I’ve been sitting on this MicroHustle for a while, because my husband always says it is so good that I’m going to put this poor company out of business. This store has given me COUNTLESS amounts of free items- we’re probably talking thousands of dollars worth, at this point, and I just don’t see how they can sustain having me as a customer. And if I’m going to put it under by myself, imagine what will happen if I send ALL the Salty Mamas out there to get in on the action? This store may not make it through the week! But I can’t keep holding out on you, so I’m finally ready to give away my secrets for the Kmart Shop Your Way Rewards program.
This post includes affiliate links in addition to a giveaway provided by Chrysalis Beauty Co. The Salty Mamas may make a small commission from items purchased after clicking through the links. As always, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are our own. Thank you for supporting The Salty Mamas!
I know there are some fabulous mamas out there, but ladies, I am not one of them. Sure, I used to spend big money on make-up back in the day. But those days are loooong gone, and I’ve spent years and years with the same routine- drug-store foundation, drug store eyeliner, drug store blush, and LOTS of drug-store mascara. I just didn’t have the time, the energy or, frankly, the money to put towards my day to day look.
And then my son spent five minutes as a model, and, as a result, so did I. And I received two glorious makeovers as a result. I wasn’t the focus of the shoot, so my makeup was light, natural, and simple. But I still felt like a million dollars, and decided I wouldn’t wait until the next photo shoot to find that oomph again, but that I would find it on my own (which, thank goodness, as there was no next shoot).
I was lucky enough to stumble upon Mama’s Beauty Bar, a Facebook group run by a kind, funny, and talented makeup guru by the name of Beth Griffin. Beth is the owner and operator of Chrysalis Beauty Co. One facet of her business is a makeup line offered up by Younique, a company that offers incredible mascara, lip products, and other makeup. I thought I wasn’t ready to take the Younique plunge, but I watched her incredible Facebook live videos, learned some tips and tricks, and my style started to evolve. And when I won a Lip Bon Bon of my own? I realized that this makeup really was worth every penny!
So I adjusted my makeup budget a little. I did some serious Google Searches, and some serious trial-and-erroring, and stepped up my game by finding the best drug-store make up around (which helped me free up my budget for my favorite splurges from Younique).
Maybelline Fit Me Dewy & Smooth Foundation, applied with this brush. A little goes a long way when applied with the brush, and it is everything it says it will be- full coverage, but with a little glow in the finish to leave you looking fresh and sunny.
Maybelline Fit Me Blush– based on my face shape, the Make Up artist I worked with at the photo shoot gave me the suggestion to use only a bit of blush or bronzer low on the apple of my cheek. After a little searching, I found this blush, which comes in a multitude of shades and adds just the right amount of color for some definition, without going over the top.
CoverGirl Outlast Mascara– While I use my Younique 3D+ Fiber Lashes Lash Enhancer for special occasions, I still prefer my old-school, orange-tube CoverGirl Mascara for the day to day. I get it in ebony black, and lay it on thick in several layers. My mama always told me that a lady doesn’t leave the house without her mascara on, and for the most part I follow her rule.
Younique Lip Bon Bon from Chrysalis Beauty Co. I love the bold lipstick look when I see it on others, but for whatever reason it just doesn’t work for me. The Lip Bon Bons are creamy, subtle, and leave your lips feeling fully hydrated, soft, and lush. They come in five colors, and one of you lucky readers will be winning one of your own in Beth’s favorite color.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a model in name only, and only wear makeup about half the time. But all I was really looking for was a way to look better when I wanted to do, and between Beth and that Hollywood Make Up artist, I found a way to do just that.
Looking to see the makeup in action? Check out our Five Minute Makeup Tutorial over on Facebook!
You might have seen those ads floating around Facebook by now. “This company will pay you $300 to unplug for an hour!”
Those ads are (almost) right.
