Life

Mystery Shopping As A Side Hustle

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There are many times in life when a little extra spending money is needed. Personal purchases, business expenses or just opening a savings account are many ways to use that extra cash, however, it can often be hard to find ways of making it.

One of the easiest ways to add a side hustle to your life, no matter how busy it might already be, is by becoming a mystery shopper. Yes, you are probably quite skeptical, and you should be! There are lots of scammers out there just waiting to take advantage of anyone who wants to make a few easy extra dollars.

So we’ll start by saying this: if you are ever asked to pay a membership fee, or any other type of fee for that matter, you are dealing with a scammer. No legitimate mystery shop company will ever ask you to pay anything.

Mystery shops are carried out by people just like you, who work to make sure that companies are carrying on with day-to-day business as they should be. The companies that hire you to do so are very serious about good field agents and their vetting processes are all a little different.

Some mystery shops can be done from the comfort of your own home, by submitting emails or website queries and you can even mystery shop some businesses by phone. Others require you to actually visit an establishment in person, but who doesn’t like to shop?

A lot of companies will pay you a certain amount for conducting the shop plus an extra amount, agreed upon before the shop is done, for reimbursement of products they have asked you to purchase.

If you’re wondering how much money you can make doing this, well, that’s completely up to you. The more shops you accept, of course, the more money you will make. You are completely in control of your schedule with this side hustle!

If you would like to start your search for reputable companies to work for as a mystery shopper, you can start that search here.

Good luck!

Socialize the Frugal Way to Spare Your Wallet Sorrow

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Do you have some financial goals but dread that feeling of “keeping up” with your friends as they seem to always choose the most expensive outing possible? Do you love to hang out with them but hate how your debit card balance looks after a day at an amusement park or a night out downtown at the hottest clubs? Well, dread no more! Freshen up your social life and give your wallet a break by taking an initiative to suggest one of these four frugal hangout alternatives.

1. Game Night

pexels-photo-84663.jpegNothing packs fun and saving money into one package like hosting a game night. Invite friends over after dinner so all you will need to provide are a few tasty beverages and snacks, which costs far less than a night out in the town. You can spend hours with your favorite board or card games and don’t have to worry about Ubering your way home at a certain hour.

2. Potluck Food Contest

A great way to get everyone together for a meal without breaking the bank is to take a fresh spin to the potluck. By putting a competition aspect to the event, your friends will show off their edible contributions. Everyone, in turn, spends a fun evening together by spending very little, yet everyone gets to eat like a king.

3. Happy Hour Finder

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Saving money by socializing at home is fun, but getting out once in a while is still in order. The good news is that many restaurants have happy hours during the weekdays and late at night that save you money! These deals also pertain to appetizers and meals. Handy apps like Happy Hour Finder, the very app that Cosmopolitan magazine praised, connects you with all the best food and drink deals in your area. Going out doesn’t have to break the bank when you go at the right times.

4. Look Online for Free or Cheap Events

Your community hosts very cost-effective events if you keep your eyes peeled. Just take a quick trip to your city’s website. They usually have a calendar of events that are open to the public. You will be surprised to see how many free things are out there! Also, websites like Livingsocial and Groupon offer amazing deals for tickets and services. You can save up to 70% and beyond if you buy tickets in pairs which get you in the gates of a renaissance faire or in on a paint and sip night for a fraction of the original cost.

You don’t need to always dress up and go to a fancy restaurant to have a good time with friends. By replacing one of your outings with one of these frugal options, socializing will be friendlier on your finances.

Frugal Driving: 5 Tips For Saving Gas

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Whether you just got your license, or you’ve been driving since the days of full-service stations, saving gas has always been near the top of a driver’s concern list. Whether you’re commuting to work, going on a road trip, or just heading out to see friends, there’s always a part of your mind that’s wondering what the cost in fuel is going to be.

If you’re looking for some ways to seriously stretch your gas, here are a few that should get you where you need to be for a whole lot less.

5 Tips For Saving Gas

Tip #1: Perform Regular Maintenance

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Your car is a lot like your body, in that something going wrong in one area can lead to a greater strain everywhere else. Whenever your engine has to work harder, it’s going to use more gas while you’re out and about. Sometimes all it takes to stretch your gas a little further is to make sure you air-up your tires, regularly change your oil, and service your brakes on time.

Tip #2: Avoid As Many Stops As You Can

Have you even noticed that when you get a car’s fuel efficiency, you’re given two different numbers? One is for in-town driving (where you’ll have to stop for lights, red octagons, and the occasional train). The other is highway mileage, where you only slow down if you’re getting off the freeway to take an exit.

So, if you have two routes to get where you’re going, take the one that doesn’t require you to constantly stop for red lights. You get better gas mileage if you can get on the road, set your cruise control, and just drive.

