Make Money Using Your Phone

phone money

These days most people have a smartphone. Why not let that phone work for you? I do a variety of things on my phone that allow me to not only save money, but also make money.

Cricket Wireless – My first big savings was with the phone itself! I was out of contract, and have a perfectly good iPhone. So rather than enter back into a pricey contract to get the newest phone, I decided to look for some savings. I ended up taking my phone to Cricket Wireless. I went from $67 a month to $35! I have unlimited talk and text, and 2.5 GB of data for $40. Auto-pay saves me an additional $5. My service hasn’t been any different than what I had before and their customer service is great! If you’re interested in switching, you can use my link and get a $25 credit! 

Swagbucks – One of the biggest ways I use my phone to earn is by using Swagbucks. I just started really taking advantage of this site right before Christmas this year, but I had enough to get a $25 Amazon gift card to help with Christmas, and my goal this year is to earn enough to pay for a big chuck of my holiday shopping. I follow the advice in this post, and primarily use the mobile apps. When I’m not using my phone, it’s earning me Swagbucks!

EBates – This is a cash back shopping site. You can install a browser extension if you use Chrome, or just visit the site before you shop to view coupons and cash back offers. Most recently I earned $1.60 just for purchasing something at Staples that I had to buy. Using the extension really helps because it will let you know if cash back is available when you visit a site.

iBotta – This is a shopping app that I haven’t even fully tapped into yet. But in the very short time I’ve been using it, I have accrued $22.25 just from my regular shopping. You can browse offers at the stores you already shop at, select the ones you want, and validate the offers by scanning your receipt. There are also bonuses for buying certain items.

Shopkick – This one is kind of fun. You can earn what are called Kicks for just walking into certain stores. Once inside, there may be certain products you can scan to earn more kicks, and if you connect a Visa card you can earn kicks on some purchases. I haven’t cashed in yet, but I’ve already earned a small gift card for the little bit I’ve done. I’m just going to keep letting it add up.

Checkout51 – This one isn’t my favorite because there aren’t very many offers, but I’ve made $1.75 and I’m hoping that more will be added as time goes on. This one is very similar to iBotta where you select offers, then scan your receipt.

Receipt Hog – I’m still figuring this one out. You take a picture of your receipts, and earn coins that I believe are redeemable for gift cards. It is very easy to use.

Wal-Mart Savings Catcher – Wal-Mart has it’s own mobile app that you can download that will do all sorts of things. The Savings Catcher allows you to scan or enter your receipt, and it will look for lower prices at nearby stores. If it finds a lower price, it will credit you the difference. You can cash out for a Wal-Mart gift card at any time. I’ve successfully cashed out twice.

Target Cartwheel – This one saved me some serious money just the other day. You can search for products in the store that have special offers attached to them. You add them to your list, and at checkout you just let the cashier scan your barcode on your phone. Just recently I purchased a game that my son wanted for his XBox One. This game’s regular price was $60. It was on sale for $40, and there was a cartwheel offer for 35% off. I also used my Red Debit card and saved another 5% which made my total $26! Yes you read that right, you can get a debit card that links to your current bank account and get the 5% savings that the credit card holders get!

Save with Cartwheel for Apple – Sign Up Now

Save with Cartwheel for Android – Sign Up Now

Cardpool – This one is a bonus that I just learned about today and have already used! It’s not limited to your phone, but it’s a site where you can sell unwanted gift cards. I was able to sell a card I’d never use and get an Amazon card instead! Use my link and get $5 off your first purchase!

So there it is! My huge list of ways to save and make money from your phone! Let me know which one of these you already use or want to try in the comments!

 

This post contains referral and affiliate links. All opinions are my own. 

It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on Reddit
Continue Reading

Giving Up the Book

Ernest Hemingway

I love books. I know that a lot of people say that, but I really love books. I’m an introvert, and I spend a good bit of time alone. Books are my sanctuary. I always take a glance around when entering a home to see if they have books. They’re great conversation starters if you’re socially awkward like I am. They make me feel safe, and I have always had shelf upon shelf of books in my house. I also have baskets, and stacks, and for a while I had a toy-box filled to the brim with books. There will never be enough lifetime for me to read everything I want to read.