The company is called OhmConnect, and anyone across the United States can sign up. The company will let you know when a so called “Dirty” power plant in your area is gearing up to turn on, and will ask to you to conserve electricity to prevent excess energy usage. If you don’t live in one of OhmConnect’s payable areas, you’ll get points for participating, which can lead to prize awards. But if you live in California, Toronto, or Texas and use one of the major power companies (PG&E, SCE, SDG&E, Toronto Hydro Electric System, or as part of Smart Meter Texas), you will get paid in cold. hard. cash. (Via PayPal.)
The beauty of this system over other power saving options is that the intervals are pretty small, usually an hour long (although it can go up to four hours, this has been pretty rare in our experience). You’ll get a text message or email letting you know that an OhmHour is coming up; if you can’t or don’t want to participate that day, you simply opt out on their website and go about business as usual. If you are able to participate, then it’s time to get to work.
Right before our OhmHour begins, I run around the house unplugging everything. The company will look at the data from the last few days about how much power you’d be expected to use during that period, and ask you to cut your usage down below your forecast. The more you reduce, the more you’ll make, and you know I can get pretty extreme. So I unplug every cable, extension cord, and surge protector. I take everything off the chargers, I take my daugher’s nightlight out of the wall, and I for sure turn off the AC, TV, and the clothes dryer. Recently, I started to turn off the power to my fridge- we do it by adjusting the temperature manually from inside the refrigerator- and we’ve started noticing a bigger payout as a result.
Now, your earnings will start small. In the beginning, we’d make something like 70 cents to a dollar by participating in each OhmHour. But since Mama loves a micro-hustle, those tiny amounts didn’t bother me at all, and they started rapidly accumulating. I began participating more and more, making a no-go in-laws rule for myself, and pretty soon I was on a “Streak” for participating in so many OhmHours in a row, which adds a multiplier to my payout. At last count, we’re on a 43 OhmHours streak, and we’re getting roughly double the money we would be getting without the streak. You can get additional benefits by “leveling up,” which means increasing your average energy savings over time.
The program, of course, is not without its challenges. I always get about 24 hours notice before an OhmEvent, while Christine gets ten minutes (and kudos to her, that’s gotta SUCK and she still makes it happen). I use traditional power, but Christine has solar panels, which means some days she’s trying to beat a negative forecast. So yeah, that’s definitely more of a challenge. You’re not gonna be pleased with this program all the time, but for me at least (and for Christine most of the time), it definitely feels worth it.
Let’s end with some facts and figures here, in case you need more persuading- on our last four OhmHours, we made $46.18, $13.49, $9, and $43.79 respectively. So far, in the first half of July, we’ve made $138.25 by participating in OhmHours, which covers our electric bill for the month and then some. It takes time to get your account to this point, but once it does- oh man, will your inner cheapskate be So.Stinking.Happy.
For more information about OhmConnect, to see if you are eligible, and to sign up, visit https://ohm.co/c1da05c. You’ll get $20 when your account is synced with your power company, and, in the interest of full disclosure, so will we. Happy saving!
This post is neither sponsored nor endorsed by OhmConnect. We just really love it, and think you will, too.
This post contains affiliate links, which means we’ll receive a small commission off of purchases made by clicking these links. Thanks for supporting The Salty Mamas!
Imagine, if you will, a delicious three day cruise with your best girlfriends. You buy some tickets, pack some things, kiss your kids goodbye, and sail off into the wild blue yonder. I’m talking about three days of independence, doing things on your own time, eating meals you don’t have to cook and drinking cocktails that are included in your package, and spending SO.MUCH.TIME. with your best friends. The lap of luxury here, folks, or at least the closest thing to it that an exhausted mommy can get.
And then you go home. And basically immediately, it’s back to wiping booties and buying your daughter clearance-aisle Lunchables for a treat.
So, yeah, it was a harsh awakening.
But once I was back on land and thinking back to the cruise, do you know what I missed the most? Reading a book on the deck. Drinking a hot latte with a few more sugars than I usually allow myself. A ten minute chat with a friend. Going swimming. Eating French toast every single day. And I mean, what the hell, guys. It’s not like my favorite part was shopping for diamonds. These were things that are absolutely attainable within my every day life, I just don’t do them.
