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!

Money Saver, Travel

Titanic Museum in Branson

I mentioned in a previous post that I got discounted tickets from Groupon for the Titanic Museum.  I was pretty excited to visit the museum because I loved the movie.  As you walk in, they give each person a boarding pass with information on a real live person who was aboard the Titanic.  At the end there is a wall you can search for your passenger and find out if they survived the journey.  I really did enjoy the museum, and I would have liked it even more if I had not had a very bored and irritated 3 year old with us.  My teenager completely separated from us, probably just to get away from her little sister.  My teen is a fan of the movie, and she very much enjoyed the museum.  It was a little different than what I expected, but still a great museum and an excellent place to cool off.  I would recommend not taking anyone below 10 years old unless they are a huge Titanic fan.  I can not see most kids finding it very interesting.  My husband was not much of a fan either.  I probably should have left him and our toddler at our resort.  Lesson learned.

Oddly, each of our passengers survived the journey!  So, that was a good ending to our Titanic Museum visit.


Money Saver, Travel

Branson Coupons Groupons Save Money

I scoured the internet for coupons or discounts in Branson. I am always looking for a way to save money!  Mostly I found sites where you could buy tickets in advanced, some were slightly cheaper and some were more expensive.  Honestly I didn’t know for sure what all we would do, so I was a bit nervous buying any tickets in advance.  Then one day it hit me to check Groupon!  Groupon is a great site for discounts, you can even find discounts for hotels and resorts, but I had already booked our resort, at a great deal!  You can get more information on how we scored a great resort in Branson here. To shop on Groupon, you just go to there web page and do a search for the city you plan to visit.

I ended up purchasing 3 Groupons in advance:  The Titanic Museum, Indian Point Zipline, and  Buster’s Old Time Photos.  My Groupons for Titanic and Buster’s were both great experiences!  We had fun, and great customer service at both locations.  My Indian Point Zipline did not work out so well, and luckily Groupon refunded be because my experience was so bad.  I’ve never had any problems using a Groupon, but I did this one time, and sometimes that is just how things work out.  Luckily Groupon refunded me, and I know next time we go to Branson, I will not be visiting Indian Point Zipline.  I am very happy with the savings from Groupon!!  Also, don’t take a toddler to the Titanic Museum, they will hate it.  Lol!  What have you purchased on Groupon that you loved?

Kid Approved, Money Saver, Travel

Silver Dollar City

While we were in Branson, MO we visited Silver Dollar City.  It had been over 25 years since I was there last, so I did expect a few changes.  Before we headed to Branson, I searched high and low for a discount to Silver Dollar City.  There are several ways to get discounts, by purchasing combo tickets.  There were only 2 things in the combo packages that I planned to do while in Branson, Silver Dollar City and the Dixie Stampede.  I did a lot of digging at the sites where you can purchase pre paid tickets and did find some better deals than the combo packs or even the official web site of said entertainment.  There are also 2 day passes and combo packs to White Water.  I only wanted to spend one day in Silver Dollar City, and was not interested in White Water.  So, finding a discount for just Silver Dollar City was pretty much impossible to find.  In my research I did find that if you go to McDonald’s in Branson, you would get a coupon for $5.00 off your ticket price on the back of your receipt.  So, that’s what we ended up doing.  (After going to Silver Dollar City, and spending the day there, I would definitely recommend spending 2 days there, and taking advantage of that discount.)

We left our second morning in Branson to head to SDC.  I really wanted to get there when they opened, but getting my family around that quickly did not happen.  When you first pull in there are 2 lines for parking.  One is free, the other you pay.  Since I’m frugal, we took the free parking.  I don’t know what is special about the paid parking, I think the bus you ride to the park has an a/c or something.  We were directed to a parking space, and there was a shuttle pulling up as we headed to the waiting area for the shuttle.  Everyone loads up, and you head straight to the park.  Super simple and super fast!  I see no reason to pay for parking at all.  We got in line to buy our tickets, and happily it was not long.  As we were waiting a nice man hands me another Mc Donald’s discount receipt.  The receipt only covers 2 people, so this would cover one more ticket for us (we only had to buy three tickets, because my 3 year old gets in free).  Lucky us, there is a lady in front of my husband who has a discount ticket for $30 off that expires the following Saturday.  She has season passes, and says that my husband can go up to the counter with her and use her discount for his ticket!  Cha ching!!  So, we ended up saving $40 on our tickets.  Of course my husband sees that as extra money to spend.  Lol!!

