Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How to make money with Swag Bucks

I've been doing Swag Bucks for a couple of years now but have more recently ramped up my earnings by learning to really use the site.  Here are some of the ways that I can earn at least $75 a month!

- When I get up, I start Swag Bucks TV Mobile and EntertaiNow apps.  I run one on my iPad and one on my iPhone and while the earnings are variable on these, today I earned 170 Swag Bucks by running these two apps.  On the TV, I tend to use the News category and on EntertaiNow, I use the TV Spots but have favorited a few on EntertaiNow that are only 15 or so seconds long and I just started to run through those favorites instead since it makes it go through much faster.  This definitely takes a few hours though.  I've found when the video ends, hit "Replay Video" and you will skip the ad - making it that much faster.  :)

- Once I get that going, I get on the laptop and get Games going.  You can play 10 games for 10 Swag Bucks. 10 games earns you 10 Swag Bucks.  I'll sometimes have my kids play these while I shower.

- Then I do my "Daily 4" which is the Daily Poll (gets me 1 Swag Buck), Encrave and the NOSO (gets me 2 Swag Bucks) - just skipping every offer in the NOSO.  This gets 4 Swag Bucks.  If you have downloaded the tool bar, that will get you another 1 to just use it for something (I check for Swag Codes).  You can continue clicking through the Encrave to get a bunch more one pointers and in most cases, you don't have to stay on the page to get the points.

- Whatever my NOSO captcha is, I now search on that term.  I almost never get it on the first page but will go through a few pages then go back to page 1.  I find I usually get that first search quickly IF I do it after the NOSO.  **Since the change of the homepage, it seems that searches are MUCH harder to get.  Keep plugging away.  You can usually get two in a day.

Something really important that I found was to join the Swagbucks Facebook page.  I can learn on there what is going on, when codes are out and when people start winning more than one search win (two search wins in a day = dubs, three search wins in a day = trips, etc.)  When I see people posting that they have dubs, I know it's time to do another search.  I find the crazier the subject the better - and misspellings are quite fine.  :)  It's a rare day that you can't get two search wins and about half the time or so you can get three search wins or trips!

- Next up is Swag Bucks TV.   You can watch any of the channels (some of them are really good - but of course you don't have to actually really fully pay attention to them) and earn 3 Swag Bucks for every 10 you watch.  You don't even need to watch the whole video but can click on the next one when you've seen the meter move up.  You're allowed to do 50 rounds of SBTV a day (meaning 500 videos) but that would take forever.  So all I do is just click through it whenever I can and get about 6-24 Swag Bucks a day from this, depending on how much I'm on the computer (I run them on the iPad as well and that's easier for me because I can be on my computer while I'm running TV on the iPad  and just keep clicking).  Hey, every Swag Buck counts!!

- Surveys can be wonderful (I earned over 300 Swag Bucks just today) and can also be a huge frustration.  First make sure that your entire profile is filled in.  An interesting new trick we JUST learned this week was to click on a survey and get to the screen that shows you the time for the survey, how many Swag Bucks you will earn and "Start Survey" button.  Under that button, you'll see in very small print "skip this survey and take another" or something like that (I'll check later).  I've been finding MUCH more success doing that - higher paying surveys and a greater chance of qualifying.  Know that most of us get disqualified - 9 out of 10 times probably!  But you'll get 1 Swag Buck for each disqualification from surveys (up to 5 from Trusted Surveys and no limit from Special Offers/Peanut Labs).

- Special Offers - In order to not throw the computer across the room with this section, go ahead and "like" the Swag Bucks Offers That Credit Facebook page.  MANY offers will not give you credit - and while you can submit "tickets" to argue the case, it's not always going to result in Swag Bucks.

- Videos - When you see any video on the site for 1 or 2 Swag Bucks, play them.  If you see Jun videos (you can tell on the lower right hand corner of the video), MANY times they will credit over and over again.  One day, I played a 2 Swag Bucks video 60 times.  Yes, I got 120 Swag Bucks just from playing a 30 second video over and over again!  I actually had to run out and had my kids play it for me while they finished school.  :)

- Tasks - I haven't done these a lot but when I do, I keep thinking I should do them more!  Some of them are a pain but some are really easy.  Try them out and find which ones work for you!  If you have problems, post on the Swag Bucks Facebook page and they will be really helpful!

