Sunday, January 16, 2011

Get A Move On

Although I fervently hope my moving days are over, a friend's recent move inspired this post. Moving can be an expensive proposition. Here are a few ways to lower the cost, and make things simpler.

Don't buy moving boxes. Look on Craigslist or Freecycle for someone who has just moved and is giving boxes away. Wine boxes are great for packing glasses and fragile knickknacks without wrapping. Ask at a liquor store or Trader Joe's for empty boxes. They are usually happy to get rid of them. Ask friends to save bubble wrap and newspapers for you. I packed all my plates between layers of padded mailers last time I moved. It was so much quicker than wrapping each one, and nothing broke! Use your linens as padding for breakables.  If you are not able to use wine boxes, socks are great for separating glasses and protecting them.

Leave clothes on hangers. Make a small hole in the bottom of a garbage bag, poke hangers through, and tie shut. It goes without saying that these should be dollar store garbage bags. When you get to the new house, you can simply hang the clothes up.

Quilts and blankets are good for protecting furniture corners. They work just as well as those pads that come with the moving truck, which of course you won't be renting. Find some friends with a van or pickup truck. This means that you must be willing to help them when they move, too!

If you are only moving a block away, consider skipping the truck altogether, and hand carrying everything. As long as you have enough help, it's not that bad, and the planet will thank you.

Make sure you have lots of reusable bottles filled with cold water for your helpers. Consider making sandwiches for everyone ahead of time, rather than ordering pizza or other takeout.

I hope you'll be very happy in your new home!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Savings Amassed In The Year Just Past

Many people scoff at me for taking the time to sign up for freebies, submit rebates and fill out surveys. At the end of last year, I became curious exactly how much money I make by taking advantage of freebies and rebates, and participating in surveys, focus groups, etc. Throughout the year, I've been keeping track. Here are my results for 2010.
The total value of all merchandise received, including free samples, items which were free with a coupon, and items that were free after rebate, including those store gift cards for $10 free at Kohl's or JC Penney, was $995.84. I did not include savings from regular cents off coupons, or my free magazine subscriptions, mainly because I pass them around to my friends and relatives, and I'm not sure which subscription is whose anymore!  I estimated the value of each free sample at 25 cents, which may be a little low. Some samples are just a dab of lotion on a card, while others, such as coffee are worth more. I figured it would average out.

The total earnings from surveys, pay-to-click sites, participating in online communities sponsored by brands and programs like Nielsen Consumer Panel and Amazon Mechanical Turk was $890.22.

This comes out to a grand total of $1,886.06 from all sources for the year. This has not been a particularly good year for surveys or samples, with the state of the economy. If I had been keeping track in previous years, I'm sure the total would have been much higher. Is it worth it to do all the little things I do to earn extra money? I say definitely! With relatively little time devoted to these activities, you can really augment your household budget. Many of these things I do while watching tv, so they don't really take up much of my day.

I plan to write some posts in the future that go into greater detail about some of these programs. In the meantime, feel free to comment and ask any questions you might have.

Happy New Year to all my readers. Let's save some money in 2011!