Wide Open Wallet

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Archive for the ‘snowflaking’ Category

He’s here!

I did it!  We took the plunge and moved in together.  Isn’t he handsome?  lol. (Read about our love affair here.)

I had been saving up my online income, and my husband and I put money towards the elliptical machine instead of buying each other anniversary gifts.  So romantic I know!  It’s something I swore I would never do, give up buying real gifts to buy household stuff.  But it seemed wasteful buying a couple of small things when we both wanted this big thing.   This brought us up to $530.

And then the gravy.  My dad gave us a very generous anniversary gift which put us over the top.  We didn’t even have to talk about what we were going to do with the money.

We are now officially saving up for a Sharp Aquos.  It’s my husband’s girlfriend and he’s been cheating on me with her for quite a while now.  I will admit… she sure is pretty.   It’s the largest thing I’ve ever tried to snowflake for.  The first thing was the Wii, then the elliptical machine, and now the TV.  So we’ll see how it goes.

  • Filed under: snowflaking
  • Hey guys!  What do bulls, bears, an elliptical machine and dead trees all have in common?  They are all topics in today’s post!  I have some random thoughts that I wanted to share.  None of them really make a whole post individually, so I thought I would just group them all together for some randomness on this great Friday.

    First off, really quick, I wanted to give an easy way to remember what Bull and Bear mean when talking about the stock market.  Bull means the stock market is going up.  Bear means the stock market is going down. Maybe everyone has this down pat already, but when I was taking a class on investing I had the hardest time remembering which was which.   There isn’t anything inherent about a bull that makes you think, “going up”.  And same for a bear.  Maybe they should call it Eagle and Groundhog or something.  That would make more sense.  Anyways, so I started thinking of the L’s in bull like arrows pointing up.  And the R in bear, like an arrow that has curved and is now pointing down.  I made that super awesome graphic to illustrate. (I think I missed my calling in graphic design, don’t you?)  It might be corny, but it works.  So if someone is “feeling bullish” about a stock that means they think it’s going up.  Or if someone is “feeling bearish” about a stock, that means they think it’s going down.  I think everyone is feeling pretty bearish right now.

    The second thing I wanted to talk about was to give you an update on my love affair with Mr. Elliptical.  First off, it’s settled into a slow comfortable desire, rather than an intense “got to have it now” infatuation.  I’ve also devised a two part plan to make him mine.  Part one is that I’m going to save up my online income to pay for him.  That way there isn’t any money coming out of the household budget, which eases my guilt.  I have between $250 and $300 saved up so far.  My goal is to have the full $750 by May.  I would like to have it before next summer.  We’ll see.  The second part is that I’ve started walking every day.  It’s still really hot here, so I’ve been going for walks in the early morning and then again after the kids are in bed.  I was going at about 2 in the afternoon but I got heat exhaustion.  Lesson learned there.  I’m going to wait til it’s under 95 before I go walking during the day again.  If I can walk consistently between now and May and I have the money saved up, I will go ahead and buy him. That way I know I will be able to afford it and I’ll be pretty sure that I will use it.  When it gets too hot to go for walks even at night I will want something to do inside.

    Ok, the last thing is about my homeowners association.  I jokingly threatened earlier that I was going to kill the tree in my front yard and make my association replace it.  Well, it is seriously the most spindly little tree and I’ve always blamed the watering system.  Or even the drainage, maybe the water just runs right off and the tree doesn’t get any?  But I’ve noticed a lot of trees in our subdivision are that way.  Spindly.  Some are growing just fine, but lots of them just don’t seem to grow.  Poor little trees just hanging on for dear life.  Well, I walk with another mom in the neighborhood and she is involved with the association.  All into everyone’s business.  (Wow… so typical, two stay at home moms pushing strollers around the block gossiping about the neighbors and getting riled up about the home owner’s association.  It’s enough to make me puke. lol)  But she was telling me that the landscapers who planted the trees planted them in the boxes they are shipped in.  Dur.  So that explains it.  Our association is suing the landscapers to make them come back and replace the trees that are dying.  I thought that was interesting.  I didn’t really know that associations did that sort of thing.  I thought it was more of a policing system than an actual advocate for the neighborhood kind of thing.

    Here is a guest post from Learning the Ropes about what she has learned while trying to make money online. I’m glad to hear that it’s more difficult than people make it out to be. It’s frustrating to hear someone say how much money they made taking surveys when I made like $3. I wish it were easier, but it’s not. So let’s just say it out loud… Making money online is hard!


    Half a year of trying to make money online - What flew and what bit dust?

    After hearing a lot of fellow bloggers rave about the money they made online and the freebies they could snag, I decided to take the plunge and see for myself whether there was really a treasure trove on the web, and whether I’ll be showered with dollar bills once I register with them.

