Wednesday, December 2, 2020

ATTENTION: Payless Shoes is back in business!

This may be some of the best news ever for broke folks.

Today and tomorrow they have the canvas Converse-All-Star knockoffs for $9.99 in kids' and adults' sizes.

They don't seem to have snow boots or rain boots in any size. They do have some good-looking plain sandals on good clearances prices for anyone looking to stock up for next year.

The also seem to have less of the stuff cartoons puked all over. Hopefully this continues?

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Huge $55-$110 Money Maker on Swagbucks

The Billionaire Casino/Huuuge Casino games will each give you $55 in free money within a week or so.

Download the games through the link on the Swagbucks site. They are the same game, just rebranded, so you can play two of them on one device/Swagbucks account and get $110. 

Go to the Reddit Swagbucks forum and search for "billionaire" and/or "huuuge" and you will find tutorials for how to do beat the game. This is probably the best comprehensive one. You don't need to spend real money though, regardless of what they say. You want to spend your first day leveling up on slot machines. If you run out of chips, go to the Huuuge and Billionaire Facebook and Twitter pages and click on their free chips offers. You can usually go back about 10 days before it says "sorry, this offer is expired." Use Facebook and Twitter on the same device as the games. The Twitter links will appear to be links to get the app. Click anyway, and it will take you into the app and give you the chips. 

Once you get to level 65, you then want to bid 10 million per turn on roulette. Go into the highest roulette game, hold down on the game until you see "create a private game," so you can spin faster and don't have to worry about other people. You can put 5 million on red and 5 million on black. Don't worry about putting a small amount on green; it still works out the same, where you get the 10 million back most turns and lose it 1/17 turns.

When I played, it was doing the "build a casino" game-in-game. You don't have to do anything with this. Once you have enough stuff and it says "upgrade," you go in there and click, and it gives you millions of chips. I almost skipped it, thinking "upgrade" meant I had to pay something.

Also, be sure to join a club. Follow that tutorial above for doing a custom search for a level 20 club. You'll get 50-100 million chips a day or so just from the club.

When you're in the higher levels, it takes longer to level up. Do the roulette while you do something else. I got to level 120 in a couple days of not playing very much, then did 10 levels on roulette per day. It sends you an e-mail saying it's going to credit once you're at 150. I did not spend any money or use an auto clicker.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Old Navy has winter jackets for $16-18 today only

Click here. They also have $10 jeans, though not many options.

Also make sure to get 2% back in Swagbucks.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Pop Slots on Swagbucks: free $25 for doing pretty much nothing

The offer is here for 2500 SB. I also saw it kicking around for 2986 or some odd number of SB, but I can't find it. EDIT: Here is the link for 2960 SB.

Go there, download the game. I made sure to go to Swagbucks on the phone browser, thinking this might help make sure it was tracked correctly. Nothing showed on Swagbucks at all for a few days, then I got an e-mail saying I had completed the offer and my SB would be pending.

Completing Level 27 on the game is very easy. The game awards XP for every slot machine win, proportionate to the amount of the win. Go to the Pop Slots Facebook and Twitter page, click into their posts, and pretty much every one has a link that will give you between 500,000 and 2,000,000 chips or coins or whatever they are. Then go to a slot machine, place the maximum bid, put it on auto spin until you run out of money. As you level up, the maximum bids go up, so go in and increase them. You unfortunately can't play this completely passively as far as I know, as the games will go into bonus rounds that require clicking to accept the coins you win after it finishes. I got to Level 26 in probably a total of two hours playing, which I was able to do while working on other things since I just had to click "accept" any time I glanced over and saw a bonus round had finished.

The game also earns you points that give you fairly substantial coupons for hotel stays and bus tours and other travel-related items. I assume the companies are all owned by the same folks. I didn't look too closely, but it looks like they are likely good deals if these were things you already planned on purchasing.

The game itself is a bit boring, though it's also aesthetically pleasing and doesn't have ads. (I mean, aside from how the whole thing is an advertisement.)

Friday, February 21, 2020

Completely free HelloFresh boxes

HelloFresh is back on Swagbucks. You get 1000 Swagbucks for signing up for a plan that includes a percentage off your first several boxes. If you pick two meals per week for two people, the first box ends up being $10.95 including shipping ($40 off). The next box is $30 off, so, $20.95. Then the next two are $10 off, so $40.95.

I set my HelloFresh to send me the first box right away and paid $10.95. Then I skipped several weeks. My Swagbucks credited, which means I got the box for free, or actually a negative dollar or so. (You can redeem Swagbucks to get a $25 Visa gift card for 2175 SB, and then add the $25 to your Amazon account which gets you $25.50, which means 1000 SB = $11.70 using them this way.)

You know how I've mentioned that the cat is an asshole? And how the cat is such an asshole that I made a label just for all the times the cat shows up and bothers things that I'm trying to blog? Well, the cat is an asshole. Seriously cat, no one said you could go and stand on the HelloFresh box and make a judgy face like that.

If you don't already use Swagbucks, my referral link is: https://www.swagbucks.com/refer/Locomotive1313

When I signed up for HelloFresh, it gave me four free boxes (six meals each box) to send to other people. They are actually free, including shipping. You will need a credit/debit card (I suggest one of the Swagbucks Visa gift cards for these sorts of subscription things so you aren't risking it charging your actual bank account) on which it can run a pending charge of a dollar. I still have two free boxes left to send to people. Note: When you click on the e-mail to redeem the offer, it will commit you to receiving the free box for the upcoming week, so don't click yet if you have other plans for next week, and check out the menus here to make sure there are things you want.

