Saturday, December 25, 2010

Eating Out Without Breaking the Bank

So, this is pretty late, what with the holidays already being over and everything. But I got pretty much everyone on my list the gift of eating out. Yup. At restaurants and everything. How the heck did I afford gift certificates to restaurants?? Don't they like.... cost money, you ask?

Well, yes. But, not much. See, all of my gift certificates cost only $2 each... and they were all worth $25. I know, I know, hard to believe. It's entirely thanks to the wonders of ! You just choose a gift certificate from the restauraunts available, use the 80% off coupon codes, and voila - $2 gift certificates worth $25. (Of course - I have tested these out just in case. 3 for 3, they were all completely legit!) How did I get the coupon codes? The website sends 'em out - and to make things even better, the site from my last entry has a deal with the site, and gives 5 points per dollar spent on the site.

Now, about those coupon codes. The current coupon code (1/20/11) is ENJOY

Happy restaurant gift certificate-ing!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Paid-To Spotlight: MyPoints

I recieved this $50 gift card to Macy's a couple of weeks ago in the mail from Mypoints. It's already been spent on Christmas presents! This was actually the second $50 gift card I've recieved this year, the first also to Macy's, and also from Mypoints.

Mypoints is one of my favorite paid-to sites because they pay out in gift cards, and have cards available to a huge amount of retailers in amounts starting from $10. It seriously takes hardly any time to get to that first $10 level, but I always hold out for $50 cards! To redeem a gift card, you need a certain amount of "points,"
which you can earn in a variety of ways. I get the majority of my Mypoints points through paid-to-click emails. They send me emails with deals from their sponsor sites, I click to visit the site, I get 5-10 points. Easy! They also have surveys, and the best thing about their survey is that you get 10 points even if you don't qualify to take the survey. Not qualifying takes much less time than qualifying, so typically I'll click around just to get my 10 points!

Another great way I get points is through shopping online. I already shop online, and Mypoints has some of the best sites, in my opinions, as sponsors. For example, you get 2 points per dollar you spend on Ebay. Ebay, people!! Who DOESN'T shop on Ebay? Why not get points back for it??? Mypoints gives you points for shopping everywhere from Barnes & Nobles to Urban Outfitters. They have SUCH a huge selection of sites to earn points from that I typically do most of my holiday shopping just by clicking through their list! Some of the retailers even give you 10 points PER DOLLAR. Imagine how many points you could rack up on a hoilday shopping spree!

They also have games for points, a "daily spin-n-win" that I almost never win, a
search bar, and this one magical little box that occasionally pops up when surfing on the site that has yes/no questions for 5 points each. When I find that box, I quickly gather about 100 points in less than 5 minutes, but I have never seen any way to find it - it just appears randomly!! Sometimes it has tons of offer and sometimes only a few - but after you fill them out, if you click refresh, THE BOX DISSAPEARS. It's so random. I love that little box.

Mypoints has gift cards for every category of retailer imagineable - everything from resteraunts, gas stations, clothing stores, to hotels and travel packages. You can even donate your points to charitable organizations like the Red Cross! And it really doesn't take much time to rack up the 7,000 or so points needed for a $50 card (only 1500 point for a $10 card - it's been 2 weeks since I redeemed for my $50 card, and I'm already at the $10 level again. SO fast!)

So, how do you sign up, you ask? Where's the link? Unfortunately, this is one of those sites that's so great you have to know someone to get in. Luckily for you, you know me!! All you have to do is comment with your email address - or email me personally at corosaun (at) indiana (dot) edu -- and I'll send you an invite. Hurry! They have amazing deals for Christmas!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How to get everything free on your Birthday!!

Birthdays are special days. They are the days that it's OK to demand everyone to bend over and kiss your feet (or is that just me? no one else thinks that's OK? .... whatever.) At any rate, it's the day that it's OK to get everything for free. Yes, everything. Not just presents... breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, too. Even free lip gloss. Everything!

I've been a big fan of birthday freebies for years. It used to be that you just had to go into a restaurant and say it was your birthday for a free piece of cake and an embarrassing song. Nowadays, things are different. You just go online, sign some sort of form, and then you'll be emailed promotions and freebies on and leading up to your birthday.

