The following is a staff writer post from Amanda L. Grossman at Frugal Confessions. She covers how to live a frugal decadent life where saving and living in the present are both held in high regard.
Have you seen that commercial where a guy puts himself up for all kinds of medical testing and he turns from a normal college student to some sort of babbling, blue-skinned caveman? Don’t worry, you won’t find opportunities like that in this article. Medical test studies are not all bad; in fact, my friend completed a sleep study one weekend in college and earned $300 for doing so! But if you are not interested in medical studies (or in becoming a permanent member of the Blue Man Group in Las Vegas), then below are some legitimate, non-compromising, product testing opportunities for you.
Each of the following websites offers a huge variety of products for you to test.
- House Party: Did you ever wish you could host a party sponsored by somebody else? Well, this is not as glamorous as the post-Emmy’s parties, but it certainly is fun. Use this website to apply for a sponsored party. Current parties include Atkins, Bic Soleil, Nerf Super Soaker, and Dole. When you are accepted (they only accept a certain number per campaign), then put together a party of friends and family for the date specified by the website. House Party will send you free products around the theme of the party, as well as coupons and all kinds of other things. You need to post about your party and/or photos on their website at the end. Check out current parties here.
- Synovate Global Opinion Panel: This is more survey-oriented, but from “time-to-time” you will test out products and give opinions. Surveys earn you points, 5,000 minimum amount of points to redeem for something or cash (1,000 points = $1). This is free to sign up.
- Mom Ambassador: You can apply to be a Mom Ambassador and receive free products to test. The hope is that you will introduce these products to the community/other moms. This is specifically for green products and services, and there is a listing on the right hand column of previous products.
- In-Home Product Testing: You can become a member of this company’s panel which will allow you to both share your new ideas for products as well as test products in your home.
- BzzAgent: This website is all about giving people free products so that they will spread the word on social media, and among family and friends. The higher up in the tiers that you get, the more products you will have access to. To give you an idea of the types of free products you could be testing, some current products include Café Escapes, Lysol foam cleanser, Green Giant Veggie Snack Chips, Bed Head by Tigi, and Fage yogurt.
- SheSpeaks: If you are a woman (sorry guys!) then you can register for this community. You fill out an initial survey and then are entered into a database. If you are active in the community, they will match you with products. You get to keep the products if you agree to fill out a survey or review for them.
- Amazing Products: Have you ever stayed up late and watched an endless stream of television commercials offering a gadget for everything that ails you? Well, now you can become a product tester for these “as seen on TV” (or rather “before seen on TV”) products.
Become a Product Tester of Your Favorite Brand
If there is a particular brand that you really love, then you might just want to email the company and ask to become a product tester. You never know what the response may be. Even if you are turned down, you can share with the company things that you like about the products and suggestions. Who knows, you may just end up with a coupon or two for some of your favorite products!
Brands with beta programs for you to join include:
- Nike Shoes: You can become a Nike Product Tester for footwear or apparel.
- Utz Potato Chips: Join the Utz Tasting Club in the event that new flavors need to be tested by an audience.
- Microsoft Video Games: Do you like playing video games, and do you live near Redmond, WA? If so, then fill out the online application as well as “like” the Microsoft Playtest site on Facebook in order to be notified of upcoming games to be tested.
If you like to try new products as well as share your opinion to help shape these products, then product testing may be for you.
Do you have any product testing experience? What companies do you like to use?
The following is a staff writer post from Amanda L. Grossman at Frugal Confessions. She covers how to live a frugal decadent life where saving and living in the present are both held in high regard.
My husband and I love to travel. It’s one of those priorities that will always be in our budget, because life is much sweeter for us with travel in it. For our honeymoon a few years ago we decided to go all out and plan an 11-day trip to Austria. Because we did not have the thousands of dollars to do so we set a goal in September 2009 to come up with $2500 towards the trip with money sourced from outside of our paychecks. By March 2010, we had accumulated $2100 from other sources, and $252 of this came from extra cash I earned online through surveys and research studies.
It took time to produce this money, and we certainly did not get rich doing so. But without having to apply for a second job or leave my home, I was able to pull in pocket money towards our honeymoon. I wanted to share some promising companies for making a little extra cash online to put towards your own fun goals, whatever they may be.
Make Money on Your Smartphone
If you have a Smartphone, then there are ample opportunities to make extra money using it. Perhaps you could earn while waiting for the bus, instead of perusing Facebook and Pinterest, or while watching television. Each of the following apps is free.