First two people to comment with an e-mail address to which I can send an invite will get a free box of six meals. 

Preference for people who are struggling to afford food, can't get benefits or enough benefits, etc. I won't require proof, but please be honest.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Where to find the 1095-A on the MA Health Connector website

After spending 15 minutes clicking around on the Health Connector website and not being able to find it, I googled it, and found that 1) it's hidden away in a weird location and 2) these lovely folks were kind enough to make a tutorial for how to find your 1095-A.

I now return to my regularly scheduled activity of spending all day entering information on TaxSlayer due to having had Masshealth most of the year, a connector plan for a couple months here and there, and a plan from a job for a few months. Can we get a single-payer system already?

Monday, January 13, 2020

Inflating prices on eBay surprisingly works

I've had several items on eBay for months. These have been either lots of well-loved clothing or barely-worn clothing, some individual clothing items, and some random household goods. A lot of these are items I would be just fine donating, but have put up on eBay first to see what happens.

A few days ago I started messing around and experimenting with prices and shipping. I switched several things to free shipping, which does tend to make them sell better, but then I need to make sure the price is high enough to cover the shipping in case the purchaser lives on the west coast.

One of my items was a pair of kids' shoes from Primark, worn once. If you're familiar with Primark, you know it's like a cheap version of H&M. The selection is completely random and it's not the place to go if you're looking for a specific item, but it's a good place to stock up, especially for growing kids or if you have relatives who move here from a climate that means they don't own anything for weather below 60 degrees.

I bought the shoes for I think $2.99. I had them priced on eBay for $1.99 with calculated first-class shipping. They had a number of views and watchers, but no buyers. I saw the "send offer to buyers" suggestion, and decided to have some fun.

I set the price to $22.99 with free shipping. (They should cost a maximum of about $5 to ship.) I then sent out an offer to the four watchers, offering them the shoes for $15.99 with free shipping.

Within five minutes, someone bought the shoes for $15.99. Which they had been watching at $2.99. Amazing.

I then tried this with another item, a board game that had been used a couple times and was in good condition. I had it listed at $4.99 plus calculated shipping ($7-10 depending on zone). It retails for $25. I jacked it up to $55 and free shipping. I then sent offers for $50. Again, someone bought it within minutes, for nearly twice the retail price.

I'm not gonna even feel bad about it.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Swagbucks said they credited me for the Capital One offer, except they didn't

UPDATE 11/25/19: I made a support request on the Swagbucks website with a screenshot of the BBB complaint stating I was to receive 5000 SB. They did credit me. Finally. So all in all I will say that making a BBB complaint works when SB fails to credit for offers. 

Remember that time when I applied for a credit card via Swagbucks, was given a card with 0% interest and a huge limit, my credit score went down because of it, and Swagbucks refused to credit me?

I mentioned this on Reddit, and a nice redditor by the name of u/Elite49 told me that Swagbucks actually cares about their Better Business Bureau rating and will respond to complaints. It turns out this is largely correct, as Swagbucks/Prodege LLC did in fact respond to my complaint and told me I had been credited the 5000SB.

Except they didn't actually credit me. I responded to the BBB complaint and said I was never credited. More than a week later, I've heard nothing back. Now I'm going full circle (or I'm running in circles -- not sure which) and have made a Swagbucks complaint stating that they claimed on the BBB website that they would credit me. We'll see.


Saturday, November 2, 2019

Those times when scraping is an advantage

OK, so, when something from a nice brand in the original box comes into my home (hey, it happens sometimes -- online closeouts, eBay, new or close-to-new stuff at thrift stores, TJMaxx, etc.), and I need to save it for a birthday or whatever, I've discovered I actually don't even need to hide it aside from just sticking it on a shelf.

People in this house see a box with a brand name on it and the last thing they assume is that anyone here bought any such thing. They just figure someone gave me something in that box and I saved it, or I rescued some out of the building's recycling or someone packed my items in it at a garage sale or something. #winning

Monday, October 14, 2019

$20 puffer jackets and $12 fleece jackets at The Children's Place today only

They're having a massive sale on outerwear today only. And there's a good amount of stuff that's solid colors and didn't have hearts/emojis/camouflage/sportsballs throw up all over it. There are puffer jackets for $20, and solid-color fleece jackets for $12, or the North-Face-knockoff fleeces with the nylon top half for $16. Also girls' snow pants for $20 and boys' for $15. I'm not sure what the difference is, so I'm buying all boys'. Boots and gloves are also priced well. Some of those did have emojis and glitter throw up on them, but it wouldn't be The Children's Place without some of that.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

People who buy things on eBay, Craigslist, Facebook, etc.: Don't ghost people. Just don't.

As someone who sells items on these various platforms, I wanted to pass along some tips about ghosting people. Actually, one tip: Don't!

What is ghosting?

Ghosting, in this context, is when someone contacts someone to express interest in something, then stops communicating (or worse, makes an appointment and doesn't show.)

When buyers ghost sellers, the seller can feel annoyed or frustrated. "But Loco," you might ask, "why should I care about some stranger on Craigslist's feelings? I'm not responsible for their feelings!" Well no, I might respond, you're not, but if you can make someone feel respected and content with very little effort, and if not expending said effort can make them aggravated and wondering if something is wrong with them, why not just put forth the tiny bit of effort? Especially if we consider that the first of these community boards were created by a bunch of hippies and originated as a way to keep items out of the trash and help folks have affordable items. We should honor them by being neighborly.