So which companies offer birthday freebies? And more importantly, which ones are worth the time it takes to sign up for them? Here are my personal favorites.

Red Robin - Free burger on your birthday! Sign up here.
Moe's - Free entree on your birthday! Sign up for Moe's eWorld.
Cold Stone Creamery - Free ice cream treat on your birthday. Sign up here!
Aveda- Free gift, plus free sample coupon for signing up! Sign up here.
Buffalo Wild Wings - Free dessert on your birthday. Sign up here.
Qdoba- Buy one entree, get one free on your birthday. Sign up your Q-Card here.
Noodles & Co - Free noodle dish on your birthday. Sign up here.
Sonic - Free food on your birthday! Sign up for the Sonic Cruisers club.
Mimis - Free coupon on your birthday, and free breakfast for joining the eClub.
Sephora - Free lip glosses on your birthday. Sign up for Beauty Insiders.

There are so many birthday freebies! Here are some good lists to find even MORE:
1. Frugal Living list of Birthday Freebies
2. Birthday - you can search in your area for local freebies!
3. Hey It's list of Birthday Freebies

Happy birthday :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Get Free Groceries by Writing Companies

Everyone knows that shopping with coupons saves money. But imagine how much money you could save if everything in your cart was free with a manufacturer's coupon? You'd save a lot! And you might get to try out some new products that you previously couldn't afford or weren't interested in. But how in earth would you go about getting free product manufacturer's coupons?

The answer is this: writing companies and giving them feedback. Companies are eager to keep loyal customers or expand the products within a line that customers already purchase. That's why they are happy to send out free coupons, and sometimes even samples, just for writing them and complimenting them. (You can write and complain too, just be honest about your complaint!)

I'll tell you my first experience writing to companies. I came across a list online of companies that had responded favorably to compliments, and decided to try it myself. I had a friend's birthday coming up that I wanted to make really special but, being a poor college student, couldn't afford to buy much. So I wrote companies telling them what I liked about their product, sharing memories and stories that involved their product, or just telling them to keep up the good work. The month of What if these were all free?
my friend's birthday I got coupons for free items almost daily! I went and purchased them, and then gave them to my friend. He essentially got a birthday present each day for his entire birthday, at no cost to me! Sure, the presents were things like frozen meals and bottles of sauce, but hey, if you're anything like me, those things are welcome gifts in an apartment filled with pb&j and ramen. I also took him out for free meals at resteraunts - more on those birthday deals in a future post.
What do you have to lose? Give it a try yourself! Find a company you like, visit their website, and look for a little link that says "CONTACT US." It usually takes you to a form you can fill out, or you can even write the company by hand. Just be honest about the company you're writing to so that they can actually use your feedback. Here are some lists of companies to try:

- 5 A Day recap – Writing companies to receive coupons

- The $39 Expirament this one was done in 2006 so it's a little dated, but it's still a good account of what companies sent back products.

- How to Get Companies to Send Free Product Coupons this one has good tips for what to say, as well as a list of good companies to try.

- Coupon Forum Post this is a very long thread, but the first post has a long list of companies and what they sent.

Let me know what you receive! I'm writing a bunch for Christmas presents this year!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Free Sample Picks of the Week

Freebie time! Here are my picks of the week:

I've already received the following samples and recommend them:
Extra Gum Sample Choose "Like" and then choose "Free Gum" tab.
P&G Sampler Sign up, click on "P&Gbrand Sampler" and choose which samples and coupons you want to receive!
Emergen-C Samples
OXY Skincare Sampler

These are new samples that I have not yet received:
Lacoste Perfume Sample
Carolina Herrera Perfume Sample

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Paid-To Spotlight: Treasure Trooper

Treasure Trooper

For my first Paid-To site review, I'm going to start with Treaure Trooper. Treasure trooper is my favorite paid-to website- mostly because they've made me the most money! See those pictures? I've made almost $300. (And if you don't believe me, there's a 100+ page thread on the TT forums filled with "proof" pictures from members!) TT pays its members for surveys, "offers" such as signing up for newsletters or clicking through a series of advertisement links, cash shopping, and cash clicks. They also have an awesome referal program, so if you can get several of your other broke college student friends to sign up, you'll be making bank in no time. Click here to read Treasure Trooper's "How It Works" page.

