Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Free wine is back on Swagbucks

The Winc offer is back, and it's free/beyond free this time. Pay $32 for four bottles of wine with free shipping, then get 3200 Swagbucks ($36.37 in Amazon gift cards if you redeem in batches of 2200 Swagbucks). It's an easy way to have some snazzy wine on hand for when you inevitably get invited to holiday things and have nothing to take. I found it under Featured Ways to Earn.

And obviously, if you don't have Swagbucks yet, use my referral thingy, then refer all your friends, because we all know us broke folks love pyramid schemes. Thanks to the people who have signed up under mine recently. One of you needs to start actually using the account though so we can both get some gift cards!

Monday, November 28, 2016

15% off nearly everything at Target today (online and in-store), plus another 1% off

Here's the official press release from Target. It even includes game consoles and Apple products, which is highly unusual. There are a few exclusions listed here (mostly just the usual ones, like alcohol and gift cards).

I totally just fished this out of the laundry someone didn't put away
Speaking of Target, we are loving the Cat and Jack line of kids' clothes. It's cute stuff, most of it's seriously cheap ($6 leggings, $12 jeans, $6 t-shirts, $10 hoodies), a lot of it's gender-neutral, and they have t-shirts with positive messages and science themes rather than the usual tough-guy/cute-and-or-sexualized-girl messages. They have infant, toddler, youth sizes, and the youth sizes go up to XXL in most items, which fits the average-sized adults in this household. Not to say that we've gone in the kids' department just because they have $6 t-shirts and $10 hoodies or anything like that. That would be silly, right?

There's also a deal on InstaGC right now, not sure for how long, where you can get 1% back on online purchases from Target. Target also has the Cartwheel couponing app, which you can now use online. Between that, today's sale, and the InstaGC thing, you should be able to get some serious deals on things. Like clothing. That you definitely didn't buy in the kids' department.

Here's the Target fine print
I just realized I didn't do a tutorial on InstaGC, but if you know how to use Swagbucks, it's quite simpler. It has the same TrialPay and OfferToro and all that that Swagbucks has. It also rewards you in Amazon gift cards, and allows you to redeem for $1 Amazon cards, which means you don't have to wait until you get to $5 or $25 or whatever like some of the other ones. Like the others, you can earn referral points. Sign up under my thing if you don't have an account yet, and then refer your friends.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Free Museum of Fine Arts admission every day

This doesn't seem to be well publicized, but the MFA is free for the last hour they are open every day. They also have $3 tickets for EBT card holders, if you want to stay longer. If you don't have an EBT card though, the last hour thing is such a good deal for people who are close by and can just come back another time to see more. Admission is ordinarily $25 for a ticket, which, wow.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Gourmet vegan cooking class and meal for $10

This looks pretty great. Cooking class and a whole meal for $10 per person ($5 if you're a member of The Trustees) at that new facility in Haymarket. Usually these things are ridiculously expensive, like, more than going out to dinner at a nice place. I unfortunately wouldn't be able to make it on Wednesday morning, but check it out if you're available and want some low-cost family fun.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Don't spend money on paper for printing coupons

As I'm sure everyone knows by now, I use coupons and stacked coupon deals to feed my family within my means. One of the things that's annoying about this though is that the manufacturer's coupons have to be printed out and handed to the cashier physically. I've heard that stores in other regions have systems of putting them on your store card like you can with store coupons, but this isn't here yet. So, for now, I'm using a lot of paper, which costs money and is wasteful.

Similarly, I am a professional stuff-getter-ridder-of-er. We have a large family in a small space, and I don't like having things sitting around that we might some day maybe use, when there are people who can use them right now, or ways they can be recycled.

The other day, I suddenly had a realization of how I could kill both birds with one stone. Speaking of which, I had a program director at a former job who would say "house two birds with one nest" so as to be nonviolent. I like this, except no one knows what it means. I probably should just do away with the birds altogether* and say I'm solving both problems.