Silver Dollar City has an App you can download on your phone that shows the amount of time the waiting line is for their larger rides.  That actually came in handy, and was accurate every time we checked it.  The longest line was always for the “Lost River of the Ozarks”, which we did not end up riding.  Speaking of water rides, this phone protector came in handy at SDC and our resort!  (Plus the price is great! ) I had my phone under water, near water, splashed by water, etc.  It did great.  You can also use your phone while it is in it.  I have an iPhone 6S and it fit in the case, and was fully functional while in the case.) While at SDC,  I did feel like we were rushing around a bit, because we didn’t feel like we had a lot of time, and I know we missed some things.  I think 2 days there would be prefect so you can really enjoy the whole park.

I think my toddler’s favorite part was hugging Lucky the Rescue Dog!  She is obsessed with dogs right now!  She is always some new dog.  “Momma, I’m Scooby Doo.  I’m Rocky.  I’m Rubble, I’m Snoopy, I’m that dog.” on and on.  Lol!!  There were quite a few rides for her, and she enjoyed all of them, especially the train.  I took her on the American Plunge, and was very nervous about that, but she loved it.  My teenager rode every roller coaster, and most by herself.  She said Silver Dollar City was her favorite part of our trip.

Right before we were about to leave my teenager and I refilled our souvenir cups.  We didn’t notice until we walked away that they were not good.  As you are leaving the park there is a cinnamon roll shop, it’s after the big gift shop at the exit, well I think it’s a bakery, but they have tons of cinnamon rolls.  We stopped in there to get cinnamon rolls on our way out.  I asked our cashier if she could dump our drinks and refill our cups because we got bad pop.  She said sure, and asked me where we got our drinks.  I told her, and she refilled our cups for free and gave us a 25% discount on our cinnamon rolls.  SDC has very friendly people, and awesome customer service.  We can’t wait to go back!

Kid Approved, Money Saver, Travel

How to save money at Big Cedar Lodge

Our kitchen & dining area
Our bed in our room

Why Branson

We just got back from a trip to Branson, Missouri and I wanted to share a few ways I saved money. I’m not an expert on this topic, but I want to let people know how I saved money. Early in the year I decided I wanted to take my family to Branson. I grew up going to Branson a few times a year, because my family had a small cabin on Table Rock Lake, about 30minutes from Branson.

Why Big Cedar Lodge

First I did some research on where we would stay.  I looked at several cabins, because I really didn’t want to stay in a small hotel room. They were all pretty expensive. Next, I looked at resorts and condominiums. I came across Big Cedar Lodge, and loved it!  It had several pools, a beach with sand on table rock, a lazy river, paddle boats, canoes, boats to rent to take on the lake, restaurants on site, hiking, and more.  It was a few minutes from Branson, which I liked, because I really didn’t want to stay on the main strip.  It was my favorite by far, but just a room with 2 queen beds was $235 a night, plus taxes and resort fees!  I wanted a nice vacation, but I didn’t want to pay that much.  I considered doing Big Cedar Lodge for 2 nights, then going somewhere else for 2-3 nights.  Marriott has a nice resort in Branson I was also drawn to for the rest of our nights.  I kept doing research, and I came across this website that had timeshares at Big Cedar.  First, I was not in any way interested in signing up for timeshares, or even hearing their spill for a discount or free nights.