Tip #3: Don’t Idle When You Can Avoid It

How many times have you let your car “warm-up” because it was cold out? Or sat in the parking lot with the engine running while a friend ran into the store? Or stared at a train going past for ten or even fifteen minutes while you burned gas?

None of those are necessary.

Any time you have the choice of idling, ask yourself how long you’re going to be sitting there burning fuel you paid good money for. If you’ll only be a few minutes, like at a stop light, you’ll be fine. If you’re going to be waiting any longer than that, turn the engine off.

Tip #4: Avoid Traffic Whenever You Can

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Sometimes you have to drive at a certain time of the day. You’ve got an appointment to get to, or you work a certain shift, etc. If that isn’t the case, though, then you should strive to drive during off-peak hours. While you don’t have to hit the road at two in the morning, you should listen to the traffic report to gauge when the road is going to be open so you don’t have to constantly slow down to avoid other drivers.

Tip #5: Use Your Cruise Control

This was mentioned in passing earlier, but it bears repeating. Cruise control is one of those features most modern cars come with, and we’ve finally reached the point where even those who have older, used models will still have this as an option. If you’re going to drive on the highway, this is a fantastic way to save fuel. Your engine works best when it’s kept at a constant output, rather than always being raised or lowered to stay within a speed limit. So take your car up to the posted speed limit, and set the cruise control. If you’re on an interstate highway, and the road is clear, you could drive for an hour or more without once needing to tap that brake.

 

Summer Date Ideas: Outdoor Adventures


One of the greatest things about summer is the freedom of activities you have at your fingertips. No longer do you have to plan indoor only date nights, which can get boring and predictable. Now, you have the great outdoors to explore. Below you’ll find a list of fun, cute, and romantic date night ideas to try this summer.

Go Camping

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The great thing about camping is you can tailor it to your likes and interests. If you really love getting out in nature, then spend an entire day, or two, in the wild, fishing, sleeping in a tent, and hiking. If you like the idea of camping, but you don’t want to go without comfort for too long, then simply go for a few hours. You can still have fun hiking, roasting marshmallows, and spending quality time together outdoors.

Go to a Carnival

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Carnivals are popular during the summer, so finding one shouldn’t be a challenge. Ride rides, win prizes for each other and eat delicious food you won’t find at local restaurants. Any date where cotton candy is involved is a win. Plus, the view of city lights from the Ferris Wheel at night can be extremely romantic when you’re snuggled close together.

Have a Picnic

This is another fun way to take advantage of a beautiful sunny afternoon. Cook up some of your favorites, or grab take-out from your favorite restaurant, find a cozy spot, such as a park or under a large tree, and lay a blanket down. It’s a simple, cheap, and romantic date that can include romantically feeding each other strawberries.

Go to a Music Festival

yvette-de-wit-118719.jpgMusic comes alive during the summer, and there are plenty of festivals to be a part of. So, choose a band you both love and experience the thrill of seeing them live together. If the festival is far away, the two of you can enjoy a fun road trip as an added bonus.

Tour Your City

So many of us don’t visit the local touristy places our city is popular for. If this is true for you, then spend a day acting like tourists in your own city. Get a snow cone or ice cream first, then walk hand in hand as you explore some of the places that make your city so great.

Play Putt-Putt Golf

5235779073_44741c35aa_m.jpgEngage in some fun, friendly competition during a round of Putt-Putt golf. These courses are normally easy but entertaining. Plus, you can make it more interesting by placing a bet on who will win, such as loser buys dinner for the winner.

 

A date doesn’t have to be extravagant to be memorable. So, this summer, have fun together with these fun and casual outdoor adventures.

Unexpected Rewards Programs the Reward Things You Already Buy

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When it comes to saving money, reward programs are an excellent way to do so. However, many people tend to over think what rewards programs they should choose. Instead of choosing a program for activities you do sparingly, you will get the most benefit for activities you do every week or even every day. These can often be unexpected, but there are a lot of reward programs out there.

Papa John’s

Let’s be real here, you probably order pizza more than you realize. It is fast, easy, and delicious while cooking for yourself is difficult and often less rewarding. Fortunately for you and your functioning pizza addiction, one of the best rewards programs out there is Papa John’s. Each order nets you points depending on what you order and what you spend. Those points add up surprisingly quickly towards what we all desire – free pizza.

Walgreens

With your health insurance as expensive as it probably is, medicine is one area you don’t expect to save on. However, if you frequently need to go to CVS or Walgreens to get your prescriptions filled, you can save. Walgreens actually beats out CVS in terms of rewards programs since it allows you to accrue points and then put those points toward hefty discounts on your purchases.

AMC

This rewards program probably depends how much you actually go out to the movies. For some people, they go on a date near every week while others only go out maybe once a year. However, if your city is overrun with AMC-owned theaters, as most cities are, you can actually get some great discounts with their rewards programs. From discounts on snacks to free movie tickets, you can accrue them all with the AMC Stubs programs. However, in return for the flat discount rates it also give, you have to pay a yearly fee of $12.

