Swagbucks – And why I LOVE it

So if you’re in the personal finance blog-o-sphere, you know about Swagbucks. If you’re not, you may still have heard about it. I just love it, and so I wanted to tell you all about it.

Swagbucks is a essentially a search engine that tracks search data. Sometimes (1-3 times per day) when you search for an item you get rewarded with points (called “Swagbucks”) and you can turn them in for prizes. I’ve used all of my Swagbucks for Amazon.com giftcards. So far I’ve earned $125 in Amazon.com giftcards and have enough Swagbucks at the current moment to cash out another $40 in Amazon.com giftcards. I plan on using all of my giftcards to pay for my Christmas presents this year!

Now, I won’t tell you that searching Swagbucks will make you rich overnight. But there are a few easy ways to get some points. So let me tell you what I do:

1. Get your friends to join using your referral code.

Every Swagbuck that your friend earns, so do you – up to 100.  I got all of my labmates to join under my referral code and most of them have gotten me their full 100 Swagbucks. It is also fun rooting for my co-workers as they won Swagbucks – and seeing them get their prizes as well.

2. Do all your searches through Swagbucks

Sure, you could just type in the name of your favorite site “amazon.com” and go directly to the site, but for a few extra seconds you could type “amazon” and then do the search. I always search for every website that I go to, and it benefits me in at least one Swagbuck a day.

3. Get the Swagbucks toolbars and search engines

I use Chrome, and have the Swagbucks search engine set up as the default search engine. I also have it as the default for Firefox (when I choose to use it over Chrome). If you use the Swagbucks search engine as your default engine you’ll be more likely to win Swagbucks since you’ll be automatically using it for all your normal searches. For whatever browser you use, Swagbucks gives detailed information on how to set it up as your default search engine.

4. Get the Widgit

I put the Swagbucks widgit on my old blog, and check it daily. Why? Because it tells you if there is a Swagcode out. What’s a Swagcode? Well, usually once a day (sometimes more), Swagbucks puts a code out. You usually have to find it somewhere in a newsletter they send out (remember to sign up for this), in the Swagbucks Blog, on Twitter or Facebook, or in a scavanger hunt around the website. If you’re not one for digging around the internet all the time, I just check out the widgit to see if there is a code and then immediately go to the Slick Deals Swagbucks forum. Someone has usually already found the code and can give you “hints” as to where it is and what it is. I find this much easier than having to click around forever. =)

4a. Follow Swagbucks on Twitter or Facebook.

If you don’t want to get the Widget, you can also follow Swagbucks on Twitter, Facebook and add the blog to your RSS feeder. You won’t catch all of the Swagcodes this way, but you’ll catch a good percentage of them.

5. Shop through Swagbucks

I have never done this, but I know that Okturn DelMoniq has. He buys his iTunes music through Swagbucks and gets rewarded for each purchase. If you’re one who likes to buy things online through the shops that are partnered with Swagbucks I would recommend doing it – might as well get something free for buying stuff you would buy anyway, right?

6. Trade in your electronics

Swagbucks also offers the ability to trade in your old electronics for Swagbucks. Okay, while you can get a few Swagbucks for this, I don’t know how good of an idea it is. My old phone only would have given me 1 Swagbuck – which is hardly anything. So proceed with caution here…

7. Don’t Over Expect

It is really easy to get discouraged when you only get 1 or 2 Swagbucks a day and see people who get TONS. The way I figure it, even if I only got 1 Swagbuck a day, that is still 365 a year – and that is a FREE $40 per year in Amazon.com giftcards that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Most days I get at least 3 Swagbucks, so that is $120 –  just for searching the internet.

Search & Win

Going Through the Percentages

I keep a rough spread sheet budget going every month to help me figure out how much money I need to pay on what and how much money I’ll have for food per day and for gas and stuff.

I decided to what put what I pay into what into a percentage form, just to see what percentage of my income I put towards the various aspects of my life.

Here is how it looks:

Bills – 37.9%
Debt – 24.1%
Savings – 3.9%
Food – 11.7%
Other Expenditures – 16.4%
————————
Total – 94%

I was actually shocked that the number came below my total income, but then again these are idealized numbers assuming that I keep on budget. I feel reassured that I have a 6% buffer for unexpected expenses, but think that I can use that buffer to my advantage. I also don’t like that I’m only saving 3.9% of my income per month. This just seems ridiculously low (though I guess with debt as high as I have the fact that I’m saving at all is good).

Anyway, the moral of the story is two-fold. First, because of my $200 food budget I’m going to attempt next month I’ll be bringing my food percentage down to 8% of my net salary. (Perhaps 10% would be a good compromise to think about? We’ll see) Second, I want to increase my savings to 5%. This means I’ll be putting an extra $25 away each month in savings. I have a feeling that I won’t particularly notice $25 missing, so I think this is an excellent thing to try. And hey, can you really go wrong adding money to the emergency fund? I think not! The sooner I can get myself to my goal of $1,200 the better!

