and send it to them. Easy. The other week I calculated how much I had I wanted to trade and that alone was nearing $200. Not too bad for just getting rid of a few things around the house we no longer wanted or used. This too is in the plan to go towards Christmas so that would be about $400 I don’t have to save up for for Christmas. Or “free.”

The last thing is that I made a goal in January to have the coming 2012-2013 school year supplies cost us nothing. $0. Three kid’s school supplies at no cost to us, with the exception of change from the bottom of my purse, and seriously, I rarely use cash so there is hardly any change at the bottom of my purse. The idea came to me when I received over $20 in store checks from an office supply store I frequent to get Anthony’s office supplies (he works from home in case you didn’t know). When I was trying to decide how to use it it dawned on me that my children’s school supply list is posted all year long and has not changed in the 3 years we’ve been attending the school. And that while the items would be priced higher this time of year I could still shop the sales but use the store rewards I receive to get the items at no cost to me.

So I started school supply shopping in January. I watched sales so that the reward checks would take me as far as possible. And now I’ve started to watch more closely how I shop for Anthony’s office supplies to maximize my store rewards. I have finally started recycling his toner cartridges (man, I feel bad for just throwing those things away for many reasons), and I get rewards from that. Plus if you watch the sale circulars there are times you get higher rewards for that than others. I will buy different brands of items so long as the item is comparable in quality and price if there is a reward attached to it. And I am careful to watch my rewards checks as to not let them expire, while still holding out with the best deals to use them for.

To date I have all but 6 items on their lists. Out of pocket cost? $0.24. Literally change from the bottom of my purse. And in my book that is still free b/c I NEVER use that change (until now).  And I have $25 of rewards waiting to be spent. I’m certain I can get the last 6 items on their school supply list along with getting the supplies we’ll need at home for homework, etc. And, if I am really good with future rewards in the coming months they may just all get new back packs too, so long as it is FREE to me.

Anyone else have some awesome reward program they use to get free stuff? Tell me about it!

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