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Spinning Straw Into Gold

Lately, I’ve found myself in hunting mode. Not actual hunting, of course, but hunting for hidden cash. This much I know: It’s not in our attic.

Nothing is in our attic, except for the air conditioner, and that sure ain’t making us any money this time of year. I’m not mad at it, mind you — I still remember what life was like this time two years ago when it went kaput [shudder] — but I can’t help but hear a faint ka-ching! ka-ching! of money falling out of my pocket every time it kicks on. Well worth it. (I can’t seem to stress that enough. Can you tell it’s hot this week??)

A while back, this post really struck a chord with me. I don’t have a latte habit, unless you can call a cup every other month or so a “habit”; we eat out, but not every night; we’re getting better at the whole DIY thing around the house. Clearly, it’s not like we couldn’t cut back even further if the need arose — far from it, since we’re still talking about eating out at all and have a house — yet it would be hard to do so without feeling uncomfortably tight-fisted at this point.

One does like a little mad money, though. Especially since I don’t work outside the home right now, a “little” mad money is exactly what I’m bringing in. Better than nothing, I say! Here are a few of my favorites these days (though most are nothing new to you longtime readers):

  • Swagbucks : I happen to love Swagbucks. I’d read about it on some blog or another ages ago, but didn’t quite get it and didn’t sign up until I read about it again last fall. Man! When I think about the gift cards I would’ve been earning! Basically, you use the Swagbucks search engine for any of your everyday searches, and are randomly awarded “bucks”. In addition to that, there are lots of other ways to earn points throughout the day. Now, when I first signed up, I was pretty feverish about racking up points and spent a lot of time at night completing Tasks and Surveys. These days, I’ve sort of slowed down, but still earn about at least a couple of $5 Amazon.com gift cards per month. (Those are the best value, in my opinion.) Another way to earn bucks is through referrals, which is why my referral link is embedded above.** Thanks, friends!
  • Ye Olde Coinstar : Seriously — I cannot recommend this often or heartily enough. When I do want that occasional latte, I’d rather feel like I’m not paying good money for it. It’s silly, but cashing in coins for gift cards makes it feel free to me. Back when I was still frequenting the coin-op laundromat, it was a different story, but now? Please don’t try to part me from my change. Don’t ask me if I have a nickel so that you don’t have to count out ninety-five cents — I’m saving that money for some books (hello again, Amazon!) and a coffee.
  • Once Upon a Child: When Joey was a toddler, I used to clean out his closet fairly regularly and made a stop at Once Upon a Child a few times. The first time was pretty worth it…and then it became progressively less so. There’s only so long I’m willing to wait around for $3, ya know? However, I gave it another shot a couple of months ago, and it was a much better experience! I mean, I only made less than $20, but I only came in with one basket of clothes and the whole transaction took less than twenty minutes. And therein lies my key piece of advice: Don’t go in with more than one basket of clothes, and make sure it looks nice. It seems to me that the more I come in with, the less it ends up being worth. Not sure why that is, but there you go.
  • Garage sale: I can’t even believe I’m saying this, but I think we’re going to have another garage sale. Talk about an experience becoming progressively less lucrative: At our first one, we brought in about $80. A sweet haul for two hours! Next time, our take was $5. O…kay. At the last one? Not one slim dime. Zero dollars. And…we were done. That was two years ago, though, and it’s time to clean out the garage anyway, so why not?
  • Staples Ink/Toner Recycling: If you sign up for Staples Rewards program, you can earn Rewards dollars by turning in your used printer ink cartridges. These rewards come in handy, especially around school supply sale time. They also have some good rebates from time to time that are super easy to redeem online; I always like that!
  • Ebates.com : Here’s another one where you can make a little change from something you are already doing. In this case, you create an Ebates account [and feel free to click on the link I provided over there which also happens to be embedded with my referral link, thankyouverymuchagain!]. Then, whenever you’re shopping for something online, check their database to see if that particular site has a rebate offer. If so, follow the link to the site and shop as usual. The rebates are applied to your account, and paid out quarterly. It’s definitely not a speedy thing, but couldn’t be easier. You definitely want to exercise some restraint, here, as you may find yourself tempted to just shop away since you’re “making money”. Let’s not fool ourselves, friends. But if you’re like me, and have a crazy shoe size that usually requires some online shopping anyway, it comes in handy. Loved it at Christmas time, too.

Do you have any other favorite money-making tips? If so, please share!

**Swagbucks is having a promotion today where you can receive a bonus 70 Swagbucks (in addition to the standard 30) by entering the code “SummerSocial” upon enrollment.

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