Favorite Products, Free Stuff, Money Saver

Making Money with Swagbucks

Join Swagbucks!
You Can Get Free Gift Cards For Shopping, Searching and Discovering What’s Online at Swagbucks.com

Why I Prefer Swagbucks

I will have to admit when I first started out there were lots of ways to earn Swagbucks.  So, I built up some money in the beginning pretty quickly.  But about a week into it, I was struggling to make money.  I mostly did surveys, and you can get very discouraged when you don’t qualify for one survey after another.  If you are losing patience, just step away, either look at other ways to earn or leave the site altogether.  Knowing this, I still think Swagbucks is the best survey/shopping/and more site to earn money.

How to Earn Money on Swagbucks

There are several ways to earn money on Swagbucks, and going over their website is a good way to learn more about it.  But, I wanted to list some of my favorite ways to earn money on the site.

  1. Surveys.  Surveys are one of the most popular ways to earn money.  Though surveys can sometimes be frustrating, they can also be very rewarding.  I’ve earned $20 on some surveys, though that does not happen often.  Some surveys can also lead you to a new money making site, such as Panel Polls, one of my other favorite ways to make extra money.  There are plenty of other survey sites out there, but I’ve come down to using Swagbucks pretty exclusively.  I’ve earned $160.00 from surveys, plus more from links to outside sources like Panel Polls.
  2. Searching.  Set Swagbucks as your search engine and earn money for searching!  I earn money almost daily using their search engine.  I’ve earned up to 100 Swagbucks for one search, that’s $1.00 cash.
  3. Shopping. I wish I could always remember to use Swagbucks when I shop!  Sometimes I forget and use my phone to shop or book hotel rooms.  You can also set up the swagbar on your browser to automatically alert you to sites that earn you Swagbucks. Download the SwagButton Browser extension to be alerted  when you are on a website that earns you SB for your purchase  There are so many sites that earn you money for shopping, including hotels and other travel sites.   It’s even better than Ebates!  If you coupon you can earn money printing and using your coupons from Swagbucks.  I’ve earned almost $48.00 using Swagbucks to shop.
  4. Daily Poll.  You don’t earn much from this one, but I make it a habit to answer the Daily Poll every day that I log into Swagbucks.
  5. Discover.  This is a great way to try out new products while earning a few Swagbucks.  Sometimes you can earn $20 or more using this option on Swagbucks.  A few things I have discovered on Swagbucks including Stitch Fix, Nature Box, LeTote, Hello Fresh, Dollar Shave Club, Third Love (the best bras ever!) and several others.
  6. There are several other ways to earn money on Swagbucks, such as watching videos, playing games and completing tasks.  I’ve listed my favorite activities and what was most profitable to me.

What is your favorite way to make extra money?

*This post contains affiliate links.

Favorite Products, Free Stuff, Money Saver

Free Amazon Beauty Box

Free Stuff

I love finding free stuff!  I found out that Amazon Prime (you have to be a Prime member) has several boxes with samples that are free.  You pick the box you like, for example, the beauty box, then pay for it.  You will then have a credit to purchase future items that qualify for the credit.  I bought the Beauty Box and there are plenty of things that I can buy later with my credit.  Here’s what I got in my box.  This post contains affiliate links.

I love finding free stuff! I found out that Amazon Prime (you have to be a Prime member) has several boxes with samples that are free. You pick the box you like, for example, the beauty box, then pay for it. You will then have a credit to purchase future items that qualify for the credit. I bought the Beauty Box and there are plenty of things that I can buy later with my credit. Here's what I got in my box.
Beauty Sample Box, 10 or more items ($11.99 credit on select products with purchase)
Beauty Box $11.99

What I Liked Best

My favorite was the Crest White Strips.  I’ve wanted to try these for a long time, but have always hesitated to spend the money for several reasons.  This was my chance to try one out to see if I could tolerate it.  I don’t like my teeth messed with, I hate going to the dentist.  This was pretty painless, but I did have to leave them on for an hour, which was kind of hard.  At least now I know what to expect when I decide to purchase them later on to get the full whitening effect.

