Five Favorite Money Saving Apps

One of my favorite money-saving tricks is to passively earn money for stuff I already do. While I’m definitely not getting rich using these apps, I’ve earned enough over the past six months to feel like these money-earning apps are worth my time, and maybe yours too.

(Disclaimer: We both earn a little something extra if you sign up with my referral links below. My reviews of these apps, however, have *nothing* to do with that bonus, though.)

  1. Swagbucks– I probably look up about 30 things a day, and by putting my Swagbucks app where I can see it, I occasionally win Swagbucks, just by searching for things I’m already looking up. I can also use the app to take short surveys and watch videos to earn extra, but just using the app for searches gets me plenty of gift cards. I usually trade them in on Amazon, but they have tons of options available. AND I hold out for the $25 card. It’s less expensive than getting the $3 cards, even though it takes longer. Swagbucks is one of my most reliable ways to earn a little extra. Last year, we got almost all the girls Christmas presents through Swagbucks, and the year before, we got EVERYONE’S gift off Amazon, courtesy of my Swagbucks gift cards. They add up fast.
  2. Ibotta– Last year I wrote all about how to save money on groceries and I mentioned Ibotta several times. But for a good reason. They send me cash a few times a year, just for buying things I’m already going to buy! With their generic products, I regularly earn a dollar or more back, and then I get extra for participating in challenges with my team and buying non-generic products. My favorite way to save is to combine my Ibotta app with coupons… I’m not a big coupon clipper, but I’ve gotten things free+ money back several times. And who can beat being paid to shop, amirite? 
  3. Shopkick– Oh man. This app is so much fun. It turns shopping into a scavenger hunt, and oftentimes just walking in the store gives you a bonus. I love shopkick and how quickly I’ve been able to earn rewards on it. And with the holiday shopping season right around the corner (stop it. It’s August.), I know they will roll out some extra special offers. They did last year! We regularly go walking through our mall, and Target is my BFF. Sometimes, if I just need to get out of the house, we go on shopkick scavenger hunts through Target/Walmart. As long as I leave my debit card at home, it’s a funny way to earn a little extra. I’m saving up for a BIG Target gift card, which will make Christmas shopping for the kids this year extra fun.
  4. Reciept Hog– I’ve only had this one a few months, and it’s quickly becoming a fast favorite. Upload any reciept (grocery, clothing, school supplies, restaurant, etc.) and earn points for Amazon or Paypal. The longer you wait to cash out, the better, so I haven’t cashed in yet, but I’m well on my way! Plus, that little pig is adorable. I can’t stand how cute it is.
  5. Walgreens Rewards– Got a Walgreens reward account? Got a fitness tracker (I have a Fitbit, and I love it!)? Then connect them and walk your way towards a little extra money in your pocket. I earned $10 in about 3 months, just by walking, something I was definitely doing already. I used my first gift card to help stock up my Ultimate Sick Day kit.

These are my five favorites, but I know there are more out there. Anything you use and love? I want to know about it! Every little bit helps, and while these apps aren’t going to make you rich, it’s fun getting a little extra cash in your pocket without too much extra effort. Feels like free money. 🙂

***So I am sure you noticed that some of these suggestions are affiliate links. I only recommend stuff I actually use and enjoy, and signing up with my link means we BOTH get a bonus, which means we both get free money even faster. Isn’t that neat? So sign up for one (or all!) of these links. Time to start saving for Christmas now, so it doesn’t sneak up on you! Thanks for helping support Morning Goodies (and Santa!)***


Fortnight Friday #7

In which my first baby isn’t such a baby anymore and my mind is boggled. 

But first!

The Olympics has been happening the past two weeks, which means our television is on more than it has been maybe in it’s entire life. I love the Olympics, because I am the opposite of coordinated and graceful, and it is comforting to know that there are humans out there that can do these amazing things. It gives me hope. However, because we have only watched PBS/Netflix for most of Holly’s remembered life, commercials are a new thing to her. And she hates them. During the opening ceremony, she was almost brought to tears as they interrupted the show again to show more commercials. It’s just never an obstacle she’s had to face. We’re getting more used to them as the Olympics have gone on, but man. Funny funny stuff.

Melody, the day of the opening ceremony, started saying “Up! Up! Up!” and has turned into a different child. Since then, she has learned a few other sounds as well. She picks things up so quickly! She’s more expressive in everything she does, which is saying something because that girl is expressive. She’s going to be a mischief maker. I feel it in my gut. 

