Friday, April 5, 2024

Solitaire Smash tips and tutorial

If you are a fellow GenXer who spent time in the pre-internet '90s sitting at computers where the only thing to do other than doing your job was playing solitaire, this one is definitely doable. It's a little riskier than other moneymakers, since it does require some skill rather than just grinding in order to get to the appropriate level. 

FWIW, I am averaging right around 8500-9000 points per game. I have never broken 10,000.

The first goal should be doable for most anyone who can get to ~8000 or so, as you get a lot of games to try to win 5. If you don't play solitaire, you can start with the free/gem games to see if your scores are high enough for this one. See below for screenshots of games; there is one in which a score of 7064 would have been enough for first place.  

What I did was deposit the $10 as it requires, as well as use someone's referral code (thank you kind Redditor on r/swagbucks!) to get another $10. 

Note: It will credit the referral code after you've killed the game and reopened it; it pops up various offers when you restart the app, along with a "you have $10 bonus for using a code" popup. It might require a few plays too, I'm not sure. Either way, it wasn't immediate, but it worked. If your code is bad, it says it's expired or invalid, so keep trying codes until it says it's good, and then restart the app a few times and/or play a few games.

With the $20, I played 30 games, out of which I placed first in 5. I still had about $9 left over. After I went through that, I had won 11, so I put in another $14, which got me $20 more because of a bonus. I got to the 15 with $10 left.

The 45-game goal will either have me break even or slightly lose money, because it's 30 games for 4000SB, but the next ones are 60 (15 more games) for 3000 and 70 (10 more games) for 4000, so if you hang in there, you should be good. 

ANNOYING TWIST: The game profile keeps track of the number of "games won." This counts only cash games, but it does count any games in which you placed and banked any cash. The Swagbucks offer counts first-place wins only. So you will need to make a notes file counting you first-place wins. I recommend keeping track by date, as this is how the results tab is organized, so it will keep you from having to go back to the beginning every time and count up your first-place wins.

WHEN IT PENDS: The initial 0 SB for installing it pended within hours. I installed the game by snapping the QR code on the laptop with my phone. The five games pended about 36 hours after I won the fifth. The 15 pended within minutes of winning the 15.

Here are examples of score breakdowns and winning scores:

If this was helpful, please use my code: 24WuKMTX8y31

Monday, October 9, 2023

Looks like Swagbucks has changed its coupon approach

So Swagbucks no longer does paper grocery coupons, which is unfortunate. I hadn't been using a whole lot of these lately (and neither has anyone else, which is why they seem to be dying out...), but it was a pretty good deal to use Swagbucks every few weeks to print out coupons, get some Swagbucks for printing them, then get some Swagbucks when you redeem them.

However, at the moment they do have a ton of those "magic receipt" things that are actually worth money. Yes, there are a whole bunch that give you five Swagbucks, so, not really worth it unless you happen to see something you know you've bought recently. But there are also a lot worth 500-3000 Swagbucks. Many of these are the same products that are currently on iBotta and have store coupons. I haven't really scoured the details closely, but it looks like there are several products that could end up being free with the iBotta refund and Swagbucks deal.

(As always, if you don't have Swagbucks yet, please check out my tutorials by clicking on the post label, and please use my referral thingy to sign up so we can both get free stuff.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

These data breach settlements are adding up


I just got this one from Yahoo, and last week there was the one from Zoom that went to everyone who used Zoom (even without a paid account) and filled out the form. Even if you don't go searching for class action suits to sign up for, make sure to respond if you get e-mails about ones like these that require an opt-in response. 

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Club Vegas Slots on Swagbucks: $60-70 without having to buy anything

I downloaded the game at around 10am on Friday June 24, got to Level 90 in the evening of Friday July 8, and it showed as pending within a minute or so after leveling up. The fine print on Swagbucks says "must reach Level 100 within 10 days," but people on Reddit were saying it would pend late, and actually only requires Level 90.

I did it on an iPhone by the "e-mail the link to yourself" option, and allowed the app to track me. I'm going to leave the tracking on until the offer credits.

The game isn't entirely passive and does require you to look over and click every so often, but it's super mindless and definitely something you can do while on a Zoom call, supervising kids, etc.