Naturally when Amazon first came out with the Kindle, I wanted one. My first Kindle was a hand-me-down and I instantly realized how great it was. I’ve never enjoyed reading on a computer screen, and the Kindle gave me the technology without the eye-strain. So many classics are free for Kindle, that while I was in school it kept me from having to buy a lot of my books. I had to read a lot of novels, and most of them were free. Then I broke it. You can’t break a real book unless you leave it out in the rain. Even then you can probably still read it once you’ve let it dry. Real books don’t ever need charging either. Plus you can borrow from the library for free. So I rationalized that while it had been handy, I didn’t need it. Oh but I missed it. Then the same kind person who gave me the first one, sent me a gift card for a replacement.

Ever since then I’ve kept it in my purse so that I’m never without a book, but I still usually buy books from the thrift store, or in hard copy form from Amazon. There’s just something about the feel of a book. Not only that, but when I first started using the Kindle I was a bit of a digital hoarder. I’d picked up tons of free books, I’d never organized anything, and I was a bit overwhelmed by my collection. But recently, I have decided to embrace the eBook. I finished Joyland by Stephen King (I highly recommend this one) in paperback, and a few days later turned on my Kindle and saw that I owned the eBook as well. This prompted me to finally take some action and declutter my Kindle. Yes, you can have digital clutter. I spent several hours deleting free books I would never read, and organizing the books I wanted to keep into collections. As I worked on this project I found quite a few books that I owned both digital and hard copies of. So I donated the hard copies, and kept the digital forms.

After that rather tedious project was complete, I started thinking about my book obsession. Having a lot of books around me does make me happy, but it doesn’t mean I’m well read. Having no books in your house doesn’t mean you don’t read. From an environmental, and a minimalist perspective, it makes sense to stop buying the physical copies, and start buying digital. So as I’m adding books to my wishlist, I’m adding them in Kindle format. I’m looking to see if I can borrow them as part of my Prime membership, or from my libraries digital selection. I’ll be donating my real books as I finish reading them, except for a few that I just can’t part with.

I’m sure I’ll still pick up books from my thrift store because I’m convinced that someone who donates to them knows what I want to read, and donates it right before I get there. Plus the money goes to a good cause, and I donate it right back to them when I’m done. But overall the collection is going to dwindle. Part of my is a bit sad by this, but another part is utterly amazed at how I can carry thousands of books in my purse at all times.

So, are you a lover of the eBook, or the real thing?

 

This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. 

It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on Reddit
Continue Reading

So How Do You Declutter?

clutter

Minimalism is about so much more than getting rid of your junk. But it is a big part of the beginning. Minimalism is about living intentionally, and so your posessions should be things that serve a purpose in your life. Eliminating excess is a natural place to begin this journey. So, how do you declutter? Well, that’s entirely up to you really, but let me give you some ideas.

I mentioned in my post What Is a Minimalist? that I started with one cabinet. I figured I’d just toss some things out and call it good. I was not prepared for the emotional experience that it turned out to be. That one cabinet was symbolic of all of the things that I had acquired as a type of padding in my life. I had all of these things so I must be doing OK right? I quickly realized that I didn’t even know what all I really owned. I had allowed my fear of not being able to provide for my kids turn into an over consumption that actually could impact my ability to provide for them. I’d medicated my guilt with stuff. I’ve included a picture of the cabinet so that you can get an idea of what I was dealing with in the beginning. ALL of that was candles, or candle related. Seriously. A three shelf kitchen cabinet filled with candles! I didn’t even burn candles!!! It still makes me ill to look at it for so many reasons. IMG_7948

Once I got through that first cabinet, it became much easier. I forgave myself for where I had allowed things to get, and just kept going. I did a cabinet, or a drawer, or a basket whenever I had time. I had a few yard sales, sold a few things on Amazon and eBay, but for the most part, I donated. We have an amazing local store that resells to fund their missions, and I gave it all to them. It felt good to know that my mistakes might help someone else.

After many months of paring down, I thought I was done, and we just lived in the space for a while. The kids had jumped in on the action, and had eliminated a lot of things they never played with. We kept a lot of things to just see whether or not we used them before making a final decision. But over time I noticed that I still felt like there was too much. That’s when I heard about The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I’m sure many of you have heard about, or even read this book. It’s a quick read, and I highly recommend it. The idea is that you should go through your things in the author’s systematic way and see what “sparks joy”. I won’t get into much detail about the process because you really need to read the book to appreciate it, but I followed her method and got rid of even more. Well, I say I followed her method, but I really just followed her system, and not the “sparks joy” part. But I thought I was done.

