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Category: Earning & Managing Money

7 Easy Ways to Earn Amazon Gift Cards

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Looking for easy ways to earn Amazon gift cards for FREE? Check out this list of fun ideas!

How to Earn Free Amazon Gift Cards

7 Ways to Earn Amazon Gift Cards for FREE

When you’re on a really tight budget, sometimes even $5-$10 per month can help stretch your budget so much further. And that’s why Amazon can be a budgeter’s best friend.

There are SO many different ways to earn free Amazon gift cards and Amazon carries just about anything you can think of!

So that means you can use Amazon gift cards to stretch your grocery or household supplies budget, to afford diapers, to buy gifts for others on a really tight budget, or even to just buy something nice for yourself that you’ve really been wanting and can’t make room for in the budget!

These are my favorite ways to earn Amazon gift cards. And while you may not earn hundreds of dollars from each, you’ll find that you can easily earn at least $5-$10 per month from each of these — and that really adds up if you try to regularly use at least 2-3 of these methods!

1. Swagbucks

Swagbucks is my all-time favorite way to earn Amazon gift cads and I’ve been using it for years now.

It is a site that rewards you for completing tasks and doing certain actions online. When you complete a task, you’ll earn points called swagbucks that you can cash in for free gift cards.

Some of the more popular ways to earn are doing online searches, signing up for offers, printing coupons, completing special offers, and taking polls.

Go here to read our complete guide on how to earn swagbucks.

Earn Amazon Gift Cards with Shopkick

2. Shopkick

Shopkick is a mobile app that allows you to earn gift cards for walking into stores and scanning products.

The best part of Shopkick is that you don’t have to buy anything to earn the gift cards, and it can be done when you’re already out and about!

Shopkick is one of the easiest and quickest ways to earn Amazon gift cards — especially if you’re frequently out running errands or shopping.

You can go here to read an in-depth review about how it works.

Also, you can currently get a FREE $5 gift card just for signing up!

3. Ibotta

Ibotta is one of my favorite money-making apps, and it’s a great way to save money on groceries and more — without clipping coupons!

Simply look in the Ibotta app to find rebates for grocery items you’re buying and scan your receipts to get credit.

Earnings add up pretty fast and you can cash out at $20. It’s a super easy way to earn Amazon gift cards for your grocery purchases.

Go here to read more about how to get started with Ibotta.

Trade in coins for gift cards at Coinstar

4. Coinstar

Do you have any loose change lying around? Gather it up and take it to your nearest Coinstar kiosk!

You can trade in your coins for Amazon gift cards without any transaction fee. It’s super simple.

I did this last year right before Christmas and had $208 in coins! I traded them in for an Amazon gift card and used it to buy Christmas gifts!

Go here to find a Coinstar location near you.

5. InstaGC

InstaGC is a site that is similar in nature to Swagbucks. I’ve tried it out a little bit in the past and liked it, and several readers have commented with rave reviews about it!

You can earn points for simple activities like taking surveys, watching videos, searching the web, and shopping online.

They have tons of gift cards you can trade in points for — including Amazon gift cards!

Go here to get started with InstaGC.

PrizeRebel Survey

6. PrizeRebel

PrizeRebel is another site that seems very similar to Swagbucks. I’m actually testing this one out right now and plan to do a full review in the near future!

It’s mostly surveys and video based from what I can tell, but they also have opportunities to sign up for free offers and do special tasks to earn points.

I’d suggest focusing on watching videos and taking their longer surveys. I seem to be getting multiple opportunities per day to take surveys worth 77 points!

Go here to get started with PrizeRebel.

7. Survey Companies

While you won’t get rich or earn a full-time income from taking paid online surveys, it is a really nice way to earn gift cards on the side!

This was one of my favorite ways to stretch our financially lean budget when Jesse was in law school.

Go here to see my list of the top legitimate paid online surveys you can trust.

Amazon Gift Card

Related Links:

Can you think of any other creative ways to earn Amazon gift cards? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Does SmileDirectClub work? (My 90-Day Update)

Does SmileDirectClub really work? In this post, I share my honest thoughts on my first 90 days of wearing my aligners and how it has worked for me.