How to get a good price for Big Cedar Lodge Timeshares (without the timeshare sales pitch)

I came across another website that explained how you could rent a timeshare.  I found this interesting.  The site explained how you could rent someone’s time share week/days/points and not listen to the timeshare sales pitch.  The timeshare would consider you the owner.  That peaked my interest.  The site also explained how you could get good deals on Craigslist and Redweek.  Redweek is a site that specifically rents and sells timeshares.  Here’s one of the sites I found good information on, and here is another one.  I knew I would not use Craigslist, because I had no experience with it.  I did some more research on renting a timeshare and came across this article about renting through eBay.  I have a lot of experience on eBay as a buyer and a seller.  I started searching for Big Cedar timeshare rentals.  You can set up a search and get daily alerts by “following” the search.  I had a search set for “Big Cedar Wilderness Club” and “Big Cedar cabins”.  I would “watch” any that were selling for the time I wanted to stay.

2016-06-24 10_52_15-Greenshot

One thing I also looked for was how long the buyer had been on eBay, what their rating & reviews were, and I looked to see if they had rented a timeshare before.  People do scam on eBay, but luckily eBay is very good about refunding you if you did get scammed.  I would never buy from someone who had no reviews, or a new account, or lots of bad reviews.

Cheaper than a nice Hotel Room!

My husband told me he wanted to go in June, before it started getting too hot out.  I had already been watching my search for the last couple of months, just to get an idea how the prices changed, and how quick things sold.  About 2 weeks after that, I saw a good deal on a one bedroom condo, $499 for 4 nights, just over 2 weeks away.  It was the best deal I had seen so far, so I asked my husband if he thought he could get off work, then I asked my step-daughter’s mom if those dates were okay with her to take her on vacation.  Everyone agreed, and I bought it.  They buyer did have all good reviews, and was selling other time shares, but I found no reviews on his sales of other timeshares.  He had been an eBay customer/seller for several years, with 100% positive reviews.  I was just a bit nervous, but also excited and hopeful that we would have a fantastic vacation.  The next day I got a confirmation email that the reservation was changed to my name.  I also called Big Cedar to verify, and all was good.  I was so thrilled to have found this awesome deal!  You would pay that much for a nice hotel room for 4 nights!  Below are photos from my phone showing the condo I booked through eBay.  This will give you an idea what to look for.


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Our vacation was fabulous, and we loved staying at Big Cedar Lodge and can’t wait to go back!!

A little about our stay:

Our vacation was fabulous, and we loved staying at Big Cedar Lodge and can’t wait to go back!!  My 14 year old said her favorite part was the lazy river.  We had a good amount of room to spread out in our condo, the beds were all very comfortable, they even provide laundry detergent and dishwasher soap.  We had all the utensils and pots and pans we needed, plus a coffee maker and a blender!  Many of the comforts of home, plus lots of fun extra stuff too.  We went out on a paddle boat, tried out most of the pools, played in the lake, ate at the snack bar, cooked breakfast in our kitchen and lots more.  We did not try any of the restaurants, mostly because we were away in the evenings and had other plans for dinner.  Next time I would love to try Arnie’s Barn at Top of the Rock.  We did not make it to Top of the Rock either, but that’s just another reason to come back again.  If you have any questions about our stay at Big Cedar, feel free to shoot me an email.  Have you stayed at Big Cedar?  What did you like best?  Did you stay somewhere else you loved?  What’s your favorite thing to do in Branson?  I would love for you to share.

Check out a few other ways we saved money, and at one time just got lucky on a big savings at Silver Dollar City!!

On the paddle boat


playing on the beach
making sand castles
lazy river
lazy river
Lazy River
one of the kiddy pools
Our patio
Kid Approved, Kid Struggles, Money Saver, Sew Karla, Tutorials

Potty Training Panties

 Potty Training!

Who knew it would be so complicated?  Not me, a first-time mom at 40.  I was ready to start potty training my daughter not long after she turned two years old.  Assuming that was the perfect age to start, but as we all learn soon enough, not all children are the same.  She flat-out refused to use the potty seat we bought her. We even had a cute little foot stool for her to step up to the toilet on.  I tried giving her m&ms as a treat for using the potty, even just to sit on it.  Nothing was working.  After talking to friends, I came to the conclusion she was not ready to be potty trained.  We waited a few months and decided to try buying a toddler potty chair.  We let her pick it out at Walmart, and talked to her about learning to use the potty chair.  She seemed excited.  But, when it came to sitting on the chair and trying to pee, she was not doing it.  Finally, she turned three years old.  I was ready and I knew she had the skills to use the potty.  She understands what it is, she can pull her pants up and down, all the little things that potty training requires.  So, I did some hard research on it.  There is a lot of stuff out there!  Potty training in one day, I wish!  I read up on everything.  I discovered one of the main things a toddler needs is visual stimulation.  I liked the idea of using a baby doll and baby potty chair to show her how it works, but I did not have either of those things.  And, living in the boonies, I can’t just run to town and buy one.