- Coupons - Print out the coupons you want, use them and eventually you will get 10 Swag Bucks per coupon!!  That's like ten cents in addition to the savings on the coupon!

- Shop and Save - Check out the stores and if there are any stores you normally shop at, go through Swag Bucks and you can get a certain number of Swag Bucks per dollar.  These take about 30 days to credit but when they come through, they are great!

- Codes - these are tricky to find until you know what to do but follow the Facebook page and they will let you know when there is a code and what it is.  Codes are usually only good for about an hour or so.

- Finally, check out that goal on the front page.  Each day, Swag Bucks set up a goal for you to reach each day.  If you reach the goal in a day, you get 10% of the goal as a bonus on the 5th of the next month.  If you get 7 days worth of goals in a row, you will get an additional 25 Swag Bucks on bonus day.  If you get goal for 14 days in a row, you will get 100 Swag Bucks.  If you get it 21 days, you get 200, whole month is worth 300 extra Swag Bucks!  Add in the 10% of each day and it's easily a $5 Amazon gift card a month!

So, I get up, get the SBTV Mobile and EntertaiNow started.  I do the dailies, a search then look into surveys and do my games.  I work on it for about 30 minutes in the morning while I'm doing other computer stuff.  I'll then check in throughout the day, trying to do a few small things to get a few more Swag Bucks.  If I have enough time, I try a few surveys.  By the end of the day, I've usually met goal.  :)

And that is how I earn my Swag Bucks.  I've earned over 200,000 lifetime Swag Bucks meaning I've earned almost $2000!!!  Pretty cool!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy

Wednesday, October 24th was a quiet night.  I dropped the kids off at church for their programs and I had to go to Costco to pick up dish soap, chicken breasts, milk and eggs.  I walked past the batteries thinking “I wonder if we need any.  Well, I won’t pick up any because I’m not sure and I don’t have a lot of money to spend.”  We were already overdrawn on our bank account (but have a cash reserve so we were OK) and we would be getting paid on Thursday but sometimes the check doesn’t come through so I didn’t want to chance it.  So I just picked up the things we needed.  As we watched the news Wednesday night, we heard that there is a chance Sandy just might hit us if conditions are right but at that point, they thought the cold front in the midwest might steer her out to sea.  They were wrong.

Thursday morning was the first I heard that we just may get Sandy and if things happen the way they thought it would, it would be bad.  I started my prep then.  I knew the stores would start to get busy so I didn’t go until later on that night but while I was home, I started with the preps in the house.  I started to fill large containers of water to freeze in our upright freezer.  I inventoried the freezer, repacked it so that the important meats would be at their lowest point possible and filled the upper part with the containers.  I froze the 3/4 gallon water containers from Poland Springs, plastic juice containers, large Gladware containers, and even the quart Chinese soup containers.  I froze as many as I could fit in there.  I also pulled out the ice cream and ice pops and told people to enjoy them.  For the next few days, we ate anything that would need an oven or microwave to cook so we enjoyed frozen dinners, chicken nuggets and the like.

When I went to the grocery store on Thursday night, I picked up just essentials and very few cold things.  I got one more half gallon of milk, a few more soups, hamburger and sandwich buns, bread, crackers, canned fruit and 3 more 4 packs of D batteries.  This is where I wished I got them at Costco because they are so much cheaper!

Friday found me at work so I couldn’t do any prep but I did get gas.  I was noticing gas lines getting longer but it wasn’t too bad yet.  I told the family to get gas but they delayed and it was Sunday before the girls got gas - and they had to hunt around because most stations only had premium at that point and hubby got gas as well FINALLY.  

On Saturday, I had a bridal shower at noon so the morning only allowed us to get the dinghy home from the boat and secured and then I was out until about 3:30.  While I was gone, hubby brought the boat to the marina where were were going to winter it.  Unfortunately, we had to pay to bring it in a week early but it was the most prudent thing to do since they are basically a “hurricane hole” and would be safe in the storm.  I left the shower early so we could take the air conditioner out of the window (should have been done weeks before but we kept putting it off) and then we did a little tidying outside.  We had a farewell for friends that evening so we were gone the rest of the day.

