Friday, November 23, 2018

Buy all the stuff you want this week/weekend

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

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

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

Sunday, October 28, 2018

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

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pictures are still lining up weird

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

Thursday, September 20, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 17, 2018


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

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Moar potatoes

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

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

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

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Oh my god I have all these potatoes

I seem to have a ton of potatoes. Big, small, red, white, yellow, oh, and a bag of small blue ones and a bag of tiny weird-shaped ones. These were all acquired either through Fair Foods or through a similar food surplus program run though a religious organization. Both programs are amazing and have been so helpful to our family. And both programs give you a pre-packaged load of food without much opportunity to turn parts of it down. So there are all these potatoes.

I'm going to have to figure out different things to make with potatoes. Fortunately they keep quite a while, I mean, compared to things like bananas or leafy vegetables. But as tends to be the case with rescued produce, they're already getting up there in age. So far I've made a quasi-Indian curry. I sauteed onions and garlic, then threw it in the slow cooker with potatoes, frozen peas, and canned tomatoes that were either free in one of these food packages or a few cents via couponing. I dumped in a bunch of every spice I had that works in curries (see here for where to get inexpensive spices). Then once it was sufficiently cooked, I blended it a little to make it thicker, and served it over rice. This meal was close to free to make, and it served our family for dinner plus enough for everyone to take for lunch the next day.

Stay tuned for more potatoey goodness.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Well this was a nice surprise

This showed up in my e-mail today. I didn't recognize the name and had to google what the suit was about; Apparently XPO Logistics, which does deliveries from IKEA, had a robocall survey calling people a few days after receiving a delivery from IKEA, and there was something illegal about how it was set up. The class included anyone who had received an IKEA delivery, and I believe I only had to provide my phone number as proof of being in the class.

These class action things are often around $10-$20, or sometimes silly amounts under a dollar where sending the check cost more than the amount, but sometimes they're serious amounts of money. This is definitely something to get into if you don't already. Click the "class action suits" label on my post to find my other posts where I've explained how to find these suits and sign up. It's definitely worth it when payments like this show up.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


So I got this free watermelon. Obviously watermelon is good just to eat, but I was looking for something interesting to do with it, and wanted to incorporate it into a meal. First,
I scooped out balls of watermelon. I combined this with some quinoa (I used some one-minute quinoa that I got couponing), plus chopped cucumber a neighbor gave me, a purple onion from Fair Foods, and canned black beans from couponing. I drizzled some balsamic salad dressing over it. It was quite a hit.

I don't have a melon baller, but at some point we seemed to have acquired these kid spoons that are scooplike rather than spoon-shaped, which suck as spoons, but work great for making melon balls. Yes, my grown ass made melon balls with an alien spoon. Don't judge.

The melon balls weren't super spherical, but the watermelon was overripe, so they wouldn't have been even if I had a melon baller. +1 for the weird alien spoon.

Next, since the watermelon was super overripe, there was a lot of juice and shredded melon left in the shell. I didn't want to waste it, so I combined it with some kosher/vegan agar-based jello-type stuff I had on hand. I made the whole thing in the watermelon shell, because this looked fun.

I poured as much of the liquid/liquifying watermelon pulp into the measuring cup so I wouldn't end up with too much liquid, then made sure the water was fully boiling, and poured it into the cup. I needed two cups for the amount I made, and I made it a little under to make sure it would set up with the fruit pieces added. It turned out great, and was a big hit with both kids and adults. Someone suggested the watermelon juice would also be good for margaritas or jello shots, which seems like it would also be pretty great.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Museum of Science has a bunch of summer programs, and admission is free with EBT or WIC card

Read their e-mail here.