So I decided to start doing them. Every day, giving into at least one micro-luxury. I sucked it up and took my kids swimming at the YMCA, then soaked up some sun afterwards while they played. I saved up and bought myself a sweet Ninja coffee bar system (via Ebates, using coupon codes, while earning Kohl’s cash and Yes2YouRewards. Obviously.) and made myself some fancy-ass coffee. I put my kids in the childcare at the gym and then sat on the patio and bullet journaled all by myself. And then a few days later, I called up Christine, made a couple of lattes, and we stuck ALL of our kids in the gym’s childcare, and we sat on the patio together and drank coffee and had a little friend date of our own making. I made myself delicious French toast while the baby was sleeping and Lila was at playgroup, and I just sat there and ate it. I went to cocktails with a friend once the kids were asleep. Like real people do. Things started changing, I started taking advantage of more little snippets of time throughout the day, and it gave me the balls to carve out increasingly larger chunks of time for myself. And little by little, I am starting to remember what life was like before kids, and to take back the parts of that life that I miss the most. Because they’re still out there. I just had to start getting them.
So yes, I was very lucky that I got to go on an amazing vacation with my best gals, and visited the lap of luxury for a couple of days. But I am even more lucky that it reminded me that are a million tiny luxuries within my grasp all the time, and that I just have to make them happen.
A few of my favorite little indulgences…
• Make yourself a fancy coffee. Even if you don’t have the coffee bar, it is totally doable to add some foam or flavored syrup to your daily brew.
• Give yourself a pedicure. I like to add these cheap little stickers and pretend a talented nail artist put them on there in a salon.
• Take a detox spa bath and put on a charcoal mask. The more ridiculous looking, the better.
• Sit on your patio/in your front yard/at a park with a smuggled cocktail and a good book.
• Take advantage of the childcare in a gym, either for working out, or if your gym permits it, for not working out. I mean, my gym calls itself a wellness center, and being kid-free for an hour makes me WELL.
• Make yourself some French toast. Or buy yourself a donut. Whatever floats your boat.
• Take turns hosting wine dates with your friends when the kids are asleep. Put them to bed, give your hubby a kiss, and head out. We take turns in our little circle- if your husband goes out of town, you buy a bottle of wine, make some brownies, and open the place up to your best gals.
• Find some kind of exercise you enjoy. A Zumba class with friends, or a yoga class that makes you relax all the way down to your toes. I am a regular treadmiller, but once every couple of weeks I make a point to go for a run in the evening, just me and my dog, and it feels like a teeny tiny vacation from the monotony of the gym.
• Take a minute to write down the things you love to do and just don’t do. Maybe it’s going to a comedy club, or hitting the beach, or sewing a quilt. And figure out a way to make it happen, soon. Start actively saving up for it, talk to your spouse about how to fit it in, calendar some time to get it done. Even if you can’t do it RIGHT NOW, taking steps to make sure it happens soon can feel pretty damn indulgent.
Which do you want to try? And what would you add to the list?
When I first quit my job to stay home with my little miss, I was determined to do everything I could to maintain our quality of life for my family. And since dining out is basically our favorite pastime, I was desperate to find a way to make it happen on a drastically reduced budget.
Enter the Mystery Shopping experience, in which you visit restaurants (among other places), get reimbursed for your meal, and sometimes get paid a little something on top of it.
Now, mystery/secret shopping has gotten kind of a bad rap in the last few years because of a nasty scam where the jerks of the world posed as a mystery shopping company, wrote people huge checks, apologized for the error, and asked people to wire the extra money back to them. And, since most people are honest and kind, they did, and then they were royally screwed. So, good people of the world, do not do that. No one should be getting any of your account information, pretty much ever. But I think you probably all know that already, so let’s agree to use common sense and move on.
Your next step is finding a company to pair with. There are a few tricks to make sure the company is legit. First, NEVER PAY THEM. If anyone asks you for money, A.) Don’t give them any and B.) Don’t sign up for with them. Legit companies will be paying you, not the other way around. Secondly, the company should be registered with the MSPA, the legit-mystery-shopping association.