- Tapporo: This app is for Android and iPhone users. You can earn money or rewards by doing things like by watching videos, downloading free apps.
- GigWalk: This iPhone mobile app is used by over 200,000 people to earn money. The types of gigs that are available include photography and data collection, retail audits and mobile app testing. You can earn from $3 all the way up to $90 after you earn “street cred.” You must cover the PayPal fees when you are paid.
- Field Agent: Over 240,000 field agents (i.e. you!) make between $3 and $12 for various types of field work. You might do work like price checks on items or take a survey. Field Agent will handle the PayPal transaction fees for you.
Get Paid to Answer Other People’s Questions Online
Do you enjoy answering questions for people, or possess a specific knowledge set? You can get paid to answer questions using ChaCha.com. You certainly will not get rich: Vetters earn $0.01 cents per completed task, Expeditors earn $0.02 cents per completed task, and Transcribers $0.03 per completed task. Generalists earn between $0.10 and $0.20 per completed task, based on the Category of the question. But you could earn a little on the side.
Make Money from Surveys, Reading Emails, and Viewing Ads
Surveys can be a little frustrating because if you do not fall into the category of the type of person they are collecting information on, then you will not be given many opportunities. However, you should give it a try and see. Everyone can read emails and view ads for extra cash.
- MyPoints: You can cash your earned points in or trade them for gift cards using this website. Points are earned through completing/attempting surveys, opening emails, or purchasing items. To give you an idea of the reward amount, I have been a member since July 12, 2008 and have earned a total of 22,800 points (or approximately $125 in cash to a PayPal account). A good way to prioritize your time when reading emails is to go through all of them once a week. While watching television, I search my email for “MyPoints” and get all of the previous weeks’ emails lined up. Then I click on the “read” button, delete the email and immediately go to the next one. The only real downfall of this website is that it seems to take several weeks for your “pending” points to be redeemable.
- SendEarnings: This website allows you to earn money by reading emails, completing surveys, purchasing things, etc. The number of emails and opportunities you receive is based on your activity level. Active members could receive up to 3 per day, and unactive members may not receive any.
- Companies that I have not personally tried but have heard good reviews about are: Inbox Dollars, Opinion Outpost, SurveySpot, Surveyhead, ClixSense, and YouData.
What are some paid online opportunities you have tried? Were they successful?
It’s been a while since I talked about our rental income. I’ve written about how we currently rent out a spare bedroom in our own home to a couple of our friends. And I mentioned that we spent about $750 on fixing up our first house to get it ready to be moved into for November. Here are our most recent updates on our adventures in landlording.
The $750 we spent on getting our last house move-in ready seems to have paid off. Our tenant moved in November 9 and only has had a few issues to fix. The first one was that the side gate to the backyard wouldn’t open without manhandling it. I had forgotten about that, but our neighbor over there offered to check in on little stuff like that, so I gave him a call. He fixed it within a couple of days and wouldn’t accept anything but gratitude.
When it became apparent that there was also a little leak under the kitchen sink, he also popped in for 5 minutes and tightened a loose connection. I dropped off a 24 bottle pack of his favorite beer as a thank you for both little jobs. He seemed super happy and I am too, so yay for great neighbors!
The only other thing that popped up was that the garage door opener’s battery started dying and beeping, so I replaced it ($25) last week. All future batteries and light bulbs will actually be our tenant’s responsibility. But, in my opinion, it is only fair to at least have them all working when she first moves in…
That said, we received $880 for November 9-30 and she paid her $1200 for December a week early. So far, so good!
Covering Our Responsibilities
We’ve started an ING side fund to cover any big breaks like the air conditioner that is 8 years old, but overall, that house is very low maintenance. It doesn’t have a gas line, so everything is electric, located in the garage or at the attic’s opening, and is all pretty easy to get fixed or replaced. Costly, but easy. Our biggest responsibilities are to make sure the air conditioner, heater, water heater, and house itself stay in good repair.
She is taking care of all of the interior and exterior maintenance except for having the lawn mowed for a year. I agreed to cover the lawn guy biweekly from April-October 2013 and she could take it from there. That will run us about $280 total at $20 a pop, so I didn’t mind the concession to have her move in as early as she did.
Our tenant seems to be great about letting us know about issues without acting like it’s the end of the world. I’ve been able to handle them all within a few days. Plus, she has paid her first full month’s rent early and sent me a few text messages on how awesome she thinks her house is. So if that keeps up, we both should stay super happy.