Here's the rundown on TT.
When Do They Pay? They pay out the 15th of every month as long as your earnings are over $20.

How Do I Get My Money? You can choose to have your money directly deposited into a paypal account, or you can request a check by mail. Both options have worked for me.

Does it cost anything? Not at all. There is a 100% free offers page, and everything else but the cash shopping is completely free on the site.

Favorite Feature: I love the "Cash Clicks" section. You get paid .05 for each click, so depending on how many are available, you can make a little bit each day EASILY. The catch is that the Cash Clicks don't count towards your minimum $20 to pay out, but they DO get paid out after you hit $20 in offers, surveys or referral money. Referral money is my second favorite feature - sign up everyone you know, and check out TT's Tips on Getting Referrals . You'll earn 10% of their money, and another 5% of THEIR referral's money.

Tips: I have lots of tips for making the most out of TT. Go ahead and join TT so you can explore the site, the tips will make a lot more sense that way.

1. The Quarter Bin is filled with quick-approving offers worth .25. These offers never fail to approve for me, and they're pretty quick! Just enter your accurate information, keep pressing "no" and "skip" for something like 8 pages, then at the very last page, click on at least 2 offers. Just click on them - don't fill anything out, you don't need to in order to get credit. Within an hour you should be approved! They add up fast!

2. On the "Offers" page, search for keyword "email address." The offers typically say something like "Complete the entire survey using a UNIQUE & VALID email address and select 'Yes' to at least two offers in the registration path." First, open up a new email account to handle all the spam. Then, after entering your email address, keep clicking "skip" or "no, thanks" to move through the path without registering for anything. You have to choose "yes" to a couple, but you DO NOT have to actually REGISTER for them. Keep clicking "skip" or "no thanks" until you get to the very end (it should say "Thanks" or "Gold/Silver Offers" but you will not be able to continue any further) and then go and claim your offer. (note: after you do a few of these, clear your cookies to continue being approved, because sometimes they are all from the same site. Also, it's a good idea to create several different emails, because you may find that using the same email address for too many offers results in more non-approvals!)

3. The fun thing about treasure trooper isn't the free money - well, ok, that's fun too - but they have a whole bunch of bonus stuff too! For example, after each survey, you get to play a little game to win pearls, which can then later be cashed in for prizes. You can cash in pearls, coins and other goodies that you earn by doing offers in "Mabutu's hut." Click here to read a great guide to the items available in Mabutu's Hut! One item in Mabutu's hut reads "Get all 4 pieces of the map in order to go on the $100 treasure hunt!" You WANT to do this treasure hunt. Why? Because you get $100 for completing it - no ifs, ands or buts. It's not a drawing or a sweepstakes - EVERYONE who completes the treasure hunt, gets $100. There is a thread about it in the forum if you want to check it out. The catch is you'll need to complete 40 offers to purchase all 4 pieces of the treasure map (which I haven't actually completed yet, personally, so I don't know what else you'll need to do!) but heck, isn't it worth it for all that extra money?? $100 just for doing some fun little game and more offers, which get you money anyway. Win!!

4. You may notice that quite a few of the offers available reward with "Dragon Scales" instead of cash - or even "Arrowheads." This is a fun little feature involving raising, training and fighting dragons which you can then sell for money. If you want to get involved with the feature (and it's addictive!) select the "Dragons!" button on the right hand side of the home page and start playing around! You can exchange the "Arrowheads" using the "Currency Converter" in Mabutu's Hut to dragon scales, coins, etc. There's tons of fun extras to experiment with!

5. Qualifying for the surveys can be tricky. You don't necessarily want to bend the truth, but you also don't want to be locked out of the survey because you have no money to spend on their product. Be careful with what you put in the first few information-gathering pages of the survey. Also, every survey will ask you if anyone in your family works for a list of given industries. ALWAYS SAY NO. Answering yes to any of those options will AUTOMATICALLY disqualify you for the survey.

6. Treasure Trooper is on Facebook, and you want to be their friend. Why? First off, they post random status updates like "first 20 people to comment their favorite movie get $1." And yes - you really will get credited just for commenting. Also, the TT Facebook Application gives you a free slot machine spin every day. That's an extra easy, free chance to win a bunch of prizes including more money in your account. Make sure you add TT on facebook after you join up.