Turns out…I’m not done. Not everything in my house is going to spark joy. Bandaids don’t spark any joy, but they do serve a useful purpose. The ability to stop bleeding does spark some joy I suppose. Anyway, there’s still too much. The Minimalists did a TED talk where they discussed having a packing party for one of the duo. I’ll include that video for you below because it is a good intro to who they are. I don’t have time for this method, but it has led me to the next way I plan to remove more of my stuff. I’m going to touch everything in my house again. If it sparks joy, it stays. If it gets used frequently, joy or no joy, it stays. If it will get used, like the bandaids, it will stay. Everything else has got to go. No more “just in case” items.

So the answer to “how do you declutter?” is really a mater of personal preference. You may choose one method and get things exactly where you want them the first try. Or you may go through several rounds like I have. There’s no right answer, do what works for you.

 

This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. 

It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on Reddit
Continue Reading

What’s a Minimalist?

The Minimalists

I can’t remember when I first heard the term minimalist. I wish that I could, because as I read more about minimalism, those who are most vocal about their journeys all seem to remember when they first heard the term. I don’t remember, and I guess it really isn’t that important. I know that I must have heard it around the time of my bankruptcy. Chances are I was reading about something related to going bankrupt, and somewhere that term came up. I just know that when I heard it, it made sense. I read more and more from people who had embraced that lifestyle, and I wanted it for myself.

The first thing I learned was that it meant you owned fewer things. The idea that our stuff owns us instead of the other way around is a common theme in the minimalism community. Fresh from my bankruptcy proceedings, I could see that to be 100% true. I had stuff. I had a LOT of stuff. Suddenly all of that stuff took on a whole new meaning. I didn’t even know what I really owned, I just knew that it owned me. I had gone into a financial pit because I was trying to medicate my life, and ease the guilt of my divorce with things. Now I was drowning in them. I began with one cabinet. That I remember very well. It was full of candles. I didn’t even burn candles because I had small children. I’m a rather frugal shopper, so I know I got them on sale, but I didn’t even know why I had them. That first cabinet was very emotional even though nothing in it was special. I was beginning a journey.

I have a lot of pictures somewhere of all of the things that left my house. I had a few yard sales, but most if it was donated to a local thrift store that uses their proceeds to fund Mennonite missions. It was an enormous amount of stuff. It makes me rather sick to think of it all and how it impacted my financial life. I’d love to tell you I’m a minimalist now, but that’s not quite the case yet. I’m still a work in progress, and I’ll be talking about that as time goes on. There’s a lot more to minimalism than just getting rid of stuff though.

If you’re curious about minimalism, and don’t want to wait until I talk about it some more, please check out the pages of the people who have taught me. This list is ever expanding, but these were my beginnings.

The Minimalists

Be More With Less

Becoming Minimalist

Rowdy Kittens

It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on Reddit
Continue Reading

Confessions of a Food Waster

food waste

I’m a food waster. I’m not saying this because it’s something I’m proud of, but because it is a fact. It’s not that I’m someone who hates to eat leftovers so I just toss them and make a new meal. Truth is I love leftovers because it means I don’t have to cook again. That’s the problem….I LOATHE cooking. I’d rather do just about any other household task than preparing a meal. My kids will tell you that we eat the same things over and over until the finally tell me they’ve had enough. That’s another issue too though, I’m a repetitive eater. I can eat the same meal for a long time without getting tired of it. But because I hate cooking so much, I will often purchase food with the intention of fixing it, then I don’t, and it gets tossed.

I’m also really bad at planning meals. My kids spend some days with their dad and some with me, and we are super flexible, so sometimes the schedule changes. So either I end up with too much food, or no idea what to fix. I’ve always had this mindset that you need to do one big shopping trip because if you stop at the store everyday you buy more than you need. I’m starting to rethink this for several reason.

The first is that I’m part of a challenge group called Find The Money Project. It’s awesome, and you should totally sign up for the next round. As part of this challenge (don’t want to spoil it too much) I am attempting to eat all of the food that’s already in my house. That means the rice, the beans, the things that have been sitting around. At first, seeing the emptying shelves sent me into a little bit of a panic. I’ve always liked a well stocked pantry and freezer. It was like a security blanket. I’ve never even experienced food scarcity, and yet I feel better having food sitting around that never gets eaten. As a result, sometimes stuff ends up wasted.

