My Points: Another Survey Site

MyPoints

I’ve been highlighting a few survey sites in case any of you wanted to try to earn some rewards/money to put towards upcoming holiday expenses etc.

Another survey company that is taking applications right now is My Points. You earn money through taking surveys, shopping online, playing games and reading emails.

Earn Extra Money/Credit – Trade in DVDs

One way to earn a little extra money or store credit is to turn in some DVDs/BluRays that may just be collecting dust in your house. You might be able to find stores near you that specialize in cash back for DVDs. We’ve found places such as Disc Replay and even some Gamestop stores in our area.  There’s also a way to turn your DVDs in for Amazon credit. While you won’t get the cashback, you can use the credits to buy anything they sell, including Organic Foods and possible gifts for someone on your list.

In the past, we have asked for TV Show DVD sets for Christmas/Birthdays. We loved the convenience of watching them whenever we wanted to without dealing with bad streaming or having to watch ads. We also didn’t have to wait for all the episodes to be added. We’ve often shared our DVDs with family/friends, as well. Some of these cost barely anything during the holidays when some stores have “Black Friday” sales or quick hot deals on them. Recently, we took our sets and turned in some to Amazon for credit. In total, we earned $98! Even though they had been watched, Amazon classified them as “New” and we received the highest credit value for them. I thought I’d share with you how this works in case you had some at home, as well: (Note: Pics are a little small. You may need to click on them if you can’t see the detailing.)

1) You’ll first need to do a search on your DVD and find the title within their listings. For the sake of this example, I’m using Smallville Season 10.

2) At the bottom of the product screen, if there’s a trade-in option, you’ll see it listed. This one has a highest value of $13.65.

3) At the next screen, you’ll need to determine the condition of your DVD. If you choose one that’s lower than they think, they will upgrade you to the higher amount. The same goes for the reverse.

4) Next, you’ll need to choose your carrier option of how you plan to ship it. You get to ship it for free! When you are all done, they’ll give you packing/shipping labels to print and add to your box. You’ll use those to get the shipping pre-paid. (At least this is their current plan, which could change!) You’ll also choose the shipping address for your label and where they’ll ship your item back to if it’s rejected.

5) Next, you’ll have to choose what you want them to do if the condition you chose is not what they think the DVD is, according to their standards. You can reject it or accept the lower credit offer.

6) You’ll get one final screen to verify everything. When you are done, you’ll print your labels, affix them to your box with the DVD(s) and send it in. Just be sure you read all their rules/requirements, etc.

Now some of the DVDs aren’t eligible for credit if it’s not listed under the product info. Others will have higher or small amounts. It just depends on what you are trading in. I just wanted to share this option with you in case you can’t find a local store that will let you trade them in. You can always try to sell your items online (eBay, Craigslist, etc.) or via a garage sale. Overall, you just don’t want DVDs lying around collecting dust if you can get some extra money for them.

If you have good streaming capabilities and don’t mind watching ads, (if you choose that option) etc., you can check to see if places such as Netflix or Hulu have the shows/movies that you want to watch and it might save you money. We don’t usually watch enough to make either worth the extra money each month. Check your local networks online, as some of them have their shows online for free. Also, don’t forget that your local library may have DVDs that you can check out for free. Some will let you have them for a week at a time. And don’t forget, you also have Redbox and Blockbuster Express as options for inexpensive rentals (or free if there’s a current free code offer.) We have been slowly getting away from buying DVDs, unless they are for gifts for others at their request. There is a few that when we know we’ll continue to watch them and can get them on a hot deal that we’ll invest in.

I’m hoping that you’ll choose the best option for YOU. And that if you have any DVDs lying around, that you’ll consider finding options to clear out the clutter and possibly make some extra money/credit from them. I also wanted to share that if you think you won’t get much money from what you have, that you ask your local library if they’ll want the ones you aren’t using. It would be a great gesture to help others save money on free entertainment and possibly help encourage more people to take advantage of what their library has to offer.

How to Organize Coupons: My Coupon System

I shared with you earlier on How to Organize Coupons and the most common Coupon Organizing Methods. In this posting, I’ll be sharing how I arrange my own coupon organizer and what I bring with me to the store to help make things go a little smoother.

I have to start by saying that over time, I’ve tried each of the Coupon Organizing Methods. I started off with the Coupon Binder and quickly became frustrated with trying to fit my coupons into those baseball card sleeves. At the time, I was only able to find the 9 slot sleeves and I found it hard to fit a lot of the coupons in them. I was also getting more into finding printable coupons online and I didn’t like having to fold them over. You can now find various sized sleeves but in the meantime, I’ve downsized how many coupons I use. I also tried the Coupon Insert Method but found myself spending so much time searching for coupons and then my coupons got knocked over and that was the end of that method for me. LOL.

