Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Guest post: Bartering

by Jim Noland

Another neat thing I like about Fall and all it's bounty is that it is a time to maybe do a little bartering with the fellow down the road. Or the lady who owns the peach orchard on the other side of town. Bartering has been around a long time -- longer than Obama's speeches.

Kidding aside, bartering has been with us since before we came to this country. For those of you who don't know how it works, it is really pretty neat. You trade something of yours with something of someone else's. Like, I might have a huge crop of tomatoes and my neighbor might have a overabundance of corn. We get together, and I trade some of my tomatoes for some of his corn.

You can barter just about anything you can think of. My grandfather once, as a kid, worked for this rancher, putting up hay in the rancher's barn. He worked putting up this hay for three days. My grandfather said he worked his butt off for this guy! He had NO money to pay him with, but he had a .22 rifle. He traded those three days worth of work, putting up his hay, in trade for that .22.

At the end of those three days, he walked away with that .22 and over 300 rounds of ammo. Was it a fair trade? You bet it was. Grandfather used that .22 to put meat on the table for his mom and pop and six siblings, even though it was squirrels and rabbits and sage hens. It helped keep his family fed. And it helped his dad supplement what food and whatnot the family needed.

They ate a hell of a lot of beans, he said. Sometimes three times a day. He still loved his beans right up to the day he passed.

So, you could barter for some beans or maybe fix something for somebody, and take some produce, or chickens, or whatever in trade for your time.

With the way the economy is right now, a little bartering could be a good thing. Think about it. Have you extra of something, and maybe your neighbor has something you might like or need? Go have a little chat. Maybe you can work a little magic and you both get what you want or need.

And, we all would be helping each other. When it comes right down to it, isn't that what we should be all about?

Jim blogs at: http://granddadscorner.blogspot.com

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Free Breakfast at Chick-Fil-A

Chick-Fil-A is giving away free breakfast next week. Yum!

I love, Love, LOVE the Chick-Fil-A fresh-brewed tea. I buy it as a gallon whenever I go there. It is fresh and tasty and sooooooo refreshing.

Oh. Sorry that I got distracted by their iced tea before I told you how to get a free breakfast.

Go to the Chick-Fil-A Web site:

You will click on the Free Breakfast link, then click on the button for "Make Reservation"
You'll choose the location, date, and item that you will want for your free breakfast.

Those of you in the Denver area can go directly to: http://denverchicken.com/

Another thing I like about Chick-Fil-A is the cows. They totally crack me up. My friend Tessa and I went to Chick-Fil-A a few weeks ago, and I was so happy to see a cow in the drive-thru! The cow stopped by while we waited in line and got a high-five (from me) and a hilarious cow-related knock-knock joke (from Tessa). Go, Chick-Fil-A cow! Go, Tessa!

I somehow missed Cow Appreciation Day this year, but help remind me to participate, fully dressed as a cow, next year.

Chick-Fil-A has an entire cow section on its Web site and a gallery of cows at http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Cows/Gallery -- but won't it be great if there is a cow when you go have your free breakfast?! That's How I'm Gonna Do It!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mystery Shopping

I have been a secret shopper for more than 20 years. I started doing it because I wanted something fun to do. Over the years I've done a lot of shops, everything from fast food, eyeglasses, eye exams, gas stations, hotels, bars, restaurants, retail, movies, and more. Sometimes I go long periods of time without doing any shops, and sometimes I do a lot of shops.

Right now I'm doing lots of shops. You will never get rich from mystery shopping, but you can eat and be entertained for free, and get a little cash with it, too.

If you want something fun to do, too, here is some information on the companies I shop for most frequently.

It's also, sometimes, a little bit of an acting job. You can be an entirely different person on some of these assignments, and some of them even require you to use an alias. Back in the early 1980's a friend and I had made up a fake name for me or Loretta Pomegranate. Unfortunately, I have never been able to use that for a mystery shop 'cause it's too obvious. I told Jim that he should be Pete Moss. That one cracks me up! (Jim doesn't think it's all that funny.)