Reasons people might ghost:
  • They got distracted and forgot to respond
  • They are worried they might make the person feel bad if they expressed interest and then changed their mind or realized the item is not for them
  • They lost access to the e-mail address/phone number/app they were using
  • They saw who was listing the item or where it was located and they don't wish to deal with someone of a particular demographic
Things people might think if they get ghosted:
  • I did something wrong
  • That person sure is rude
  • That person wasted my time
  • I wonder if that person saw who I am or where I live and decided they don't wish to deal with my demographic
Things people generally do not think of they get ghosted:
  • I'm so glad they didn't contact me and say they weren't interested. That would have hurt my feelings.
So, in short, if you decide something isn't for you once you've asked a question about it, or if your preferences or circumstances change, just write to the person and tell them you're sorry but you are no longer interested, and thank them for their time. If you can, let them know the size won't work or you had an emergency come up or whatever the case is, to allay the fears that they did something wrong or are themselves wrong. If you backed out of the interaction because something was awkward or felt fishy, generally refrain from giving this feedback, UNLESS they did or said something egregiously inappropriate, in which case it is appropriate to tell them you won't be completing the transaction because they hit on you, used blatantly offensive terminology, asked intrusive questions, or whatever the case may be.

Please especially refrain from ghosting with free items on Craigslist, Freecycle, Everything Free, Buy Nothing, and similar forums. Please do not think that the lack of financial consideration means that manners do not apply. I would argue that manners especially apply when someone is going to the trouble to list something and communicate with people about it while expecting nothing in return.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Snow boots under $10 for some sizes/colors

I'm doing my yearly thing of trying to buy everything my kids will need this upcoming year before all of our money gets spoken for. I spent today looking for snow boots. I generally try to buy them on Amazon, eBay, etc., because I rarely find any at thrift stores that aren't either 1) falling apart or 2) ridiculous flimsy things made by someone who doesn't live where there's weather.

I came across these snow boots on Amazon. Some sizes and colors are as low as $7.97. The reviews are generally good, though one person says they leaked and got water in their kid's toes. Still, could be worth if it they're not going to be worn many times. Or if you already have waterproofer that you plan to put on them.

I've bought this brand many times. They're a knock off of Kamik, Sorel, etc., and they've always been fine

The other ones I've bought on AliExpress before don't seem to be there any longer. They're these ones, except I bought them directly from AliExpress for something like $15 a pair. I'm hoping they come back, because they were great.

The Children's Place has these for $34.97. I've bought theirs before, and they're nice. They have a good loyalty program too; mostly mentioning them in case people have points they're wanting to use. As with everything at The Children's Place, the "boys" ones are normal-looking and the "girls" ones have silly patronizing cartoon princesses and hearts and crap on them. They've apparently not learned that you can make feminine prints for girls/women who like feminine looks and still have it be attractive and something to be taken seriously. Or that some girls like plain things. And some boys like decorated ones. And that many families are going to buy expensive things like snow boots in plain black so they can be handed down to anyone. Anyway, they're good boots. Just don't look at the "girls" ones.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Huge roundup of ways to make money without a traditional job

I apologize that this is in graphic format, so not accessible for someone who uses a screenreader. Please e-mail or comment if you would like me to transcribe.



Sunday, May 19, 2019

Free MFA admission with library card during June

The MFA is free during the month of June when you show your Boston public library card. Library cards are available free to Massachusetts residents, and provide access to a ton of free materials and programs, so if you don’t have one, go to a library and get one. 



Saturday, May 18, 2019

Quick and simple banana-oat pancakes that happen to be vegan and gluten-free

I made these super quick and easy pancakes using ingredients I got for free. A local organization gave us some basic food packages that contained bags of oats, bags of rice, bags of dried beans, canned tomatoes, frozen fruit, frozen vegetables. (The frozen fruits and vegetables were huge bags with no brand name on them and appeared to be foodservice surplus). So, yeah, these were quite similar ingredients to what WIC gives, so I'm going to tag this as WIC as well, even though we don't currently get WIC.

As usual, I didn't really use a recipe, but I can reconstruct what I did. I put about 1-1/2 cups rolled oats and one frozen overripe banana (thawed first) in a large pitcher, added about a teaspoon of baking powder, then added almond milk a bit at a time until it was the right consistency to pour for pancakes. I mixed it with a stick blender. This is important; if you don't use either a stick blender or jar blender, which makes your oats the consistency of course oat flour, you will end up with something edible, but it will be more like oatmeal cookies with whole rolled oat pieces and it won't puff up and be chewy in the same way that this is.

For syrup/compote/whatever, I microwaved frozen blueberries and sugar for one minute, stirred it, then put it in for another minute. It was boiling by the end of the two minutes. You can do the same on the stovetop. I didn't measure the sugar; you don't need to, and can just do it to your preferred sweetness and consistency. You can also add spices if you like. This technique will work without sugar, though it will be a thinner mixture if you don't use any. Regardless of amount of sugar, blueberries don't have enough pectin in them to gel into a spoonable jam-type mixture, so you won't get anything much thicker than what is shown here. (And I realize I should have used a plate that isn't the same color as blueberries so it's clearer what it looks like, but I was mostly focused on making breakfast, with blogging as an afterthought.) If you wanted this jam-type texture, you would either need to add store-bought pectin, or use half cranberries and half blueberries.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Public Service Loan Forgiveness program not actually geared toward people in low-paying fields

I previously jotted down some thoughts about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program planning to blog about it, but last week a story broke that the program has a lot more problems than I thought. (WSJ seems to have the best coverage; google the topic if you're out of free WSJ articles and you'll find other coverage.)