Lots of programs this summer that are included with admission; highlights include space and crocodiles. Membership is free with an EBT card or WIC card. No need to stand in line; just show your card to the person at the entrance to the main part of the museum. Get your hand stamped and you can visit the Discovery Center near the Planetarium as well.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Irony: The portal for letting student loans know you’re poor requires an up-to-date computer

I’m trying to do my yearly renewal where I let the student loans people know that I can't afford to pay the things. My computer is 11 years old. It only runs really old versions of browsers. Only one browser can connect to (the others bring up security errors). Only one will connect to the They are two different browsers. The site requires you to log into the IRS page directly from the student loans page. When I copy the long IRS URL into the browser that does open IRS pages, it says I am only allowed to access that page directly from Argh!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Who needs an instacart code?

Get $10 off your first order and I get $10 off. Clickedy click

Friday, June 8, 2018

I got a bunch of Swagbucks from TaskRabbit without spending money

I went to the TaskRabbit website to hire a bunny to do a home repair I didn’t have the tools for. I was using my computer at the time, so the browser bar popped up to activate Swagbucks. The rabbit I selected didn’t have the right tools either and canceled the task. I selected another rabbit whose profile also listed them as doing such things, and they also canceled saying they don’t have the tools. The rest of the available bunnies were all very expensive, so I ended up buying some tools.

A few days later I see that I was awarded 1000 Swagbucks for each canceled rabbit. Um, OK! That nearly pays for my tools. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Free $100 Postmates delivery credit for you and me

Use code 9HNYH and we both get $100 in delivery credit. Their delivery fees can be super high, especially during prime hours, so this is really useful. They deliver from cheaper places than many of the other apps too, which is nice. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

$20 off TaskRabbit, first-time users only

Use this code and get $20 off.

I've had hit-and-miss success with TaskRabbit. I wouldn't rely on it if you absolutely need something done at a particular time, as they don't provide you with a replacement if your person doesn't show. I hired someone once to do setup for an event, they didn't show, didn't respond to my messages, and all TaskRabbit would do was give me a $25 credit. Infuriating. But I've had great luck with using them for things like electrical and plumbing work that didn't need to get done at a particular time. There are a lot of tradespeople on there who aren't licensed in this state or have let their license lapse, but absolutely know what they are doing and are perfect for small jobs that don't require a license or permits. I also used it once when I needed something business-related dropped off and needed it to look a little more professional than just sending documents in a cab.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

You can still get $25 for that survey on your health insurance

Ha. I just got an e-mail from JOANY saying I'm one of their top referrers for the healthcare survey. Woohoo!

If you have insurance you purchased through your state's marketplace (so, not straight Medicaid/Medicare and not through your employer), you can take this survey and get $25. They will ask you to text/email/upload a picture of your card, so you will need to have an insurance card of a type of insurance sold through the marketplace.

After you've taken it and they've paid you (it takes a few days, and they pay via PayPal), you can refer your friends and get $25 when they take the survey as well.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Amazon gift card for parents of infants

MIT wants to study the brains of infants  Looks fun, gets you an Amazon gift card. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Swagbucks: What's worth it and what's not

So, I went back and looked at my last post on this topic, and it's actually pretty much the same still. Surveys are super hit-and-miss. I try one every time I'm bored, and if it's legit, I keep going, if not, I don't. The Reddit Swagbucks forum also is usually up to date on which things are working and which aren't. 

Definitely go to my post linked up above and check out the tips for how to run the Swagbucks TV app on your phone while you go do something else. 

If you don't have Swagbucks, go here to learn how it works and to sign up under my referral link so we both get free stuff. Then refer your friends so you get more free stuff. 

Monday, April 30, 2018

Whoa, a free $35 just showed up in my account

I just logged into Perk, which I hadn't done in some time, and found that I had 36,000 points, or $35 in Amazon gift cards. There isn't any recent activity showing except for my points for having logged in, but I clicked around and found "my team," which is showing me people who signed up under my referral link and are earning me points. I've posted my link here and on a couple forums that do referral trains, so, thank you, people who have signed up using my account. If you aren't using Perk, click on the "PerkTV" tag below this post, and it will show you my posts explaining how it works. Click here to sign up using my code, and we both get free stuff. Like Swagbucks, Perk is one of those things where some of the tasks are worth it, and others are a huge waste of time that only make money for the site and not for you. Check out the PerkTV forum on Reddit for tips on which things do and don't work well.