1) Join the club with the best stats right away. Depending how your club does, you may want to quit your club and try to join another once you hit level 25 or 50. You do have to wait 20 hours to join another club, so be careful. If your club is hitting the club challenge most days and getting you the 8mil-12mil, it's probably fine to stay. You will get coins from the club challenges once per day, the league ranking thing (every few days? weekly? not sure), and you can harvest coins from the club newsfeed by liking people's posts.

2) Friend 200 people (the maximum) ASAP. Tons of people will send free coins to their friend list all the time, and you get a daily bonus for having friends. You can click on people in your club and friend them, as well as click on people at tables and friend them.

3) Connect the game to Facebook. Use a burner account to make it easier. This makes you a "VIP" and gets you more free coins. Every time you get a mega or epic win, click the "share" button and you'll get 100,000-5million coins in your inbox. It credits even if it's a simple "share" button vs. the "share on Facebook to get coins" button. If it isn't a burner account, change each post to "only me" rather than "public" or "friends" so you don't annoy people. Or, I guess you could create a Facebook post just for Swagbucks purposes, and people could click on each other's posts to get free coins. I'm not much of a Facebook person, but I'm guessing there are groups for the game, so you could find friends there. Also, go to the Club Vegas Slots Facebook page every day and click for 300,000 free coins.

4) Do the daily/master/expert challenges as they show up. Use slots that allow low bets (Triple 7s, and others that show up in the daily free spins) to complete the items that require a total number of spins or number of wins. Don't make a purchase unless you're really stuck and you know you can get to Level 90 within 14 days or so. Oh, and the wolf game with the party bonus can be a good one for cranking out wins, but the party bonus games don't count as free games. There are a couple others with party bonus, and they don't count either. The Spin of Fortune one and most others do count as free games.

5) In general, don't bet more than 1% of your total coins. Betting more will use up your coins too fast before you have a chance to hit many wins or free games. The game levels up based on how many coins you're betting. Free games don't count, but obviously you want to play as many as possible so you have coins to spend.

6) As far as I can tell, there aren't slots that "do better" than others in terms of winning and/or free games. The official FAQ says the slots use a random number generator to determine the odds. It's unclear whether the odds remain per turn, for a certain block of time, a certain number of wins, or for the entire length you stay in the slot. I am leaning toward thinking it's for a certain block of time. I typically go into a slot, spin 10-20 times at a low bet, and if I'm not getting free games or wins by then, I leave. If it's doing well, I increase the bid up to 1-10%, and I stay as long as it's still doing well. It will tend to hit a ton of free games and mega/epic wins, then it will drop off fairly suddenly, which is when you leave.

7) Collect the time bonus coins as soon as you're able. Set alarms if you have work to do and can't actually play the game, but can click in every 20 minutes just to click the bonus coins. If you have the time, watch the videos as well to get the extra coins. The time bonus coins will get you the lucky spins, which gets you daily challenge points, free coins, and sometimes leads you to a slot that's set for a ton of wins. If it's winning, stay there and spend some coins. If not, leave.

8) Some of the side quests get you coins quickly. Others are a waste of time. The epic album is a good way to get gems.

9) The gems can be used to buy free spins once you have 150 or so. Go into games and there's a price at the bottom to buy free spins. You can click left if the default requires 2000 coins or something, and if it's a game that allows lower bids, there will be one for 150-180 gems. 

10) The Super Buffalo game is hilarious. Play with sound on and thank me later.

11) The good folks at r/SwagBucks have probably answered most questions people might have about this game, or feel free to leave me a comment and ask.

As usual, if you don't have Swagbucks yet, please click through on my Swagbucks label and use my referral link. Thanks!

Thursday, May 19, 2022

I have HelloFresh boxes to give away again EDIT: TAKEN

I have three free-box codes to give away. 

All have been taken. Thanks!

If you are looking for more, freefood often has people post them. Unfortunately most people post pictures of the actual codes, so you have to try them and have no idea if they've been used. People of the internet, please don't do this. Please ask people to comment or message you to get a code. 