Potty Charts

The next best thing was charts, stickers, and YouTube.  I went searching for potty charts online.  There are lots out there that are free to print.  I got some great ideas and created my own potty charts.  When you open these documents on your computer, you can edit the name on them, or even the images.


Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Potty Chart

Frozen Potty Chart

Blaze and the Moster Machines Potty Chart

Doc McStuffins Potty Chart

Paw Patrol Potty Chart

PJ Masks Potty Chart

I used images from her favorite shows, like “Paw Patrol” and “Frozen”.  Then I bought stickers I knew she would like, “Cars’, “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”, etc.  We had a big discussion about it on Thursday after I picked her up from daycare.  I explained that we were not buying diapers anymore and that she was going to start wearing big girl panties from now on.  (I had read to just get rid of diapers completely, don’t go back for any reason, like long trips, night time, etc).  I had one package of toddler panties and bought another package.  I decided I wanted to do training panties, instead of just panties because I knew there would be lots of accidents and I did not want puddles on my carpet and furniture.  Well, once again, no training panties to be found in our small town.  So, I decided to make my own.  I had several cloth diaper inserts, so I decided I would use them to make training panties.  And guess what, there are instructions all over the internet on how to make your own training panties.  I decided I would create my own little tutorial.

Scroll down to the bottom of this post for my personal tips on our potty training experience.

My supplies were toddler panties and slightly used diaper inserts.  Of course, you will also need your sewing machine, scissors, and thread.

First, I took one pair of panties out and placed the diaper inserts inside to measure how much to cut off.  You are going to lay it in the panties like you would place a maxi pad in your own panties.  I then took a marker and lined out the excess I need to cut out.

FullSizeRender (2)


FullSizeRender(6)Next, simply cut out your excess padding.  I then did a zig zag stitch around the edges I cut out, to prevent fraying in the wash.


Next, I lined the diaper insert back to the inside of the panties, pinned it, then sewed it together with a regular straight stitch.

 They will look like this when finished. This pair has been washed several times, so they’ve held up well.

 Our potty training experience has gone really well with peeing in the potty, but we have had major issues with pooping on the potty!  I plan on posting about our trials and errors in that area, as soon as we get things resolved.  In my research, it may take months!

Here are a few things we did, that has made potty training (peeing) pretty successful.

  1. For the first few days, I set a timer on my phone for every 20 minutes.  When the timer went off, we would sit on the potty and try to pee or poop.  If she peed, she would get 1 sticker to put on her chart.  If she pooped, she got 2 stickers (this did not happen much at all!).  She did great at peeing though!!
  2. A few times she did not want to go pee, so I told her we would race to the bathroom, that helped a lot.
  3. I did a happy dance and praised her lots when she peed in the potty.
  4. Her daddy found potty training videos on YouTube, and they watched them together.
  5. If she had an accident, that was ok, because accidents happen.  The potty training panties made clean up much easier.  She rarely got urine on anything besides her panties and the pants she was wearing.  She did not have many accidents.  She picked it up pretty quickly!
  6. After we quit using the timer, we asked her several times a day if she needed to potty.  She was usually quick at volunteering that she needed to potty.
  7. When the potty chart was full, she got to get in her “treasure chest”:  Her treasure chest was just a cardboard box with a few little items in it.  Like small puzzles, stickers, books, and bubbles, mostly things you could get at the dollar store.

What are your experiences with potty training?  Do you have any great tips?

**Update**  We are currently potty trained!  We only use the training panties at night, just in case she has an accident.