At the moment, the best one is the Perk Pop Quiz app. Download the app on a mobile device, set it to "lightning mode," so the trivia game will just run on a loop without you attending to it, and leave the device while you do other things. The game will just run and you'll get 1-2 points for every game you "play" (because the games run ads that make money for Perk, of course). There's also the PerkTV app, which runs videos in a similar fashion. It will work for a time on my devices (old iPhones and iPods), then will go through periods where all it does is crash or freeze up. You can run the videos on a computer too, though mine is too old and just overheats and freezes. The site used to run on a lot less bandwidth, and I'd leave my computer, my phone, and some old iPods running it all night.

The $35 has motivated me to get back into running Swagbucks and Perk on my devices. I'm going to get back into the hang of running Perk overnight on my phone and seeing if I have any old iPods that still work and will run the apps. Tomorrow I'll post about farming Swagbucks on a mobile device.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Updated eBay first class postage rates

Like I talked about before, eBay charges the buyer the retail first-class postage rate based on the weight of the item, and charges the seller the commercial rate when the seller purchases the shipping through eBay.

The postage rates have gone up a bit since I initially posted about that, but the same idea still applies – if you charge the lower commercial rate for shipping, your listings look much more attractive. Especially when you get above 12 ounces or so – I think amounts under $5 tend to seem trivial to people, while amounts over $5 seem more substantial. I'm much more likely to bid on something charging $4.38 for shipping versus $6.70.

Just remember: eBay charges you, the seller, 10% of what you charged for shipping AND what you charged for the product in their Final Value Fee. So either add 10% onto what you charge for shipping or make sure the additional 27-50 cents is reflected in the price of the item, along with also remembering to include the PayPal fee.

I just made $25 net selling some random worthless crap I had lying around my house – some 1970s coins I found in change, an airline toiletry kit someone gave me, some drawer pulls, some discontinued IKEA picture frames, a passport wallet, and a halloween decoration. I shipped the stuff using eBay shipping and printed it out on my printer, so I can just drop it in any mailbox or drop it off on the post office counter without standing in line. I packaged it with boxes, envelopes, and bubble wrap saved from things I've bought in stores or ordered on Amazon. All I paid for was tape, which I got from Dollar Tree. It took me under a minute to list each item and about two minutes or so to prepare each one to mail. I also listed another few items that didn't sell, but you can list hundreds of items per month for free*, so no worries.

It's a seriously easy way to make money, once you get the hang of it. And it's generally non-taxable income if you're selling your own possessions and are averaging a net loss overall (meaning if you sell mostly your own clothes and books and things, the few items you do flip for more money end up being cancelled out by all the times you sell a shirt that was $30 new and went for $5 on eBay). It's more money in your pocket though, since most of us would usually just donate all the things in our house that we're done with.

*The base amount is 50 free listings per month, but every time I list items, eBay suddenly sends me an e-mail offer giving me 100, 200, or 500 free listings during that month.

Monday, April 9, 2018

So BookScouter is pretty cool

I actually found out about Bookscouter from an annoying ad that covered up most of an article I was trying to read. Hey, sometimes there's a silver lining, right? I have this collection of books of various sorts that I've been selling over time on Amazon Marketplace – both books my family and I are done with and books people have given us to get rid of because they know we do Amazon/eBay/etc.

So, the way it works is you enter books you have, and it checks several book buyback companies and tells you if they're buying it and what they're paying.