What I did with my Box

I used everything in the box, giving a couple of things to my teen daughter.  I think this is a great way to test some new products before your buy.  Check out the other boxes on Amazon.  Just click on the photo below to purchase this box.  You can also see other boxes available on Amazon.  You will also be able to scroll down to see other boxes available, or do a search for “sample boxes for Prime Members”.  Make sure to read the description closely, not all may offer a credit.

Tell me about something you have found for free on the world wide web that you love!

Free Stuff

Free Products with Smiley 360

Try products Free with Smiley 360

Smiley360 is an online community of influential consumers who try products and experiences for free and share their opinions with others, mostly on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.  As a member, you will receive offers from the biggest brands and share your experience with that brand, as well as with friends, family, coworkers, neighbors and other consumers like you. Yes, it’s true – being a Smiley member is absolutely free! Brands really want to know what you have to say.

What do you do to become a member of Smiley 360?

Go to Smiley360 and complete a personal profile, then answer all of the survey questions.  You will earn points and badges for each section you complete.  This will also set you up for new missions that fit your profile.

Products I Have Tested

  • Iams Dog Food
  • Centrum Vitamints
  • Culturelle Kids
  • Philosophy Anti-wrinkle Miracle Worker Moisturizer
  • Arm & Hammer Simply Saline Nasal Mist
  • L’Lil Critters™ Twisted Fruit Flavors Complete Multivitamin Gummies
  • Ester-C Effervescent Fizzy Drink Mix

What to Expect

After you complete your profile you may be selected for a new mission.  You will be alerted by email.  Spots fill up fast, so make sure to respond quickly!  I’ve missed a few good missions because I don’t check my email frequently sometimes.  I’ve been using Smiley for just over a year now and have completed the above missions.  A lot of it depends on your profile.  I’ve declined a few missions because I knew it was a product I would not use.

You will be asked to share your opinions on social media and sometimes have the opportunity to post a review on Amazon or the product’s website.  The more social sites you are a member of, the more opportunity to earn points to complete your mission and qualify for new missions.

Keep your surveys updated.  There will be surveys to complete in between missions, these can help you qualify for future missions.

What You Will Receive For Your Missions

What you will receive can vary.  Sometimes you will receive the actual product in the mail, and sometimes you will receive a coupon.




Free Stuff, Kid Approved, Oklahoma

Digging for Selenite Crystals at Oklahoma’s Great Salt Plains

We love finding adventure not far from home! My husband’s son was visiting for the summer and we decided we needed to take a little adventure with him and our youngest daughter.  We decided to go to the Great Salt Plains for a fund geological digging adventure.  The Great Salt Plains dig area is about an hour and a half drive for us, perfect for a day trip.  It was June 2015 which can mean temperatures up into the 100s, so we started off early that morning.

 What are Selenite Crystals?

A little bit about Selenite Crystals and the dig area. The 11,000-square-mile Great Salt Plains are as white as salt, thanks to the saline deposits left over from an ancient sea that once drenched the area. Still flowing beneath the surface is a saline aquifer that replenishes the layer of salt when the underground water rises. Dig for hourglass selenite crystals here because they are found nowhere else in the world. It is the only place in the world where hourglass-shaped selenite crystals are found. Millions of years ago the area was covered by a large inland sea. The sea was eventually cut off and the water evaporated away, leaving behind thick layers of salt that were then covered by dirt and erosion from surrounding mountain ranges. As groundwater rose to the surface through the salt-saturated sand, it took salt along with it and deposited them on the surface as a thin crust. It was the concentrated saline solution combined with gypsum that promoted the growth of selenite, a crystalline form of gypsum. These crystals are found buried only a few feet below the surface.

Before you go.

Before we headed out, we had to take a few things with us to prepare for a warm day of digging.  We packed sunblock, bottled water, snacks, shovel, bucket and some towels to clean up with.  We also brought a change of clothes and wore old clothes to dig. Digging can get pretty messy and dirty!  You can also bring water, a sifter, and maybe smaller shovels to help find and clean the crystals.  We did not do this, but it is a good idea after the fact.  We’ve been digging before with our two older kids.

