Addicted to Swagbucks – A review

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Over a month ago, I began searching for ways to make a few extra bucks online that wouldn’t interfere with other daily activities, and was something I could do “on the side”. What I found was mostly junk, but among it all one tiny gem…Swagbucks.

If you are looking for an actual “job”, this isn’t it. Swagbucks is an incentive site, meaning you get points (or “Swagbucks”) for completing activities. Some involve shopping or signing up to certain things, while other activities are what you might find on other incentive-based websites (like surveys). What I do, though, is nothing more than viewing promotions, videos, or websites. Completely and 100% free activities that do NOT load my inbox down with junk mail. Discover -> Encrave is where you will find these free and easy activities that add up to 100+ Swagbucks per day.

More Swagbucks can be earned from meeting daily bonuses, searching the web with their search engine (although I would not replace Google for serious searches), and catching their codes that are dropped daily (usually around 2-5 Swagbucks per code). These may not add up to much, but in the long run, it helps to make up your daily minimums.

Compensation

A Swagbuck is worth a penny, more or less. To “cash in”, you buy gift cards to major retailers (Amazon, GameStop, Walmart, etc). Although my favorite is the $25 Paypal option, which basically converts my “bucks” into real cash. Since we pay Netflix and Hulu out of our PayPal account, I’ve managed to actually PAY for both these services with nothing but Swagbucks.

Not only have I cashed in twice in about a month and a half (yes, that’s TWO $25 Paypal deposits in less than 2 months), but the monthly bonuses (which totaled over 500 Swagbucks) make it super easy to save up for more gift cards later on. I have plans to cash in later this year, so those gift cards can be used as Christmas gifts. So to sum it up, Swagbucks is paying for Hulu, Netflix, AND Christmas presents. Awesome, right?

Overall, if you are spending time clicking around the web anyway, I suggest doing it through Swagbucks. Why not make a few bucks while doing what you already do online?

Top 9 DAILY uses for my Kindle

First let me say I love my PC. You will never, ever get me to stop using a desktop as my main computer. Kindle, tablets, and even laptops will NEVER replace my desktop for surfing the web, writing, researching, and other internet-related activities. HOWEVER, my Kindle has proved to be a fantastic addition to my digital arsenal. Not only do I use my Kindle, but I do it every single day. Here’s how……

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How I Use My Kindle

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Printable Meal Planner and Grocery List

After taking a look at our monthly spending, I was horrified to see how much we spend on groceries. It’s so easy when you own a business directly next to a grocery store in a super small town, but those quick and little purchases add up FAST. Great for convenience, horrible on the checking account.

The solution we came up with was a menu plan and grocery list combined. I’m still “old fashioned” and like my pen and paper when it comes to making lists. Sorry, I just don’t care to type out my list on any digital device. Although I did design the template on the computer, and have found it SUPER easy to print out just before I go shopping.

We started with a monthly menu plan, which did work for the most part. The end of the month got a little stretched, though, so we switched to a 10-day plan. This actually covers about 2 weeks worth of meals and snacks for us. It also limits our shopping trips to about twice a month, ultimately saving us from too many in-store impulse buys yet still leaving room for changes in the menu.

Since this has been so successful for us, I thought it only right to share with everyone. Click on the picture below, save to your computer, and print off on a sheet of cardstock or other heavier paper. We fold ours in half, so the grocery list is on one side and the meals on the other. It’s easy to stick in my purse, but then still stash it in the kitchen when we bring our groceries home.

Printable meal plan and grocery list

Printable meal plan and grocery list

Teaching Your Kids to Save Money

Saving MoneyMoney can be tempting to spend for everyone. Kids especially want to immediately spend it on toys, candy, or other cool items that are a “must have”. This is why it is so important that we teach kids to save money. If we as parents effectively teach them the importance of saving money and buying only necessities, then we hopefully will raise responsible, self-funding adults.

Here are a few ideas you can use to help teach your kids the importance of money. Some ideas involve crafty ideas that fully involve the kids in counting, saving, and goal setting.

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How to Shop for the Holidays Without Going Broke

Guest Post by Matt Hoff

Anyone with a family knows how expensive it is to deck the halls these days. Maybe it’s because of the sagging economy or maybe it’s because our kids have more “refined” tastes than we did growing up, but the price tag for providing your little bundles of joy with presents seems to get larger every year. Luckily, there are a few tricks crafty parents can use to keep their wallets stuffed as full as their stockings. Some of them are obvious. Others you might not have considered before. But they’re all sure to save you some green this holiday season.