Anyway, I need to print coupons, but paper is expensive and wasteful. And I have a folder of paper I don't want to recycle since it's blank on one side, but couldn't find a use for since it's too thin to use for art, and the stuff printed on it is mostly just too weird to use as eBay packing material or to print handouts on or anything like that.

Coupons though. They just need to be printed on paper in a way that's basically legible, and it doesn't reflect on me in any way that matters if they're printed on something strange. So, yeah, I totally just printed off 28 pages of coupons on the back of an outdated sexual harassment manual from a company I used to do some work for. Which was where I know Nest Guy from, actually.

Oh, and as far as ink for all this printing, I'm using some knockoff cartridges I got on Amazon for a few dollars for 10 of each color or something like that. The color sometimes seems slightly off from legit cartridges, and once in a while you get a dud, but I'm OK with that for paying $4.99 or something for something that would normally cost like $600. If you can't risk fake ink because you're an artist or need high-quality prints for your business or whatnot, get a free printer from OfferUp or Craigslist and use it for coupons. People are constantly giving away perfectly good printers, usually either because the ink costs more than a new printer, or because they don't know how to make an older printer work with their wireless network. Snag these though, because you can buy knockoff ink and there are ways to get pretty much any printer working wirelessly.

*Not literally. That would be violent.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

I can't take you people, er, robots, anywhere!

I noticed the other day that I had a huge surge in page views, but I didn't dig further.

Then I got a comment in my moderation queue that suddenly made everything clear, and I dug deep into my stats, and sure enough...

Apparently a spambot search engine has decided that the word "stripping" in one of my home improvement posts means that the page is visited by people who would be interested in their unholy spam link, rather than people who are looking for ways to make thrift store furniture look snazzy.

You know what though? A page view is a page view, right? The number of hits a page gets is in part what decides how much my ads pay me when people click on them. So, yeah, I'm fine with some perverted robot driving up my stats, though I do prefer views and comments from my lovely human readers. Stripper porn whores XXX viagra cialis.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Hollar deal on Swagbucks: $15 worth of stuff for 80 cents

I just did the Hollar offer on Swagbucks. If you make a $15 purchase, it gives you 1250 Swagbucks, which is worth $14.20 if you redeem in batches of 2200SB for $5. This means you end up paying $0.80 once you get the Swagbucks, but you do have to front the $15 on your debit card.

I hadn't heard of Hollar before. It's a lot like Five Below, except online. They have pajamas, t-shirts, headphones, room stuff, drinkware, etc., and most of it is $2-$5. Some of it is more. Some seems to be closeout/overstock and some seems to just be cheap stuff. So, yeah, you're probably better off going to a thrift store if you want clothing and other items that will last, but this place was a lot of fun for doing some holiday shopping for the kids. I got this stuff for $1.12, y'all. Um, if you know my kids, don't say anything, k?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

If you have Masshealth managed care, you can get a bunch of free stuff

I just learned that the various Masshealth managed care plans (Tufts Health Together, BMC HealthNet, Neighborhood Health Plan) have reimbursements and freebies just like private insurance does.

Tufts Health Together offers $50 per year per member reimbursement for gym memberships, dance and exercise classes, or sports leagues. They offer $30 reimbursement for contacts or glasses purchased out of pocket. They also have reimbursement for childbirth classes and breastpumps. They send one free bike helmet per year per child or adult member via mail and vouchers for $25 off a booster seat or $50 off a convertible seat (this is enough to purchase the cheapest models on the market). They also will send you gift cards for doing proactive health tasks, like filling out an asthma action plan or going to diabetes visits. Check out their member handbook, pages 23-27.

Neighborhood Health Plan offers $50 per year per member reimbursement for gyms only, $15 off bike helmets for children and adults, childbirth classes, and breasts pump sent by mail.

Boston Medical Center HealthNet offers free car seats and booster seats by mail, a free box of disposable diapers for parents of newborns, $200 per year per family reimbursement for gyms only (it's unclear whether this is the limit per family or whether a single gym member would get this whole amount back), one free bike helmet per child member per size, and dental kits (which appear to be the stuff you get free at the dentist anyway).