What to expect

This year they moved the dig area.  Dig areas are rotated every couple of years.  Wow!  Could we tell the difference!  We found so many crystals easily.  It is recommended to dig a hole two feet wide and about two feet deep.  After that, we dug without hands through the piles that we dug out, and in the hole.  We just used our fingers to sift through the dirt.  It is very easy to dig and sift through without extra tools (water, small shovels, and a sifter), but it sure would not hurt to bring those things.  The day was windy, and even though we started out in the morning, it got hot pretty quick.  Our youngest had a good time, but she had more fun wandering off from us.  We found so many great crystals!  After


After digging for a couple of hours, we decided to visit the lake area and State Park.  You could easily make this a weekend trip and camp out at the park campground or rent a cabin.  There are a few hiking trails and a nice playground for the kids.  We let our youngest play on the playground, then we went for a very short hike.  It was afternoon and was very hot and humid out by then.  We will be back!  If you are going in the summer I recommend going in the morning before it gets hot.


Free Stuff, Kid Approved, Travel

Garden of the Gods

We made our way to the Garden of the Gods after our visit to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and Helen Hunt Falls.  Garden of the Gods is Beauty 360 degrees!  The red mountains and with the green trees and grass was stunning!  Garden of the Gods is also perfect for the budget because it is free!

 Visitors Center

 We stopped by the visitors center before we entered the park (that’s where my featured image was taken).  There is a great view of the park from there and you can get a map of the Garden of the Gods fromt there.  Of course there’s a gift shop too for all the fun memorbilia to take home with you.

The Drive

The drive alone is worth a visit!  There are winding roads throughout, so you can drive and see the beautiful sights without even getting out of your car.  

Hiking and More

Of cours we wanted to go for a short hike, that turned into a long hike.  The path was paved, and very easy to hike with an 18 month old. We were lucky there was nice cloud cover, which made for a cooler hike in the early evening. There were quite a few other people hiking and taking photos, but it was not too crowded.  There were a few rock climbers high up with their ropes and equipment.  They are pretty impresive, nothing that I’m willing to do. 

There is so much to see, so you should really make a good amount of time to explore the park especially if you like to hike.  We were pretty tired from our busy day, or we might have stayed longer.  We were also anxious to get back to our retreat and relax in the hot tub.

Where’s your favorite place to hike or explore in Colorado?

Free Stuff, Kid Approved, Travel

Helen Hunt Falls

After some time at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo we decided to go to Helen Hunt Falls.  A couple of years before we had been to Seven Falls, but I wanted to go somewhere different this time, plus Helen Hunt Falls is Free!  

Finding Helen Hunt Falls

I found out about Helen Hunt Falls through TripAdvisor.  TripAdvisor is a great app (or website) with information you sometimes can’t find normally.  A lot of reviewers leave great tips!  I’m not sure I would have known about Helen Hunt Falls if it had not been for searching for free things to do on TripAdvisor.  

We drove on a winding road to reach the falls through North Cheyenne Canon Park.  There were several picnic areas and people pulled over hiking, playing in the water, exploring, etc.  We had to park on the road and walk a little to reach the falls. We had a nice hike up the falls.  You really must climb to the top to get the full experience and spectacular views.  It’s not a bad hike and we had already been all over Cheyenne Mountain Zoo earlier in the day, so we were pretty tired.  Yes, it was hot and humid!  

Visitors Center

They also have a visitors center and everyone was very friendly. The falls were not crowded at all, especially for being later in the day, so that was very nice.  I don’t know that they have a website, but you can google for more information or search on TripAdvisor.  

Our next stop was The Garden of the Gods, then we headed back to our little retreat at the base of Pikes Peak for some time in the hot tub, some fresh cool mountain air, and a good nights sleep.

What’s your favorite free thing to do in Colorado Springs? 