Sunday morning was an absolutely gorgeous day and we went off to church.  We were supposed to see my in-laws after church but we canceled because we were behind on preparations and really needed the time since the storm was now definitely coming on Monday.  We spent the rest of Sunday securing everything.  After I had done the freezer inventory, I planned out 4 days worth of meals that I could cook on the stove top (we have a gas stove top) and I moved those foods to the inside freezer.  I also brought in some hot dogs, a few frozen vegetables and then packed this freezer with some of the ice I had already frozen.  I shut off the ice maker, removed the ice bucket and put the ice in gallon baggies then left the ice bucket out of the freezer to give us a bit more room to work with.  I put the baggies of ice right on top then turned the temperature down on both freezers and refrigerator.  We also secured the outside of the house and hubby tested the generator - which didn’t work.  That will be going in to see what’s up immediately but really, we didn’t need it.  After we went to bed, I woke up wondering if I prepped everything and on a whim, I got up and put the half gallon of milk I bought Thursday night into the freezer.

Monday morning woke us up to windy and dreary weather.  It wasn’t bad at all yet - no more than a regular storm so we just kind of hung out all day.  The kids watched TV (we didn’t do school) and we were online or watching TV most of the day to keep up on what was happening.  I precooled the ice chest with a block of ice, put a block of ice and the frozen milk into the fridge and I gathered all of our emergency supplies into the dining room where it would be out of the way but handy when we would need it.  The wind picked up throughout the day and the news was showing a lot of devastation already.  My oldest was supposed to work at the grocery store from 4:30 to 10 pm but they were saying that would be the height of the storm so we had her call in and say that she wasn’t coming.  Around 4:30 pm, we lost what we estimate is a 70 foot pine tree out back and fortunately, it landed perfectly and only damaged another tree - NOTHING on the property was damaged (although the grass out there is going to be needing some help since it pulled the roots out of the ground).  I was also absolutely frantic about the tree out front that at one time was the largest tree in our neighborhood.  It’s an old locust and I was watching the roots lifting up the ground during the same time as the tree out back fell.  I kept praying and watching but by the time we went to bed around 8:30, the winds had died down a little and I felt like the tree would still be standing.  We lost power at 8 pm on the nose after having the power flickering madly from about 4:30 on.  We figured by 8:30, we might as well go to bed since we were all tired so we did.  

Tuesday morning we got up and made some coffee (we have a stove top perculator from Farberware that we had from our old boat and we keep it at home for when we lose power), had muffins for breakfast and figured out what we were doing.  It was actually not that windy and we knew we were in the clear.  Hubby went out to see if the roads were clear enough to get my other daughter to the supermarket for 8 and they were - with caution since all of the traffic lights weren’t working.  He also checked the boat which was perfect and the marina even had power!  The store had no power but they did have a generator so they were able to sell at least canned goods and stuff.  Ice had sold out and they packed away all meat and deli in a refrigerated semi they just happened to still have there from a renovation.  We then drove around looking to see if we could get cell service since the phones went down during the night and we soon found out that most cell service wasn’t working because of damage to the system.  One woman at the grocery store said her sister watched one cell tower get blown over!  Basically, just a very few pockets of areas around us had power but 90% had none.  Every single road had a tree down with power lines and the detours were incredible.  We ended up back at our yacht club which is a mile from my house and not only did they have power, they had internet so I was able to get online enough to let everyone know we were OK.  We looked through the binoculars and found many boats up on shore - even big boats we knew.  That was heartbreaking.

