Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Product Reviews/Houseparties

One of the many ways I save money is to join groups that provide free products in return for feedback or the hopes that you will tell your friends/family about the products.  I'm including some of my favorites today.  There are many more - and I'll try to tell you about all of them in future posts.

Purex Insiders
If you get accepted as an Insider - Purex will send you free full size products and/or free product coupons.  In return, they want your feedback (usually via a quick survey) and hope that you will tell your friends about the products.

Loreal Consumer Testing Group
They often send you full size products and often pay for your feedback.

Kraft First Taste
There's always something exciting happening at Kraft Foods! Kraft will send you free product coupons as well as give you a chance to send the free product coupons to your friends and family.  The most recent free product was for Philadelphia Cooking Creme - but past freebies have included Oreo Cakesters, Oscar Meyer products, crackers, etc.

A great website to sign up to learn about new products and potentially host a party. Each event is sponsored by a leading brand and focuses on something cool that the sponsor wants its best fans to experience firsthand and share with their friends.  An example of an upcoming party is:

DiGiorno Pizza & Hoops HouseParty
If selected as a host, your FREE party pack will contain:

  • DIGIORNO Handbook with party tips and free pizza coupons for you and VIP coupons for your guests
  • Pizza cutter
  • Refrigerator magnet clip
  • Pot holder
  • Oven timer
  • Spatula
  • Wet wipes
  • Plates
  • Napkins
  • Over-the-door basketball game
  • Inflatable noisemakers

New Balance Shoes Product Test Group
If selected, they will send you shoes to try and give feedback on.

Camping World Product Test Group
 Manufacturers are often looking for people to provide feedback on their products (and reviews for the Camping World website).  By joining this group you may be selected to participate.  Note:  You must be a Camping World Presidents Club member to participate.

VocalPoint is geared towards women and they often send you free products or coupons.

Another website geared toward women.  Companies want to get their products into the hands of customers who will hopefully tell their friends and family about how much they liked the products they try.  A recent example is the Johnsonville Sausage program.   Participants that were selected will get Three coupons for free Johnsonville Italian Sausage, Five additional pass-along coupons to share with friends and family and Five delicious recipes your family will love.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Save those boxtops!!!!

If you buy products like Cheerios, Ziploc, Kleenex, Hefty, Betty Crocker, Welch's, Pillsbury, Old El Paso, Green Giant, Totinos, etc. and aren't saving the BoxTops symbols from them - you're throwing out money.

Why?  Because those little BoxTops can bring good money on Ebay.  Usually 10 cents plus per Boxtop.   If there was a dime (or more) attached to that package would you just throw it out? 

To see what I'm talking about - look at the expired auctions on Ebay:

Here's a link to the participating products:
Participating products

Many times you'll see products in stores that have multiple coupons on them.  Some paper towel multipacks will have one coupon per roll. Sometimes grocery stores run promos in their flyer that you can earn 50 or 100 bonus boxtops just for buying participating products.

Any time you purchase these products, just remember to cut off the boxtop coupon on the package and save it in an envelope or drawer.  Once you have enough of them (I aim for 100 or more), list them on Ebay! 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Have Twitter Followers? Make Money Tweeting!

SponsoredTweets is an online marketplace that allows you to connect directly with advertisers to engage in sponsored conversations through Twitter. Advertisers compensate you with cash in exchange for a sponsored tweet. Think of it like eBay for tweets.

This isn't a get rich quick kind of thing.  I have about 100 Twitter Followers and I only get 3-5 offers per week - but it does add up.  I earn between $5 and $20 a month (depending on what kind of offers I get).  Some offers are higher than my asking price.  The best part is it's very little effort (literrally minutes per month) and easy income.

Link: Sponsored Tweets on Twitter

How it Works
1. Set Your Price
All you need to get started is to set your price, add a category and some keywords then wait for offers to roll in from Advertisers.  (I set mine at 10 cents per Tweet - but if you have hundreds or thousands of followers you could go higher)

2. Choose your offers
As offers come in you can accept or reject them.

3. Receive Payment
If you accept an offer, your account will be credited within 24 hours of your tweet. You can cash out once your account reaches $50.

Why you should join Upromise

I've learned that every little bit helps when trying to save money.  Today I'll be discussing why you should join Upromise even if you don't have any children/grandchildren who need to save for college.

Most people don't know that you can actually just WITHDRAW any money earned at Upromise.  You don't have to put it in a savings plan for college.  Last year I earned over $105 and requested a check (which arrived in about 4 weeks).  I've seen many people make more than that per year - but I'm fairly conservative and stick to grocery savings, ecoupons, etc.  I've seen other people take advantage of more of their programs and save $350 or more per year.  I realize that my $105 savings doesn't seem like much by iteself - but once I show you the other easy ways to save money, you'll realize that by combining all these methods you can really make a difference.