HelloFresh does do vegetarian, doesn't technically do vegan but many receipes are close to vegan with a dairy garnish that can be left off or substituted. The boxes are typically just measured raw ingredients with the rare premade sauce or similar, so you can adjust for allergies, dietary needs, seasoning level.  

You get to pick the meals you receive from a weekly offering of a dozen or so choices. They have a decent variety of Tex-Mex, pan-Asian, Middle-Eastern, Italian-American, upscale American pub fare, and similar.

They are unfortunately almost all hot meals that require access to a stove and oven, so they may not work for people who do not have access to cooking facilities, though check the recipes, as there may still be tortillas, vegetables, cheese, etc. that can be eaten as-is. 

How the free boxes work:

  • The e-mail address you are using cannot have a current or past HelloFresh account associated with it, including having redeemed freebies. You will be signing up for a subscription, which you are going to cancel in about a week. 
  • You will pay $9.99 in shipping. You need a credit or debit card that can be charged. I recommend using a prepaid gift card (if you do Swagbucks, you probably have many Visa cards for $10, $20, etc.) so you don't risk it charging your actual accounts. The cards say $8.99 in shipping, but free boxes have been coming up at $9.99 lately, so it will likely be $9.99.
  • It looks like you can actually get any size box, so you could get three meal kits for six people each. I am not positive this works all the way to checkout though, and have personally only redeemed these for three meals per week for two people. Still, that's a lot of groceries for $10.
  • Immediately after you place the order, skip the next few weeks to make sure you aren't charged, then cancel once your box arrives. This doesn't violate the terms, and they even have a cancellation reason of "I was using a free offer" because they know. This company will allow you to cancel on the website without engaging with a human. 
  • Signing up may or may not get you Swagbucks depending if you've redeemed a Hello Fresh offer in the recent past. If it does, your HelloFresh box ends up being -$20 or something. Pretty amazing.

First three people to comment with an e-mail address where I can send the codes each get one. Preference for people who are struggling right now, but I don't require proof.

If you don't already have a Swagbucks account, please consider "repaying" me by signing up under my referral link,, and getting cash back for HelloFresh. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Method cleaning products misled and deceived me


Friday, March 18, 2022

Almonds defrauded me


Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Why do places think struggling people can bring materials in-person and do phone calls when no one else is expected to?

So I'm trying to apply for LIHEAP/fuel assistance. It's a great program, and I'm glad it exists; don't get me wrong. But come on, what year is it? 

ABCD does have an online portal for applications, though it was hard to find, as most of their e-mails and materials only have physical addresses and phone numbers. It's on this page, about halfway down.

The portal lets you register, then says it doesn't work if you've applied previously but didn't apply last year thus don't have a PIN. There is no way to reset this and have one e-mailed or texted. It says if you don't have a PIN to come in to the office or call. Also it doesn't appear to be a self-selected PIN where I would have it in my records. I can log into the IRS and access really sensitive information, since it lets you self-select, but not fuel assistance. Also, can I mention that the IRS, which is a notoriously "difficult" agency, but which deals with people of all income levels, does not require me to speak to anyone on the phone, go anywhere, or physically mail anything?* (*In general; I recognize there are sometimes situations in which people cannot e-file, though the IRS does accept faxed returns and documents). 

People realize that struggling folks in particular aren't going to be able to make phone calls during business hours or go into a place during business hours or ever, right? Also that there's still a pandemic and we're supposed to be minimizing unnecessary comings and goings in offices and such?

It's 2022, and we're approaching the third year in which we're in pandemic mode. 

Why can't this just be done online? Why can't this be set up by now that people can do it wherever they are, at 2am when they're finally free of work or caregiving responsibilities?

I did find an e-mail for them, though it was a generic "contact" one, and I e-mailed them asking if they can reset the portal. I'll update whether this happens. Also, I should mention that the go-into-the-office option assumes that poor people, or any people, have printers at home. I went through this last time, which I think was why I didn't end up applying. "You can bring the originals and we'll copy them." No Susan, "the originals" of my bills and financial documents are online, like most people's. 