After we got home, I then went to see if my dad was OK because I couldn’t get a hold of him with no cell service (I tried using the land line at Stop and Shop but it couldn’t get through) and I could see that the guys did a lot of work already cutting trees off of roads.  Every few hundred feet were evidences of another tree across the road - they would clear the road but just toss the debris over on the shoulder to clear later.  I got to my dad’s and he was fine so I told him to come over to my house since he had no power or even radio (found out later the radio station he listens to was off the air - he never checked to see if anything else came in).  It took me forever to get home because streets that had trees down on power lines - but the power lines were still standing - and I was able to drive through before now were closed to have them clear the road.  But I got home and by the time my dad came, the roads were fully clear.  We cleaned out the fridge and sent some of the things I wanted to save out to the boat (the boat has a fridge and freezer that run by the engine - just run it 1/2 hour twice a day in hot weather - even less since we’re in the 50s now) and we tossed a lot of condiments.  Everything was still really cold (the fridge was just at 40 since I had ice in there and had turned the temperature down the on Sunday) So Dad stayed the night with us and we had a nice time.  That night was spaghetti and Italian sausages and salad.  We were now 24 hours without power.  We were in good shape.

Wednesday morning, we had my daughter’s boyfriend and his mom come over to shower and my dad scooted out to go home and to drive around to see what was open.  We had a nice breakfast of potatoes, onions, peppers, ham and eggs (it was a frozen thing that we had gotten that had the potatoes, onions, peppers and ham and I just added the eggs - I had realized this would be good “no power” food so I saved it in the freezer inside) and coffee.  Hubby went to see if church was open for meetings and it wasn’t (still had no communication) so he came back home.  I started the fireplace because it was getting chilly - the fire was going all day.  I ran out around lunchtime to get online and while I was sitting in the parking lot of the storefronts next to the marina, I saw someone come out of the bait shop with ice so I threw down my computer and ran in to buy 4 bags.  They were small and still pretty wet - and $4 a bag but that was OK.  It was ice.  I walked them down to the boat where hubby put them in the freezer and he’d take one home that night.  That ice would last us at least 3 days from our experience with ice/ice chests on the boat.  When I was done, I drove to the barn but stopped at Stop and Shop because it looked like they had power - they did!!  They had just gotten it back.  Awesome!!  But I still won’t buy refrigerated food from them until they get a new shipment.  Their meat and deli were protected this whole time but the refrigerated dairy and frozen foods were allowed to go.  So we still can’t get milk from them for a few days.

After I stopped in at the supermarket, I went to the barn because I had no idea how they fared there.  I got there and all was fine - just no power.  I decided to clean the stall and exercise Whirl since he most likely had been so nervous after the storm and might still have some extra energy - he was fine.  I’m sure it felt good to get moving though!!  All of the horses were outside and looked good and there was no flooding there.  

The plan for Wednesday’s dinner was hamburgers and my daughter’s boyfriend was coming over and my dad stopped in.  I had corn and baked beans (both in the can) ready to go - and at 4 pm, we got our power back!!  Just 44 hours after we lost it, we got it back!!  We were floored because we figured that it would be at least a few more days but here it was - and better yet, our cell phones started working!  It was wonderful!  I ended up being able to bake a cake for my son (it was his 12th birthday - yes, a Halloween baby!) and we had a really nice dinner with everyone here.  We kept the fire going even though we now had heat because - well, it’s just nice!!  The kids watched videos (still no TV, phone or internet) and we read.  I ended up going to bed early because I was just pooped!  LOL  But before I did, I checked the outside big freezer that had been locked since before the storm.  The water jugs hadn’t even begun to thaw and just the bread at the very top of the freezer was softening but that is easy to do with bread.  My Italian ices were still even more frozen than slushy!!  I’m impressed!  I would say that we had at least another 2 days to keep the food frozen enough to save, maybe more.  

So now we are on the other side of it all - mostly.  We still have no TV or internet, many roads are still closed and most businesses are closed because of no power.  Our tree out back needs to be cut up and I want the tree out front taken down as well.  But we are in good shape.  I feel that the prep work I did paid off in spades.  We absolutely could have kept going at least a few more days in relative comfort and still have no issues.  I still had 2 more day’s worth of dinners ready to go (chicken breast that I could have done on the stove and served with gravy, mashed potatoes and a frozen veggie; chicken tortellini alfredo with frozen veggies) and then a full freezer as well.  I only opened one of the many packs of batteries we had to get a lantern going brighter and we still had plenty of firewood.  Having a gas hot water heater and a gas stove really made all the difference in the world - and of course we never lost our water as well.  So we were sitting pretty here.  Many people weren’t as fortunate since they had major damage to their homes.  One neighborhood in the city had 100 homes burn during the hurricane because the high winds just carried the flames along.  That is so heartbreaking.