After couponing for a long period of time, you will start to notice which coupons that you clip that you end up using. At the end of each month, I started to take notice which expired coupons I was pulling out of my organizer that I hadn’t used–and also paying attention to which ones I found myself using a lot at the stores. I learned how long it took me through go through food and household items so I knew if I’d need a certain coupon that month, or if I could wait. I also switched my family over to more locally grown foods (or foods from our Organic Garden) and those sold by Organic Companies. Since Organic Coupons are still fairly rare, my coupons have become far less than what I used to keep.

I also started paying attention to items that I could get deals where I could get the items free or cheap after coupons. The stores typically have the same deals around the same time each year and over time, you’ll start to see the trends. I was beginning to see that just when my sensible stockpile would begin to deplete, a new hot sale and coupon would pop-up. This is your ultimate goal–to learn what you need to have on hand up to the next hot sale. It will keep your house from being taken over by an unnecessary stockpile but still keep your budget where it should be.

You see, when it comes to Couponing, the phrase you need to keep reminding yourself is Time (and Space) is Money. Each second you spend clipping a coupon, following blogs, dealing with a crazy stockpile or shopping adds up to lost money and time you could be spending with your families. You want to balance savings with smiles–the smiles that you get to see on your families’ faces when you are with them! While Couponing can be very fun, addicting and a money-saver, you have to be careful that it doesn’t consume or frustrate you.

So over time while I’ve tried all the Coupon Organizing Methods, I always come back to the Coupon Organizer. I like that it’s small, that I can fit it in my purse and that I limit myself of how many coupons I have. Sure, I miss out on some deals but in the end, I save money because I’m not buying unnecessary items that I won’t use. I’ve been asked by several of you on how many papers I get each week and the answer to that is two. We receive our local paper and the Chicago Tribune. I sometimes receive extra coupons from friends/family and on the rare occasion when there are four inserts and a lot of coupons I use in them, I’ll pick up an additional paper. I use a lot of printable coupons; in part because I print a lot to test links before I post things and also because there are a lot of high-value printable coupons these days.

When I go to the store, this is what I bring with me:

~My Coupon Organizer
~Big Chil Bag from Blue Avocado w/ other Reusable Bags and CVS Bag Tags attached
~Dave Ramsey Designer Envelope System-that fits into whatever purse I’m using
~Small Two-Sided Organizer for Pulled Coupons and Shopping List
~Purse

I’ve tried several Coupon Organizers but I always go back to and have finally stayed with those made by GlowGirl. She sends you the dividers and pre-made labels with them. She has also created the organizer so you can button it over the shopping seat. I have my kids with me most of the time, so I don’t use it that way. She recently added a Mega Large Coupon Organizer that holds a lot more and has a handle for carrying it.

These are the categories that I use in my organizer:
Produce/Deli Area
Baking Products
Beverages
Breakfast
Bread
Canned Foods
Condiments/Peanut Butter & Jelly
Cookies/Crackers/Snacks
Meat/Fish
Dairy
Frozen
Bags/Paper Goods
Household/Cleaning Products
Shampoos/Lotions/Body Wash/Soap
Personal Care/Razors/Deodorant
Oral Hygiene
Medicine
Misc.
Pet Foods
Baby Products
Other Retailers
Expiring Soon/Free Products
Using Today

I’ve pretty much figured out how to get everything to fit into those categories. Most of these are included in GlowGirl’s pre-made labels. I used to keep them alphabetized but now I have them arranged by store layout – Produce, Store’s Middle Aisles, Meat, Dairy, Frozen and Non-Food Items. So far, it’s working out well.

I keep my shopping list and coupons for what’s on my list in a little two-sided thing, which is actually Dave Ramsey’s Starter Envelope System with the envelopes pulled out. I keep coupons I plan on using on one side and then pull them out and put them on the other side when I find it in the store. Any coupons left get put back into the coupon organizer after my trip. I typically have the coupons paper-clipped by store if I am making several stops. I highly recommend that you keep your shopping list arranged by store aisles to save time in the stores. This little thing is all I have in my hands when I shop. If I see a clearance item or item that wasn’t on my list that’s on a great deal, I pull out my coupon organizer to find that coupon I need.

I keep any ECBs, RRs or Store Catalinas in the zippered area of my Dave Ramsey Deluxe Envelope System. I also throw any coupons that I find while I shop in the wallet so I can organize them later and they won’t get mixed up in my little two-sided divider. I also keep my receipts in the back compartment until I am done shopping for the day.