Spare Bedroom Rental
A couple of our boardgamer friends have lived with us since May 2012 (well, he board games and she likes the Sims). They are a very sweet couple – two college kids earning their degrees. She is in her mid-20′s now and is becoming a teacher for special needs children since she already had nanny experience in that area, and he is in his early 20′s and is becoming an EMT.
In our old house, all 3 bedrooms were upstairs and they rented the spare bedroom and full bath that was at the end of the hall. In our current house, they had a choice between the bedroom and full bath downstairs or upstairs. The main difference was that the one downstairs had a long closet good for hanging clothes but they would have to keep the bathroom super clean for guests. The one upstairs had an average walk-in closet better for shoes/storage and the bathroom would not have been shared with visitors. They chose the downstairs option since taking the stairs all of the time didn’t sound like fun and they do have a lot of clothes.
Overall, living with another couple is pretty easy. And they always pay their $600 at the beginning of the month.
But there have been some downsides recently that were not as annoying in our old house:
- This is a brand new house that I am trying to keep super clean. That means I do nag more. Especially about the bathroom and kitchen. I feel like I am training kids that were never taught properly the first time. But they listen and learn eventually, so at least the training is working…
- The young man never had stainless steel appliances before and didn’t know that he couldn’t use the dark green, scrubby side of the sponge on our stove top. Now my stove top has permanent surface scratches. I was pissed and had to be talked down the afternoon I noticed. It isn’t super noticeable, some scratch-be-gone may work, and they’ve offered to pay for the scratch remover or even a new stove top down the road. But it has been the most memorable bad thing thus far.
- His old truck leaks fluids. Not a lot, but it does leak. So our driveway has some spots in two areas and now there is a container kept under his truck to catch the crap. When they move out, I will be having the driveway power washed and maybe resurfaced depending on my mood. I’ve thought about having it painted since that cuts down on weeds in the cracks too. (Money Beagle, I know this one is going to hurt you the most since you have a thing for nice driveways…I almost didn’t want to write about it because it may bring up bad memories for you, lol).
- I’ve been parked in a couple of times. They left, forgot about his truck in the driveway, and I was forced to use hubby’s car or stay in. I sort of lost my mind the most recent time since I was already running late. They understand if it happens again, they will be in search of a new place to stay.
- When they move out, we will probably replace the carpet in their bedroom since it is already very lived on. We’ll probably also repaint their room.
Still Worth It
But despite some annoyances and a couple of really bad moments (the stovetop and being parked in), the $600 a month is still worth it. Overall, we live well together. They stay in their room the majority of the time that they are home unless they are cooking or using the living room while we are out. Sometimes, we hang out talking at home or walk out to the duck lake/pond with a bottle or two of Arbor Mist. They are both extremely nice people who really want to make everyone happy and they are always super apologetic when something annoying pops up. More importantly, they have been fixing the issues so they don’t happen again.
For example, there is a drip pan under his truck right now even though it’s parked in the street. When he moves the truck in at night, he replaces the drip pan underneath the problem area. It’s been about a week so far, but it feels long-term. I’m even happier they will be getting rid of the truck next year. He’s also learned the hard way that only paper towels, microfiber, and soft sponges are used in the kitchen. And they have been way better about cleaning up after themselves, especially in the bathroom and kitchen. I rarely even know when they’ve cooked.
So, in the realm of roommates, I think all four of us are pretty lucky. Is sharing a house for everybody? Nope. But it is working well for us and I sincerely like hanging out with them on the evenings we just want to chat. Right now, this makes sense for us. And they plan on finding a place of their own in a year or two anyway. They are just aiming to graduate and save a bit in the meantime.
So there you have it, so far the adventures is landlording have been more positive than negative. I’ll update you again if that changes.
Have you ever rented out a spare room? Or do you have (or have had) a rent house? Any adventures you’d like to share?
I was telling you yesterday that Mr. BFS has started filling in some of his free time with working at the local bowling alley. Not to be outdone, I started looking into part-time jobs that I thought would be fun. I decided I want to be a cow.
Specifically, I decided to try myself out as a Chick-Fil-A cow mascot. Since I am only 5’2″ tall, I technically auditioned to become a Chick-Fil-A Kid Cow. My try out was last Friday but I don’t know if they will end up using me or not.
I think I was the only adult over 18 at the audition other than the Marketing Director herself. The kid cow head of the mascot did not fit on me as well as it seemed to work for others. And I didn’t really have time and wasn’t able to see well enough thanks to the head’s fit to truly play around while I was the cow, so now I feel deflated. I know that is silly, but I actually feel bad for not putting my best foot forward on being a mascot. I hate to fail.