But then I watched a documentary called Just Eat It. In this film a couple decides to live on food they can salvage from dumpsters for six months. I didn’t know exactly what this would mean, but it was one of the more eye opening movies I’ve ever seen. It made me think about just how much I throw away, how I read labels, and it made me question my shopping habits. As of this writing it is free to watch on Amazon Prime, so I highly suggest it if you are at all curious.

These two things combined have made a drastic shift in how I think about food purchases, and my plans for future shopping. My new plan is to actually shop more frequently. Once we have finished eating all of the food we currently have, I am going to stop worrying about trying to shop for a weeks worth of food or extended meal planning. It just doesn’t fit our lifestyle. I must pass a grocery store every day on my way home. I can even walk to it from my house. I’ve always behaved as though I live in some remote area and must shop like someone who doesn’t get to the store often. I’m going to try shopping for just one or two days food at a time, planning leftovers for lunch. I have teenage boys, so I will of course keep some things on hand for them to snack on, but only a small amount of those things. I have a horrible habit of buying more food because I don’t feel like eating what I do have. Shopping more often means I’ll know what I’m in the mood for, and that’s what I’ll buy. It will get eaten because I want it right then. It also keeps me from making meals that the kids don’t want. If they’re with me, they’ll get help deciding, and if they’re not, I’m just fixing what I want.

There is some risk here. I could end up buying more junk because I see it and feel like having it at that moment. I guess I could spend more money this way as well. But the more I think about doing it this way the more it seems to make sense for my family. I’ve been trying to make the shopping wisdom of others fit me when it really doesn’t. Now maybe shopping for a week or a month at a time does make more sense for you. Maybe I’ll end up finding that it does for me to. But I find it so fascinating that I just never stopped to think that maybe I don’t have to do it that way.

How do you shop for groceries?

It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on Reddit
Continue Reading

The Things We Keep For Others

Hope

I live in an apartment that is partially built into the ground. This means that I don’t have a lot of windows, and so when I’m washing dishes I’m looking at a wall instead of out the window like many people. There is a small shelf there, and whatever is on that shelf is what I have to look at. Last night as I was standing there, I started looking a a little statue of a horse that has been sitting there for probably as long as I’ve lived here. I don’t particularly like it. It’s heavy, and the details on it collect a lot of dust. So I’m sure you’re wondering why I keep it around when I don’t even like it.

I’m not even sure how it ended up in my possession, but once a long time ago my father pointed at it and said “never get rid of that, that was your grandmothers”. My grandmother passed away when I was very little. I have no real memory of her, but others tell me that she was a great woman, and that we were quite close. Pictures tell me she was thin, and always liked to look her best. Others tell me that she was Catholic, and that her faith was important to her, even though my grandfather never really did much to help her to attend Mass. I have no relationship with my father, and yet there I stood looking at a statue that I was only keeping because someone told me I had to. I suspect if my grandmother were here, she’d tell me to get rid of the statue herself. Yet here it sits in a place I look at every day.

After I finished the dishes, I want on to clean the rest of the house. When I got to my sons room, I picked up a painted jar in order to dust under it. I looked at it and remembered a conversation with my oldest where I had convinced him to find a use for the jar because his brother had painted it for him. Said brother had no recollection of painting the jar. But my oldest son kept it at my instance. It had been given as a gift, with no conditions, and there I was putting the condition on it that he had to keep it because his brother made it

I went back to the kitchen and removed the statue. Along with it went a pot that occupied the other end of the shelf. It had a similar story. I’m going to give them a new life outside of my home. There will be someone who sees them and loves them I hope.  My grandmother’s rosaries hang from a picture in my room. That’s what she would have wanted me to keep I think. I’m going to tell me son he can give up the jar. I suspect he will keep it now because he found a use for it, but I’m going to relieve him of feeling like he has to, and make an effort to catch myself before telling someone what they have to hold onto because of my memories. The only thing that sits on that shelf now is a silver glittery cutout sign of the word “Hope”. It was a Christmas decoration once upon a time I believe, but I love it, and I love focusing on it while I do my dishes.