Lastly, I carry a Blue Avocado Big Chil Bag that I also stuff a few reusable bags into. I’ve tried so many bags and this one is by far my favorite. I keep my purse and coupon organizer in there until I’m at the checkout when they need it to put in my dairy/frozen items. It has slots all around the outside for holding water bottles, etc. I usually put coupons I find while shopping in one area until I can transfer them into my wallet, and then organizer.

I try to take a minute in between stores on multiple-stop trips so I can put away my receipts, coupons, ECBs/RRs, Catalinas, etc. It’s so easy to lose one of these if you don’t take a minute to safely put them away.

This is just a peek at my coupon organizer, how I keep it organized and what I bring with me to the stores to stay organized. I’d love to hear what you have found that works for you!

Coming Later This Week: A peek into my “Sensible Stockpile” and how to start your own!

How to Organize Coupons: Coupon Organizers

I know several of you are fairly new to couponing and have been wondering how to organize the new coupons that you are starting to collect. Here are a few of the common coupon organizing methods. Each of them has their own advantages and disadvantages. I’ve tried all of them and I’ll share with you in another posting some pictures of the method that I currently use and how I keep it organized. I’m hoping that you’ll find one that best suits your couponing needs.


Photo Courtesy of Super Jenn

1) Coupon Binder – This is a common method used among couponers that have a LOT of coupons. This is typically a zippered binder that is organized with something similar to Baseball Card Sleeves. Coupons are “clipped” and slid into each of the slots in the sleeves.

Advantages – You are able to carry a lot of coupons with you when you shop. You can easily flip through the pages to find the coupons that you may need. You can also easily pull out expired coupons.

Disadvantages – It takes time and patience to clip and slide the coupons into the sleeves. A lot of binders can end up weighing several pounds and are real bulky for carrying into the stores. The size of these makes it hard to carry with you wherever you may go. Most couponers that use this method will leave these in their vehicles so they can have them with them when they go out. Couponers that have a lot of coupons tend to have more than one binder, often split between food and non-food items.

If you use this method, I cannot stress enough to buy a zippered binder. You’ll know why the first time you drop it! You can typically find the baseball card sleeves at Walmart, in hobby stores or online.

2) Coupon Organizer/Box – This method can be any organizer system that uses dividers for the coupon categories. They can be as simple and inexpensive as an accordion style one that you can typically find in dollar bins to as elaborate as a specially made one that you’ll often find sold online such as Etsy. Some also use a plastic box with a lid for their coupons with dividers they’ve custom made from a thicker material, like card stock.

Advantages – These tend to be small and can usually be slid into a purse/bag and transported anywhere. There are so many varieties that you can often find one to fit your style/fashion tastes. These are typically used by couponers that know their coupon patterns and have a smaller amount of coupons or who pull coupons according to their shopping lists ahead of time. These are especially nice if you make unexpected trips or frequent clearance areas as you’ll have all your coupons with you.

Disadvantages – You’ll need to clip all of your coupons. Some of these aren’t very secure and if dropped, you’ll have a mess. You need to go through tab by tab to find any expired coupons–or coupons that you didn’t pull out when creating your shopping lists. They only hold a small amount of coupons.

3) Coupon Insert Method – This method is where you don’t clip your coupons but file them by date and only clip the coupons when you need them. You label the front cover by date and insert, such as 8/21/11 SS for this last week’s Smart Source Insert. Couponers will use Coupon Databases to see what insert has the coupon needed and then pull them out and clip just what they need.

Advantages – There is minimal coupon clipping involved and you’ll always have coupons for deals you may not have normally clipped the coupons for.

Disadvantages – Drop your filing method and you’ll see one of the biggest disadvantages! Once they are out of order and messed up, it’s next to impossible to reorganize them. They can sometimes take up a lot of storage room. You will never have them on hand when you shop. While this may help prevent impulse buys, it may also make you miss out on some great deals.

If you use this method, I recommend that you take an extra minute and flip through the insert and find the oldest expiration date and write it on the outside of the insert. This will help make it easier to know when you can remove that insert.

Don’t feel that if you start off with one couponing method that you are locked in. I’ve switched back and forth between them all depending on what is going on in my life at the time. Times when I was super busy, I used the Coupon Insert Method. When I was keeping mass amounts of coupons, I used the Coupon Binder Method. And when I learned more about couponing, switched to more Organic and locally bought foods and learned more about what coupons made for great deals, I switched to the Coupon Organizer Method. This is the one I have been using for some time. While the clipping can take some time, I love having it with me wherever I go. I keep it organized and fairly small so it will fit in my purse.

I’m hoping this has helped some of you learn more about How to Organize Coupons! I’d love to hear about what method you are currently using–along with some thoughts on other methods you’ve tried that didn’t work out.