I Might Have the Job
All of that said, since I am not a high school or college kid, and I do work from home, I might be one of the few people that could be scheduled for day-time events. If she does end up sending a scheduling email my way, I have a plan.
- I will get a sports band to hold my glasses onto my face while the mascot’s head is placed over me.
- I will also make the head work for me whether I can see perfectly or not. Even if I end up running into stuff sometimes when I try to move too fast without checking, I could make that part of my schtick.
- I want to have fun with this. Part of what makes me think I would make a great mascot is that I love to make people happy. That is why I volunteer for the local hospice. If I can make a dementia patient smile, I can make a room full of already-happy preschoolers smile too.
So I hope I am contacted again. At this point, I have something to prove, oddly enough. Plus, this will be a fun way to get out of the house more, make some side income, get some exercise, and get to eat discounted Chick-Fil-A. That’s a win-win-win-win in my opinion.
Have you ever gotten worked up about something most people would consider silly? Is it weird for me to want this little 5-10 hour a week job so badly?
I started listing a bunch of items for sale on Craigslist earlier this year just to cut back on the stuff that was taking up room with no purpose in our home. Now that we will hopefully be moving in a few months, I started digging in even more. I do not want to move anything we don’t have a use for.
Sold So Far
I’ve had pretty good luck! Here’s what’s sold so far:
- Two Pyrex Bake-a-Round Bread Baking Sets – $20
- Bread Slicer – $5
- Wolfgang Puck Indoor Electric Grill – $20
- Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker – $30
- Tea Pot – $5
- Tea Boiler – $5
- Coffee Pot – $5
- Breadmaker – $10
- HP Deskjet Printer – $20
- Tennis Racket – $20
- Old desk and office chair – $50
- Magic the Gathering 10th Edition Common Playset (4 of each common card of 10th edition) – $20
I have also given away two huge piles of stuff too and donated 11 bags of clothing to Goodwill.
How I Sell Stuff on Craigslist
I have written a couple of posts about Craigslist, but it boils down to:
- Solid Descriptions
- Competitive Pricing
- Great Pictures
If they can easily understand your description and see a picture, they are more likely to pay attention to your ad. A competitive price helps sell items faster, but the pictures at least get them looking to start with.
What’s Left to Sell
Despite progress, I have things left to sell. Even pictures and great prices haven’t helped sell this stuff:
My Wedding Dress – $100
5 simple glass Bud Vases – $5
Wilton Armetale Pewter Bread Plate (Never Used) – $10
Small Coffee Maker (Never Used) – $15
I’ve lowered the prices on everything once again and will keep trying until we move in September. I may even use Ebay pretty soon although I hate paying their commission. In the meantime, if you like the look of any of the stuff above, let me know.
Do you use Craigslist? How do you finally deal with the stuff that won’t sell?
About 5 months ago, I mentioned that I cut my hair (you can see the ponytail pics on that post) and planned to donate it to Locks of Love. Well, I didn’t. While looking up their address, I found their FAQ section. It takes 6-9 ponytails like mine to make one wig. I decided I rather sell my hair than let it wait around for 5-8 other redheads to send in their hair. But then life popped up, I forgot about my hair, and it got put in a bag on a shelf downstairs.
Selling My Hair
I found my ponytail on that shelf last week and decided to finally attempt to sell it. I checked out Craigslist first, but there is no local market for human hair. I was not surprised. Then I checked out Ebay and found a ton of human hair for sale. In fact, some of the auctions that were complete sold for $30-$60. I figured that my red hair with natural highlights had a fighting chance for the high end of that scale, so I went ahead and listed it. Here was my post:
Human Hair Ponytail – Red, Never Dyed, Never Treated!!!
This is literally the hair off of my head!
As you can see from the picture, the ponytail is 14 inches or longer but the wave makes it curl at the end and look like a solid 12 inches plus a bit. Here are the rest of my details:
- I am Caucasian
- I am categorized as a strawberry blonde red head
- My hair has a natural wave
- My hair has never been dyed or chemically treated
- I use Pantene ProV Shampoo and Conditioner
- I do not smoke and live in a smoke free home
- My hair has more natural blonde highlights than the picture could capture
- I grew this out from age 24 to 28 before going back to a shorter hair cut
I do get things shipped out in 2 days or less! My ponytail will be placed in a plastic bag and then shipped in a well-padded envelope or box.