7. TT makes it easy for you to know which Offers are going to approve for you - it's posted right on the Offers page, in the left-hand sidebar. Some offers take a while to approve, or never approve at all, so try those first. Also, always make sure you are looking at "100% Free offers" unless you are willing to take a bit of a risk (prepaid Visa gift cards work well for non-free offers, in case you forget to cancel an automatic fee or the like.)

9. Have a question? Want ideas for getting referals? It's all available at the TT Forums, where members can post and share ideas with each other. They also have a lot of contests, so you will definitely want to sign up for the forums!

10. Make some money back this Holiday season by going through the TT "Cash Shopping" page and using their sponsor sites to buy gifts! You're going to go shopping anyway, why not earn some of it back?

Now that you know how to get the most cash out of the site, it's time to Join Treasure Trooper/!

Smart Shopping: In-Season Fruits and Veggies

Shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables can be very expensive and frustrating. As college students, the salad bar selections on campus are typically insanely overpriced "fresh" fruits and vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, lettuce, and canned peaches. Let's face it: that gets old really, really quickly. But if you want to stay healthy (which you do, because doctor visits and medicine are all expensive!) the trick is to purchase your fresh produce while it's in-season. In-season means it doesn't have to travel from some remote sunny place or a temperature-controlled greenhouse to your local grocery store: it just grows outside nearby with no problems. The reduced transportation and other fees associated with growing produce off-season makes it WAY cheaper to buy produce when it actually grows naturally! Here is a list for November's in-season produce:

Sweet potatoes
Winter squash

Go to to search for delicious recipes using your affordable fresh produce, or simply google search for "[Fruit/Veggie] Recipes." Post your favorites here!

On-Campus Overview: Top 5 On-Campus Freebies

Because this blog is written by a college student and is read by college students, of course I will be writing about finding ways to stretch your money while on a college campus! Colleges are chock-full of resources (as they should be - your tuition money is paying for them!) but without knowing what resources are available or how to access them, college can seem really daunting and really, really expensive. Here is a short list of some good ways to take full advantage of the services you paid for with your tuition. I'll go into detail about these, and other ideas, in future entries!

1. Paid research studies. These are especially relevant if you are at a big research school, like me ( I attend Indiana University.) At any given moment there are thousands of graduate students and departments conducting research into any number of topics, and many of these studies need participation from students. Some of these studies have required participation by certain classes, but some of them are PAID! Not only can you get extra cash (usually somewhere around $9/hr), but by participating in experiments, you can help graduate students and professors with their research.
How do you find these paid surveys? Two ways. First, search online for "[Your School] paid experiments." You should be able to find a link to a site with a list of experiments that are offering monetary compensation.
The second way is to head to your school's main research department building (I recommend stopping in Psychology first) and look around at the bulletin boards for postings of paid experiments. Typically they will list the qualifications needed with information to sign up for the study. Also check on other popular bulletin boards on campus, and even in your school's online classifieds listings.

2. Free Schwag! I am all about the freebies. Walking around on campus, you can score anything from free t-shirts, free food (call-out meetings and awareness raising booths are great for free food!), free pens and pencils (usually you have to check out an office or two to find these), free bags, cups, post-its, and water bottles, (best place to find these is at a career fair), free plastic silverware (dining hall), free sugar and creamer packets (coffee kiosk), free thumb drives (I.T events) and so on and so forth. I'll talk about the best freebie finds on my campus and give some tips for finding your own in future entries.

3. Free lectures, concerts, and other hosted events. I know I'm going to sound like your mom but - DO take advantage of all the events hosted by your college! Or at least, as many as you can. Colleges can pay for musical artists, speakers and seminars that are highly in demand. Some of the musical acts I got to see 100% for free thanks to my school include Girl Talk and M.I.A. Some of the best lectures I have seen free - relevant to my major, of course - were from executives such as VP of Kohl's, JC-Penney, Target. We've had designers who run their own companies, the inventor of trend forecasting, and other really important people in the Fashion industry come and speak, completely for free. It's a great way to get some inspiration and tips about your career and even network! Some other hosted events that I.U has fairly regularly are runway shows, drag shows, festivals about anything from Harry Potter to Nutella (festivals are an amazing source of free food AND entertainment), movie screenings, and on and on. The amount of free things to do on a college campus are endless. Take advantage of everything you possibly can. More on how to find these events to come!