Note: This post is sponsored by SmileDirectClub and contains affiliate links. All opinions are 100% my own. Read our disclosure policy here.

Does SmileDirectClub really work?

I’ve gotten this question again and again in the last few months. And I wanted to give you an update on my honest thoughts and experiences with SmileDirectClub after 90 days of wearing my aligners.

Back in December, I posted an in-depth post about my honest experience with SmileDirectClub. In that post, I shared about how it works to get your teeth scanned, what the process is like, and what you can expect if you sign up with SmileDirectClub.

In May, I started wearing the aligners and I shared an honest review of SmileDirectClub with my initial thoughts on my treatment plan and what it was like to start wearing the aligners.

Smile Direct Club box

How to Get Started With SmileDirectClub

If you missed my earlier posts, here’s a basic recap of how SmileDirectClub works:

  1. You go to a SmileShop to get a 3D scan of your smile (it’s FREE!) OR you use an at-home impression kit (use coupon code MSMDEAL to get 50% off the price) to make an impression so they can build a 3D impression of your smile. (You can see what the at-home impression kit is below.)
  2. Your 3D smile is reviewed by a duly licensed dentist or orthodontist, who will guide your new smile from beginning to end.
  3. They send you a preview of your new smile showing how your smile will transform and begin production of your invisible aligners, as unique to you as a fingerprint.
  4. They send you aligners in the mail that you wear 24/7 (except for when you eat) during a 6-month process. You change these out every week or every other week during the process. (They send you texts to remind you when you need to change the aligners). (Be sure use coupon code MSMDEAL to save an additional $100 off the cost of your aligners!)
  5. You work with a licensed dentist or orthodontist the entire time and they ask you to send periodic photos to help them make sure you are on track.
  6. At the end of 6 months, you can purchase a set of retainers for $99 to help maintain your smile. You just wear them at night to keep your new smile in place.

What the First 90 Days Have Been Like

Honestly, wearing the aligners has been a lot less of a hassle and a lot less pain than I expected. Yes, I still feel them in my mouth. It isn’t as comfortable to talk.

My smile with them in looks a little weird to me (other people say it looks amazing; I think it looks like my lips are puffed out!). And yes, I don’t love having to take them out every time I eat or drink anything besides water.

But I have been so pleased with the results (more on that below!)

Do the Aligners Hurt?

I’ve gotten some questions as to whether the aligners hurt or not. I think it’s probably a little different for each person.

For me, I follow the suggestion to always switch to a new pair at night instead of in the morning. This gives you all night in your sleep to adjust to the new aligners. Usually within 24 hours of switching to a new pair, there is almost zero pain and only a little discomfort.

Does SmileDirectClub Really Work?

This is the most important question, right? I can’t speak for others, but I can tell you that I am seeing a noticeable difference in how my teeth look since wearing the aligners!

Also, it’s not just me who is noticing. I keep having people tell me how much of a difference they can see. In fact, just the other day someone who follows on Instagram wrote in and ask what kind of dental work I had had done because she works at a dentist’s office and could tell a marked difference in how my teeth looked!

I truly do feel more confident when smiling and speaking and recording live videos. I was never embarrassed of my crooked teeth; but I was conscious of them. It’s so nice to see them look so much straighter — and I’m not done with my treatment plan yet!

Smile Direct Club box

What I Love About SmileDirectClub

  • I love that the price is less expensive than getting braces. While it depends upon your doctor and insurance, you’re typically going to pay at least $3500 for traditional braces. The SmileDirectClub treatment plan only costs $1895 to $2290 for the entire process! And they do work with some insurance companies, too.
  • I love that I don’t have to go to appointments. Seriously, I know it’s silly, but it’s true. This was one big factor holding me back from moving forward with getting braces was the time involved going to so many orthodontist appointments.
  • I love that they are so thorough in explaining the process and setting you up for success. They send you emails with lots of details, they provide links to in-depth articles, and there is a booklet in your kit that answers all the questions you could have.
  • I love that you can take them out. Okay, call me weird, but the thought of having something semi-permanently stuck in my mouth that only an orthodontist can take out just makes me feel uncomfortable. I love that I can take these out a few times per day to eat and drink.