I included a few pictures, set the post for 7 days, and listed the starting bid at $9.99 on Saturday, August 13th. It received a bid for the $9.99 within the first few hours of being up, so I was pretty hopeful. But then nothing happened for a couple of days.
My Hair Auction
When I checked in last Wednesday, it had received another bid and was up to $15.51. That made me feel a little bit better about offering free shipping, but I didn’t check in again until last Friday. It had gotten up to $31.01. I was happy it had finally broken the $30 target, but I was still thinking it was being under-valued since my hair is thick, soft, and actually one of my best attributes.
So last Saturday, August 20th, I started checking in on the bidding between blog duties. I’d answer a few emails and then check the listing. Still $31. I’d write a few paragraphs for staff writing and check my listing. Still $31. Grrrr. Finally, 30 minutes before my auction was up, a few more bids came through that took my hair from $31 to $42 to $51.51! Woot! I was finally at the high range for recently sold hair!
I was pretty happy and went and finished the staff writing post I was working on. About 45 minutes later, I realized I had not checked in to see how much my hair finally sold for. My husband actually brought it up.
I literally said, “It was at $51 half and hour before wrapping up, let me see…it sold for…HOLY MOLY, IT SOLD FOR $101.99!!!”.
My husband asked if I was kidding, but I wasn’t!!! My hair sold for $102!!!
There was a little bidding war right at the end and a nice woman from Reading, PA won my hair! She had even already paid! I immediately packaged up my hair for USPS and then emailed her to say thanks and to let her know I was shipping it out first thing Monday morning. She replied that she appreciates the speed since she was in the middle of finishing a couple of baby dolls for a customer. So my hair is going to some dolls. :-)
I asked if hair normally sells for that much and she said that red hair is more expensive than the rest and most hair is usually sold for $30 or more an ounce. My ponytail was 3.6 ounces and being sold all at once, so she thanked me for getting a good deal! Who knew?!
After Ebay took their 8%-9% cut and Paypal took their little 3.9% bite as well, my $101.99 became a grand total of about $89. Oh well, it was $89 that I didn’t have before and a doll maker in PA is pretty happy.
Have you ever thought about selling your hair? I will admit that I am impatient to grow mine back so I can sell it again, lol. Only about 3 years to go…
You read that right!!! Today I gave my two week’s notice at work!!! They won’t need me after this Friday!!! I’m QUITTING MY DAY JOB!!! WOOT!!! YAY!!! OH HELLS YEAH!!!
*DOING THE HAPPY DANCE*!!! *DOING THE HAPPY DANCE*!!!
Last week, while Mr. BFS and I were in Las Vegas, I was offered a blog manager position that was going to bring in $400 a week. That has since been changed to half that time, so $200 a week and may only last a couple of months, but it doesn’t matter at all. It was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Mr. BFS and I started talking more about where I stand.
Here’s my current situation:
- I wanted the Blogging Income savings account to be at $10,000. It is at $8700 and another $500 is currently in Paypal and will be on the way by the end of the week. I will polish it off with my paid vacation check (I have 7 unused days) from my day job if I need to, but I bet it will be at $10,000 by the end of the month without that help.
- We wanted to make sure I could be insured through hubby’s health plan. I can.
- I wanted to be making at least $2500 a month consistently and really wanted more than $3000 a month to be on the safe side. I made $5200 last month, more than $3000 on average over the last 4 months, and have already made more than $3000 this month.
And the biggest reason to quit…
- My day job is now hindering my growth. I literally do not have the time to take on much else online unless I quit. So I am quitting my day job.
Even if this blog manager position isn’t long-term, I have already hit my targets and can sustain working from home full time. I also can now take on more advertising clients or staff writing positions through Crystal-For-Hire Blogging Services. As it stood last week, I was allowing myself three more advertising clients and one more staff writing position and that was it or my brain was going to explode. Now I will have the time to expand. I also will be able to put more than a few minutes a week into my eBook and start posting even more at How I Make Money Blogging, which I think is going to be as popular as BFS within the next year. I will have the time to run both of my blogging babies!!!
I’ve also already called Meals on Wheels and will be getting scheduled as a driver once my days open up.
SO I AM QUITTING PEOPLE!!! GOOD-BYE CUBICLE AND HELLO HOME OFFICE!!!
I have three days to work through before hitting that finish line. Woot, woot!!!
Thank you all for the ton of support I receive from you every day!!!