Frugal Living Hacks to Save More Money


The average American has less than $1,000 in savings, according to a recent Google Consumer Survey. Without a “nest egg,” unforeseen expenses could spell disaster for you and your family. But the good news is that you save more money by embracing frugal living.

Walmart Savings Catcher

If you shop at Walmart, be sure take advantage of the retailing giant’s Savings Catcher program. This program will automatically check competitors’ prices for purchased products to see if they are lower. If a competitor is selling the product at a lower price, Savings Catcher will give you the difference in the form of an electronic gift card.

Here’s a tip: you can save even more money at Walmart by paying with a cash back rewards credit card. Some credit cards may offer 1-3% cash back on all purchases, meaning for every $100 you spend, you’ll earn $1 to $3 in rewards bonuses.

Finance Manager App

Assuming you own a smartphone (and you probably do), try downloading a finance manager app like Mint. This app will organize all of your expenses and financial information to create a detailed budget. So instead of crossing your fingers and “hoping” that you don’t overspend one month, you’ll know exactly how much money is coming in and how much is going out.

Freeze Perishable Food

According to the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), Americans throw out approximately 40% of their uneaten food, the equivalent of $165 billion annually. If you have a tendency to toss uneaten foods, consider freezing them long-term storage. From blueberries and strawberries to ground beef, chicken and even condiments, you can significantly extend the shelf life of most perishable foods by freezing.

Buy in Bulk

Another helpful frugal living tip is to buy in bulk. There are certain items that, when purchased in bulk, can yield huge savings. These typically include things like paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent, toothpaste, etc.

Eat Out Less

There’s nothing wrong with splurging every once in a while by dining out at your favorite restaurant, but this should be kept a minimum if you are trying to save money. Packing your lunch for work and eating meals at home can yield big savings over the course of a month.

Reward Yourself With These 3 Unique Shopping Apps!

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Did you know that you no longer have to rely just on the rewards programs linked to grocery store loyalty cards and points accrued through using a store-specific credit card? There’s a handful of ways that thrifty shoppers can save money and earn cash back just by continuing to buy the same things they do anytime they hit the store. The biggest problem with these rewards programs is that many people don’t know that they exist, and if they do, where to find them so they can benefit from using them.

Here are three great rewards programs that you can start using to save money and earn cash back today!

1. Ibotta

Ibotta (use my referral link)is a super cool app that you can download to your mobile device for cash back rewards on almost anything. Once you sign up and set your location, the app will search all the stores within a pre-determined radius for all cash back opportunities. You then search for items by keyword or store and begin unlocking your deals. When you’re done shopping, you go back to the app to verify your deals by scanning the barcodes of your purchases and uploading a photo of your receipt. The cash you receive appears in your account within 24 hours, and once you hit $20 in cash back, you can request payment via PayPal. The rewards add up quickly, especially if you’re shopping for a family.

2. Checkout 51

Checkout 51 is another awesome cash back app that you can download to your mobile device. The idea is much the same as Ibotta in that you browse the cash back offers, save the ones you plan to use, buy those products from any store, then upload a photo of your receipt to redeem the cash back. After your account reaches $20 in savings, you can request payment.

3. Shopkick

Shopkick is a little different, but just as nifty in that you earn points (they call them “kicks”) just for walking through the doors of a store. Items featured in the app can be scanned to earn even more kicks. Make purchases with a card that you link with the app to earn yet even more kicks, and see just how quickly it racks up! It’s ridiculously easy to collect kicks, and you can redeem them for gift cards for just about all your favorite stores.

One of the greatest things about these apps is that they don’t cancel each other out. You can use each one simultaneously to earn all sorts of cash back, and they can be used on top of any coupons you choose to clip, as well as in-store sales. So, why not use ’em all? Reward yourself instead of kicking yourself next time you go shopping by giving these sweet apps a shot. You’ve got nothing to lose but great savings!

Go Frugal With Discounted Gift Cards

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How would you like to get a discount on almost every purchase you make?  One man’s junk is another man’s treasure and for every person who has unwanted gift cards, there is someone like you who would like to buy that unwanted card at a discount that is sometimes quite substantial.

Gift Card Granny is a one-stop shopping place for people looking to sell unwanted gift cards and frugal people looking to save on everything ranging from dinner at their favorite restaurant to appliances at Sears.  Gift Card Granny lists thousands of gift cards from a multitude of vendors who offer discounted cards for sale.  For the more popular stores such as Walmart, the discounted cards may offer just a few percentage points off the price of a regular gift card.  However, for other gift cards, it is not unusual to see them available for sale at well over 20%.