I just asked hubby what he’d do differently and he said that he’d have made sure the generator was running earlier and would have gotten it fixed.  Needless to say, it will be going in to the shop to see if it can be fixed and if not, we’ll replace it.  The house is wired to accept the generator to the house electric (after you shut it off to the street) and so we will definitely make sure we have one again.  But otherwise, we did everything right from what we can see.  That makes us feel good.  I can now pass on the ice we bought to anyone we know who needs it and even the batteries for those who don’t have any.  I’ve also put out the word that we have hot showers if anyone wants to come by and I’ll always have coffee on for them.

Speaking of coffee, that is the most glaring thing I saw as we drove around the morning after the storm.  Coffee.  Where there was power at a deli or anyplace that might have coffee, there were lines out the door.  People are absolutely addicted to coffee and NEED it no matter what.  I just thought that was funny.  So for the coffee addicts, get yourself a way to make coffee in a storm even if it’s a camping stove and a stove top perculator or french press!  It will make your life that much better.  LOL

The news kept “hyping” that this would be a historic storm.  Now being here 3 days later, I agree.  This storm had the lowest barometric pressure that hit the East Coast.  Our winds hit 97 mph here in my town.  Lower Manhattan is basically a ghost town and our mass transit still isn’t running here on Long Island (I heard last night that they may try to get limited service going but with so many crossings without power, I’m not sure what they will do).  There is no question that this was the worst storm I’ve ever experienced and we will never forget it!

OK - Now I’m adding on a few things 24 hours later.  We got our cable back last night so now we have phones, TV and internet.  We watched the news last night and I have to say that we are so fortunate.  The damage here is nothing compared to what others got.  SOOO sad.

There are a couple of major issues facing people right now, 4 days after the storm:

  • Gas - most gas stations are running out of gas because of no deliveries, no power and a huge run on gas.  I think many did get gas before the storm but not enough - and many are running generators.
  • Electric for electronics.  Even in the grocery store, people are asking to charge their electronics.  I have a Power Monkey Extreme so even without power for an extended period of time, charging the electronics is no problem other than the laptops and we just closed them down and shut them off.  But for phones and iPad and iPods?  Not a problem with the Power Monkey Extreme.
  • Ice - Usually after a storm, a few days later, ice is beginning to be available and I’m seeing that.  But I’m grateful that I found a few bags the other day and we’ve now given those away.
  • Heat - SO many are complaining because it’s getting cold.  Tonight will be in the 30s and without heat, the houses are getting chilly.  We are just not used to this but then I think back to the Little House on the Prairie books and how the girls woke up with snow on their beds and I think we are STILL better off.  But people should consider an alternate source of heat in their homes if this will happen again.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Money Saving Mom

I follow Crystal at Money Saving Mom in my Google Reader and she has SO many great tips, links and stuff on her site.  I am constantly either saving money or getting freebies in the mail because of her.  She also posts info on deals at CVS/Walgreens/Rite Aid and other stores that will save money in a big way by stacking deals and coupons together.  It's a GREAT blog to follow.

Now she has written a book!  The book is called The Money Saving Mom's Budget and it's a book that I'm definitely looking forward to.  Money is tight around here with two kids in college and working on a pastor's salary and I'm sure there will be so many great tips and info in this book.  In addition, she also has a freezer book which I am really looking forward to getting now that I have a freezer again!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Winter seems to be coming fast!

Wow.  What a fall we've had!!  It's been beautiful weather but we've already had snow and that happened before Halloween!!  But now it's getting cool, I'd say that we're past peak on the leaves and we're quickly approaching Thanksgiving which OH so quickly leads to Christmas in these parts.

