Tuesday, April 26, 2011

TINSTAFL

I will never forget when I learned about TINSTAFL with my sister and our friend Julie in our Economics class at Lee University. Our professor, a hilarious young Hispanic man, always used to make us laugh by telling us his stories from when he was in college. He taught us the economic principle of "TINSTAFL": There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch." Basically, the princple states that even "free things" have some sort of catch or strings attached. Most of us generally have that understanding even if we do not know the specific name for this economic principle.



In case you didn't know, however, I'm all about free stuff, especially when it doesn't require a whole lot of effort on my part! So when I heard about Swagbucks, where you get points, called Swagbucks, that you can turn into prizes just for searching the internet and other things I already do, to say I was really excited is an understatement. But part of me hesitated, with my understanding of TINSTAFL, I wondered what the catch was. As I read about it on blog after blog, I thought there was a gimmick somewhere. But these people were winning gift cards, and video games, and birthday and christmas presents for their families. I decided I'd give it a try, and see how long it took to find the "catch".


I am pleased to report 17 months later, I've yet to find it! I've not had to buy any thing, I don't have to give out any personal information (unless I choose to) and my family has benefited from it tremendously!
Search & Win


The prizes are awesome, like gift cards to Amazon, Target, Southwest, Starbucks, etc. But you can actually get actual items too! They have clothes, jewelry, video games, school supplies, etc. The best thing is that points, aka "Swagbucks" (or SB's from now on) add up quickly and it doesn't take thousands just to get stuff. A $5 Amazon gift card "costs" 450 SBs and $5 Paypal cash "costs" 700 SBs! I used to use a lot of my points for Amazon gift cards to buy diapers, but lately, something else has caught my eye and the SB-hoarder come out!

The Keurig single serve coffee maker is one of those luxuries that I would just melt to have. My mom got a similar one and every time I went over there, I'd come home with my mind set on finding a way to budget it in. My frugal, practical side, however says, "You have a coffee maker that works just fine and you didn't have to pay a penny for it." Usually it ends there. Then my sister got one and when we went to Florida for Christmas, again, my "must have it now" fleshly impulse ALMOST took over. Fortunately, the bank account said "NO!" for me when I was weak and wanted to say yes!! When I saw it as a prize on Swagbucks, I was sooooo excited because it was a way for me to get something that I really wanted but not take away from our families' budget to get it! It is also a lesson I am teaching my kids about denying myself instant gratification and practicing patience and self-control while I "save" up for it.



Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about Swagbucks:


1.) How does it work?


Swagbucks is basically a search engine like google or ask, only you get rewarded for doing what you normally do! Swagbucks for searching the internet are usually between 5 and 12 Swagbucks. You aren't awarded everytime you search though, they are awarded randomly. Once you earn SBs, they can then be collected and "cashed in" for rewards!


2.) Does it really work?



ABSOLUTELY! I've gotten $50 in Paypal deposited into my account as well as $75 in Amazon gift cards in 514 days that I've been a swagernaut! I've purchased diapers, books, (Side note: In the beginning, I didn't do as much as I do now daily, and there are also a LOT more opportunities to earn SBs so earning is much easier now than when I joined!) I've also introduced a LOT of my friends and family to swagbucks who've gotten gift cards and other prizes from this awesome site! And the neat thing is when you refer your friends, you'll earn referal SB's when they earn search SB's! You can earn up to 1,000 SB's from each referal!!

3) How do I earn SB's?


There are all sorts of ways that you earn points, as I mentioned earlier. You can participate in polls, quizzes, trade-in items, watch videos, etc. All of these points add up quickly and are easy to do! I will be doing a tutorial soon, so check back later today for the post!


4.) Is there a limit?


Internet searches are usually awarded several times a day, although I've read that if you delete your cookies they can be awarded more than that. I'm not technical like that, so I don't know if this is true, but it doesn't hurt to try! There are limits for how many times you can get credit for the daily poll, the Swagbucks TV, and some others as well.


As far as prizes are concerned, you can get a maximum of 2 rewards per day and a total of 5 per individual item per month. So for example, you can purchase 2 amazon $5 gift cards today, 2 $5 amazon gift cards tomorrow and 1 more Amazon $5 gift card in the month of April. You could buy (5) $5 gift cards, (5) $25 gift cards, as they are two different types of rewards. You can buy a maximum of 62 items on a 31-day month, per their policy.


5) How do I sign up?


It is really easy to do! Just fill out this form and you're ready to go! You can even opt to register by connecting via your favorite social media outlet!


Remember to check back for the Getting Started With Swagbucks Tutorial!



Monday, April 25, 2011

Tea for Two (and more!)

I've created a tradition that I intend to keep! Each year, I invite Makenna Rae's friends over and celebrate. Last year, we celebrated Lizette Hope's birthday. This year, it was an Easter Tea Party. Not that we need an excuse to celebrate, but I think it's fun to have a "theme".


All of the little ladies plus one incredibly dear friend of mine, Christi!


What party is complete without a nice spread of food!


Kendall and her sweet Mama, Heather

Do you see those tea cups? Edible teacups made from ice cream cones and shortbread cookies!



Erin with her two pretty girls

Christi and her lovely ladies!
We weren't super fancy, right Mary-Kate? Who needs a napkin when you have a dress?!?

Mommy & Makenna Rae




To see last year's celebration, click on the here!