For those who like to shop online, many of the discounted “gift cards” are simply e-codes you buy which are then sent to your email.  After you receive the e-code you simply use the discounted e-code and PIN number to complete your purchase at your favorite online store.  Gift Card Granny also lists companies that mail out physical gift cards.  Most of the companies offer free shipping.  For the other companies who do charge a nominal fee for shipping, Gift Card Granny will list the shipping fee.

Like anything else, it must become a habit to make most of your purchases with a discounted gift card.  Initially, you might even forget you have a discounted card and pay with your credit card as usual.  But once you get into the habit of using gift cards as payment, you will actually find it loathsome when you have to pull out cash or a credit card and pay full price for an item.  Great bargains are only a few finger clicks away for frugal shoppers who make their way to Gift Card Granny.

Why Pokémon GO Lure Modules are Great for Small Businesses

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Since its release, Pokémon GO has taken the world by storm as people of all ages have come together to “catch ’em all.” Pokémon GO is a free mobile gaming app for iOS and Android smartphones that allows players to play the Pokémon games in a whole new way. Thanks to Niantic’s real-world gaming platform, the app uses actual locations for exploring and capturing Pokémon, collecting items at PokéStops, and battling against others at PokéGyms. Not only does this game benefit players by encouraging them to exercise, socialize, and explore their surroundings, it has also greatly benefited small businesses. How? We at Blogging Rubbish are here to tell you why Pokémon GO is great for small businesses.

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If your business happens to be a PokéStop on the game, you have probably noticed people stopping by while on their phones and leaving shortly after. Chances are they are playing Pokémon GO and were just collecting items that PokéStops drop in-game. While that might seem good for business, the real benefit comes when you use an item called a Lure Module. Lure Modules are items that, once activated at a PokéStop, will cause random Pokémon to spawn for those playing the game at your location. One Lure Module lasts for 30 minutes and once it is activated it is sure to attract nearby players as it appears on their game’s map.

Lure Modules can be purchased in-game, and has the option of either buying one Lure Module for 100 PokéCoins or eight Lure Modules for 680 PokéCoins. You can get PokéCoins by purchasing them in-game with the following options:

  • 100 PokéCoins – $0.99
  • 550 PokéCoins – $4.99
  • 1,200 PokéCoins – $9.99
  • 2,500 PokéCoins – $19.99
  • 5,200 PokéCoins – $39.99
  • 14,500 PokéCoins – $99.99

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Let’s say you don’t even have a PokéStop at your business but you would like to get in on some of the benefits. Print up some flyers or bring a sandwich board to your nearest PokéStop that says this “Lure is on us” with your website or business’s name on it. It is simple, cheap, and memorable.

Remember: PokéStops may attract people to stop by, but Lure Modules convince them to stay.

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6 Things You Need to Become a ‘Pokémon Go’ Master!

6 Things You Need to Play 'Pokémon GO'!.jpgThis post contains affiliate links to keep the lights on and so we can catch them all.

If you’re playing Pokémon GO (and who are we kidding, everyone is), you know that the only REAL requirement is a compatible smartphone. That doesn’t mean you can’t bring a few extras with you to make the game even more enjoyable.

Here are six things you need to play Pokémon GO.

1. Portable Battery Charger

As you’ve probably already learned, this game is a real battery-drainer. A portable charger like the Native Union JUMP Cable is your best friend here. It’s basically a charge cable with its own built-in battery pack!

They offer a Lightning version for iPhone and a micro-USB version for Android phones.

2. Flashlight

Sometimes that one Pokémon you’ve been looking for only pops up at night. If you’re going to do a little nighttime hunting, it helps to have a flashlight. You can use the built-in flashlight on your smartphone, or for something a little more powerful (but still portable), check out the LED Lenser T7 Tactical Flashlight. It gives off a lot of light for its size.

3. Headphones

Whether you’re listening to the in-game audio while playing, or jamming to your favorite music playlist while hatching eggs in incubators, or even catching up on a podcast, there’s no sense bugging others around you with noise. Bring some headphones like the Jaybird X2 wireless sport headphones to keep the audio to yourself.

4. Water Bottle

If you’re playing out in the summer heat, it’s important to stay hydrated. Keep a water-filled Camelbak Eddy Bottle on hand. It’s spill-resistant, sports a built-in straw so you don’t have to tip the bottle to drink, and the loop-cap makes it easy to carry around.

5. Sunscreen

Protecting your skin from the sun is just as important as staying hydrated. Pick up a bottle of Sun Bum Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 70 and thank us later.

6. A Sense of Adventure

That’s right, it’s not all about cool products. Pokémon GO is all about exploration, so you’ll want to bring along a sense of adventure as you check out tons of new spots, including museums, memorials, and historic markers. Have fun out there!

Don’t forget to stay safe! Make sure you read my article 4 TIPS FOR STAYING SAFE WHILE PLAYING ‘POKÉMON GO’