Still, the thing that stuck out to me is that the program requires employment 30+ hours per week for 10 years (120 payments -- doesn't have to be consecutive) at a qualifying nonprofit institution. There is no way to work part-time and have this prorated to complete the program over a longer period of time. This means that people who work part-time due to parenting, disability, or other reasons just can't do the program.

It also relies on an employment model that shows the people who created the program aren't actually familiar with nonprofits. Many human services, education, and arts jobs pay "per hour" based on the actual face-to-face time spent with a student/client/whoever, with a pay rate that is meant to cover the hours spent preparing, scheduling, traveling, documenting and so forth. My friends who are arts educators at community organizations make an annual lower-middle-class salary based on working 20-25 hours per week. They are of course actually working for closer to 30-50, but their pay is based on the hours they are physically teaching a lesson. The pay stubs and forms they would submit to verify their employment would say they work 22 hours a week, which would mean they wouldn't be considered full-time employees according to this program. My friends who are counselors are paid based on a similar model, paid for each client with pay stubs that say they have about 22 hours.

This would be where I would usually suggest some ways of reforming the program, but based on the articles stating that most of the people who appear to qualify aren't actually having their loans discharged, as well as talk that the orange guy and his buddies are going to cut all these programs anyway, I think I'll just suggest that higher education should be free or close to free like it is in most civilized countries.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

I got just $48.77 for free in less than 30 minutes for messing with some bitcoin thing

I found this over on good ol' Beermoney, tried it, and it works.

You don't have to know anything about crypto or already have any accounts to make this work. Just follow the directions exactly and you'll get free money.

What's the catch?

There's not one. Some investor is starting a new kind of cryptocurrency, and they're giving it away $50 per person in order to have it trading around the internet so it becomes a legit form of currency. As the Reddit poster pointed out, it's already on at least one crypto site that uses PayPal, so you can accept the free currency, send it to the other site, then withdraw into PayPal. Good times.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Trying out this Kidazzler thing

I learned about Kidazzler from this Reddit thread. It's a Yelp-type startup for resources geared toward youth. Right now, they're in an initial phase where they're looking for people to add businesses, which get "locked" to the user's account, then once the site is up and running, users get a cut of advertising money if the businesses place an ad.

A few things: The site does send out e-mails to the business, from the first and last name you put in your profile, saying something like "I added your business on Kidazzler and wanted to reach out and confirm the details." It isn't upfront that it will do this, so be aware and use a nickname if you don't want yourself associated with a business that, while legit, is somewhat spammy just like most startups that rely on advertising.

It is unlimited at this point in terms of categories and types of businesses, so while your local zoo and child care center and so forth are surely already going to be taken, you can get creative and think outside the box and it will accept it. If the site ends up taking off and they end up advertising, you'll get a cut. Think of types of businesses that maybe aren't first and foremost "kid" businesses, but which offer programming or goods for all ages.

And of course, like all of these things, it's a pyramid scheme of sorts. You need a referral code to get right in without being put on a long waitlist, so here's mine.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Playing around with one of these free bitcoin things

This site seems to be the most popular free bitcoin site among the people on forums who know about such things. It doesn't yield a whole lot, because it's not using your computer's CPU power to mine bitcoin; you have to click on it to get a small amount of bitcoin and can click up to one time per hour. I'm just more interested in playing around with bitcoin and seeing if it skyrockets again, but I'm not a gambling type and don't want to risk my actual money in a risky venture. This doesn't cost anything to start though. It's like any of the low-payout clicky sites, and will probably net you a few bucks a week. Good way to get started with bitcoin though if you're interested.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Food Project Build-a-Garden Program will, well, build you a garden

I just found out about this program from a leaflet in the library. I don't know anything about it other than what's on the flier/website and knowing that the organization as a whole has a good reputation.

So, it looks like for a contribution of at least $25 they will build you a raised bed garden and provide soil and seedlings. This program states it is for low-income and moderate-income households in Roxbury/Dorchester/Mattapan with a preference for families with children. It does not appear to have a hard income limit or require that you have SNAP like many programs.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Wheeee more free Amazon money, from different places this time

OK, this is pretty great when things like this just show up in my inbox.

The $100 one, I'm not even sure what it's from. The company name was a pretty generic research project name. I've frequently gotten offers on Swagbucks and MTurk and other places to provide them with additional feedback either to enter to win an Amazon gift card or to get an Amazon gift card. I generally figure, why not, I have a lot of time and not a lot of money, so I might as well help out and see what happens. The thank-you message suggested it was from a survey and was their thanks for my helping them out, not from winning a drawing. Note: I don't do this when it's something that sounds scammy, and I typically don't volunteer my time for market research around consumer products. I will if it's nonprofit-type research.


The $75 one was also a surprise; a friend who works in healthcare patient-experience research posted on social media looking for people who could comment about practices and policies in our various states of residence, and I responded with some personal experiences and a lot of links to pages on state/hospital/university websites that I found on the google. The friend's project director e-mailed and thanked me for the information and asked me what my pay rate was for this type of work. Damn, apparently 1) I've apparently been working in the wrong fields, since I assumed she was looking for volunteer assistance and 2) I apparently need to set pay rates for things! I just responded to him that it took about 30 minutes of work, and I hadn't expected anything for it. He responded with the $75 Amazon card and said he hoped it was enough. Um, OK!

I guess the moral of this story is, be nice. Do things without expecting anything in return, and you may just get something tangible in return. And if you don't, then you still come out ahead. Also, apparently we all need to look into which fields have a ton of money lying around and very different standards in terms of what people are worth. And be sure to set your pay rate.