I had posted previously that I thought that I might not be able to get all three of my goals for 2009 accomplished. However, a month later, and as I’m making forecasts for next month and September it seems more likely that I’ll be able to meet them.

One thing I do have to keep in mind is that I’ll need to get tickets for Thanksgiving (sooner rather than later, of course, currently they’re at $300 round trip) and I’ll need to start thinking about Christmas presents. I have already got my grandma one thing, but would like to get her *something* else. I should probably start this month buying something for each person so that come December I’m not strapped for cash. Ack, I can’t believe I’m already thinking about Christmas, but it will be here sooner than I’d like. Maybe I’ll manage to get some decent presents with some of my Amazon.com giftcards from Swagbucks. That would certainly save me some money! Actually, this is a FANTASTIC idea! I currently have $20 in unused giftcards and another $30 in unredeemed gift cards. That’s $50 that could go towards a really great gift! And with another 3-4 months of searching to go, lets just say getting 2 swagbucks a day (easy enough to do, I could EASILY have another $25! That’s $75 in giftcards just for searching the internet and would DEFINITELY buy a couple decent gifts for people on my Christmas list! Man, that is really exciting. =)

I Think I'm Addicted to Swimsuits!!!

Even though I’ve bought mine for the summer, I’m just addicted to these retro style swimsuits.

I showed you all this beautiful suit a few weeks ago:

It is a Jantzen Vamp suit and just delicious. They also had this copy-cat at target:

Now I’m all Ga-Ga for this delicious suit, on sale for $40:

It is just a beautiful Spiegel ShapeFX suit. I want so hard. So very hard. They sell it on Amazon. And I currently have around $35 that I could put towards the suit using my Swagbucks money, but it is more expensive at Amazon: $49. But I’d be getting it for cheaper – funny how that works out. All I know is this suit is beautiful and I’m lusting so very hard.

I’ve never enjoyed swimsuits, but for some reason this seasons looks have me SO EXCITED!!

The Easiest Free Money On The Web

I’ve talked about Swagbucks before, but since I just used it to buy 3 books from Amazon yesterday, I’m totally on another high for it.

I started using Swagbucks around February of this year. I was turned on to it by another blogger – so long ago that I don’t even remember which blogger it was. That isn’t the point. Since then I’ve redeemed $65 worth of Amazon.com gift cards and have another $15 worth that I haven’t redeemed yet because I’m a dork and like to have my balance be above 100 Swagbucks at all times.

So how does it work?

Swagbucks is, at its core, just a search engine (I won’t blow smoke up your ass, it isn’t the BEST search engine, but it definitely learns the more you search). You enter your normal, everyday searches into their search engine and once or twice a day you’ll win a “Swagbuck” (or two or three or ten) for that search. You accumulate these points to redeem for prizes. You can redeem them for anything from airline miles to gift cards to your favorite stores or sports memorabilia or online movies. For me, I prefer the Amazon.com gift cards because they are the greatest value.

So what have I gotten?

First I received a travel guide to Amsterdam for my trip next month:

Then I got myself guitar hero!!

Yesterday I redeemed my Amazon.com gift cards for three different books!
*Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto
*Frommer’s Brussels and Bruges Day by Day
*Then We Came to the End: A Novel

As a person who LOVES to own books, but is now finding that owning books isn’t very frugal, this is a GREAT way to not feel guilty about my book-loving pleasure. If I have a book I want to buy I can save up Swagbucks until I get enough to purchase it and then I have the book that I want and don’t pay a thing. It is FANTASTIC for me.

There is bound to be something awesome on Swagbucks that you’ll like, so you should sign up and start earning some bucks and get some free stuff while you’re at it! =D


Search & Win

Thanks Swagbucks for Guitar Hero!

I spent most of today and Friday night playing my new video game: Guitar Hero III

The best part, of course, being that it was free! I saved up points from searching on Swagbucks and traded them in for Amazon.com gift cards. Then I got a GREAT deal on Guitar Hero III on Amazon where they were selling the guitar and the game for $32.

I got it on Friday and BAM I’m a rockstar, now!

Anyway, thanks Swagbucks for getting me some awesome free stuff. =D


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April Fools

I got my first prize from Swagbucks yesterday, a travel guide to Amsterdam. I bought it using gift cards from Amazon.com. I’m really excited about the trip and all. Shortly I’ll need to make some reservations for hostels and things like this, but for now I’m simply content to have the book.

I also ordered my second prize: Guitar Hero! So frivolous, but I figure if I’m not paying anything for it then it is perfect fine to “buy” something frivolous with my “money”.