3. Free computer software Indiana University offers thousands of dollars in free software to its students (including Microsoft Office and Adobe CS5!) but even if your school isn't as generous as mine, you can access free software from a variety of computers on campus. Check out your school's library, which should be updated with the best software available. This is especially helpful if your major has anything at all to do with design because most schools will have at least one version of CS5 somewhere on campus, and the program suite costs hundreds of dollars on its own. On a more general level, you'll always have access to Microsoft Office even if you have a MAC or don't want to pay the ridiculous price to install it. (You could even get by without owning a computer in college, but I wouldn't recommend it.)

4. Free books, articles, and other publications. I know, I know, this one is totally boring. And it might not help you much now, but in the future - especially as an upperclassman looking for trade publications or writing research papers - this is a HUGE bonus. Most university libraries pay for access to a ginormous database of publications - everywhere from magazines or trade journals like Woman's Wear Daily, to newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, to published books and articles are yours to access entirely for FREE. Indiana University's library even has a partnership with a training and education website chock-full of how-to videos for everything under the sun, so you can learn new skills without needing to take a whole course. Being able to pick up or access the Wall Street Journal online may not seem useful as a freshman, but you'd be surprised how useful it might be later on!

5. Free career advice and help. Most universities have a Career Development Center on campus to help you with everything from writing your resume to searching for internships and jobs. Career Development Centers are amazing resources: come to them with questions like how to format a thank-you letter to an interviewer, whether or not to change the font on your resume, how to introduce yourself at a career fair, how to handle office politics, and even how to get in contact with alumni in positions that you are interested in to network with them and ask them questions. If you are considering looking for a job or internship, start at your CDC first. This kind of resource is really only available for free in college campuses - no one will hold your hand as you search for a job once you're out in the real world, so good luck getting anyone who is well-qualified to sit down and go over your resume with you in the future! Take advantage of your college's career advice NOW, well before your graduate.

A couple more obvious campus freebies that are worth mentioning are free books/movies/cds from your library, free access to a gym (and in some cases, free gym classes, which are a godsend if like me you are lazy without a group of 20 people all doing the same strenuous activity), free art galleries and museums, and free TV in dorm lounges. Some places, like the dorm I live in, offer free rentals of items ranging from DSLR cameras to canoes. If you really dig into what your college has to offer, you can save yourself a lot of money!

Do you have any on-campus freebie recommendations not listed here? Let me know!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Paid-To Sites Overview

One of the main ways I make money is doing paid-to sites online. Websites pay out lots of money to people for doing menial things like clicking links, reading emails, taking surveys, shopping online or signing up for offers and newsletters. This sounds strange and a lot of people are really skeptical of these sorts of sites, so let me give a brief overview about paid-to sites that might answer some of your questions.

First, WHY would a website pay me money just to click on something or take a survey? What's in it for them? Where do they get the money? The answer is that they get the money from their sponsor companies, who agree to pay out for activities completed by the members of the paid-to site. For example, if a company is looking to get more traffic to its site to increase visibility or become more desirable for advertisers, they might agree to pay $.05 per click to their site, with part of that money going to the paid-to site and part of it going to the member that clicked. This is the same way that advertisers like Google Adwords or Facebook Ads work - advertisers often pay on a per-click basis.

What about surveys? Companies pay huge money for data that they can study in order to find the best ways to advertise their product to a targeted, receptive audience. It's a huge waste of money if, say, a lipstick company is sending ads and fliers to a group of people who have no interest in lipstick whatsoever and are unreceptive consumers. It's much more effective for them to spend their money researching consumers who already purchase lipstick regularly, and then attempt to get them to switch brands or try out a new product. That demographic is MUCH more receptive since they are already lipstick users. But in order to find that demographic, companies must have a huge database of people that they can search through. The more information they have in their database, the more accurately they can target their customer: for example a Los Angeles grocery chain might want to advertise a sale on a new trendy yogurt to, say, 18-35 year old women who live in California, have no children, make over $25,000 a year, and have purchased yogurt in the past month. With a comprehensive database, this is possible.