Favorite Products, Free Stuff

Panel Polls – make money testing apps


I don’t even remember how I discovered this site.  I’m sure I read it on a blog somewhere that gave advice on how to make money online.  I’ve made money several ways online, but I think this one is my favorite because my youngest daughter gets to help us make extra money.  Another great thing, this is not a survey site though the title may lead you to think that.  It is not a huge money maker, but $10-$20 here and there can add up for vacation money.

What You May Test and How Much You Can Earn

First I will list the apps my daughter and I tested on Panel Polls and how much we earned:

  1. Nick Jr. App  $20
  2. Noggin App  $20
  3. Shimmer and Shine App  $10

What Is Expected

I also want to list what is expected in terms of participation of beta testing these apps. This information is provided in an email that I got on the Shimmer and Shine beta test.  This is generally what will be expected of you and your child when beta testing an app.

  1. Don’t panic if the app crashes or fails to launch on your device – it is a very important part of this beta test! If you experience any problems with the app crashing, glitching, etc. please be sure to report the issue (and provide as much details as possible – screenshots if any, make and model of your device, device’s version of the operating system and a very specific explanation of the problem that you are experiencing.
  2. The discussion board is the place where you can post your thoughts, comments, things you like and things you don’t like about the app. You can also check to see if the moderator has any additional questions and/or followed up with your questions that you posted before.
  3. As you use the app, use the discussion forum to talk about your experience. Please be as specific as possible in your responses. Learning about any problem you encounter will help us to identify challenges and address them as quickly as possible. Also, learning about what you like and dislike helps us know where we should focus our efforts moving forward.
  4. Please make sure you log on to the discussion boards at least once a day and respond to new moderator threads (or start some of your own!).
  5. The developers and moderators will be listening to YOUR feedback and will be working to improve the app. As we gather feedback and make changes to the beta, we might send updated versions of the beta so you can test the improvements and continue to help us make it better.
  6. Please be sure to review and follow the community rules.
  7. If you actively participate in the project by using the app that you downloaded through HockeyApp on a daily basis and post on the discussion board about your experience on a daily basis, you will receive $10.00.

I hope you check out Panel Polls and love it as much as we do!

Do you have any tips for making a little extra money for your family?   I would love you to share them in the comments.



Favorite Products, Free Stuff

Book Bub email subscription


I discovered Book Bub a free email subscription a couple of months ago.  If you have a Kindle or other reading device and enjoy reading this is a great free email subscription.  Every day you will receive an email of books that are on sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Google, and Kobo.  I use Amazon, but you can choose what you prefer.  You will also select your reading preferences, such as romance, science fiction, children, non-fiction, Christian, etc.  Once you make your selections and subscribe, you will receive an email every day with books on sale, or even free books.  I have downloaded so many free books!  I will probably never be able to read them all.  The great thing, I will always have a book waiting for me to read when I have the time.  I love it so far.  I’ve read several books that kept my interest through the entire book, and only one book that I did not finish (this is usually a rare thing for me) because it was just overly romantic and repetitive.

I highly recommend BookBub if you love to read and like finding good deals!

Dogs, Free Stuff

Iams Mission with Smiley360

Thanks to Smiley 360 we received a free 3.5 pound bag of Iams dog food for my dogs to test, after which I agree to post my review.  This review is 100 % my own.

I received accepted my Iams Dog Food Smiley 360 mission.  About a week later, I received my coupon for a free bag of dog food from Dollar General, and a cute bowl for my dogs to eat from.

Next, I headed to Dollar General to get my free bag of dog food. I chose mini chunks, because all four of my dogs are small. There was a new lady at the check outs, and it took her a few minutes to figure out how to use the coupon, but she got it. 

Next, I let my dogs try it out. They loved it!  There were a few growls over sharing the bowl. After they finished eating, I put food in each of their own bowls in their room. Yep, my dogs have their own room. It’s also my craft room, but they use it way more than I do.   My dogs are familiar with Iams, and I plan to continue buying the mini chunks. It’s perfect for my dogs.