"Bless her little ADHD heart"

Note: This is not meant to offend anyone, and is not specific. All conversations, names, etc. are fictional. And yes, just as not everyone from the North is rude, not all Southerners talk like this or even mean to do this. Please read til the end to get to the real meaning behind the post!
While I have grown accustomed to a lot of the cultural differences the South has to offer, from the Sweet Tea to the "ya'll", from fixin' to (stuff that isn't even broken!) to saying hi to complete strangers, I often find myself still trying to understand this Southern way of life. Even after 11 years of living down here, I find myself trying to understand things. Down here there's a way that people can talk, errrrr, gossip about someone else, but if they add the term "Bless her heart!" to the end of it, all the sudden, it's not seen as that bad. I don't really understand it, but it seems fairly common.

Take for example:

"I heard that Alana has her hands full! They just found out they're having ANOTHER baby!"

"Another one already?!? How many does that make for them?"

"This one will be 8! And the baby isn't even a year old yet!"

"She sure does have hands full! You'd think that 7 was enough, especially since some women can't have any! Maybe they'll figure it out this time! Bless her heart!"

Or this one.

"I heard that Jerry's wife moved back to live in Virginia and he was not invited to join her!"

"Oh no! When did that happen? They seemed so happy at the office Christmas party!"

"I guess she's been there since early January, but she just told him this past week it was a permanent move!"

"I never liked that woman-she was always snobby and never talked to anyone at any of our company events here! In the end, it will probably be best for him! Bless his heart!"

When I overhear some of these conversations, it still kind of catches me be surprise. It also really makes me wonder what people are "blessing my little heart" over, although I'm pretty sure I know!

"The other day I stopped by Christy's house to pick up some Pampered Chef! I don't know how she can even find her kids under all that mess!"

"I know! When we were at lunch, she spent 15 minutes digging through her overflowing purse looking for her debit card! You'd think she'd just put it in her wallet where it belongs! Bless her little disorganized, messy ADHD heart!"







It's true, I may be disorganized. I may forget to put my debit card back in my wallet where it belongs. I may have a house that is full of stuff strewn all about. But some day there will come a time where there are no toys to pick up after or to accidently step on in the middle of the night. There will come a time where there will be only two people to cook for and there won't be little clothes to fold. Eventually, I will have too much time on my hands, and that's when I'll worry about all of that stuff.

So go ahead, you can bless my little ADHD heart. For now, I will try my best to keep my head above the laundry, to keep food on the table instead of the floor, and to invest in my children instead of the stockmarket. Because in the end, that's all that matters!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

goals updated

Back in January, I created a list of goals to do in 2011. Since it's halfway through April, I decided to go ahead and look at how my goals are going. updates to the goal are in BOLD PRINT AND CAPITAL LETTERS.

1. Pay off library fines and then go to library & borrow books (after fine is paid!) WHEN WE GET OUR TAX REFUND, THIS IS ON OUR LIST OF THINGS TO PAY OFF! (by the way, I'm not a TOTAL procrastinator-I finished my taxes Wednesday night!)

2. Go to the Buffalo bills game

3. Earn the “Taste of Travel” trip to New Orleans while earning the bronze level cruise to the Bahamas with the pampered chef! MAKING SOME DEFINATE PROGRESS...SALES ARE UP, HAVE ONE TEAM MATE NOW, SO WE'LL SEE!

4. Run in the Rock N Roll Half Marathon on Labor Day Weekend in Virginia Beach, VA. STARTED MY 18 WEEK TRAINING YESTERDAY, AND WE'VE GOT 20 WEEKS UNTIL THE HALF MARATHON!!

5. Raise $500 for St. Jude Children’s research hospital. They offer care to children regardless of their ability to pay, at no cost to them, as well as pay for travel, food & lodging for the child & parent! MY "GAME DAY GIVE BACK" PARTY RAISED ALMOST $200!! THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO DONATED! I'M PLANNING A TRIKE-A-THON FOR THIS SUMMER, SO HOPEFULLY WILL BE ABLE TO RAISE THE REST THEN!

6. Pay off both credit cards. FUNDS HAVE BEEN DESIGNATED TO PAY THESE OFF WITH OUR TAX REFUND! CANNOT WAIT!!

7. Create a budget and stick to it.

8. Figure out what is going on with Jordan & do something about it. SO FAR, WE'VE FOUND ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH JORDAN! HE SEEMS TO BE GROWING AND DOING WELL, THANK GOD!

9. Do at least one "once a month cooking" session. WE'VE FIGURED OUT THAT IN ORDER TO DO THIS, WE NEED TO PURCHASE A DEEP FREEZER, WHICH WE'VE BEEN NEEDING TO DO FOR A WHILE NOW ANYWAYS. SO ONCE WE DO THIS, I CAN "ATTACK" THIS ONE.

10. Go on a missions trip.

11. Donate to a different charity each month. SO FAR HAVE DONATED TO ST. JUDE'S, MARCH OF DIMES "MARCH FOR BABIES", THE CURE SEARCH WALK, AND MOUNTAIN TOP MINISTRIES, WHERE MY AMAZING FRIEND BRITNEY HAS FOUND HER CALLING AS A FULLTIME MISSIONARY IN HAITI!

It's funny because Kenney and I were talking about goal setting, having a "things to do before I'm 30" list, or even a "bucket list". He thinks it's silly to put time limits on things, whereas I think that having goals or a checklist gives you reason, purpose and motivation to do what you'd like to do in a certain time without putting it off. More on that to come....