What I Don’t Like About SmileDirectClub

  • I don’t like that you have to take them out to eat or drink. You can only drink clear cool water with the aligners in. It can be a bit of a hassle to have to take them out every time to you eat or drink.
  • I don’t like that they seem to attract lipstick. I haven’t changed anything with my lipstick routine, but ever since I got the aligners, I have to be so careful about what lipstick I wear and how I put it on. Multiple times, I’ve discovered that
  • I don’t like that they feel unsanitary sometimes. It feels kind of gross to be taking things in and out of your mouth multiple times per day — especially when I’m out and about or am eating with friends. I’ve gotten better at being able to quickly take them out and stick them in the case, but it feels a little gross to do it in front of people. (Hey, I’m just being honest!)
  • I don’t like that my speech sounds and feels a little garbled. While it doesn’t sound too bad, I can’t talk as clearly as usual with the aligners in. Because of this, I’ve taken them out when I’ve recorded podcasts or spoken at a conference.

(Please note: The aligners are only going on your teeth. They aren’t doing anything with your jaw so they will not correct overbites or other really misaligned teeth issues. You can take a 30-second quiz on their site to see if you are a candidate for their services based upon how your teeth are. I’d recommend getting a second opinion from a local orthodontist if you aren’t sure. I also would highly, highly recommend going into a local shop. This way you can get a scan and make sure you feel comfortable with going through this process.)

Smile Direct Club box

Want to try SmileDirectClub?

If you can’t go into a local SmileShop to get a 3D Scan done, you can order an at-home Impression Kit (shown above). Again, I would personally recommend going into a SmileShop. It’s completely FREE to do so and they do such a great job of giving you such a high-quality scan.

But you if you do end up ordering an at-home Impression Kit, use coupon code MSMDEAL to get 50% off the price.

And if you decide to sign up with SmileDirectClub, you can also use coupon code MSMDEAL at checkout to get $100 off the price of your Invisible Aligners.

Have you used SmileDirectClub before? If so, I’d love to hear your honest opinions and experience with it. Has SmileDirectClub worked for you?

10 Simple Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill

Need some practical ideas to cut your grocery bill? Here’s a list of 10 simple ideas to shave money off your grocery budget.

Looking for more tips? Check out my post on 25 Ways to Save Money on Groceries and my $70 Grocery Budget posts.

10 Simple Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill

Guest Post by MaryEllen from Centsible Savings

While picking up my milk for the week, I stopped to consider how many people might wonder why I was digging all the way to the back of the refrigerated section. Then I started thinking about how easy it is for anyone to reduce their grocery budget just by following a few simple guidelines.

I’m not talking about spending hours every week clipping coupons and scouring the sale papers for deals. These are simple strategies that everyone can use to help keep their food costs down:

1. Look toward the back of the refrigerated section for the latest-dated milk, cheese, meat and other perishables. It certainly won’t help you cut expenses if your food goes bad and you have to throw it out and buy more.

2. Buy whole milk and mix it with water. It will taste different at first, but you’ll get used to it after a while. If you can bring your taste buds to agree to mixing your milk half and half with water then you’re getting two gallons for the price of one! (Note: Keep in mind that if you have young children, watering down your milk will affect the nutrition of it.)

3. If you’re buying individual fruits (e.g. apples, oranges, etc.) by the pound, pick out the smallest ones. The total weight will be less, and therefore you won’t pay as much, but you won’t notice the difference when you’re eating your apple.

4. Shop early in the morning if at all possible. That is when you’ll find most of the marked down produce, meat, and bread. Even if you can’t shop in the morning, be sure to still keep an eye out for products that have been marked down.

5. Don’t buy too much produce at one time. Produce (especially if it has been shipped a long distance) will not last very long before it has to be thrown out. Try to buy only enough for about one week at a time.