Coming Next: My Coupon/Shopping Organizing System –a detailed look at my coupon organizer and what I bring to the store. Stay tuned!

How to Save Money on Restaurant Outings

I have a hard time eating out at restaurants because I’m not a fan of spending so much money on one meal. In my mind, I keep thinking, “Wow, that’s like a whole week’s worth of groceries.” We do treat ourselves to nice meals on special occasions, random outings and a pizza delivery every now and then. Here are a few ways I’ve learned to save:

~SwagBucks recently added a Chili’s Family of Restaurants Gift Card to their selection. Our local branch offers Kids Eat Free with an Adult Entree Night on Tuesdays. Great way to maximize that gift card! They have several other gift cards, too!

~You can take surveys on sites and use the money from them to treat yourself to a night out. (Some let you turn in your points for restaurant gift cards.) Some to consider: Toluna, Pinecone Research MyViewSurvey and My Points. Put the money you earn towards a “date night.” You can even swap babysitting time with friends to save on that–and you’ll both get a nice night out!

~I always keep my eye on daily deal sites, such as Groupon, for local restaurant deals. Now these may not be on the “big chain” restaurants but you may find out what I have and that you can discover a new local favorite–and you’ve saved yourself 50-70% Off your meal.

~Anytime you go out, be sure that you do a Google Search on the restaurant you are going to and see if there’s a current coupon for that place. I try to post some restaurant coupons as I find them. So be sure to look under the Restaurant Coupons category under my Coupons header at the top.

~Check with your local restaurant to see if they offer any coupons. We’ve discovered that one of our local pizza place sells a coupon booklet every year for around $25 and you get a lot of Buy One Get One Free Pizzas, Appetizers and even a coupon for just a free pizza, no purchase necessary! We buy one every year and keep it on hand for when we have people over. We have also even called our neighbors and seen if they want to split the price of pizza delivery some nights!

~Take a look on Restaurant.com and see if there are any discounts for places in your area. They often offer a promo code where you can get a $25 gift certificate for around $2.

~Pick up an Entertainment Book for your local area. They often offer lots of deep discounts or even BOGO meal coupons.

~Check your phone book. There are sometimes restaurant coupons in there for your local places.

~Some schools sell fund-raiser cards that offer discounts on your local restaurants and services. Call over when school is in session to see if they have any or will be offering any later in the year.

~Sign-up for birthday clubs. You can often get freebies or discounts during the month of your birthday.

~Instead of gifts during the holidays or on your birthday, ask your family if they’ll get you a gift card to your favorite restaurant. What a great gift—a night out and no dishes to do!

~Sign-up for the newsletters of your favorite local places. A lot of ours will send out coupons during special times for extra savings.

~Keep your eyes open for gift card deals at local grocery stores. I’ve seen a few pop up at least once a year for money off your next grocery trip when you buy X amount in gift cards. If you already shop there, it’s like extra savings at your favorite places.

~Check your restaurants for special discounts on certain nights. Some places offer Kids Eat Free nights that help you have a fairly inexpensive outing together.

There are so many ways to save money on restaurants that you should rarely have to pay full price. While it can seem like a costly experience, it is nice to treat yourself to night away from cooking and dishes every now and then!

How do you save money when you go out to eat?

Survey Sites: Pinecone Research

Pinecone Research

I’m slowly making my way through listing out survey sites that you might all consider joining.

Another one that I’ve heard some good things about is Pinecone Research. You can sign-up to see if you qualify, as they are taking new applicants right now. They open up the applications every so often, and each time they are looking for a new demographic. So if you don’t get approved this time, you can try again another time they are open.

You’ll get paid $3 for each qualifying survey that you complete. They sometimes have products to test, as well.

Keep watching my Survey Sites link to see what other survey companies I’ve listed to try. Several of my readers take the surveys and then save up their money to pay for their extra holiday expenses or a family vacation. If you plan on taking surveys, I highly recommend that you have a separate email address devoted just to that.

Survey Sites: Toluna

Over the new few weeks, I’ll be sharing some Survey sites that are out there that you can consider signing up for to earn a little extra money or some rewards. Several people use survey sites as ways to bank month for vacations, gifts, restaurant outings and of course, to pay off debt. Before I started this website, I used surveys as a way to help pay off our debt. I would spend just a little bit of time each day taking surveys from various sites.

Toluna is a survey site that pays you points worth $1 to $5 for surveys that you qualify for and complete. You can also earn by taking polls and sharing your opinions. Each time that you complete a survey, you’ll be entered into their monthly $4,500 prize draw. Some surveys earn you money, while others earn you entries into sweepstakes.

I haven’t personally tried Toluna but I have seen decent reviews from other readers and bloggers.