Things have been going well.  Lauren is healthy as can be and is doing great.  She's due for another CT scan and we'll see how she's doing where we can't see but I trust that all is fine in there.  It's hard to believe it's been 6 months already!!

Nicole is going to be in our church musical with a main role with a lot of singing.  Her voice is really maturing and getting stronger as she has been singing so much and I can't wait to see her in her debut!!  :)  She's been leading worship at church many Sundays but now everyone else can get to hear her!

The new church campus is going along well but we're not growing right now.  We're all praying for how we can best reach our community to let them know we are there and how we can make an impact for Jesus Christ in Holtsville.  Please pray with us that all of those who have not heard the Gospel will hear it somehow through us or the other evangelical churches in the area.

Other than that, we're just going along with life.  Still homeschooling, still working at church, still riding, still loving my life.  I'm really feeling so greatly blessed right now and it's even hard to express how at peace I am - even though not everything is perfect.  God is good and He's on the throne.  Amen!

Oh - and for your viewing pleasure, I present you our little friend who I found in our yard today.  I have to say that announcing at 7 am "There is a young buck in our yard" really is a GREAT way to get everyone out of bed!  LOL

Monday, September 26, 2011

Organizing Goals

Once again, I need to keep working on getting life/home organized.  I've made up a short list of things I want to do this week.

First up is our garage.  My goal is to get two cars in the garage this winter and we need two new garage doors as well.  My friend owns a garage door company so he will take care of that but until then, I need to work on getting the garage cleaned out.  Our freezer died when Lauren was in the hospital in April and, unfortunately, we put stuff where the freezer was so I have to go through those bins and get rid of the things there to make room for a new freezer that we will hopefully get in the next couple of weeks.  So #1 job is to begin organizing the garage and at least making it that there is a space for the new freezer.

#2 is our game closet.  We have a hall closet full of games and "stuff" (costumes, Easter stuff, etc.) and I want to go through that and consolidate.  I know we don't need some of the games so I will pass the on to other families.

#3 is my utensil drawer in the kitchen next to my silverware.  It's a mishmosh of stuff and I can't find anything without removing a bunch of things so I'd really like to get this taken care of.

#4 is a table of baskets in our den.  I think this has become a trash repository so it's time to clean it up!

#5 is the desk in our den.  It's a mess, plain and simple.

These are this week's organizational goals.  I really want to get them all done!!  Next week maybe I'll get to the basement a bit because I'd love for that to be cleaned up as well.  :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Happy Anniversary!!

Today was our anniversary celebration of our church campus!  One year ago this week, we started this new little church and God has done great things and also challenged us a lot.  It's neat because we came with a launch team who committed one year to this work and about 85% of the people will be staying on with us!!  Praise God!!  We have 7 new believers who were not saved this time last year and I trust that God will use us to bring more to Him.  Here's a picture of our launch team from last year.  What a great group of friends and co-horts!  LOL

I pray that God will use us to bring His Name to the community of Holtsville and that there will be a great heritage left from this humble beginning.  God is so good!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Reuseable Grocery Bags

I've gone through a change with my reuseable grocery bags.  I had been using those tote bags that you can get at the store for 99 cents that are kind of a fabric but I always stored them in the way back of my minivan because they were so bulky to store and then I'd always forget to take them with me.  But then I found something awesome and I will never go back.

Introducing Baggu.  These are lightweight, nylon bags that hold a ton, hold up perfectly well and store in a small drawstring bag.  I bought the set of 5 of them in blue and they are amazing!!  The drawstring bag is pretty small - small enough for me to store in the front of my van next to my tissues and I will never have to forget them now!!  I just tossed them all in the washing machine and they came out as perfect as when I first got them.  I've been using them for about 9 months now and I can't see them wearing out anytime soon whereas my old bags would fall apart the first time I'd wash them.  Oh - and you NEED to wash your reuseable bags because they hold a lot of icky germs and we need to keep them clean.

I've used these bags for the groceries (I can easily put $100 worth of groceries in these 5 bags) and for so many other things!  Beach trips, laundry, work, etc.  I love them and while they are not cheap, they are WELL worth the money if you actually remember to use them and NOT have your groceries fall through a worn out bag.  :)