How this works:
You sign up as a shopper. The company collects information from you, such as your name, social security number (they need it to pay you), address, your age, etc. Some also ask you about the equipment available to you (i.e., cell phone, digital camera, fax, scanner), and about your likes and dislikes, or your shopping habits or preferences. Some will ask you to provide a writing sample.

There is also a certification process from the MSPA -- Mystery Shopping Providers Association, the professional association for mystery shoppers. http://www.mysteryshop.org/
That's also a great Web site to look for to learn the basics and what to look for so you don't fall victim to a fake shopping company or other scammers.

The MSPA also offers a certification. Becoming certified also lets companies know that you are not just some random person, and it adds credibility to your skills. You can get the silver certification online fairly quickly, and you can get the gold certification at a workshop or you can get the DVD from the MSPA and do it at home. Be sure to save your receipts for your taxes!

Okay, now on to my list of favorite companies to shop for. I get brownie points or $5 for some of these referrals, so please say that I referred you. (Kathleen Noland, and my email address is kathleennoland @ yahoo.com) Or send me an email and I can send you a referral link for some of these companies.

Jancyn - http://jancyn.com/
then click on the "Shop for Jancyn" tab or on the Shopper FAQ
For this company, I have done fast food and casual dining shops. They also have retail shops. This company reimburses quickly, so you will only wait a few weeks to get reimbursed and paid.

Bestmark - http://bestmark.com/
then click on "Become a Shopper"
I have done clothing retail, fast food, casual dining, and fine dining shops for Bestmark. I have also done Web inquiries and phone inquiries for them. They also pay/reimburse quickly.

MarketForce - http://www.marketforce.com/the-shopper-force/
MarketForce has a large variety of shop-types, including fast food, gas stations, audits for compliance, merchandising, movie theater checks, promotional materials installation, retail, etc. They can keep you busy, and their reimbursement and payment process is also quick. In addition, they offer direct deposit, which makes it even faster.

I am signed up with 36 additional companies. You can find a list of legitimate companies on the MSPA Web site. There is also a lot of information on the industry there, so you can educate yourself.

Be sure to read your shopper agreement and look at the FAQ's. You'll get a lot of information there.

If you want referrals from me, just email me and let me know!

Today, we are having a free dinner, and I'm having a free massage. That's how we're gonna do it!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Today? A free item at Denny's in Colorado

Today Denny's is celebrating in the State of Colorado.

Everyone who visits a Denny's in Colorado will get a free item from their Tour of America Menu with the purcase of any other Tour of America Menu item of equal or greater value.

So, go get a free "something" at Denny's with your meal.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Travel for free?

I don't travel much, and we usually go via roadtrip when we do.

I found this article interesting; it's on how some people are traveling free:

Basically, if I understand it correctly, people buy $1 coins by using their mileage-accumulating credit card. Then, the coins arrive and they use them to pay their credit card bill. In the meantime, they rack up miles on their cards that they then use to fly for free.

People are always thinking, huh?

Monday, July 11, 2011

I love a pedicure

I love to get a pedicure. I like the way it looks, and I like the way my feet feel afterward.

But even a discount pedicure at the salon is a luxury when you're on a tight budget. So, why not give yourself a pedicure at home?

If you are like me, you have some pedicure supplies that you've accumulated over the years. I looked in my closet, and found cuticle remover, some nippers, toenail clipper, emery board, nail polish, and top coat -- everything I needed to do this at home.

In the shower, I always have a foot file so I can keep up the good work of a pedicure by keeping the dry skin away.

Before I took my shower, I put the cuticle remover on around the edges of my nails. That's what the instructions said to do.

I remembered to use the foot file and a scrub when I washed my feet. It was amazing that the cuticle remover cream took off all the dry edges around my nails. I didn't even need to use the nippers later, 'cause it did such a good job.

Then, I trimmed and filed the nails, painted them (two coats of polish), and finished with a top coat. Once the polish was completely dry, I used a lotion that smells good to moisturize my feet.