6. If you find a good sale on something you normally buy that has an extended shelf-life or freezer life, stock up. Why wait until later and pay full price when you can buy several now at a much lower price?

7. Be creative and cook with what you have on hand. Make your weekly menus based on what is already in your pantry or freezer. Then you’ll just need to buy a few ingredients to fill in the gaps.

8. Make a list and stick to it when you shop. Unplanned “extras” add up very quickly.

9. Consider how badly you really need something. For example, it doesn’t really take any longer to make pancakes or biscuits from scratch than from a box mix. Yet those box mixes often quite a bit more than just buying the ingredients would cost. (Cooking from scratch is much better for your health, too!)

10. Use coupons. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m not talking about spending hours each week on clipping coupons and scoping out deals. But if something is on your list, you should at least check to see if there is a coupon out for it. A good place to check is the coupon database. You’ll be surprised at the difference fifty cents here and a dollar there can make!

What other tips or strategies for cutting your grocery bill would you add to this list?

(originally published in 2008)

Free 30-Day Trial of Qapital Budgeting App

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

If you need some extra motivation to save more, you might want to try the Qapital app!

Qapital Banking App

What is Qapital?

Need a motivational boost to save more or budget better for spending?

Try the Qapital app — an innovative and easy to use budgeting app that helps you set goals and save more!

With Qapital, you can set specific spending and savings goals to help you manage your finances more efficiently. There are lots of different options for creating “rules” and “goals” for savings, and it’s really customizable.

You can also set up various savings funds if you’re saving for a lot of different things at the same time: emergency fund, vacation, tuition, retirement, etc. It’s a pretty cool way to keep track of all the different savings goals you have.

In this way, Qapital helps automate savings for you in a really fun and exciting way!

Qapital Savings Funds

Want to try Qapital?

If you’re interested in trying Qapital, you can currently get a FREE 30-day trial. Here’s how:

  1. Go HERE to sign up.
  2. Click on the “get the app” button in the top right-hand corner of the page.
  3. Click on the “let’s go” button that pops up.
  4. Select a theme of your choice and click the “continue” button.
  5. Go through and choose what features of the app you’re most interested in. (You can choose one or all of them.)
  6. Enter your phone number for verification purposes and click “continue.”
  7. Enter the verification code that is sent to your phone number.
  8. Choose an email address and password for your account.
  9. Fill out your name.
  10. Choose a plan. (Your first 30 days will be free. This is the plan it will roll over to after your free 30 days is up, if you choose to continue using the app. There is no obligation to continue after the free trial!)
  11. Click on the “text me the link” button to download the app and log-in with your email address and password!

Note: It’s easy to cancel your account any time before the free trial is up! Just be sure to do so before your 30 days is up so that you don’t get charged! If you do choose to continue, they offer really inexpensive plans as low as $3 per month, though!

Go here to get started.

The Best Summer Jobs for Teens

Looking for ideas for summer jobs for teens? I’ve compiled some of my favorite ideas to help you get your creative wheels turning!

You might also be interested in 5 Work-at-Home Jobs for Beginners and Over 40 Different Income-Earning Ideas.

Summer Jobs for Teens

Summer Jobs for Teens

Recently, a follower asked me if I had any ideas for some good summer jobs for teens. I asked my Facebook followers for their suggestions and they did not disappoint.

You can read the entire post with over 200+ comments here. I’ve picked some of what I felt like were some of the best summer jobs for teens submitted.

Hopefully this list will at least give you some ideas if you’re looking for some great summer jobs for your teen (or jobs they can do year-round!)

1. Tutor

Of all the suggestions submitted, this one was the top one suggested! Michelle said: “Tutor!!! Summer us great time to offer reading tutoring. There are lesson plans out there and it is a great way to make $$$.”

Psst! Are you an adult who is interested in doing online tutoring? Check out the opportunity to teach online with VIPKID.

2. Teach Music Lessons

Andrea says: “My friend’s teenage daughter was an accomplished piano player by the time she was in high school and gave lessons as her ‘after school job’ to young kids/beginners. She taught my daughter for over a year. She did her lessons at the children’s homes and it was perfect – she didn’t have to have a ‘studio’ of her own and none of us parents had to worry about shuttling our kids somewhere for lessons!!”

