Get free gift cards and build a bank account.Posted by Donna Freedman on Jan 24, 2012 | 17 comments
These two goals are the subjects of my recent work at MSN Money and Get Rich Slowly — and they complement each other.
“Free gift cards — yes, really!” gives tips on rewards programs that give points for clicking on e-mails, doing Internet searches, taking surveys, attending Twitter parties, shopping strategically and even drinking Coca-Cola products.
I interviewed people whose careful use of these programs really paid off. Myself, I’m a big fan of My Coke Rewards and Swagbucks. Yesterday I mailed two movie tickets plus coupons for two free soft drinks and a free popcorn off to my daughter and son-in-law. I got the treats from My Coke Rewards.
The MCR program also offers lots of prizes, including restaurant gift cards. I prefer the movie package — that way, Abby and Tim can see a movie at night if they miss the cheaper matinee and they can have popcorn without breaking the budget.
Each month I cash in Swagbucks points for Amazon gift cards, which I stockpile for birthdays and holidays — and, lately, for myself. Before I left for Alaska I ordered new wool socks and long johns, and recently I ordered a big jar of glucosamine — none of it cost me anything but a few minutes of my time each day. (And since I have to do Internet searches anyway for my job, why not make it pay?)
Now: What to do with the money you save on those birthday and Christmas gifts, or socks and underwear? Bank it, of course. My current column at Get Rich Slowly, “Stealth savings — sneaky ways to fatten your bank account,” offers additional ways to boost your emergency fund, your new-car fund and the like. When times are tight, this could help your “the rent is due” fund.
Once you get in the habit of doing these things (yay, automated savings!) you learn to adjust your budget accordingly. Even folks who think they can’t save may find that they really can. Be sure to read the comments section, since readers offer some tips of their own.
Should you sign up with a rewards program or start a stealth savings regimen, please drop me a note in a few months and let me know how it’s going. The e-mail address is SurvivingAndThriving (at) live (dot) com. If I get enough inspiring stories I’ll turn them into a blog post.