    Here’s my thoughts on making money on internet based on my experience of half an year - 8 months to be precise. Since I work full time I have not been spending a lot of time on this, my guess is that I spend about 15 minutes a day on average on online money earning efforts.

    1. If you want to compare it with your ( or somebody else’s) full time/part time job income, forget about it. You’re not going to go anywhere close…unless you’ve a blog that is generating a daily traffic of thousands of visitors.

    2. Making money online can be fun for people who enjoy browsing internet. If you want to make even minimum wages for the time you spend trying to make money online it’s going to be really tough.

    3. Filling surveys can be really boring and tedious work and the rewards can be minuscule.
    All the above paint a really bleak picture of those survey and quiz sites that promise you rewards, here’s what I like about them.

    4. Filling surveys, reading promotional mails and other methods of making money online can be a great way to generate snowflakes, getting gift cards for the places you usually go shopping and thereby saving money.
    5.If you plan on using gmail, get savvy with its advanced features. I can’t imagine my life without keyboard shortcuts and filters and archives.

    6. If you plan on doing surveys for money/rewards, get yourself some nifty tools for doing so, you don’t want to be keying in the same info over and over. Some things that come to the mind are Roboform ( for auto fill up of forms ), greasemonkey and gmail multi-login scripts for logging into all your survey accounts.

    7. It’s extremely important to have a separate mail account for all the survey related correspondence ( I love gmail by the way). If possible try to use an alias for your survey related accounts, instead of your real name. However, it is not always possible because the websites that pay money will be sending checks in your name.

    8. Most of the survey sites allow you to be pretty flexible with your inputs. There’s little time commitment and you don’t get penalized if you don’t fill out any survey or check their promotional emails etc. 9. You can always guess where a survey is heading towards and tweak your answers to get qualified. Although, it is not very ethical and filling fake surveys can make an already tedious and boring work practically intolerable. You have to decide for yourself if you really want to do that.

    10. If you’re planning to get too involved in these, keep a close eye on how it is going to affect your taxes. (Although, I find it unlikely that I’ll get very close to being tax liable for my survey based income)

    11. Steer clear of trial offers that require canceling within a limited time to avoid getting billed for their service. Some of them are very difficult to cancel and come with a lot of strings attached. One wrong move may end-up costing you much more than what you had earned over a couple of months. My rule of thumb is not to give any such website my credit card number. If they can let me try without it, very well, if not then I just pass it up. Those points are not really worth the risk, in my opinion.

    12. A blog is a nice thing to have, but as other famous bloggers often point out, don’t start it with the intention of making money. Most of the times…It doesn’t. Blog about something you like, don’t try to copy anyone else and put some of your soul into your blog, and it will bloom. It may not make you lots of money (even in the long run), but you will love it nevertheless, and will thank yourself for writing it. The only thing I would like to point out is that you will have to decide, how much you want it to reflect your real life. My husband was not very comfortable with having my name and pictures published on a public forum, so I use an alias, but that doesn’t make me any less passionate about blogging. You have to make the decision of how much you want to open yourself to the rest of the world and stick to it while blogging.

    Now to some websites that did make/save me money this year

    13. Mypoints: I just love it. They have all sorts of options to earn points from, reading bonus-mails, filling surveys, questionnaires, writing reviews for their customer websites, subscribing to newsletters and many many more. I have found that in last 8 months I could earn enough points to get about 5 $10 cards to various stores. Their reward options are quite comprehensive too, so these cards are as good as money for me.

    14. MySurvey: They are also up there on my favorite list, they have very simple system. They send you very small surveys for 10 points. When you complete the survey ( takes less than 5 mins. ), if your response are of interest to the client, they give you an option of earning more points for a lengthy survey. What I like is that you don’t feel cheated about entering info for a long time and then getting disqualified ( you earn 10 points always). Once you have 1000 points you can get 10$ check or you can use them for getting other things on offer.

    15. Pinecone: This is by far the cleanest website, I have seen related to surveys. Once you join them, they send you out a survey ( usually of the duration of 30 minutes), for each survey you complete they send you a $3.00 check. No minimum payout nothing. A $3 check plain and simple. You also have the option of registering your paypal account with them, so they can directly credit that account instead of sending checks. Based on your survey responses, sometimes you also get some stuff to try and give them feedback. You will get paid another $3 for this.

    The only issue with Pinecone and MySurvey is that they send you surveys and then only you can fill them. I have been getting about 2 surveys a month from Pinecone on an average.

    Now some websites that I didn’t like and left after a couple of months

    16. SnapDollars and SendEarnings : The payout is pretty low, and I found it very difficult to qualify for their surveys. Reading their mails accumulates very little money, this got me frustrated and I left going to them. I found that my time was better utilized with MyPoints, Pinecone or MySurvey.

    And the one that I have been meaning to try

    17. Cash-crate: I have heard good things about this from other bloggers, so I have been meaning to give it a try. The only thing thats been stopping me has been that, I have good momentum going on my other accounts so I never could got down to trying it.