EDIT 03/02/22: Someone at ABCD called me during business hours in response to my e-mail in which I explained that I can't take phone calls during business hours because of caregiving responsibilities. The person ignored me when I mentioned that I'd sent an e-mail asking to deal with this via e-mail since I can't take calls. There is no way to e-mail or upload documents. They require low-income families to have a printer or go pay for printing and mail the documents or bring them in. In 2022. They also don't seem to know there's a pandemic. They have e-mail, but said I can't e-mail the documents. "That's not our setup." 

I guess this becomes another year in which I'm eligible for fuel assistance but can't actually receive any.

EDIT 03/07/22: They're now willing to take the application via e-mail, but this was accomplished by calling me, insisting a "telephone interview" was needed, then when I said I really couldn't talk and needed them to e-mail me (was meeting with a healthcare worker at the moment, you know, the people who ding poor folks for "taking phone calls" rather than being available and attentive), said "OK I guess we'll just not be able to update your information and will have to go with the old information then." I now have the forms and am able to update them myself and e-mail them back along with my proofs of income. But why is this confusing in freakin 2022? People keep all different hours, and disabled people who don't communicate well or at all verbally are increasingly raising children and are heads of households. Can we not just have "don't call me" be one of the standard options for all the many folks who need this? (Especially when our families and our parenting are constantly judged by middle-class folks who don't have to use the phone to deal with their bills and affairs and will say they had no idea anyone gets phone calls these days that aren't spam.)


Oh, and this morning, I e-mailed a durable medical equipment provider for my family member. They responded, I responded, and then they called me just to say they had done what I requested and it was all set. An auto-confirmation thing was sitting in my inbox as I picked up the phone. I literally picked it up while in the zoom waiting room for a healthcare provider for my family member, 30 seconds before the appointment started, thinking there must be some problem where they needed verbal authorization or something. Nope, just a call saying the same thing as the e-mail. Why do people think I want to pick up the phone and talk to someone when I've been e-mailing them?!

Hey, I appreciate that phone support is available, since some people need this for various reasons. But this default-to-phone thing needs to stop. Text options need to be provided for deaf/Deaf/HOH folks, folks who might have a hard time with calls due to anxiety or autism or similar, folks who can't get to somewhere to make a private call about sensitive issues, working folks, folks with caregiving responsibilities, folks who can't do business during "business" hours, and I'm sure plenty of others. Oh, not to mention people who want a paper trail of their communications; I'm convinced this is really one of the primary reasons places want to insist on using the phone. But really, text-based-as-default would make it easier for businesses too -- don't you want a paper trail of whether your people did their jobs, and whether a irate customer is telling the truth or is making up some entitled-ass story?

I'm really hoping the next version of the Americans with Disabilities Act specifically spells out that businesses are required to have an e-mail/text/chat portal function for communicating with them. I continue to just be in awe that this isn't universal by this point. 

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Fiber supplements deceived me


Thursday, November 18, 2021

Several holiday food resources for Boston folks

Apologies that these are jpgs and not accessible to screen readers -- I wanted to get them up ASAP, but please leave a comment if you can't access them and I can assist you if you need food resources.  

Sunday, November 14, 2021

A whole bunch of free Thanksgiving food and other things on iBotta right now

If you don't already have iBotta, sign up here. It's super hit-or-miss, but it's been good lately.

Most of the deals are only available at Walmart, and there isn't one nearby, but you can sign up for a free trial of Walmart+ and get the things delivered for free. When I tried my address (02119 ZIP code), it told me it wasn't available here, but I know my neighbors use it, so I just signed up and placed orders, and it does work. Try putting together an order and going to checkout, and it will show you if delivery is available to you. If it is, sign up for the free trial. BTW, they extend the free trial "just for answering a couple survey questions" and it ends up being about a one-month trial.

The Quincy Walmart doesn't have much of a grocery selection, so select your delivery from Walpole, which does deliver here, amazingly. (I assume Walmart policies are based on parts of the country where a store 18 miles away might be one of the closest ones).

iBotta has kind of a cool plugin for Walmart, where you can browse iBotta deals, click on them to have them show on the Walmart site, and then it will light up the products for which an iBotta deal works. It's actually super cool. There are a bunch of completely free items (and a few that were like -5 cents) -- stuffing mix, gravy packet, cornbread mix, cream of mushroom soup, frozen vegetables, Coca Cola two liter, Izze drinks, and others. There are also some great 50% off or so deals on other items. iBotta also has bonuses where you save more when you do a certain number of deals. The November one requires 48 deals, which is unlikely for most folks to get to unless you have a huge family or are stocking up a business or something, but there are also frequent smaller mid-week or weekend ones, so wait for one of those. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Free event Sept 25 (art supplies, family activities, swag, etc.)


