Friday, September 26, 2014

Fun Money Friday!

I've had a lot of requests for my rewards master list lately, but I didn't keep up with it when I was working several jobs. Now that I'm down to one job and some fun hobbies, I decided to get back to collecting "fun money". I am highly opinionated and love being rewarded for it, so I definitely consider surveys a fun hobby. I know that my opinion and data are worth money. I NEVER do any surveys that offer me an entry in a sweepstakes. Don't give away your data for free if you can help it!

Surveys and Points for Actions:
1. MyPoints - I have been using MyPoints for 16 years and have redeemed 111,000 points, and that's with many lean years on a budget where the only points I was earning was from Bonus Mail, surveys, and signing up for free offers. You can earn a lot more if you install the toolbar so you never miss shopping rewards (see below for more), use their coupon portal if you are a serious coupon-er, and there is also a MyPoints Visa card. The only thing it has been lacking all these years is a referral link. The only way to refer a friend is via Facebook or email. If you would let me send you an invite, I would love you forever. Email me at francethmanor@gmail.com.

2. E-Rewards - I have to include this one because it is awesome and I get a lot of frequent flyer miles from this site, but there's no way to sign up for it directly or refer people. If you belong to any of the programs listed as sponsors, you should get an invitation from them. The rewards you earn from surveys can be converted into rewards from the program that referred you, or any of the other sponsors. I think I was referred by Ticketmaster but redeem for Southwest and United miles.

3. Shopkick - I played with this all afternoon and I LOVE IT! OK, you are not going to make a ton of money with this, but if you have a convenient shopping area like I do with Target, Costco, Best Buy, and a mall really close together, you can run around and earn "kicks" just for walking into stores and scanning stuff. I see it as rewarding exercise. Save it for when it's raining or cold and you need to get your 10,000 steps on Fitbit.

4. Earndit - Speaking of Fitbit (or any number of other fitness trackers), get rewarded for exercising! All you have to do it connect your tracker account and Earndit gives you points automatically. Use them for coupon rewards, sweepstakes, or charity donations.

5. iPoll -  I like the app more than the website. The app has shopping "missions" for reporting new products, taking photos, and answering surveys while you are in stores. Plus, I have found that mobile-based surveys tend to cater to my short attention span, and are quick rewards for a few minutes of my attention. This is another where you have to decide what your time is worth. If you are in a store that will reward you in both Shopkick and iPoll, start with Shopkick.

6. Google Opinion Rewards - If you have an Android device, this is awesome. It adds credits to your Google Play store. This is how I justify in-game purchases in Tiny Death Star, or buy books.

7. Rewardable - I just started using this and haven't gotten to explore it much yet. You get paid cash for testing apps and completing little "secret shopper" missions at stores. It was recommended by CNet as a reputable app that pays.

8. Paid Viewpoint - Holy moly, things have changed since I was last making money with surveys! This site is super high tech and interesting, and I've made money right away! I appreciate a site that does not ever waste my time (which is why I-say has already been booted off the list). Paid Viewpoint has a top rating with Survey Police, too.

Shopping Rewards:
1. Rewards Network: Add all of your debit and credit cards into this site and earn rewards for eating at restaurants. The thing I LOVE about this is that 99% of the restaurants are locally owned, not chains. We eat at the burger bar down the street on a weekly basis and earn 5 FF for every dollar spent, including on alcohol! You can only join one, so pick wisely. I have all my cards hooked up to United MileagePlus, Francis has all of his hooked up to Southwest Rapid Rewards. You can also hook it up to Club O (Overstock.com), U Promise, Hilton Honors, and many others.

2. StitchFix - Oh, how I love StitchFix. You fill out a personal style profile, and a stylist sends you new clothes once a month. Keep what you like, send back what you don't like. Get a huge discount if you keep the whole box! It's so fun and easy. Your referral link will net you a one-time $25 credit when your referrals get their first Fix.

3. Zulily - OMG, so many good deals for the whole family, and all of it top brands. This is an especially good way to get maternity clothes for CHEAP (no, I am no pregnant, I just notice good deals). It's kind of dangerous, honestly. Happily, you get $15 for each person you refer, which stretches a long way!

4. Rent the Runway - This is the way to go for special events. I rented all my jewelry for my wedding and felt like a movie star. It's especially fun to flip through the gallery and see the piece you rented at a red carpet event. Use the referral link and you get $20, and I get $20!

5. JewelScent - Candles, Tarts, Soaps, and Scrubs, OH MY! Awesome products for home and bath, and each comes with a ring or other item of jewelry worth up to $7,500. Your referral link nets you 10% of your referrals' purchases, every time they buy. (Full disclosure, I am a consultant for this company, which basically just means that I put a lot of effort into sharing my link for cash instead of credits.)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Master Closet Remodel

Whenever I talk to people who want to buy an old house and rehab it slowly, rather than gutting and doing everything at once, I always say that they should live in the house for awhile before deciding their priorities. When we bought this house, I thought my priorities were removing every shred of wood paneling, and remodeling both bathrooms. Now, after 3 years, I desperately want a new kitchen, and a nice bedroom, and this tiny room wore on me in a way I never could have expected.


There are a lot of things this room could be. A lot of people with old houses call it a sick room. We had at one time considered it for a nursery, but it doesn't have heat or A/C. All these years of trying to decide what to do with it, oh, how that plaster "repair" was wearing on my nerves. This is what our contractor did with every crack in the house. Just slathered it with joint compound and called it good. In on area the ceiling was sagging and they acted like we were crazy when we asked them to do a better job. THIS IS NOT HOW YOU REPAIR PLASTER.


I mean, what do you even do with this? Thank god we didn't have this contractor do any more than was required (we had a 203K loan) because we'd surely be doing everything over again, just like we had to do with this room.



Enter Carrera Plaster Restoration! My favorite thing about living in Carondelet is that there is a neighbor for every service you could possibly need. Jason did some repairs in our dining room after we stripped the wallpaper, and we know he was the man for this room when we finally decided our plaster priorities.



Amazing, yes? If you need plaster repairs, make sure to get an actual plaster professional! Now check out our BRAND NEW MAAAAAAAAAASTER CLOSET!


We drove to Schaumberg IKEA last year to pick up the EXPEDIT (now KALLAX) and STOLMEN closet system. The danger with making big purchases at IKEA four hours away is that you are bound to forget some pieces. We were able to get a clothes rod online, but still haven't decided what to do with one of the window panels we bought without the mounting hardware. I'll figure it out when the St Louis IKEA opens. In the back you can also see my hidden litter box project.


Hooray! A clothes rod tall enough for a maxi dress, and Francis is no longer living out of the coat closet on the first floor. I still need more glass heads for our Disney ears, so if you see one for $50 or less, send me a tip!

Next up: master bedroom!