    18. I’ve also been trying SwagBucks and so far so good. It’s a search site that is kind of wrapped over Google and Ask.com. So you’re essentially searching using Google, but they periodically offer you some points, which can be redeemed for various gift cards. I earn an average of 1 point a day, but I don’t Google search that much, so you might want to try it for yourself.

    I hope the above list helps you to get started and helps you make some money, if you’re thinking of getting your feet wet in the world of surveys, rewards and points. If you know about some other sites that you have used, let us hear about those in the comments.


    Ashley here: I have tried Cash-crate with very minor success and have given up. I’ve spent hours and hours typing my name and address into hundreds of forms. I’ve made a whole $11.00. I feel ripped off when the pending offers never come through, so I’ve stopped. I am a member of Pinecone and another survey site, I can’t remember what it’s called. I like them both. I’ve made about $13 over the course of several months, but the “work” is very light and sporadic. It was worth the money.

    I’ve also tried Vindale and had some success with them. I worked to get the minimum payout of $50 and then stopped. It’s kind of like Cash Crate but seems more legit, their customer service actually writes back. They only have trial offers that you have to have a credit card for, and then call the company and cancel the trial offer within the set time frame. So you have to be very organized. I used Google calendar to keep track of what offers I needed to cancel and when. I stopped doing it because it was kinda stressful to have all these free trials I needed to cancel.

    Pic by: Chris L_AK

  • Filed under: snowflaking
  • 5 easy ways to increase your savings

    There are many things in life that are dependent on your income. But one thing that isn’t is your ability to save. Everyone can save money. You are never too poor to put a little something away. It may not be a lot of money, but even small amounts will add up. There are several things you can do that will make a difference over time.

    1. Save your change. The power of change is often understated. I first learned about the power of change while working at a coffee shop. Customers often left their change as a tip. Fifty cents here, a quarter there, maybe the occasional dollar bill. It doesn’t sound like much but at the end of a 6 hour shift my co-workers and I often had over $200 to split among us. Which worked out to about $40 each. My second lesson was when I met my husband. He has a 5 gallon water bottle that he puts his change into. The first time we emptied it we had enough money to pay for our honeymoon. He is currently saving up for a flat panel TV for the living room. I have no doubt that one day we will have a new TV paid for entirely by change.

    2. Set up direct deposit. There is no easier way to save than just making it automatic. The most painless way to do this is to set it up right after you get a raise. But that doesn’t mean to wait until your next raise. Even $5 or $10 a paycheck will add up over time. Start small and increase it little by little.

    3. Claim zero. Oh the controversy! If you can’t stand having money in an account staring you in the face then let the government hold it for you. I know you will be losing some interest but we aren’t talking about a lot of money here. If you put $100 every two weeks into a savings account earning 2% you will only earn $27 a year. So if temptation often gets the best of you saving up for a big tax return is an option worth considering.

    4. Tuck away a windfall. Every once in a while a lump sum comes along. Whether it be a bonus from work, a birthday gift, or ahem… a tax return. Take that money straight to the bank. This is something I’ve pretty much always done. So much so that when my dad gave me money as a high school graduation gift he ordered me to spend half of it.

    5. Pay extra towards your debt. I consider paying down debt as a form of savings because your using the money to make your future easier. So again, if you have trouble not spending your savings then paying down debt is a good thing to do with your extra money. I would rather see you paying down debt than spending aimlessly.

    If you do some (or all) of these things you will see your savings grow over time. A lot of small changes add up to big changes over time. You’ll never regret it!

  • Filed under: saving, snowflaking
  • Wii Love

    Frugal Dad recently wrote about how he snowflaked for a Wii. Well, I’ve been doing the same thing. We’ve been snowflaking for it for a looooong time. In fact, I’ve snowflaked enough for it twice now. But the first time I had to spend the money on bills. (Boo!).

    Part of my snowflakes consisted of $160 in Ebay money. I sell stuff from around the house when I get it but mostly that money came from selling coupons. I get on every mailing list and then when the coupons come I sell them on Ebay. The best ones are formula coupons. I always make a profit on them, they’re free to get, and cheap to ship. You can’t get rich doing it but it’s a nice little snowflake. I had saved up $350 in December but I had to use $300 of that towards bills, so that means I’ve made $110 since December.

    Another snowflake was the Revolutionary Money Exchange. I made $110 from participating in that program. There’s still time so if you haven’t signed up click the green button over there on the right and get your $25!

    So my snowflakes brought me up to $270. Technically enough to buy a Wii, but not enough to buy all the stuff you need to actually play it. Stuff like games and extra controllers. So my birthday present this year was an extra $100 towards it. Yay! We ordered it yesterday and it should be here next week. I can’t wait!

    pic by Fanboy30


  • Filed under: snowflaking

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