My feet looked and felt great.

That's how I saved at least $25 this weekend on a pedicure!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Free Slurpee from 7-11 (on Monday, 7/11)

7-11 celebrates its birthday each year by giving away free Slurpees!
When: Monday, July 11, 12:00 a.m. until 11:59 p.m.

In fact, a friend tells me that they do it every year on their birthday, so put it on your calendar for next year, too.

Here are the details:

If you visit their Facebook page and click that you're attending the birthday Slurpee giveaway, they'll even send you a reminder so you don't forget.

Thanks for my friend Joannie for telling me about this.

Monday, that's how we're gonna do it!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Free through e-rewards

I like magazines. I just don't like to pay for them. It's not always convenient to go to the library to read my favorites, though they DO have a huge selection at my library.

MyCokeRewards has some good selections at reasonable points levels. But e-rewards has a good selection, too.

e-rewards also has other discounts and freebies that you can get, simply by completing online surveys every once in awhile. Or earn at a faster speed by completing more surveys! Magazines are my favorite reward, but you could also redeem for flight or hotel points credits, movies, food, and other items.

Sign up at e-rewards. Based on your profile information, you will receive email invitations to participate in surveys for credits. You don't have to accept every survey request they send you. I have gone long periods of time without completing any surveys, just because I was not in the mood.

You can spend your accumulated credits whenever you are ready.

Go take a look at what you can get: http://www.e-rewards.com/rewards.do

I just redeemed a few points on a magazine that I think is perfect for me: Garden & Gun. Now, why didn't I think about publishing that myself! But that's okay, now I'll be reading it for free because of my e-rewards points.

Today, that's how we're gonna do it!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Free Stuff through MyCoke Rewards Points

MyCoke Rewards points is a program in which you can earn free stuff by collecting and entering the codes that come with Coca-Cola purchases.

On a 12-pack, the code is on the end of the cardboard carton. On 2-liter bottles it's on the inside of the cap.

Sign up at http://mycokerewards.com then enter the codes and you will get points to spend on stuff.

You can earn all kinds of stuff, but I'm interested in just two things: magazine subscriptions and free Coke products. (Though there is plenty of other things to spend your points on.)

It doesn't take long to collect points and some things aren't that expensive points-wise.

I subscribed to Bon Appetit magazine for just 250 Coke points. Last I looked, you could get a 12-pack of Coke for just 240 points.

I get my points sometimes from generous people at work or other friends who do not use the points themselves, but are willing to throw them my way. Sweet!

So, to keep myself caffeinated and get a fun read delivered to my house each month, that's how we're gonna do it!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Guest blogger: Joannie, on water bottles

I brew sun tea every day, then take it to work so I have plenty to drink and don't have to pay for it. (Sonic treats excepted.) Here's what my friend, Joannie, does.

This guest post is courtesy my friend Joannie. (Thanks, Joannie!)

You are probably familiar with the new plastic cups that Starbucks invented (but failed to patent) and now EVERYBODY sells. The ones where they have the screw on lids and plastic straw are washable and reusable, are clear or come in see thru colors or patterns. Well, Target and BB and Beyond has them for an inflated price of like $12.99, but TJ Maxx has them for $4.00 and I would bet Big Lots has them cheap too.

So we bought a couple of them (the Aladdin brand is dishwasher safe, but other brands are not). We make our own ‘to go’ drinks at home and not spend the inflated cost for soda, tea, etc. at McD's and other places.

The glasses somehow have that fun ‘just bought it’ feeling, but being reusable helps keep our expenses down, plus we can now take our to-go glasses so many places we didn't before, like dancing, filled with homemade sweet tea. Yeah, I know – really no different than the old water bottles, but because of the screw on lid and straw, it just makes is so much more fun!

Before these cute glasses, we’d be going dancing and say "oh, let’s stop and buy a sweet tea to take to dancing," then when we pull up the cheeseburger aroma would waft into our car and we’d leave McD’s about $10.00 lighter!