The basics of these extras seem to be pretty much the same for the three plans, though they differ in terms of how much of a discount they give on particular items and whether you have to front the money for various costs. It seems like it would make the most sense to join BMC HealthNet if you have a baby or toddler, then switch to Tufts Health Together, which seems to cover the most stuff overall. Surprisingly, switching managed care plans once you're already enrolled in MassHealth is actually really easy.

Please, spread the word about these benefits! We've never been told about any of this in many years of having MassHealth and using community clinics. I actually don't think most of the providers know what's available to their patients, though they're happy to write down that we ignore their recommendations to join gyms and use expensive over-the-counter products. So, let people know they can get things through their MassHealth plan, and let them know about all the drugstore items MassHealth covers.

By the way, I've had mixed luck using the OTC program. When providers ask us to start using a vitamin supplement or ear drops or something, I ask them to write a prescription for it so MassHealth will cover it. So far none of them have been aware of this program. About half have seemed happy to hear it's a thing and have written the prescriptions. Others just insist "you don't need a prescription for that" and even "there's no such thing as a prescription for Benadryl."

Monday, November 14, 2016

Aaaand...the shaming people for shopping on Black Friday is in full force

So, I'm used to seeing the hashtags and images telling people to buy nothing on Black Friday, presumably to fight capitalist culture or something. Fortunately, in my circle of friends, there are usually people who beat me to pointing out that this is a really privileged viewpoint. I mean, come on, some of us can only afford things when they're on sale, and those of us in this boat are already doing less consuming than average throughout the whole year. But it apparently makes people who have a lot of economic privilege feel better to boast that they're making their purchases on a day other than Black Friday.

Today I saw on the REI website that they're closed on Black Friday. I find this admirable, that they're allowing their employees to have a longer weekend with their families, and avoiding having their store filled with people fighting over merchandise. That seems like a good choice for an individual business to make, if they feel it aligns with their values. But the hashtags, and encouraging customers to pledge not to shop that day? That seems a bit privileged and obnoxious.

I imagine much of REI's customer base is people who buy high-end products for hobbies rather than basic needs, and clearly their marketing folks know this. But there are also people (like me!) who shop there for winter wear and bike stuff, because they have some amazing deals for members. I'm not really fazed that the store is closed on Black Friday. I probably wouldn't be headed there anyway, since we don't need anything for our bikes or for winter right now. But I'm not too crazy about their "movement" to not shop at all on Black Friday. I too am quite turned off by spending the entire day buying tons of stuff because you can, but if I find a sale for something we need, yes, I'm going to duck out of eating leftovers and watching movies and go get something I wouldn't be able to afford otherwise.

The overall message is good, but I wonder why they couldn't have made it a more general plea to have a simpler holiday season and to gift experiences, secondhand items, and sturdy necessities instead of buying every damn thing. Because encouraging people with lots of expendable income to buy the stuff on a different day (and pay more for it!) doesn't actually change anything with regards to all this "stuff" affecting the environment and our mental health, and it needlessly shames people who already consume less for shopping when things are affordable. Right now it just seems like asking people to show off that they have the privilege to buy anything they want, rather than asking people to change their overall consumption.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Two free months of women's clothing rental for negative $10.67

This deal is on Swagbucks today. 350SB (about $3.97 if you redeem your SB in batches of 2200SB for $25) for joining Gwynnie Bee for a free trial month. Then another 4900 ($55.70) if you pay for another month once your month is over. The cheapest plan costs $49 per month. If you buy things on Amazon anyway (or another store that Swagbucks has giftcards to), you can essentially pay $49 from your debit card and put $59.67 onto your Amazon account, plus rent clothing for free for two months if that appeals to you.