As we have been trying to spend less, we’ve noticed we suddenly have a bunch of time on our hands that we didn’t have before. When we were running to the store for a quick this or that, it took up all our together time. But while we’re trying to make due with what we have, we’ve found this extra time, and have used it going on family walks, taking the kids to the park, visiting pet stores, playing games outside, playing games inside, having dance parties, playing and writing music… I didn’t realize how much time we were using zipping to the store to pick up the couple of things we were out of. My grocery list currently is full of necessities, but I’m kind of wondering how long I can make what we have work without going to the store. We shall see. Until then? Let’s keep swinging. 

We spent last week at our last week of camp (which, funny enough, I’m already missing) and planning someone’s Galaxy Birthday Party. Which, you guys, I have a giant cardboard rocket that is currently taking up half of my living room right now. And I love it. This silly rocket that took too long to make has made both my kids so very happy, so it’s 1000% worth it.

I also got to sing with some of my friends the night before Holly’s birthday, and that was so incredibly fun. I sometimes forget how much I enjoy making music that I like for people I like with people I like, but the show on Friday was a great reminder. We are definitely going to do it again. Soon.

This week, we’re mostly working on finishing up potty training, getting back to our “at home” schedule, and cleaning up after a summer spent mostly at a park. My car needs vacuuming, my house needs decluttering, and we have some laundry to catch up on.

What’s been going on at your house? Tell me all about it!


Lessons from Our Budget Slash

We’ve been doing this budget slash for about two weeks now, and so far, we’re doing okay. Even with Holly’s birthday party, we’ve managed to stay on budget pretty well. But I won’t pretend it’s been easy, and that we haven’t stumbled a few times. I’m glad Dustin has been such a good sport about all the craziness I put us through since May. Since starting the 101 in 1001 days, we’ve started living differently. Some of the changes have been simple, and some have been a little more extreme, and without Dustin’s support and encouragement, we wouldn’t be checking those things off nearly as quickly. He’s the best.

Anyway, here are a few things we’ve learned at the halfway mark. 

  1. Half of staying on target is preparation. Maybe more than half. Maybe 90% of staying on target is preparation. Because when we were reviewing our budget from last month, I noticed that a TON of our “Eating out/entertainment” fund went towards Sonic’s Happy Hour, which should shock NO ONE who knows us really well. But this month, we are  making our own tea at home. That means we have to make it several hours before we thing we will need it (and Dustin has been a Saint about helping with this), we need to make ice the night before, and we need to have clean glasses to put our tea in. And that’s just for tea! Making sure I definitely have meals planned out in advance, that I’ve got snacks pre-bagged and ready to grab for the days when we’re running errands, and planning our errands out so that we don’t drive the car more than we have to… Planning ahead like this has been a huge part of being (mostly) successful this month.
  2. Know your shopping triggers and AVOID AVOID AVOID. For me that is: craft stores, any store that sells children’s clothes, stationary sections of any and all stores, and Target. These are the places I have the hardest time walking in without talking myself into the necessity of purchasing something. So this month we’ve tried to stay away from Hobby Lobby. It’s mostly working. 😛
  3. Sometimes you save money by spending money. Spoken like a true lady, right? But seriously. We ran out of goldfish this month, and instead of spending $7 for the CostCo sized box of Goldfish, we spent $9 for a big box of popcorn. We spent a few dollars more, but there’s much more popcorn in that big box than there are fish in that cheaper box. And I like popcorn better anyway!
  4. Most of the things we purchase are due to laziness (usually mine). There aren’t enough hours in a day to make all the things I know would save us money, and I would rather read a book with my kids than spend hours in the kitchen. I try to make as much as I can (or so I thought), but this month I’ve realized that there are so many things that take very little extra work on my part that I have stopped doing for one reason or another. I will definitely be bringing some of these things back when September rolls around.
  5. We have way more than we need. Halfway through the month, and our pantry is STILL full. Really REALLY full. Our freezer is still pretty well stocked. We’ve run out of a few basics, but mostly we’ve still got quite a bit of food left. What this tells me is that a) the months of nesting we had over a year ago maybe created a bad habit in me to over prepare, and b) there’s a fine line between being prepared and being ridiculous, and I have crossed that line

I think we may do this every couple months. So far, it has helped us clean out our house (because not walking around all those trigger stores means I’ve had time to clean out closets, organize drawers, and fix up our garage), make bigger payments on our debt, begin rebuilding our emergency fund, and more. I can’t recommend a month like this enough. So far it has been awesome. 

Anyone else doing this challenge this month? How is it working out for you? Any lessons you’ve learned that you’d like to share?


Sidewalk ABCs

It is hot. It is so hot outside that if I sit out there long enough I can see myself melting. Normally that would mean we hibernate inside, cuddling the air conditioner and guzzling down water. Or we’d venture out to an air conditioned store which definitely wouldn’t be Target where I definitely wouldn’t buy anything (some of the previous statements were false). 