What are you keeping for others that you want to let go of?

It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on Reddit
Continue Reading

The Jones’ are Probably Bankrupt

Emerson quote

I’m often looking for movies or TV shows that I can listen to without having to be really attentive while I do other things. I’d heard that the movie The Jones’ was decent, and it was on Netflix so I gave it a go. The plot is basically that four people are paid to pretend to be a family, and move into a wealthy neighborhood. Once they are there, their job is to befriend the people in the community, and get them to purchase products that they appear to own themselves. If you’re familiar with that “keeping up with Jones'” saying, then you understand the movies premise.

I won’t spoil it for you, but there is collateral damage from the consumption. It was a good enough film that if you have Netflix, and are the least bit interested in the idea, then it wouldn’t be a total waste of time to watch it.

It made me think a lot about my buying habits now, and in the past. About four years ago I made the very difficult decision to file for bankruptcy. Difficult in that I felt, and still feel, a lot of guilt about not paying my bills. That’s not the kind of person I am. However, the incredibly aggressive tactics of the collection agencies, and their lack of willingness to let me work out payment plans made the decision a bit easier. I couldn’t allow my friends and family to be harassed for the foreseeable future because of my mistakes. But it wasn’t wasn’t the least bit easy or enjoyable.

I didn’t get into debt just because I was trying to keep up with others. I was newly divorced, and had two young children and a small income. Some of my debt was survival debt. Stuff you do need, but don’t have the money for when you need it. But some of it was also guilt debt. I felt bad that my kids weren’t going to have the same lifestyle with me that they were going to have with their father, so I tried to make up for it. So I guess in that respect, I was trying to keep up with others. I was trying to buy something that you can’t buy, and it landed me in a mess.

That point in my life made me understand how people could end up feeling like suicide was their only option for dealing with a financial mess. I never considered it, but I understood it. You feel like a total failure and can’t always see a way out. I could see this being even more true for people who had spent a lot of time trying to impress others with their lifestyle. But the truth is, the Jones’ you’re trying to keep up with could very well be bankrupt themselves. Just because someone is managing to juggle it all and keep the bankruptcy from being filed, doesn’t mean they aren’t already bankrupt when you look at the numbers.

I’d love to tell you that I’m not debt free and never do stupid things with money. That’s not the truth though. Bankruptcy doesn’t teach you to be better with your money, you have to do that, and right after mine I didn’t learn what I needed to know. Thankfully, it isn’t anywhere like it was before, and I have found tools to help. My favorite tool is a program called You Need a Budget. I’ll write more about it in a separate post down the road, but it’s a game changer for sure.

If you’re in a tough financial place, and you think there is no way out, please remember that there is always a way. Yes, your life may dramatically change, but you will get through it and come out better on the other side. Just take things one step at a time, reach out and ask for help, and remember that the world is a better place with you in it no matter what mistakes you have made with your money.

 

 

It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on Reddit
Continue Reading

A Life Reboot

dandelion

Have you ever been using your computer or phone, and while most things are behaving as they should, there are some parts that are acting just a little bit off? The generally accepted advice is to reboot. So you do that, and then everything is running just as it should again.

I believe the same could hold true for life. Overall it’s pretty good, but maybe you’ve spent too much time focusing on the bad things, and taking the good for granted. You’ve become wrapped up in the every day stuff, and forget to notice everything else that’s out there. Maybe a life reboot is what we need.

The other day while I was driving to pick up my kids, I realized that in four years not only will I be 40, but my kids will be out of school. If they were to move out as soon as they graduate (unlikely I know) then I will be an empty nester at 40!! That was exciting and terrifying at the same time. But it really made me think about what I want the rest of my life to look like. My life is good, and I have a lot of things to be thankful for. But lately I have spent too much time and attention on what isn’t right instead of appreciating what is. I haven’t taken care of myself the way I want to, and I haven’t achieved some goals that I still have for myself.

I have some big dreams for my little family, and I’ve let the bumps in the road take my focus off what’s important. It’s time for a little reboot, and I am going to share that journey here. I’m going to be talking about a little bit of everything so I hope you find something of value. Minimalism, getting out of debt, diet and exercise, habits, and anything else that comes up. Let’s see where this goes!

Have you ever rebooted? Let me know in the comments!

 

It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on Reddit
Continue Reading