Oh, and people who are new to having a large portion of your family income be in Amazon gift cards; spend some time checking out what all Amazon sells. They sell damn near everything, and their prices are often the best ones for new items, except for some IKEA and Dollar Tree items. I've bought nonperishable groceries items, hygiene items, office supplies, books obviously, snow boots, other clothing items, electronics, bike parts, cat food, cat litter, etc. I think I'm going to use my current bounty for an actual new printer, or perhaps an actual new vacuum. I am pretty damn handy at fixing printers and vacuums that people have thrown out, but sometimes it's nice to have reliable things for once.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

How to get Swagbucks gold surveys to credit when they kick you out

I'm putting this in a separate post, because it's come up a lot.

So, if you do a gold survey that asks you more than basic demographic information and a couple screening questions and then boots you out, put in a help ticket and select "survey error," then summarize what happened and be sure to say they got a ton of useful data without paying you. Say something like, "Spent 8 minutes answering questions about my demographics, everywhere I've traveled by plane, and my opinion about different airlines, before it said I wasn't eligible for their survey. They got a lot of usable data without paying for it." Oh, and gold surveys open in a second tab. Leave the one underneath open so you can go back and see the survey number and number of Swagbucks promised so you have this for your help ticket.

When you get the e-mail, be sure to respond and say it's correct. It often eats the amount of Swagbucks, so fill it in if it's not there.

I've had 100% luck doing this over the past month when they haven't credited. I've done 1-2 per day most days. As always with this stuff, don't abuse it, because they'll ban you, and because they'll take away these type of good-faith measures if people are taking advantage of them. Only fill out a ticket if it does in fact collect a bunch of usable data before booting you

(If only they'd credit my goddamned Capital One card deal though.)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

About the wine though; WTF FedEx



Can we discuss my free wine again though? So, the boxes are printed with a thingy indicating it's an alcohol shipment and requires the signature of someone 21+. The lovely FedEx driver left the box on my steps. Leaving aside the ongoing issue of every delivery driver thinking that items left on steps in a city are likely to still be there much later (a neighbor fortunately noticed the box and grabbed it for me), my nerdy ass is curious what would happen if FedEx left the wine and a minor were to get a hold of it. What if the minor consumed a ton of it and got alcohol poisoning? Or committed crimes while under the influence? I mean, U.S. alcohol laws are just kind of ridiculous anyway, but I'm curious whether I'd be liable, or FedEx would, or the underpaid migrant laborer who picks the grapes, or what?

Friday, March 15, 2019

Get six bottles of wine for free

The Bright Cellars offer on Swagbucks is legit. You sign up, they send you six bottles of wine for a total of $53.66 charged to your card (I think that includes state tax, so it may vary), six bottles of wine show up, and then you get 5000 Swagbucks, which you can redeem for about $50-$56 in Amazon or Visa gift cards (depending when you redeem them, what swag ups you have, and so forth).

Compared to the last free wine deal they had, this one gets you six bottles instead of four, but the labels aren't as interesting (hey, I choose my wine largely by if the label is cool) and you don't get to choose the individual wines, or at least I couldn't figure out how. They have you take quizzes and then match you with six bottles they think you'll like. The only customization options I could find were to select that you flat-out don't want chardonnay or pinot noir or whatever. Oh well, it's free wine. I highly recommend doing this. Even if you aren't really a wine person, you'll have bottles of wine to take when you go somewhere for dinner or whatever.

This is a subscription service like most of these, so be sure to put it on your calendar to cancel. The Swagbucks are pending for a month, so I went onto Bright Cellars and selected "skip my next shipment." and then I will cancel once I get the Swagbucks.

Here is the screenshot of the wines it gave me, and how the pricing is supposed to work out. If it's charging you much more, you did something wrong. Also, a photo of the wines. I haven't unpacked it yet, because we're doing some home repairs and our kitchen is taken apart right now. But I assume it's the same thing in the box that the order shows.

This thing about the corkscrew actually made me laugh out loud. What can I say? I'm kind of a 12-year-old boy.






Monday, March 11, 2019

Ridiculous employment categories on surveys

So, I do a lot of surveys, between Swagbucks and Mechanical Turk. As I complete them, my brain seems to have developed a hobby of assessing survey design. Most of the bad questions I come across tend to have the flaw of breaking down options so that most people would fall into the "other" category – and sometimes they don't even offer one, so respondents are required to pick a choice that is not remotely close to the truth.

A particularly laughable one I keep coming across is the ones that ask what category your role at work falls into, and then have options of:

CEO
President
Vice President
Senior Management
Junior Management
Supervisor
Person who sweeps the parking lot

Putting aside for a minute the idea of CEOs and such doing surveys on Swagbucks, are these people not aware that many (most?) skilled employees are not in any sort of management position? These aren't surveys that are only screening in management folks. They ask if you are employed, and then they ask which managerial rank you hold. They sometimes only have managerial ranks, or sometimes they have managerial ranks plus an option like "clerical." There's no option for most of the people who do most of the work most places.

Just what kind of workplaces are these folks coming from and basing their model on? Where are these places where you have clerical people, then a bunch of managers? What exactly are the clerical people doing paperwork/communication for? What are the managers managing? How does any work get done in this place?

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Swagbucks monthly bonus is pretty sweet



This was for reaching the first daily goal every day in February, and the second goal periodically. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Swagbucks isn't crediting me for the Capital One card offer


Here is the original offer. "Earn 5000 SB when you are approved for your new card!" And the disclaimer, stating it will appear as pending and so forth, but nothing saying it must be automatic approval.