So how does a company go about getting all this data? There are a lot of ways to go about collecting it, and one way is through these paid-to sites that do surveys. Surveys provide not only demographic information, but also can provide detailed information on purchasing habits, TV watching preferences, opinions on a new movie coming out, most popular brands, etc. Surveys can ask people ANYTHING that they want about ANY product and tell the company detailed, high-value information that they can use to target products and advertising to. Because surveys are more useful to companies than random clicks that might not result in any substantial income, surveys are higher-paid: anywhere from .75$ to a couple of dollars for 20 minutes of time spent giving your thoughts and ideas!

Now that you understand why it's very important for companies to spend real money in order to get the data that it uses to target its advertising efforts, as well as increase exposure and traffic, it's time to get them to send those dollars your way. There are several sites with a variety of paid-to activities from paid email clicks to surveys to cash shopping and games. I'm going to be reviewing and recommending my favorites each week. Stay tuned!


First and foremost: WHAT are freebies? Freebies are free samples, products, or promotional materials sent out by companies to promote their product, service, or brand: they typically are small samples of new products, anywhere from a travel-size bottle of shampoo to a free pack of gum. They are completely free, available to whoever signs up to receive them online. Freebies can also refer to schwag, or the free items you can get in giveaways, at career fair booths, or various places around campus and online. Schwag can be anywhere from a full-sized product or complimentary service to a free pen or pencil (but pens and pencils aren't cool, you say! Well, imagine how much money you would save if all of your pens or pencils were free for all 4 years at college. Maybe not enough to buy a car, but certainest enough for a shirt or a yummy dinner! Remember- it all adds up.)

I am a freebie addict, as you can see in the picture above, which is a typical haul for a month of casual freebie sign-ups for me. I get a variety of magazines for free, lots of snack foods, and tons of beauty products - I sign up for just about every beauty freebie there is, and most of the food freebies! There are so many companies out there looking to get the word out about their product. Is it effective, you might be wondering? In my case, yes - I will certainly admit to buying a full-sized product of some of the samples I've received, and I also spread word-of-mouth praise on companies who I feel strongly about. Freebies are a great way to create brand loyalty and positive perception in a target demographic. OK - no more lecturing, sorry! I sound like my marketing professor.

Now here's what you really wanna know. Where can I get some freebies?! Well the first thing you need to do is click the little "Follow" link at the very top of the page, because I'll be posting my favorite freebie picks on the blog weekly to make it easy for you. Go on, click it. Now that you've Followed me, here are my choices for the best places to find freebies:

1. Frugal Freebies reports Freebies daily for the US and Canada. It can be a lot to sift through but I always find some good ones!

2. LiveJournal? Isn't that for like, emo kids in the early 2000's? Well, you're not wrong, but LiveJournal is also a thriving social network site with a huge demographic of users surfing its "communities" (like message boards) daily. This community/board is specifically for posting freebies, and with nearly 10,000 members all searching and reporting their freebie finds, there are usually daily posts with some good freebie links. The catch is you have to be a member of LJ to "Join" the community, but I promise it's worth it!

3. This site is great because the freebies are categorized. I mainly only sign up for food and beauty samples, so I love that I have the ability to filter out my freebie selections on Free Flys.

4. Wal Mart Samples Wal Mart has weekly rotating samples available for consumers to sign up for. These are great because they are extremely reliable. Wal Mart ALWAYS sends its freebies (sometimes a company runs out or just doesn't send it for some reason). It's also pretty quick with shipping, usually within a month. They switch out about once a week and usually have 3-4 samples from various categories. The selection isn't the best but they are a good one to check. Also personally I hate Wal Mart as a company so I love the idea that I'm costing them money to send me free products, muahaha.

5. This one also has categories to search though, and a rating system so that people who have received the freebie can rate it for potential freebie receivers.

Looking for more freebies? Try Googling "Free Samples," you'll get tons of results. Some rules to keep in mind, though:

-Not all freebies are legit. A legit freebie site will typically be on the actual company's website (look for a URL like this: )If the site doesn't seem legit, it may just be trying to collect information. A real freebie also only asks for your address to send the freebie, and will typically have an opt-in option for its newsletter and maybe a couple of other relevant questions. Never fill out a long survey with pages of ads for a freebie.

-Yes, you have to give out your address to receive your freebie. If this makes you nervous, get a post office box!