The book buyback companies all generate a pre-paid shipping label to ship the books. You just put them in a box and drop them off at the post office, UPS, FedEx, or wherever it says to. They all pay you via PayPal, within about 10-14 days of entering the books on the site and packaging them up. is by far the company that is looking for the most books. They were buying about 80% of the kids' books I tried, 50% of the nonfiction/text/professional books I tried, and about 20% of the bestseller/mass-market books I tried. Their prices are really good for things like kids' books and bestsellers. They gave me 26 cents each for a whole bunch of board books, paperback early reader books with like eight pages, and mass-market paperbacks. A number of the textbook and professional books were only a bit more than that, around a dollar each or so. I also check the used prices on Amazon, and if it's going for more than $4 or so (pretty much the minimum to make a profit), I list on Amazon. SellBackYourBook also has one of the lowest minimums to meet to create a shipment – $7.50 – so it's probably the best one for regular people cleaning out shelves or freebies.

Powell's offers the best prices by far, often 50% or more of list price. Their condition guidelines are extremely strict though, and they aren't buying a lot of titles. Check there though if you have unusual books, expensive books, or books in really nice condition. I didn't end up selling anything to them.

These are the ones I ended up using. The were each 2-3 books. Most were textbook-type books as one might guess (not as in the ridiculously expensive textbook-only books used in math and so forth, but as in books on education and psychology and such that are fairly pricey, but have a market outside of universities), but they also randomly took a board book copy of I Love My Hair as well, so, yeah, it can be pretty random. They accepted all of my books (in decent condition, but certainly with scuffed corners and sometimes even more wear).

Ez Book Recycle Inc. is That shipment was 12 books of all sorts, ranging in value from $0.07 to $6.96. They accepted them all.

Textbook Rush was for 14 books, ranging from $0.10 (paperback short kids' books that I honestly would probably have no problem recycling if I didn't have a donation box going at the time) to $6.96 for a scholarly type book. They accepted everything.

CKY Books was for 20 books, mostly older scholarly, religious, nonfiction type books. One was rejected for having a tear on the dust jacket.

So, yeah, $65 for 51 books that I acquired for free. Honestly, I probably would have gotten only slightly more on Amazon, and it would have taken me a year or more before someone bought all of them. I didn't have to provide customer service or package them other than just shoving them in a reused Amazon box and slapping on the label. I do still have books listed on Amazon; I wasn't going to sell back books for $1-5 that are going for $10+ on Amazon. But for most of the books someone might be looking to get rid of, BookScouter is definitely a way to do it.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Monday, April 2, 2018

Free Little Caesar’s Pizza today

Little Caesar’s is giving away lunch  There’s one in Roslindale if you aren’t familiar.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Dollar Tree has a blog about being cheap, and it's pretty cool

It has ideas, a lot of which use their products and several of which that don't. Much like Dollar Tree, some of the stuff is tacky AF, and other stuff is pretty great.

Speaking of Dollar Tree, they are still really the best place to buy most school/office supplies, cleaning supplies, and bins and stuff for organization.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Income-based Hubway is back and has some changes

Hubway once again has an income-based plan. It's now $5 per month instead of $5 per year, but if I'm reading this right, it's not as bad as it sounds. It looks like they only charge your card during months that you take out a bike. So for $5, you can take a bike out as many times as you want (under 60 minutes) during that month. Much cheaper than the T or rideshare, and for trips within the city, biking will usually get you places faster than other modalities.

Also, they're only letting people sign up online if they have an EBT card. Anyone using WIC, Masshealth, SSI, etc. needs to sign up in person. I'm guessing though that if that's a hardship, you can probably talk to someone about e-mailing your documentation. No mention of free helmets anymore, but Amazon has several for around $15-20 each, which is not a lot to protect your noggin.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

FYI: PayPal credit doesn’t go on your credit report

The interest rates are ridiculously high if you don’t pay it within the six-month no-interest period (around 20% APR seems to be the usual), but they give just about anyone credit, and it doesn’t show up on any credit report. I’ve used it a few times recently when I’ve needed to pay folks like lawyers and contractors. To use it with people like this rather than an online store, you just have to ask them to send you a PayPal invoice, and then it will give you the option to use PayPal credit if you’ve already applied.