So, thing didn't approve, I unfortunately didn't screenshot the page saying they needed more information and I would hear from them or whatever, because I assumed I hadn't gotten approved.

A couple weeks later, this lovely letter showed up, stating I'd been approved. (We'll discuss at some future time Why Capital One Thinks Giving My Broke Ass a $10,000 Credit Limit Is Any Sort Of Good Idea.)









I opened a help ticket, with the photo of the letter. I received this response:

 






I sent them my reply, along with these two images:








Apparently the e-mail address documentation is sufficient (despite that screen not showing anything connecting it to the credit card in question), but they still need a date of approval. Which Capital One hasn't ever sent me. Also, this person keeps calling photos "screenshots" and asking for screenshots of paper mail. While I certainly have sympathy for people with shitty jobs, I don't think I'm dealing with someone who has a lot of critical thinking skills.


My reply:


Their reply, this time saying they won't approve it:

 
And me invoking contract language (which I'm actually not at all sure is applicable, but it can't hurt to try, right?):



And here's a chat with Capital One, verifying the date the card was approved, since Swagbucks claimed that was the holdup.


The Capital One person didn't have any way to verify I came there via Swagbucks and wasn't sure how to contact the advertising or referral program or whatever that would be, though she was very nice and helpful and tried to look up as many things as she could think of. Thanks Sandra at Capital One, you're awesome.

EDIT MARCH 1: I e-mailed a hotline Capital One has for complaining about unethical third party behavior. Maybe that will work?

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Visa gift cards are a better deal than Amazon on Swagbucks right now

Right now, $10 Visa gift cards are 990SB, plus you can get 80SB back if you have 80SB rebates from the most recent Swago. So, 910SB each.

Note: The one $25 Amazon card per month is still the best deal. Do one of these per month, then do the rest in Visa cards.

Today I discovered if you use them to reload your balance on Amazon, you can get 20 cents extra added to your gift card balance. You do have to have a checking account saved as one of your Amazon payment methods, but once you do, it will give you a 2% bonus on anything it considers a debit card, which includes these Visa cards.


Another thing I learned: Don't consolidate your $10 Visa gift cards into one larger card, unless you are ordering a physical card for something and you really need to do this. The Visa card website gives you the option to save the card in the digital wallet for later, telling you you can consolidate it. I did this a few days ago when I had five $10 cards. Then when you actually go to consolidate it, it takes a 5% or something fee. At this point, you can't take your card back out of the wallet, so you have to pay the fee. I ended up with a $47.50 Visa gift card. Dammit. If you're just entering all the cards on Amazon, it doesn't bother anyone to have five $10 instead of one $50, so save your money by entering each one.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Thrift store haul, tried out Swagbucks local

I went to Savers in (Framingham? Natick?) to make a Swagbucks local purchase and finish my Swago board. FYI, the local thing seems to work really well; probably more smoothly than most of Swagbucks. It immediately sent me an email saying the purchase was pending and immediately lit up the Swago square. Good stuff. 

So, someone apparently dropped off an entire wardrobe of Justice stuff. I got all this amazing stuff for like $20. (The nondescript black blob is an Express cardigan; see second attempt to photograph all-black item without way overexposing photo. You may have to just imagine it.) There was a ton more Justice size 10/12/14 there too, if anyone needs such things. They’re usually low on girls’ L/women’s XS things, so this was nice to find. 





Saturday, February 23, 2019

Swagbucks: Fuck yeah

Finished the Swago board and got my 500SB, plus the spins, which got me a bunch of 80SB rebates on $10 Visa gift cards. 



I currently have six of them pending. Word. 



And $125 received since 02/01/19. So I’ve made $185 in three weeks doing pretty much nothing, just clicking on things while I do other stuff. 



Today was a good day. #didnotatanypointneedtouseAK



Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Swagbucks has really been hopping lately; I've been pulling in $25-$50 per week at least

Swagbucks has tightened things up and is actually useful again. They're doing some new things:
  • SwagIQ, a live trivia game on Monday-Thursday evenings, in which you can win 3-4 cents just for playing, and up to $50 or so if you get all 10 questions right
  • Swago, a bingo board that gets you a ton of bonuses and Swag-ups (power-ups that get you an added bonus on future tasks) for completing various patterns ranging from one line across to the whole board
They're also continually setting it up to be, well, a pyramid scheme inside a pyramid scheme, in that the more often you use Swagbucks and earn, the more you get bonuses and Swag-ups and other things that increase how much you earn when you do the tasks. It's definitely worth it if you are able to spend half an hour or so on it per day.