But a few days ago, we had a cloudy morning, and it wasn’t even 80 by the time we got dressed for the day. So I decided to venture outside with the kids, to play a game I’ve been thinking about trying for a while, but thought it might have to wait until October, when we might finally get a break from the beating the sun has been giving us.

It was easy, inexpensive, and provided a good hour of fun. And by the end of the hour we were all sweating and ready to go cuddle with the ceiling fan. Did I mention it’s hot out?

This game was so easy to set up, and it will probably hang out on our sidewalk until it rains again. Which might not be until next spring… It’s hot outside.

Here’s what I did: 

You can’t see it, but I wrote the whole alphabet on our sidewalk. We did uppercase letters, because that’s what Holly knows, but I’m sure we’ll do it again with lowercase letters when we get those down. With Melody, we’ll try doing shapes, but not any time soon! This might also be fun to do with sight words once we start learning those. Are you thinking this game set up sounds more like school than play so far? That’s because it’s both! Yay!

After that, I handed Holly a spray bottle and asked her to find different letters and spray them off when she found them. After a few tries, she didn’t like the spray bottle and instead decided to leap frog onto the letters, but it’s supposed to be a game, so I didn’t force her to use the spray bottle. I may try using a watering can next time.

Melody hung out on a blanket in the grass with me, and had fun eating her animal crackers. I can’t wait until they can both run and play together. It won’t be long now… And then I will miss this sweet baby stage. I can tell, she’s gonna be a mischief maker… Just like her DADDY! 😉

Anyway, this game took maybe 2 minutes to set up, and was so fun to watch her really think about where she’d seen the letters recently. She was able to consistently find about 20 of the letters, which is pretty good since I haven’t been doing a good job of showing them to her consistently. Now we just need to remember V, L, J, Q, K, and U. We’ll probably go on a letter hunt at a store (but not Target!) to see if we can find the letters we’re having a hard time with. 

What are some fun learning games your family likes to play? They can be outside or inside games, I want to hear them all. It can’t stay this hot forever!


Fortnight Friday #6

It’s August. Stop it. This summer has flown by, and it’s been so much fun getting to put together these bi-weekly round ups of all the fun stuff we’ve done all summer. As we head into the fall, I am excited to see more pumpkin-y things in the round up, as well as apples, warm drinks, and other fun stuff. You know… Fall stuff.

Also both my kids have fall birthdays (if you count August as fall, which I still do because of school starting up…), so I guess that’s exciting too (read: heartbreaking and beautiful).

We had a TERRIBLE stomach bug plague our house at the end of the last fortnight, so we were very excited to go visit my Aunt and cousins who had come into town at the end of that week. We were happy to see them, and spent hours sitting on my Nana’s back porch, looking at huge moths and eating Popsicles and passing Melody around. Aunt Leigh snapped this fantastic photo of Melody, and it caught how crystal blue her eyes are. It’s rocketed it’s way to being one of my favorite pictures of her already. 

Unfortunately, we brought the stomach bug with us. Sorry, y’all! 

But we didn’t know that had happened until after we headed out of town to watch Dustin play music with his brother. So, sorry everyone who was at the party that night! Hope you didn’t get sick also! 

Earlier this summer, our dear friend Tif Holmes came over to our house to try a new kind of photo shoot. Tif is amazingly talented, and she captured some fantastic, natural shots of our family doing things that we do at home, and I was so grateful. If you’re interested in seeing more of Tif’s work, she’s on Instagram and has a beautiful website. She has been spending the summer hiking sections of the Colorado Trail, and she makes this stubborn homebody want to go camping. That’s how good she is. 

The kids and I spent most of our week back at camp. I have been loving teaching this past summer, but I am ready to get back into our own routine. Only one week of camp left! A few weeks after our final camp showcase, I will be struck with sudden inspiration for how my classes are going to go next time, and will be disappointed I have to wait until next summer, but until then? Yeah, a break will be well recieved.

And then this past week, Dustin and I decided to do something really crazy. We’re cutting our budget in half this month. You can read more about it here, but basically we decided we wanted to remind ourselves this month of how putting a little extra effort into figuring out other ways to work the budget can be a complete game changer. Plus, by going out to stores less often, it has given us time to work on projects around the house, to attack some of my 101 goals (I’ve donated over 70 things this week and finished two out of ten Project Linus blankets), and to get back to some of the family culture we strive for. It hasn’t been easy so far (We had a pitcher and a fan break. One we can live without, one we canNOT) But I’m proud of how we’re doing this week, even if we’re only 5 days in.

As always, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for a more in-depth look at what we’re up to every day. And if you REALLY like the blog, sharing it or those pages listed above is a great way to help support the blog without having to spend money. I know things are tight for lots of people right now (that’s why we cut our budget in HALF), but your kind words really can make all the difference.