By the way, this was something I did as a teen. I taught violin to a number of different students and it was such a good learning and growing experience for me! Oh and parents especially love if you’re willing to drive to their house and teach the lessons!

3. Pet Sit/Walk Dogs

Geri said: “My daughters both did pet sitting in their teens. They sat for everything from boa constrictors and hissing cockroaches to dogs and cats. They even took care of goats, chickens, cows, horses and other livestock. Not a skill set every teen has, but they grew up on our farm caring for our animals.”

If you love animals, you could also consider working for your local vet. Shannon said, “As a teen, I worked for my local vet clinic cleaning cages, walking dogs, washing laundry, mopping floors, etc. That turned into occasional and then part-time admin work plus assisting vets on house calls as I was just available and willing to learn. Got to interact with so many people and their pets!”

4. Referee Sports Games

This is one that we’re looking into having Kathrynne possibly do. Camille said: “My kids referee soccer. They could take the class once they turned 12. It’s been a great experience for all 3 of mine. They are responsible for submitting their availability online, accepting games, and communicating with their assignor.”

Andrea said: “My 14-year-old and 12-year-old referee soccer games! They don’t have time to earn as much as a regular job, but my 14-year-old bought himself his own computer after just a couple months of work last summer.”

Tracy also posted and said: “My 15-year-old has been doing this for 2 years. It is pretty decent income for that age. Having thick skin to ignore the fans helps.”

5. Babysit (& clean a little, too!)

Of course you knew this one had to be on the list! But take note of Melissa’s tip: “Babysitting will absolutely pay the most. If she interacts with the children, does the dishes and tidies up the house she’ll be in more demand and will earn more.”

And Celena said: “I have a hard time finding sitters who do more than the bare minimum. When I babysat in college, I always got massive tips and had people calling me all the time. I never understood why until I hired my first babysitter and came home after a late night out to a super messy house, dinner dishes still in the sink, and the sitter on the couch on her phone. Argh.”

I 100% agree! Go above and beyond and leave the house cleaner than you found it and you will likely have more jobs than you can take!

6. Wash Windows

Danna commented: “I’m a merit badge counselor for Boy Scouts in Entrepreneurship. I recently taught a merit badge clinic and one of the boys in the clinic runs a very successful business. He’s 14 and he washes windows. He started on his own house and his neighbors’ houses when he was 11. He advertises using referrals and NextDoor.com to keep jobs close to his home. At 14 he has 2 employees and makes about $400 a weekend that he works.”

7. Teach Classes

Have a skill you are good at or passionate about? Consider teaching a class for younger kids!

Hollie suggested this and said: “My daughter and her friend started a cooking class for kids ages 7-12. They did the class 3 times a week for 45 min to 1 hour. Kids could do a week or all 6 weeks. Each day was a different recipe/technique. All recipes were mom approved. They had a good turnout and really enjoyed themselves.”

A Few Bonus Ideas

  • Sell things you get for free:My brother, last summer when he was 14, collected free things off of Facebook groups and Craigslist. He needed help from my mom to go collect the items, but when he got them home he cleaned them up and did his own yard sale/sold some things online. With the money he made, he was able to pay for a summer trip. He and my mom also like to do that by going to the thrift store. It’s amazing what you can find to resell. -Jaclyn”
  • Sell photos:Also, if she has access to a smart phone, she can take and upload her photos to an app called “foap.” People who want digital images (like for blogs or small businesses, etc.) can buy a license to use her photos she uploads. Foap splits the purchase 50/50 and generally each license is $10 so she’d earn $5 per license sold. If one photo sells 20 licenses, that’s $100 in her pocket. -Crystal”
  • Become a Lifeguard:My son got certified at the local YMCA and is a Life Guard. He is able to have a flexible schedule with school and the swim team. Works well for him. -Julie”

What other ideas for good summer jobs for teens would you add to this list?