  • Stay away from layaway. Retailers like Wal-Mart are trying to capitalize on the slow economy by reviving their layaway plans. Don’t fall for it. Fifty years ago, when only a few people had credit cards, these plans were a great way to get a big-ticket item that you couldn’t really afford by paying for it in installments. Today, they’re nothing more than an overpriced way to buy something on credit. If you don’t have the money to pay for a present up front – don’t buy it.
  • Use online coupons. Online coupons are, hands down, the best way to outfit your family with gifts on the cheap. By shopping for discounts on daily deal websites, you can get up to 90% off of show tickets, fancy dinners and all the toys your kids can handle. To sweeten the deal, a lot of online coupon sites are running holiday specials right now that will save you even more on your purchases.
  • Homemade is where the heart is. Nothing says “I care” like a homemade present. These crafty gifts are a great way to get your family into the holiday spirit, and they’re much cheaper than anything you’ll find in a store. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your crafts when deciding what to make for your spouse and kids. You can find a huge list of homemade present ideas on Family Crafts.
  • Skip the paper Christmas cards. Pretty much everyone has an e-pad, smart phone or Internet-connected computer these days, so it doesn’t make much sense to blow a load of money on expensive Christmas cards to send to your friends and family. You can find a variety of free e-cards online that you can customize send to everyone on your contacts list. Nobody will think any less of you for making your season’s greetings digital.

It isn’t hard to see more green than red this season. By following these tips and using things like online coupons and homemade presents to cut costs, you can guarantee that your whole family will have some very happy holidays. And with the money you save, you will too!

Family Favorite Wii Games

Summer days are long and hot, with only so many times the kids can visit the pool. Believe it or not, in between family outings and playing in the water, we all still play the Wii over 2 years after making the leap to buy it.

For the older boy, the xBox has snagged full attention. But for the rest of us who don’t much care for regular video games, we turn to the Wii for indoor entertainment. Here are the games we all still play the most, especially with friends and family…

1. Just Dance
My daughter’s favorite game, which she loves to play with her friends. The movements involved are a bit too simple for me and it’s focus is competition, but it’s perfect for a pair of 8 year olds. I almost wish we had a few extra Wii remotes so more than two could play, although they do just fine most the time with only two remotes. They also get some serious exercise without leaving the livingroom, which I love.

2. We Cheer and We Cheer 2
Both of these games happen to be my favorite, even though they were originally for my daughter. Once in awhile if I have the time, I’ll pop one into the Wii and get dancing. I prefer playing alone, so I can challenge myself to get better scores on my profile. My daughter only plays this one if others are playing with her, but since we got Just Dance she hasn’t played much. I personally prefer it over Just Dance because the moves are more complicated and I feel I get a better workout while having fun.

3. My Fitness Coach
I’ll admit I haven’t done very good using this one to the fullest. When I first got it, I exercised almost every day and followed the program the best I could. I just flat out don’t have the time for it now, although we still use it for Yoga once in awhile. That alone has made this one worth it. Although I SERIOUSLY need to get my hands on Wii Fit , since it has a whole lot more in the relm of Yoga and fitness. Plus my 13-yr-old cousin highly recommends it (and trust me, she is very picky!)

4. Wii Sports
Surprisingly, we still occassionally play the original game that came with our Wii. Mostly for the bowling as a family or with adult friends, although sometimes my daughter will play tennis with herself or others. There’s a little something for everyone on this disk, making the Wii totally worth it alone.

That’s all the main games we play on a regular basis…what games do you still play on your Wii?

Repurposing Candle Holders

There’s been a lot of talk lately about “repurposing” items. Why not? It saves money, and it cuts down on the junk in our landfills, and is best for the environment.

Since I’ve begun a little indoor gardening, I was recently checking out flower pots for my new office garden. While there were some really cool flower pots at Amazon for relatively cheap, I really didn’t want to pour a whole lot of money into this projects. Although I still may get the LED flower pot regardless. 😉

Instead of spending money on a dozen or more flower pots, I went digging through closets looking for old items. Being a candle-maker’s daughter, I have plenty of candle holders around the house.

This particular holder pictured is one I’ve had since my high school days (I won’t tell you just how long exactly, but let’s just say it’s at least 10 years old). Unfortunately, it’s developed a large cracked and can no longer be used for melting wax. It is, however, just perfect for indoor flowers.

Other items I found included small containers from a fondue set we never use that my daughter painted, an old bank, generic pots that we’ve decorated, and a few other miscellanous containers we weren’t using.