I only did the first month for 350SB, because Gwynnie Bee is not something anyone here would use, and it's a lot of money to front. I actually had heard of this business but didn't know anything about it until I clicked through to get some Swagbucks. I assumed it was one of those things for people who want to show off luxury items, like that one where you can rent $5000 handbags and look like you own several, but poking around on the site made me think that it's actually something that could be really useful for people to meet some fairly basic needs. They rent women's clothing sizes 10-32 clothing via mail order, it's every type of clothing, not mainly fancy designer stuff, and the price is surprisingly reasonable. I was excited to find that not only can I post about it as a fun freebie, but also a potential resource for struggling folks.

The service seems like it would be really useful for lots of different folks who are scraping by. Women whose weight is rapidly changing due to illness or recovery from illness would probably be better off spending $49 a month renting clothing than repeatedly buying new wardrobes even from a thrift store -- especially when the first two months can be acquired for free through this deal. Women of some builds can get away with wearing larger sizes instead of specific maternity clothes during pregnancy, so they could potentially use this too.

Gwynnie Bee also has a selection of cocktail and semi-formal wear, so this could be really great for women who have a wedding, graduation, work event, etc. coming up and can't afford something appropriate to wear. This sort of thing is really one of the hardships of being working poor and being in a part of the country where there really isn't widespread extreme poverty. So many people's jobs and other obligations expect them to socialize, especially around this time of year, and aren't very understanding that there are people who honestly can't afford these things, even though we don't have holes in our shoes and aren't living in sheds without plumbing. I did the free wine deal a few months ago in anticipation of "forced socialization season," and it's going to come in handy in the next few months if I have to take anything anywhere or thank anyone for anything. (For the record, I'm not anti-holiday or anything at all. I'm just reflecting the realities that the expectations around this season can be financially stressful, especially for those who are employed at places where most folks are better off than us.)

My household is actually very fortunate to have suitable clothing for pretty much anything semi-fancy we want to attend. Some of the families we get kids' hand-me-downs from are of religious/cultural backgrounds in which people typically wear conservative/traditional clothing rather than jeans and sweatshirts. One of the adults here has a job that entails wearing rather formal clothing (and thus scoping out yard sales and clearances and whatnot all year). We have time and energy to browse eBay and pick through thrift store racks. We have stable housing that allows us to buy things "just in case" when we find them used or on sale, and not have to pack up everything and move every few months. Most of us are average-sized, and the person who has a physical disability that affects stature and requires the use of mobility equipment is able to wear off-the-rack clothing just in a different size range than you'd expect, so we can all easily borrow things from someone if needed, or find them used.

Think about how many people are of size, need clothing adapted for disabilities, or don't have places to store things like party attire, and just aren't going to have this stuff. People can roll their eyes and say that no one "deserves" to have luxury items, but is it really a luxury to not have your boss and coworkers think you're antisocial because you always turn down free tickets to things and you don't ever socialize with them? Or have people think you're rude or even harmful for showing up to a graduation or baby blessing wearing *that*? So, yeah, clothes -- and not just the bare minimum to make you not be naked -- are a need just like food and housing are

Oh, and if you don't have Swagbucks yet, during this month there's a promotion where you get $5 in Swagbucks once you do your first few earning tasks and your referral source also gets $5. Then you can refer more people and you get $5 from theirs, just like a good little pyramid scheme. Please use my link if you haven't joined yet. Thanks!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

State of the scraper address

Wow, OK, so half of the country voted for a filter-lacking narcissist whose campaign centered on blatantly racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, and ableist insults and threats. So, I've known all my life that these views were this widespread, but this guy and his "plans" are nonetheless much scarier and more threatening than, say the Bushes, who at least seemed to have some basic professionalism and sense of human decency even though the impact of their policies was just as marginalizing.

A lot of us are terrified, not just around the end of our day-to-day relative safety from harassers and attackers, but also because we depend on government-funded programs for healthcare, disability services, children's services, or employment.