Monday, September 20, 2021

Free books Sept 23-25

Requires advance registration. Details here.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Outschool's referral program is getting even better

It looks like they now give $20 in Outschool credit for every parent who signs up using someone's referral link, and $200 in cash for every teacher who signs up and earns their first $100. The new signup also gets immediate credit, so you can send your link to your friends and they get free Outschool classes and you get free credit. No idea how long this will last, since it's pyramid-schemey, but might as well take advantage right now, right? 

My Outschool referral link is here. Get your kids free classes, and get my kids free classes!

I have heard that the new referral program still sucks for teachers who don't have kids, since they get class credits they can't use. Hopefully they will fix this issue. Also, the word on the street is that teaching is simple and pretty lucrative if you're someone with experience and people skills, but people who value their sanity will probably want to teach hobby courses rather than academic topics, as Outschool has its share of right-wing parents who complain about everything, and they always side with families.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Swagbucks seems to be sucking again

Desktop surveys is full of the ones that collect your usable data for 10-15 minutes, then say you aren't eligible. It looks like support is no longer addressing these tickets or removing the scammers (even if you put "survey error" in the heading) and is just replying with a form letter explaining how disqualification works.

Bad Swago is up right now. Meh.

There aren't a lot of great Discover offers either.

It's still worth having it logged in for the cash back on online purchases, but there doesn't seem to be much worth spending a lot of time on at the moment.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Completely free $20 for new Outschool users

Yet another product my family enjoys has its very own pyramid scheme, and this one doesn't require you to do anything other than click here to get free $20 in classes. You can then either just take the free $20 and be done with it, or you can refer more people and get free credits as well. 
Outschool has live Zoom classes for ages 3-18 on pretty much every topic you could imagine, and appears to have literally thousands of live classes during any given time block. Some of the academic classes we've tried have been hit or miss, but if you're looking for a couple hours of free COVID babysitting, use my free credit and sign up for a one-time social or activity class. There are a million classes on Minecraft, Among Us, Roblox, etc., in addition to the more traditional art and dance sorts of things. I've been using it for COVID babysitting and referring people to get more classes. There's no upper limit as far as I'm aware.

Also, Outschool seems to be constantly hiring teachers, and it doesn't require any qualifications. You can use the same link to sign up to teach whatever interests you.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Lots of good bonuses at Swagbucks today and this week

Swagbucks is having a 13th birthday celebration today. The Swago board this week is worth $13 instead of $1-$5, and spins are back. You do have to do one in-store deal, which, WTF Swagbucks, it's a damn pandemic, so quit encouraging people to go places. It has some "any brand" ones that work in any store though, so all you have to do is buy any type of cereal in any store to get it.

Here's how I've been doing with Swagbucks lately. It's hit or miss whether it's worth it, but it's been good lately:

Also, I'm back to heavily scraping, so I'm really needing the Amazon cards to buy drugstore items and whatnot, so I'm very grateful Swagbucks has been good lately. Hoping it stays that way.

If you need a new pyramid scheme, this is a good time to sign up. My referral link is: Go there, sign up, start doing Swagbucks things and we both get free gift cards. Also, is a great source of info on which offers to do.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Free $20 worth of products from Imperfect Foods

Get it by clicking on this link. They make it easy to cancel the subscription or skip a week. It does require a debit or credit card, but I believe prepaid cards work. You get $20 worth of free food and I get $20 worth of free food. Then you can send free food to others, and it's a whole wonderful pyramid scheme of free delicious food.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Lands End is having massive sale on everything

Winter boots are $25 for kids, $35 for adults. Terry robes are $35. Sale is obvious; it pops up and tells you what code to use to get the price.

Don't forget to enter the site through Swagbucks to get 8% cash back. 

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:

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?