-Freebies usually take 4-6 weeks to arrive, so don't expect things to start arriving on your doorstep immediately.

Next week I will begin listing my favorite freebie picks!

Monday, October 25, 2010


My name is Lia, and I am a poor college student. (everybody now, in unison: "Hello, Lia!") In order to make ends meet, I have become very adept at finding interesting, clever, and sometimes odd ways to make or save money. I am here to share my tips with you. Even if you are not a college student, my tips will help anyone looking for pocket change or extra cash. It's not a substitute for a real job, but it just might get you by - or, at least, help you to save up for some stuff you don't need but really want. I don't judge!

So who am I, really, and why do I know so much about this money thing? (AKA, why should you listen to me?) Let me introduce myself in more detail. I'm a senior at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN, a really awesome college town that I absolutely love. I'm an Apparel Merchandising Major with a Business Minor, which means I had to take all the gen-eds plus business classes like econ and marketing plus apparel-related classes like Retail Math and Global Trade. But I'm also in a Fashion Certificate program, which is smaller than a major but WAY bigger than a minor. It eats up all of my "free time" and is essentially an art major. What this means is that not only is all my time spent in the sewing lab creating and designing garments, but I also have to spend lots of money on supplies like fabric and buttons, as well as illustration supplies like markers and sketchbooks. Hence, I'm a super busy, broke college student.

Financially, my parents are nice enough to take care of all the big bills: tuition, insurance (car/health), cell phone, room/board. They also give me a small stipent each a month to cover everything else: food, household supplies for my apartment, textbooks/school supplies, entertainment, and clothes/beauty items. Money is ... tight. So I have a couple of extra money-makers: I do mystery shopping, I use paid-to sites online to bring in income, and I take every opportunity I can find to earn extra cash.

I don't have a part-time or full time job right now, though I do have savings left over from working 3 jobs this summer. Why don't I have a job if I'm so broke, you ask? Simple: I have free no time! Every second of my day is taken up with school - I'm usually on campus from 8am to 12am. When I'm not on campus, I'm sewing something, grocery shopping, doing a mystery shop job, or attempting to maintain some semblance of a social life. Since I have no time to devote to a real job, I cut every corner I can and bring in as much extra change as I can muster. Here are some of the techniques I use:

1. Online paid-to websites. These sites pay real money for you to do things like click advertiser links, take surveys to supply them with demographic/marketing research, shop at their sponsor's site, sign up for newsletters, etc. These take up a major chunk of my extra cash, and I'll be recommending and reviewing my favorite sites in the blog.
2. Freebies. I'm a total freebie junkie. A lot of companies with new products want to generate buzz and brand loyalty, so they literally will send you free products. If you can find them, you can get them sent to you! Some companies will also send you free-product coupons for writing them and complimenting them, as I found out one lucky month. I haven't paid for toothpaste, tampons, or cereal bars in months thanks to my insane freebie hunting. I'll be sharing my best freebie finds with you.
3. Coupons, Sales, and Mail-In Rebates. I always coupon-hunt before I purchase anything, and I've been known to wait for months for a sale to stock up on whatever I need. I'll be posting sales, coupons, and reporting on mail-in rebates (which sound sketchy, but are, in fact, legit as I found out!) in the blog.
4. Thrift/Secondhand Stores. I scour Salvation Army like nobody's business. I get everything from school supplies to purses to, obviously, clothing there for CHEAP. I'll share my best thrift store shopping tips as well as my favorite finds with you!
5. Selling stuff I don't use/need/want. I sell on everything from amazon to ebay to craigslist to Plato's Closet. If you have some extra stuff lying around, I'll be listing tips on what to sell, when to sell it and where it'll get you the most money.
6. On campus there are LOADS of things you never thought you could take advantage of: everything from free pens to free silverware and paper towels, paid studies, and free career counseling can be found on your college campus. I'll help you to take advantage of everything that you never thought your college could do for you!
7. Spending smart! When I do buy things, I have a lot of guidelines that I follow to make sure I don't end up wasting the little money I do have: smart shopping is a necessary tool for every broke student. I'll give you advice on shopping so that you never waste your money.

Every weekday will have one of those 7 themes. Check back in soon to start learning how to stretch your dollar! Until then, I'm off to the sewing lab!
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