Water bottles just don’t do it for me, they are all athletic-ly and make me think of drinking something because you have worked up a sweat, so I pass on the water bottle thingys.

I am sure you have seen these glasses, but on the outside chance you havent, let me know and I will take a picture of the glass of water I brougt from home today. Our home water is soooo much better than office water. And now I am Miss Technology with my new smart phone……sometimes.

Anyway, just thought I’d pass on the suggestion of a way to not spend. You use your coworker’s McD. coupon and bring your own drink in a snazzy cup and smile that lunch is totally free!

Take care, joannie

Monday, June 27, 2011

Free Sandwiches at McDonald's

There has been a promotion in the Denver area lately that gives customers a coupon for a free Big Mac(R) or Egg McMuffin(R) if they have to wait in the drive-thru line for more than 3 minutes. Truly -- when do you NOT have to wait in the drive-thru line for more than 3 minutes?!

One of the ladies at work was given four of these free coupons because she has teenagers. BUT the coupons must used at one of three McDonald's locations on this side of town. She does not come by any of them on her way to/from work, and she lives on the other side of town. I drive right by one of these McDonald's every day on my way to work. So, she gave me the coupons. (Thanks!)

That means I can have four free breakfasts or lunches sometime before June 2012.

Today, that's how we're gonna do it!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Shop the Cupboards and the Refrigerator

I stopped on the way home from work to get the usual things we run out of: milk, eggs, butter, bread.

When I got home, we needed to decide what to have for dinner. We went "shopping" in the refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards together.

Nugget (our sweet doggie) LOVES to have Steak-umm. For those of you who don't know, Steak-umm is very thinly sliced beef that comes separated into sheets of two pieces, and cooks up in moments. Seriously! Moments!

I saw the Steak-umm box in the little freezer, and thought Nugget might like a treat since he hasn't had them in awhile. I thought there was just one serving, but we still have 5 servings in the box. So, not only did Nugget have Steak-umm, but his people did, too.

We put them on the front part of the griddle on the stovetop, then put some onions on the back, and Jim did these up in no-time. We sliced Swiss cheese to melt on the top. Jim had his on bread with Miracle Whip. I grilled bread for mine (like grilled cheese). YUM!

So, shop from your cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer. That's how we're gonna do it!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sonic Drinks: I don't want to live without 'em!

Drinks from Sonic are my favorite indulgence.

Actually, they are more a necessity for my mental health and for the happiness of my tongue. I would choose a Sonic drink over other treat options.

And I don't want to do without them.

There are two good strategies for me to get my Sonic Drinks for less than full price.

The first is: go to Sonic's Happy Hour, which is from 2 to 4 p.m. each day. When you go then, you get your drink for half price. Half price!

The second is this: Sonic sometimes issues surveys on their receipts. If you will follow the instructions on the receipt and phone to record your answers, they will give you a code to put on the receipt that entitles you to a FREE Route 44 Sonic drink.

Either way? A bargain!

If you are not a Sonic regular, I highly recommend:
Diet Coke with Lime
Half Diet Coke, Half Fanta Orange
Diet Sprite with Strawberry and Vanilla
Diet Watermelon Limeade
Diet Cherry Limeade
Those are my favorites, and I can't get enough of them.

That's how we're gonna do it today!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Keeping and Using Pocket Change

My husband is in the good habit of cleaning his pockets out every night, and putting any change he has in an old metal coffee can.

Every once in awhile, we take the can to our credit union and run it through their coin machine to turn it in to real dollars.

This time, we really need that money for basic "getting by" money.

A half of a coffee can usually comes to around $200.

This week, that's how we're gonna do it!

Monday, June 20, 2011

How We're Gonna Do It

I just got a job. Yay, right?

Unfortunately, because my new job comes with benefits, I'm getting a 40 to 50% paycut.


I need to get creative about how we do things.

How are we gonna do it?

I don't know.

I'll let you know how it's going to happen, OR if we can't make it so.