Overall, we’ve had a lot of fun finding items and decorating them to be used for something new, and have made plans for other “repurposing” projects we hope to post soon.

What items have you used in the past to make flower pots from? Do you have another use for your used candle holders?

Looking forward to seeing your responses!

 

December 2010 Webkinz of the Month

Need a last minute Christmas gift? Why not a Webkinz?

After nearly 3 years, my 8-yr old daughter still loves her Webkinz as much as she did the first day she got online. Her collection now includes 4 special friends, and we add to it every now and then to keep her account active.

The December 2010 Webkinz of the Month is the Polar Bear. By purchasing the Webkinz pet of the month and activating it, you’ll unlock all kinds of fun activities and items.

You can find details about this special pet here: Webkinz Polar Bear

Top 10 Dance Games for Wii

There’s no shortage of Wii dance games. With good reason, though – they’re fun and you get a good workout.

You should keep in mine when buying dance games for Wii that they are meant for entertainment first and foremost. Should you get a workout or pick up a new dance move, that’s just a bonus.

We’ve put together a list of 10 dance games for Wii here at Idea Queen to give you an easy reference when looking for some fun new games. The first 2 are games we own and love, while the rest are rated top games on Amazon based on their reviews.

1. We Cheer 2
By far our favorite Wii game, even more so than the original We Cheer. While there really aren’t more songs (both We Cheer games have about the same number of songs, no repeats), we appreciated the different levels of difficulty. Instead of just 2 levels for each song, there’s now 3 and they’re a little more evened out (easy really is easy, normal is a bit of a challenge, and hard really is hard!). Since it’s focused on arm movement, you don’t have to learn complicated steps, but still get a nice workout.

2.We Cheer
The original We Cheer game was one of our all time favorite Wii games. The selection of songs were a nice mix of classic, new, and current Disney favorites. We especially liked the 2 player option to it, and the fact we only needed 2 regular Wii remotes. No extra equipment. It was a great “starter”, and we still play it once in awhile, even though the 2nd has proved to be more fun.

3. Just Dance
Features over 30 different songs, also with a nice range of classics from 70s, 80s, 90s, and today. What we like the most about this game is it doesn’t require a dance mat – just the Wii remotes, like our previous 2.

4. Just Dance 2
Better than the original? Possibly! If you liked the original Just Dance, there’s a good chance you’ll completely fall in love with the second. Includes over 40 different songs for more dancing similar to the first.

5. Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party Bundle
Great selection of songs, however, you do need a dance mat for this game. The plus side is, Amazon has an excellent selection of both new and used bundles for the game and mat both.

6. Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 2
Already have Dance Dane Revolution and the mat? Try the next one out! More songs from the last 4 decades to get you up and moving.

7. Gold’s Gym Dance Workout
If your looking for something that puts a bit more focus on workout, this is the game for you. It doesn’t use a dance mat, and has the option for using only one or two Wii remote (as does Wii Cheer). Has some of the similar songs as the other dance games, but still enough variety to keep you interested.

8. Dance Dance Revolution Disney Grooves
If some of the other Wii Dance Games have “suggestive” moves you don’t care for, this one might be a better option. Do note it does require a dance mat, and some kids may have some problems keeping up with the moves. However, if it’s a challenge they’re looking for, you might love this game.

9. Dancing with the Stars: We Dance!
If you’re looking for more games that does NOT use a dance mat, this one might be best. Uses remote and nunckuk only. If your a big fan of the Dancing with the Stars, this Wii dance game might be perfect for you.

10. Dance on Broadway
Are you a big fan of musicals? Give this Wii dance game a go! Features 20 different Broadway musical songs, complete with Broadway-style choreography. Uses just Wii remotes…no need to have a dance mat!

Have fun!

New Webkinz: Midnight Monster

Oh how we love the Webkinz. It’s hard not to get carried away, and have more than just one or two per year to keep the account online active. Even after 2 1/2 years, my daughter still gets online to play and loves to collect the pets. We’ve somehow managed to keep her collection down to 4, but that may change when she sees the new pet just released this month.

Webkinz Midnight Monster has just been added, and boy is he adorable. He’d make a great pet for the little boys wanting to play, but I think girls would get just as big of a kick out of him (especially mine, who will be 8 next month and is a bit of a tom boy who loves all things even closely related to Halloween!). His special pet-only items you get online when you register him are as follows:

Special Item: Underpass Hideaway
Special Food: Musty Mushrooms

Absolutely adorable, and makes for a great addition to anyone’s Webkinz collection!