Thursday, May 21

We're making progress

CC balance (4/22): $8342.74
CC balance (5/19): $6997.99

Yep, that's right folks: When the payment goes through tomorrow, we'll officially be under the $7,000 mark!

This was an exceptional month, mainly because we had a nice lil $500 boost from our favorite Uncle (Sam). I got $250 as part of the Economic Recovery Program. This amount was sent to people on SSI and, I believe, also disability. Tim got the other $250 as backpay from the unemployment department. Apparently there was a $25/week increase back in mid-February, but the state of Washington didn't get its act together until last week.

I'm pretty proud of us, though, because even without the $500 boost, we were able to pay down $844.75 of debt. Out of our actual budget of $3,145 (now $3245, thanks to the unemployment increase), that means we paid 27% of our relatively modest income toward debt.

My ongoing efforts to make a buck...

Another piece of good news: We didn't have to get a new Xbox 360! It turns out we were still in the warranty period for the Red Ring of Death. It's just that, in Tim's three or four phone calls to Microsoft, no one informed him that the warranty had been extended for an extra two years for equipment that exhibits the Red Ring of Death. We sent it off at no charge and were not charged for repairs.

So Tim gets his Xbox 360 back, and I get to throw rewards' money at debt. In the case of gift cards, I will either save them for Christmas shopping or I can sell them on eBay and put the proceeds against debt.

Here's an update of how my efforts:


I'm happy to announce I finally got my first check from ebates, which Liz Pulliam Weston cites as one of the best sites for bargain hunting. We're not talking huge money by any stretch, but I was more than happy to put that $35.61 against our debt in this week's payment.

If you haven't yet joined ebates, now's the time. When you sign up, you get an automatic $5 credit to your account. This is an especially good idea if you have a lot of impressionable friends. Normally, you get $5 per referral; but for a limited time, every three friends you refer doubles the bonus. So instead of $15, you'll get $30.

When you're already planning on buying something anyway, it just makes sense to go through a program like this. (And to profit off your more obedient friends!) Sign up today!

Inbox Dollars

I'm almost ready to get my first check from Inbox Dollars. The minimum payout is $30, and I'm at $28.79. It's amazing how those emails add up! I didn't do any cash shopping and did very few surveys or cash offers. There are plenty of both, so depending on your willingness to participate, you could get your first $30 pretty quickly. Or, like me, you can just rely on those emails to add up over time. Either way, free money is free money.


I'm almost at $25. After that, I may quit. I haven't decided yet. The main reason I loved this program was that it offered the daily lottery for 100 points a day: 10 points per game, 10 games a day.

So imagine my dismay to find that the lottery games are now only worth 1 point each. I wrote customer support explaining how upset I was that we weren't notified about the change. I didn't get a very satisfactory reply.

That said, there are some decent deals. For example, the site routinely doubles the points offered. This came in handy when we were replacing a pair of Tim's shoes. Shoebuy was cheaper than DSW, wouldn't charge us sales tax and has free shipping. We also got 15,600 points. (For reference, 19,300 points will get you $10.)

There are also routine opportunities to earn 480-600 per survey. A new one is introduced every two or three weeks. And if you can qualify for and finish the OTX daily survey, you make a quick 720 points.

In other words, the utility of Memolinks will probably be vary by person. Like I said, I'm torn about continuing. I'll keep you guys updated.

And saving the best for last....


I am soooo addicted to Swagbucks, I may actually need an intervention!

When I wrote about rewards programs back on April 14th, I had 179 Swagbucks. Thanks to some referrals and being diligent about Swagcodes (more on that in a moment), I'm up to 393 (UPDATE: make that 411, as of 4 p.m. PST). For the math averse among you, that's 214 (er, 232) Swagbucks in just over 30 days!

How is such a thing possible? As with most things on the Internet, referrals are a large part. When you refer someone, you earn a buck for each buck he or she wins, up to 100. Tim and my Mom were a big help in this area, though a couple of you readers gave me a boost too.

Another big help: Swagcodes. Periodically, Swagbucks will post a code (or a clue to a code) on the Swagbucks blog or Facebook page. These are usually worth one Swagbuck. Given that there's usually one a day, that can add up pretty quickly. For those of you who pay attention to Twitter, follow Swagbucks, which will tweet every time there's a new code up. Otherwise, I like to use Engineer a Debt Free Life. It's good about keeping current on codes. I check it around three or four times a day.

I'm not sure what I'm going to get but here's a cool sampling:

  • 45 Swagbucks for a $5 Amazon GC. Save them up for a big item, or use these for cheap, reader-attracting giveaways on your site!
  • 220 Swagbucks for $20 Target GC. There's pretty much always something I need in that store. I'm not sure if it's evil or wonderful. But it's definitely useful.
  • 320 Swagbucks for a $25 Macy's GC. Free clothes? A discount on a wedding gift for the upcoming nuptials season? The possibilities abound.
  • 400 Swagbucks for 1600 Xbox live points. Great for getting quickie games, special armor and other items, or downloadable content to extend your play.
  • 450 Swagbucks for a $25 Fandango GC. Because even frugal folks enjoy the occasional summer blockbuster. But we're too frugal to pay retail prices!

There are also Star Wars collectibles, Puma gear, electronics, songs and other sections.



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