So, what can we do now?
  • Here is a list of some concrete things we can do, like stockpiling emergency contraception to distribute if it becomes unavailable next year, along with advice for trying to preserve rights for green card holders and our transgender brothers and sisters.
  • For internationally adopted folks (thinking especially of the many people in the community who have brought relatives here from Haiti through adoption rather than sponsorship), if you don't have a Certificate of Citizenship and only have your entry papers, go here and follow the steps to get one.
  • If you're transgender, make sure your gender and name are current on all your documents. Go here to learn about Boston-area organizations who are helping people do this for free, and similarly to volunteer if you have legal training or experience navigating these systems.
  • Write to your legislators, even if they're progressive, even if you're in Massachusetts where they've been telling us most of the federal changes won't affect us, and tell them why it's important that they support your family in maintaining insurance, disability services, housing assistance, and anything else you receive that's partially federally funded or might be affected by a federal mandate.
  • Go here to learn how to respond if you witness Islamophobic harassment (or any other type).
  • Be sensitive and sensible. It's fine to participate in movements/rallies/safetypinwearing that focus on positivity and understanding. But be aware that others, especially some marginalized folks, feel betrayed by these actions and feel that no one should be attempting to "build bridges" with the oppressors. Others take issue with people voicing their opinions in progressive spaces but being afraid to speak out against those who support bigotry. Still others don't appreciate privileged folks finally speaking out for the first time this week, because it highlights that these folks have been refusing to listen to the voices of the oppressed for years. Ask people how they're doing. Ask what would help. Don't take this as an opportunity to brag about how enlightened you are or how your manner of coping is the best one.
EDIT: You know how I mostly post about how our spartan lifestyle involves a lot of unprocessed food, walking and biking, and simple hobby items acquired at thrift stores? Yeah, it's not doing it for me right now. Someone point me to tips for how to get good deals on strong drinks, crappy TV, violent video games, tubs of cookie dough, and so forth. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Be sure to vote! Also, Imzy will give you a free shirt if you do

I don't think I even have to point out that one of the viable candidates has a fairly decent record on helping struggling families, and the other one has outwardly stated over and over again that he has no concern for poorer folks, people of color, people with disabilities, or immigrants. If you live in Massachusetts, you could vote for a third-party candidate and advance third-party visibility without doing any damage. If you live in a swing state, please just vote Democrat and don't risk our country electing a fascist just to make a point (even though it's one that I consider quite valid).

Also, once you've voted, go here and post proof and Imzy will send you a free t-shirt. Promos like this are pretty much how I get my pajamas and gardening clothes and whatnot.

If you don't have Imzy yet, check it out. It's still small, and doesn't have a whole lot going on, but it seems like it has big potential. If you haven't heard about it, it's a couple of Reddit founders who left Reddit and started up a similar site, except that while Reddit prides itself on free speech to the extreme, Imzy prides itself on respectful and helpful speech. I certainly value aspects of Reddit, like the frugal sub, and the subs dedicated to Swagbucks, Perk, and so forth. There are definitely a lot of smart people on there, as well as incredibly creative and funny folks, and there are a lot of good people who help complete strangers (whether it's with advice, money, logistics, connections, or whathaveyou). I can do without, however, the culture on most of the subs in which racism, sexism, ableism, and generally abusive speech is totally fine. I'm hoping that Imzy will get bigger and become the type of resource that Reddit is.

Fortune magazine also has a list of freebies and discounts for people who vote. A lot of them seem to be regional chains that aren't around here, but check it out.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Something deceived me, but I'm not sure what

This check showed up in the mail, for a generous $23.30. It took me the longest time to figure out what it was. I couldn't recall joining a class action suit with anything called News America Marketing Digital, but then, the same is so generic that it could have been anything. I did finally figure out that it's a reimbursement from Checkout 51, not a class action settlement. Checkout 51 still sends paper checks like it's 1964 or something. Hey, I guess it cuts down on people actually requesting them, since a lot of people probably don't bother, so if it keeps the program up and running, I'm happy to deal with the paper check nonsense. 