Here's my Swagbucks routine:
  1. Do the daily to-do list, on the left sidebar of the main Swagbucks page. 
  2. Go to the Reddit Swagbucks forum to see which "Discover" activities are legit and worth the time
  3. Make sure to make my first daily goal each day. This gets me between about 5 and 15 bonus Swagbucks per day when the month is over, and also gets me 300 bonus for completing it every day of the month.
  4. Set the SBTV app on my phone to passively earn 10 or so SB. (Do this by adding at least one video to "favorites," set it to play via the favorites bookmark in the sidebar, and then it will play through the playlist passively. It may periodically pull up an add that requires you to manually X out of it to continue.)
  5. If you still need Swagbucks after doing Discover, do gold surveys. Also the EntertaiNow and Sport.ly apps are hit or miss, but try them periodically. SB Bowling is not worth it unless you're really good at bowling on your phone. It's something like 1-2 Swagbucks per game unless you can bowl 300, and then you get 25. 
Other things that are good to know:
  1. They've been good lately at crediting for deals that don't work properly. If something doesn't show up as pending or doesn't credit you properly, go here and fill out a help ticket. For Discover and shop deals, always take a screenshot of the offer before you try it, and screenshots of everything else relevant. When they e-mail you saying they're just making sure they have the information correct, respond to them. It can sometimes take a few weeks, but in the past couple of months, I have always had them eventually credit me even if the offer didn't track correctly. Also, make sure you aren't using adblockers when doing Swagbucks deals, because it gets in the way of their cookies. Consider using one browser for your Swagbucks and other such things, with all extensions turned off, and a second browser for your normal usage where you can turn on adblockers and all that.
  2. If you do a gold survey that asks you more than basic demographic information and then boots you out, put in a help ticket and select "survey error," then summarize what happened and be sure to say they got a ton of useful data without paying you. Say something like, "Spent 8 minutes answering questions about my demographics, everywhere I've traveled by plane, and my opinion about different airlines, before it said I wasn't eligible for their survey. They got a lot of usable data without paying for it." Oh, and gold surveys open in a second tab. Leave the one underneath open so you can go back and see the survey number and number of Swagbucks promised so you have this for your help ticket. Again, when you get the e-mail, respond and say it's correct. They usually credit for surveys within the day.
If you haven't signed up for Swagbucks, please sign up using my referral link. Even if you aren't sure you'll use it, if my posts have helped you scrape by in Boston or elsewhere, please sign up this week so I can get a referral for my Swago board. Thanks!

Please comment with any questions about getting Swagbucks to work better, and I'm happy to answer them.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Hello Fresh allows stacking Swagbucks discount and regular discount to get three meals for $10

Swagbucks has a Discover offer right now that gets you 1000 Swagbucks (about $10, or more if you redeem for cards that are on sale) for signing up for Hello Fresh (which, if you pay attention here at all, you know that you cancel it after the first week once it's no longer steeply discounted). The normal charge for a week of meals is $60, you'll get $10 back from Swagbucks, and if you use the code I have, you'll get $40 off. Most of these deals don't let you enter a promo code if you've gotten there through a referral code, but it works for Hello Fresh. I got my 1000 Swagbucks, plus it applied the $40 discount code I got from a friend.

So, go here and sign up for Swagbucks using my referral code if you don't already have an account, then search for Hello Fresh, find the one with 1000 Swagbucks back for joining (remember to always screenshot the deal in case it doesn't credit correctly), go join and put in your information, then come back here and click through using my code. Or you may have to type it in, I'm not sure. It worked for one person via clicking the link and another person had to manually input it.

As always, comment with any Swagbucks questions and I'll answer them.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Free February break workshops and full-day field trips at 826 Boston for 6-12 year olds

I apologize for not sharing this earlier. Some of the workshops still have space available.

826 Boston, located in Egleston Square, does free workshops for ages 6-12 during school vacation weeks. The workshops my kids have attended have varied somewhat in quality, as they are typically run by an author, activist, professor, etc. who is not affiliated with the organization. Some of the facilitators have been very strong in terms of working with a diverse group of youths, and others have seemed less so. Regardless, they've all been decent, and we've never had a bad experience there. Parents are welcome to drop off their youth or stay in the back of the (gorgeous!) space, where there are couches and a library set up. The space is a large open converted-industrial-type space, which means the acoustics and the visual distractions of people walking around are not ideal for students with sensory or attention issues, but the open space is great in terms of parents being able to hang out in back and be available to their student without being particularly present unless needed.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Free $3 to spend on Amazon

Swagbucks is giving away 300 Swagbucks for signing up right now. Use my code here, then install this button to get more free Swagbucks.

There are some good deals on there too. Several moneymakers (deals that give you more Swagbucks than the promotional deal costs) too. The Reddit Swagbucks forum seems to be the best place where people are discussing which deals are worth it.

(If you don't know about Swagbucks, click through to the label below this post and browse through the past posts where I've talked about how I use it.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Proctor & Gamble misled me



And it came just in time to make my bank account balance positive.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Free Gobble meal kits

I'm trying Gobble via Swagbucks. If the deal credits, it's a moneymaker ($36 upfront to get 5000 Swagbucks), but I'm hearing mixed reports as to whether it credits the Swagbucks.

If you'd rather just get the free Gobble meals, use my link, and we both get free stuff.

As with most of these, it's a subscription service, so you need to remember to cancel after you get the free stuff. Also, it makes you sign up before it shows you what options they have and how to choose what you want, but once you're in, it does let you choose the specific meal kits you are ordering.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Free Mrs. Meyer's cleaning products with $20 purchase

Hey look, I found a pyramid scheme for cleaning/household/bath products. There really is one for everything. Grove Collaborative looks to be similar to Thrive Market and Brandless, but without the food.

They're running a thing right now where you can get a five-piece Mrs. Meyer's set (you don't get to pick the items, but you get to pick the scents) if you spend $20 on anything. They sell Mrs. Meyer's, Method, Yes to whatever, Burt's Bees and other similar moderate range household and body products. They accept PayPal or credit/debit.

If you refer others, you can get more free stuff. Go here and I get free stuff and you get free Mrs. Meyer's with purchase.

Heads up: It looks like there's a VIP free shipping membership of some sort that you have to cancel within 60 days or you'll get charged for it.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Buy all the stuff you want this week/weekend

I didn’t write a whole post about it this year, but once again, I’m going to say that it’s fine if you observe Friday or Monday or the whole weekend or whatever as Buy Nothing Day. Being mindful of consumption and capitalism is certainly a good thing.