For those of your who don’t know about Swagbucks yet it is a search engine site that rewards you for doing your normal internet searches. Typically, you’ll get 3-5 “swagbucks” a day for just doing your normal searches. I use the Firefox plug-in, which makes it really easy to remember to do my search through Swagbucks so that I can get the loot. It only take 45 swagbucks to get a $5 giftcard from Amazon.com. I have redeemed 8 of them so far, and I’m only been a swagbucker for about 2 months. My labmate Zhen has cashed in for 2 Amazon gift cards in the past month as well. He doesn’t have ANY referrals, so that is ALL through searching.

It is pretty fun and ridiculously easy, and you get free shit. So what could be better? You should JOIN SWAGBUCKS because there is really no good reason not to.

Okay, enough about Swagbucks. =)

I paid for all of Jack’s daycare up front this month, because I save money by buying it up front. I’m also tempted to just buy huge bags of food for the cats and dog now, so that I don’t have to worry about it later this month. I’ll resist the temptation until he a) runs out of food or b) the $5 off coupon that I sent for arrives.

After paying for the daycare, I have $500 left for the month for all the rest of my spending. Sheesh, how fast the money flies off the shelf once it arrives! April 1st and I only have $500 left! That’s $100/week, which isn’t that bad at all. Definitely do-able, especially if I keep to my $10/day budget for food (which I did last month!!! — more on this later once I get my Excel goodness happening).

So far I’ve spent $3.70 today, but I’ll probably go grocery shopping today and get my free Redbox movie. For those of you who don’t have the code yet, Redbox promo code for today is: MMM401 Put that in at the Redbox and you get a free rental. It is that easy. Here is a link to tell you more.

Guitar Hero III

I’ve been near obsessing for the past year over Guitar Hero. I spend a good majority of my time searching Craigslist and checking ads trying to find a great deal on Guitar Hero. With some stipulations. I have no video game system. But Cpt. Baseball has a PS3 and a Wii.

Well today he sent me this. $33 for Guitar Hero for PS3. Plus, it is on Amazon, so I can use my Swagbucks to buy it! I can only cash out 2 prizes a day, so I’m starting to cash out my Swagbucks now. I have enough saved up to buy it, so hopefully I can get them all redeemed before the deal goes away!

I’m super stoked. No, it isn’t the pair of Merrell shoes that I was working towards, it is something far more frivolous. But I am COMPLETELY okay spending my Swagbucks on something that I would NEVER spend my money on – like a video game accessory. =D

Swagbucks

I recently traded in 90 of my Swagbucks for $10 worth of gift cards at Amazon.com. The goal is to purchase my travel guides to Europe with the Swagbuck money.

After going through the website I realized what my next goal will be: New Shoes.

I LOVE my Merrell shoes. I have only two pairs of shoes that I regularly wear (that aren’t dressy or whatever) and both are Merrell. I tend to have very bad problems with shoes, when I was a toddler I had to wear braces on my legs at night to turn my legs the correct direction. I have weirdly high arches and generally most shoes cause me a fair amount of pain, especially on my right foot arch. However, this has NEVER been a problem with my Merrell shoes.


I bought my first pair when I became of member of REI in 2003. I wore these out in about a year and a half. REI let me return them and get a new pair, no questions asked. I wore these out as well. This time I had to buy a new pair, but because of REI’s great member discounts and cash back program I only had to pay $4 for my new pair (regularly priced at $85). It has been 3 years since that infamous transaction and I have purchased a different pair of Merrell shoes that I also adore (I got these on sale at the Walking Store because it is a style they don’t make anymore, which I don’t understand because they are fantastic shoes, but whatever). However, the current pair are falling apart and I need new shoes.

I want to spend the next bit of Swagbucks points on new Merrell shoes. I can either do this through Amazon. The shoes are $80 on Amazon.com or $85 at REI. I can also get a 20% discount at REI with my membership if I time the purchase right. Which would make the shoes around $68 at REI. To get $80 of Amazon.com gift cards I would need 720 points. To get a $50 REI gift card I would need 840 points. So obviously getting them through Amazon is the better deal. I would need less points to pay for it COMPLETELY rather than to pay for only 70% of the price. So that is my new goal, 720 points and getting myself some new Merrell shoes. I have 312 points now (I’d have over 400 if I hadn’t traded in points yesterday, but that’s okay).

Do you want to get free stuff from Amazon.com, too? Just join Swagbucks. It is free, painless and completely awesome.


Search & Win

Swagbucks

I officially have enough Swagbucks for $25 worth of giftcards at Amazon.com in 3 weeks!

This is such an easy way to get free stuff, everyone should be doing it.

Here, you should click on the banner and get your swag:


Search & Win

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