First - sign up here:
Upromise - The Smart Way to Save for College

To start, once you've signed up, go to "My Account" and then on the left under "Build My Earnings" click on "Register My Cards".  Go to "Register Grocery and Drugstore Cards" and add as many as you have.

1.  eCoupons:  Once a month go to the "Coupons and Deals" Tab and select "Grocery eCoupons".  Select any products you think you MIGHT purchase during the next month (or select them all - it doesn't hurt to do that) and make sure you ACTIVATE them by clicking the button on the right.  Once you have activated them, any time you shop at a store where you have registered the card on Upromise, they track your purchases and credit you for the coupons when you buy the items.  It's so easy and you don't have to give any coupons or have any hassle at the checkout.  And the best part is - if you do have physical coupons to give at the register you still get credit for the eCoupons - so it's like saving twice!

2. Groceries: You can earn between 1-5% on selected brands automatically - just by having your store cards registered.  To see what brands are participating - go to the "Ways to Earn" tab and then click on "Grocery" in the menu on the left.  You can either print the list or click on "Participating Products" next to the print button. 

3.  Restaurants:  You can earn up to 8% back on your dining purchases.  From McDonalds to some of the fancier restaurants - they cover many places you probably visit.  In order to take advantage of this savings, you simply register your credit card, sign up for their program and they automatically track your savings.  If you're going to be eating out anyways you might as well be getting some cash back for it.

4.  Online Shopping:  Any time you shop online you should check and see if Upromise offers cash back and use their links first.  From eBay to - they offer cash back on your online purchases.

There are many more ways to save - but these are the top 4 that I use to easily save extra money without much effort at Upromise.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Benson Arizona - Cochise Terrace RV Resort Review

Our plan was to stay at the Escapees Co-Op Park here in Benson - but we were told they had a 3 pet limit and only had dry camping available.  We had two other parks on our list that seemed to have good reviews - Butterfield RV Resort and Cochise Terrace RV Resort.  We called Butterfield from the road and were told they were completely booked so we ended up at Cochise Terrace. 

Sometimes finding a great campsite is just a matter of serendipity - and this is one of those times.  The resort is perched up on a terrace overlooking Benson and the surrounding area.  The streets are paved and the property is well maintained.  The office staff were extremely friendly and even tried to find us the best possible spot with the nicest view even though we were using our Passport America discount.  We were escorted to our site (#261) and our escort was even willing to get his personal vehicle to help us move our Tandem Tow dolly if we couldn't fit it behind us.  It didn't end up being an issue because the spot was deep enough for us to back in without disconnecting it.  (Keep in mind our motorhome is 37' and a Tandem Tow dolly is much bigger than a normal car dolly because of the area for the motorcycle or golf cart - so any normal car dolly should fit with room to spare)

We immediately could feel a good "vibe" from this place.  Everyone was out walking....people were genuinely happy.....there were beautiful highway noise....and the weather was fantastic!

After being in Benson for a couple days and driving around to look at all the other "resorts" in town - we were so happy we ended up at Cochise Terrace.  Most of the other resorts are in the valley near the highway or train tracks.  We were not impressed with Butterfield's location - it was right behind a major shopping area and the general area seemed "commercial" and noisy.   Other places were too close to the train tracks - and with trains running every 30 minutes or so - that could get old fast.

  • Well kept roads and lots
  • Very friendly staff
  • Great views
  • No highway or train noise
  • Easy access to/from the highway on nice open smooth roads
  • Good base location for sighseeing (Tombstone, Bisbee, Kartchner Caverns, Cochise Stronghold, Saguaro National Park, etc)
  • 60+ Cable TV channels
  • Street lights at night
  • Nice facilities (including pool, putting green, basketball area, hot tub, hiking trails, etc)
  • Did I mention the views??????

Cons: (although we consider most of these to be minor)
  • The only pet area is in one corner outside the wall of the park (outside of spots 252-254 - see map below) and is just an area with dirt.  Keep in mind - this is the dessert so very few places have grassy areas for pets.
  • The dumpsters seem to allways be full.
  • Tengo Wi-Fi is hit or miss and is expensive (best to have your own internet capability)
  • Short term pull-throughs are just a paved parking lot and aren't very big.  They are also right next to the Barn and noise from live entertainment can be an issue
The best short term spots are #250-255 and #262-259 if you want a view of the mountains (all back-ins and each spot is about 50' deep x 40 feet wide with a picnic table)

Our rate was $185/week including tax, cable and electricity using our Passport America discount.  We saved $132 compared to the normal rates for the week.  Passport America is $44/year so we're already ahead $88 on this stay alone. (Note: Monthly rates are $435 + electricity)

If you have any questions about our stay (or the resort) feel free to leave a comment and we'll try to answer as soon as possible.