I didn't use Checkout 51 much until recently, since they use to only have small amounts off of obscure products. It's worth checking out (get it?) now, since they have a lot of major brands and their rebates overlap with the other apps and the Stop and Shop coupons, making for some nice stacked deals. I did get one rejection the other day though for using a paper coupon on top of the Checkout 51 deal, so beware. I've also had others that went through fine, including some where the brand name of the paper coupon did print on the receipt, so it's worth a try. The only downside is that the coupons are first-come, first-served, and are based on when you submit the receipt, not when you activate the deal. So you can go to the store and buy the product, and then it runs out of coupons before you can submit, which is annoying. Still, it's free money for things you would probably buy anyway, right?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Just scored two HomeChef meals for $2.75

Swagbucks has a deal right now that rewards 1500 Swagbucks instantly when you sign up for HomeChef and place your first order. Signing up costs $19.80. 1500 Swagbucks ends up being $17.05 in gift cards if you wait to redeem until you have 2200 and redeem it for $25, which is how you should always redeem to get the most value.

Just don't forget to cancel the subscription after your stuff shows up. I've been putting the date to cancel by on the Apple calendar for the ones that offer a 30-day trial membership (you don't want to cancel right away, or they can take your Swagbucks back), and for the mail-order ones, I just cancel as soon as my stuff shows up.

And of course, click the Swagbucks label to find out more about how it works, and use my referral code so we can both earn.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Dinner for basically free

A couple days ago we harvested the last batch of veggies from our garden before everything gets frozen and ruined. The only thing left out there are herbs, which we leave since they tend to come back in the spring. We were fortunate to have enough tomatoes and peppers that I didn't have to add anything from the store or from cans. I would have preferred more than one onion for a pot of chili, but not enough to go out and buy one.

I basically threw everything in a pot, added WIC beans and some frozen corn kernels a local organization gave us a while back, and let it do its thing. I added some Adobo and a pinch of sugar when it got close to being done. (It's about 20 minutes from being done in this picture.) With all these vegetables, it was substantial enough to serve as an entire meal. Sometimes I also make bread or cornbread, or serve with chips and guacamole, but this time I just served it plain, and it was a big hit as usual.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Get paid to sign up for Hulu

Swagbucks has a deal right now that earns 1000 Swagbucks (worth $11.36 if you save up and redeem 2200 Swagbucks for $25) for signing up for a Hulu subscription, which start at $5.99 a month. Like all of the monthly subscription offers, don't cancel until at least 8 days later. Put it on your calendar to cancel a few days before they will bill you again.

And, obviously, if you don't have an account yet, sign up under mine so we can both earn. Thanks!

Yaarlo and Receipt Hog pay you for scanning receipts

I've started using these two apps, Yaarlo and Receipt Hog.

They work the same way; with both of them, you snap a picture of a receipt, and that's all. You then get a few cents per receipt. Yaarlo is a bit harder to redeem, and I believe it requires a gift card purchase to redeem, but you get a large percentage off of the price based on how many points you have. Yaarlo also gives you points for buying gift cards or shopping online through the site. Receipt Hog is straight redemption of your points, just like Swagbucks, Bing, Perk, etc. They allow you to scan online packing slips to an extent too; just read the FAQs as they differ in terms of what types of stores are included and so forth.

They're both pretty good so far. On Receipt Hog I'm almost up to a $5 Amazon Gift Card after a month of using it, and we all know I don't spend much money at retailers. Yaarlo is a little more frustrating, because more than 50% of the time I submit a receipt, it comes back saying it earned 0 points and/or classified as the wrong type of retailer. I have to go on their site every time and submit a help ticket (this is fortunately really easy -- just click the conversation bubble to the right of the receipt and type in a quick phrase and they'll fix it). So I have no idea how many actual points I have on Yaarlo or if I will keep using it once I do my first redemption

EDIT: If you join Yaarlo, use my code LOCOMOTI955, and we both get extra points. Thanks!