Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Free Museum of Science admission for EBT and WIC cardholders

The Museum of Science is quickly becoming one of our family’s favorite places to visit, now that they are offering free admission for WIC or EBT card holders. They allow up to four people per card, so if your family has both cards, that’s — wait for it — eight people who can get in for free. We’ve been using this as a way to entertain out-of-town guests.

If you aren’t receiving SNAP (food stamps), check out my post on why it’s worth it to apply even if you feel like you’re doing fine putting food on the table or don’t think you’d qualify for very much per month.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Swagbucks: website that gives you free Amazon gift cards

Swagbucks is a pretty cool way to get some extra spending money. I’ve been using the Amazon gift cards to get mostly kid things; they have some really good deals on usually-expensive things like Kamik boots.

So, Swagbucks is basically a pyramid scheme, to be honest. It’s not the illegal kind though, because you can still earn without having referred anyone. The easiest way to get Swagbucks though is to have other people sign up through your page. I’ve seen people on various work-from-home forums mention that they got hundreds of dollars of referrals by printing up free business cards (using one of the free trial offers that earns you Swagbucks!) with their referral link and leaving them in the laundromat and other places where people are looking for, ahem, get-rich-quick schemes. I haven’t gone that far, but have done nicely by giving some referral links to friends. So, hey, if you don’t have Swagbucks yet, sign up using my account and help my family buy school clothes while earning some gift cards to get some for your own family.

Once you get to the site, you can earn Swagbucks by using their search engine, buying things through their referral links, signing up for things, and various other ways. There’s a coupon engine that uses  but earns you Swagbucks for every coupon you redeem, which is pretty cool. Like any sort of reward-for-buying-stuff program, you can earn if you use it only to buy things you can afford and were going to buy already, but can easily get sucked in if you aren’t careful. One Swagbuck is equal to 1.11 cents (450 Swagbucks = $5 on Amazon), so if you buy something that costs $10 in order to get 100 Swagbucks, you’re an idiot. If you had planned to buy the thing anyway though, you might as well get some free money in the process.

Oh, and it goes without saying that if you’re signing up for car insurance quotes and whatnot through Swagbucks or any of these sites, for god’s sake, use one web browser for all of this slightly sketchy web browsing and another one for your normal browsing, like logging into your bank’s web site. And of course get a throwaway e-mail address for all the spam you’re going to be receiving. Swagbucks is pretty reputable and I’ve not known anyone to have anything happen to them other than receiving a lot of spam when they sign up for offers, but still, I’d be cautious and have anything this gimmicky be in a separate browser where it can’t possibly track my important personal info.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Subsidized Hubway membership: easy to get, easy to use

I signed up for a subsidized Hubway membership last week. It was surprisingly hassle-free; I just called the number, spoke to a very helpful associate, and was e-mailed a code to enter into the Hubway site that changed the yearly fee from $85 to $5. A free helmet arrived in the mail a few days later. The person on the phone didn’t need me to send in any verification that we receive low-income benefits, which was surprising. Also interesting to note: the subsidized memberships are free for up to an hour, whereas the full-price membership starts charging you after a 30-minute trip.

Using the bikes is pretty fun. There are stations at a number of the subway stops and at major intersections that aren’t served by the trains. It’s cheaper and more fun than taking the train if you’re just going a few stops, and it’s certainly faster than waiting for buses or walking to get to areas that aren’t near a train line.

The only downside is that there’s no way to take kids along with you. The bike is basically a standard cruiser setup, so I suppose one could attach a trailer or child seat if it’s the type that attaches only to the seatpost. A trailer/trail-behind might be easier because it could be locked to a bike rack once you get to your destination, whereas a child seat would have to be carried around. I couldn’t find anything saying attaching things to the Hubway bikes is prohibited, but I think I’ll wait and see if any of the car-free or cycling bloggers try it and report back before I give it a try. It would be really cool if Hubway eventually rolled out some bikes with child seats or trailers so users could carry small passengers. Tandems would be cool too for older kids or for adult reluctant cyclists, and would be a way to relax the rule that all riders must be at least 16.

Class action suits for fun and profit

You know those ads on daytime television looking for people who’ve been harmed by some drug or product? Because Americans just really like to sue each other? Sure, I appreciate living in a free country and having a less-corrupt-than-many-other-countries justice system available for times when someone is truly harmed by the actions of another.

Apparently though, we also have a justice system and a culture in which someone will sue Kellogg claiming they were duped by Mini-Wheats advertising and led to believe these little hay bales would make their children smarter. And the person suing Kellogg can actually win such a suit, or at least convince Kellogg to settle.

What does this mean for us little people, other than being funny and slightly disturbing? Well, the sue-happy person suffering from post-mini-wheat trauma disorder decided to pursue this as a class action suit instead of just a standard lawsuit. This means that anyone who opts into the class of people who were misled and traumatized by Kellogg’s Mini Wheats can receive a check in the mail for $5-$45 depending how many boxes s/he purchased and how many people opt in to the settlement.

This site and this one both contain dozens of these class action lawsuits. Obviously for the suits that will pay thousands of dollars to people whose Porsche was defective, the claimant has to provide proof of purchase. But for the ones that pay between $1 and $50 to people who purchased Naked juice or L’OrĂ©al hair products, the claimant just has to swear to having actually made a purchase under penalty of perjury.

I’m planning on going on the site every month or so and finding products I’ve purchased. Honestly, I don’t have any problem with getting some cereal refunds from a company that makes millions of dollars per year.

Food stamps can get you more than just food

If you aren’t receiving food stamps, check out the eligibility screener. Depending on housing costs and a few other variables, your family income can be up to about $35,000 a year for a family of three and you’ll qualify for a few dollars in food stamps. It’s worth applying if you think you’ll be eligible for anything whatsoever though, because once you have food stamps, you’re considered to be “receiving public assistance” and can get a number of other helpful benefits and services.