But please don’t post about how you’re more moral than others for not shopping. The only thing you are is more wealthy. Many people really only can afford things when they’re considerably marked down, and they’re mostly buying needed clothes and housewares and things for holiday presents (or for immediate use), not fancy electronics. And so what if they do buy a video game system for their family or something similar? Should poorer families not be allowed any fun?

So shop all you want, or don’t, but if you’re choosing not to, don’t be sanctimonious about it. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Easy class action suit for anyone who has bought a computer or optical drive

This class action suit pays $10 per computer with optical drive, internal drive, or external drive purchased between 2003 and 2008. No proof of purchase is necessary.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

This messenger bag that I upcycled, as the kids are calling it

How the bag started out
I recently finally managed to acquire a laptop that isn't 12 years old, for which I'm extremely grateful. This means that I can now carry it places without needing an old-school stiff-sided bag meant to protect a six-pound computer with moving parts. Except that the only bag I had that was big enough for the new laptop was one of these bags, which would be overkill, and which would still mean I had to do the old-school thing of having a laptop bag plus another bag for my water and keys and whatever, which part of the whole point of getting a computer that isn't huge and steam-powered was for avoiding that and just being able to stick it in my regular messenger bag.

All of the messenger bags on Amazon and other places I could find were super boring, usually just solid colored, ugly fabric, ugly hardware. I liked the look of my old bag (which I unfortunately didn't take a picture of, but luckily found its twin on eBay), aside from it being unnecessarily stiff and bulky for a newer computer. So I started searching for the brand on eBay (it's a Dickies/Yak-Pak) and found a number of modern floppy laptop bags of a similar aesthetic, including one that was the same fabric. And then I thought, wait a minute, maybe I could salvage the outer fabric and hardware from my bag to make a new bag. And then I realized, oh wait, it's going to be even easier than that.

All I had to do was slit the liner at the seams with a razor blade and I was able to pull out the heavy-duty foam that was making the bag rigid:

































[Hey, anyone know why my pictures won't line up correctly on this here thing, and why I have stray table formatting that won't leave?]


Now I just need to figure out something to do with the liner. The bag is usable as is, since the liner isn't at all structural. I don't think I want to try sewing it, because my machine doesn't do great with heavy-duty materials. I'm thinking I'll either get some sort of tape and put strips of it over the slits, or get the self-adhesive fabric for repairing tents and re-line the flap with some of that.


Pictures are still lining up weird



























See? The bag now isn't stuck being a rectangular prism and can be used for items in addition to or instead of the laptop. It's now floppy enough to be an everyday messenger bag on days I don't need the computer, rather than being all rigid and huge and computer-shaped when all it has in it is a water bottle. So far it's cost nothing. I will likely try some tape I have here to see what I can do, or might see if I have appropriate adhesive for gluing a fabric or waterproof liner to it, and if nothing works, I'll buy something to line it with. It shouldn't cost much, and definitely will be less than getting a different bag, even if I were to get it from eBay. Sweet.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Seriously, open your mail, even stuff that looks like junk mail







This one showed up, looking just like those presorted notices from one's health insurance, stating that the privacy policy has changed or whatever. But nope, it's money. The accompanying letter says it's a State and Federal Medical Loss Ratio Rebate. I googled that and don't understand entirely what it is, but it seems to be a rebate they'll send everyone because they charged too much based on what they paid out, or something.



This one also totally looked like junk mail. But was a check for a class action suit I had opted into. Apparently I got $127.14 for Uber sending me an unsolicited text message (probably when I signed up for something to get some Swagbucks). Sure, send me all the text messages you want, at those rates.

I also got a few others recently, from credit cards I had accounts with in years past, that also looked like those unsolicited offers of 30.00% APR loans or whatever, that I happened to open.

So, yeah, open your mail, even if it looks just like junk mail you receive from these companies all the time. I hope I haven't recycled any envelopes that contained checks.

Monday, September 17, 2018

POTATO, POTATO, POTATO



Have I mentioned I have a bunch of potatoes? Potato, potato, potaaaatoooo. I made potato salad with the tiny potatoes, the red potatoes, and the purple potatoes. It tasted like potato salad, except it looked red and purple. There was probably something more interesting I could have made that specifically used tiny potatoes and/or purple potatoes, but I made this, and it was good.
I also made potato tacos. I'm not sure if potato tacos are a thing, but I imagine they probably are, because root vegetables are a staple of traditional diets in the Americas. I chopped the potatoes up with onions and made basically homefries, but with more seasoning (I used jalapeƱo sauce, smoked red chili, and lots of cumin). I had small corn tortillas leftover from something, so I served the potatoes on those with tomato salsa, corn salsa from Trader Joe's (this stuff is seriously good; I highly recommend it), and some leftover goat cheese salad crumbles a neighbor gae me, which were the closest thing I had to cotija or similar. They turned out great, and were very popular among my family. 











Sunday, September 16, 2018

Moar potatoes






I continue to make things with potatoes, because I continue to have entirely too many potatoes. Here are some homefries. I made them sliced, because they cook faster and more evenly. Nothing special, just potatoes, a little oil, Adobo, dill, smoked red chili powder or paprika. They're good alone, with breakfast foods, in breakfast burritos, or as a quick lunch with whatever vegetables you have around stir-fried and dumped on top of them.














Also I made au gratin potatoes. I used a recipe I found on Pinterest that I can't seem to find again. They were just OK. You can't really go wrong with potatoes and cheese, though I've had better.



I don't think I ever posted a photo of this whole Fair Foods haul. Wow. This one was pretty amazing. And, uh, contained a lot of potatoes.