Free Gift Cards

Over the past several months I have been able to save a good amount of money by using free gift cards.

NuRide

According to NuRide’s website:

NuRide is the nation’s largest online ridesharing community where members are rewarded for sharing rides. NuRide is free to join and free to use and is supported by sponsors who reward NuRide members for reducing global warming, traffic congestion and energy consumption.

Since I started using NuRide in June, I’ve received the following awards:

  • $5 Starbucks gift card
  • $5 Starbucks gift card
  • $10 Old Navy gift card
  • $10 T.G.I. Friday’s gift card
  • $5 Burger King gift card

That is $35 just for carpooling! That isn’t even counting the savings in wear and tear on my vehicle because I only drive every other day now.

In addition to the gift cards, I was entered into a drawing for a $250 gas card (I didn’t win), and am currently entered into a drawing for a $500 Visa gift card.

MyPoints

According to Mypoints’ website:

Earn Points when you shop, book travel, play online games, take surveys, search the Web, and do other easy, everyday things.

Redeem your Points for gift cards, online certificates, gas cards, travel, dining and more- all from your favorite brands. It’s easy, fast and free!

I’ve been using MyPoints since 1999, and have earned dozens of rewards without spending a dime more than I would’ve already have spent. Just in the past few months I’ve earned:

  • $50 Wal-Mart gift card
  • $25 Wal-Mart gift card
  • $25 Wal-Mart gift card

That is $100 in free money just for going through their website when I buy stuff and for responding to emails.

My Coke Rewards

I started using My Coke Rewards a few months back when I started buying Fresca on a fairly regular basis. Basically, you buy Coke products (Coke, Fresca, Minute Maid juice, Poweraide…), get the code from the bottle, enter it online, and claim a reward.

I’ve since stopped buying soda almost entirely, but even with the few points I pick up now and then from friends and family, I’ve earned the following:

  • Free 12-pack of Coke
  • Free 12-pack of Coke
  • $2 Subway gift card
  • $2 Subway gift card
  • $2 Subway gift card
  • $2 Subway gift card
  • $2 Subway gift card

Again, that is around $18 of free stuff just by being slightly annoying and bugging my co-workers, fiancee, and friends to give me their bottle caps.

Work

At work I jokingly said that I should get a reward for performing a task that is outside of my normal job requirements. I wasn’t expecting them to actually get me anything, but they got me (and everyone else that participated in the task) a:

  • $25 Shell gas card

Summary

Individually it may not seem like a lot, but for just a tiny bit of effort I’ve managed to get around $175 in gift cards.

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“The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”

The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. -Proverbs 22:7

Most financial blogs focus on the evils of credit. However, these bloggers are only writing from the perspective of the borrower. As long as you are honest in your lending and do not try to take advantage of others, then there is a lot of honest money to be made in lending.

One of the ways I’ve started to generate passive income is by loaning out my money on Prosper. With $1000 diversified into 20 $50 loans, I’m earning an average of 18.55% on my investment. This comes out to about $0.51/day in profit for a fairly safe investment. Even if one loan defaults, I’m still coming out way further ahead than having my money in a savings account.

This is the basics of how it works:

  1. Put money in your Prosper account.
  2. Browse listings.
  3. Bid on the listings you want to fund.
  4. Sit back and wait for the money to come in!

Pretty simple, eh? You can even set up an automatic bidder that will bid on loans that meet criteria the you specify.

I wouldn’t recommend loaning out your life savings, but I think Prosper should be a part of everyone’s diversified investment portfolio.

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Preparing A Budget

On the recommendation of several friends, I’ve purchased You Need A Budget (YNAB) to help me create and manage a budget.

The software was only $39.95, which is significantly less expensive than other financial software packages, and focuses more on the budget than on the transactions. It also has a 60-day money back guarantee in case I end up hating it.

Unfortunately, I don’t know how much to budget for the various categories because I haven’t been paying enough attention to my finances lately. To fix this problem, I’m going to record every single purchase into the register in YNAB, and it will magically tell me what my current budget is. Once I have this info, it shouldn’t be hard to shrink the budget in a few areas and save extra money!

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