Thirdly, and this is just my own personal advice, don’t sign up with a company that requires your social security number upfront. If you start making decent money off it (anything over $400/year; I gave it up before I ever came even close to that amount), it may be required for tax purposes, but by then you should have enough experience with the company to know that they are legitimate. A company may ask for this information upfront and still be legit, so the fact that they’re asking isn’t necessarily a red flag. But personally, I would rather not have that kind of information in too many places. It’s a decision you’re gonna have to make for yourself.
Once you choose a company (I used isecretshop.com which compiles shops from several different MSPA companies, or you can choose one from the list of companies the Penny Hoarder has deemed most trustworthy), you’ll be able to see mystery shopping opportunities and claim a shop or two for yourself (procedures vary between companies). Once you’re assigned, it’s time to carry out your task. You might visit a restaurant and record the timing of everything, from when you’re seated to the appearance of the food via cell photos. Or you may make a phone call to a company on a recorded line for quality control purposes. Maybe you’ll visit a store and take photos of their bathrooms so the company can ensure they are being kept clean at all times. The nature of the tasks can vary widely, from easy to intensive, so make sure you know what you’re in for before taking it on.
Just like the type of shops, payment can be all over the place. Sometimes you’ll find a job with no required purchase and a decent payout (my last mystery shop paid me $25 for an hour of my time, from home). Other times, you will only be reimbursed for a portion of your meal, and you’ll typically need to front the cash (For example, you accept a shop with a $10 reimbursement. You spend $14, which you pay out of pocket, and in a few weeks you receive a payment for $10. You’re out $4 overall, but hey, that’s a pretty good discount on your meal, so it’s a win). It makes sense to run the numbers ahead of time to make sure you’ll come out ahead, or at least understand what you’ll be receiving in return.
You’d need to hustle HARD on this one to make any kind of financial gains, but sometimes that’s not what we’re after. Sometimes it’s nice to have a little hobby that pays for itself, or to go out to dinner on someone else’s dime. I dabble in mystery shopping now and again, especially if it’s a place I already enjoy going to or an easy over-the-phone shop, but it’s a fair amount of work for the payout, so I try to choose my shops wisely, and I suggest you do the same.
So, what do you think? Do you feel ready to get your ninja-fix, one secret shop at a time?
I’m not totally sure when I jumped the gap between being frugal and being a cheapskate, but here I am, living in the land of pennies and dimes. I count them, I save them, I try to help them grow into strong, confident dollars. I find ways to earn them and work hard not to spend them without long, drawn out conversations with myself and a million lists and plans in my BuJo.
But this land of Pennies and Dimes also gives me power. When I decided to give up a pretty decent income as a well-educated special education teacher, I chose to become more than a budgeter. I decided to be more than a saver, which has always sounded so passive to me, and to become a hustler. A micro-hustler, that is.
It began with aggressive budgeting, and trying to spend as little as humanly possible. And I got good at it. Like, really good. Like, I-don’t-buy-meat-if-it’s-not-on-clearance good. But Holy Moses, that can stifle a person. I mean, a cheap month here and there is fine, but as Dave Ramsey would say, a person can’t live on beans and rice, rice and beans forever. And I wasn’t willing to take more out of our budget than I already was. So it was time to get creative.
I began to take on a series of increasingly creative side-gigs, one by one. I started using Ebates, became a mystery shopper, and joined one survey panel and then another. I found a program that paid me to save electricity, I subbed for people for pay at my daughter’s co-op preschool, and I synced up my Fitbit with an app that would pay me to do so. I recycled our bottles and cans, I rolled sleeves of pennies and dimes, and I sold some stuff-a lot of stuff- on Craigslist and Facebook.
And I’m not gonna lie, some people made fun of me. I mean, I was always hustling. But in teeny, tiny little ways. I came to think of all my little income streams as my micro-hustles, and I began to keep track of my earnings. I shrugged off the teasing, and I kept on keeping on. And as for the haters? They didn’t have much to say when I paid for an entire cruise with my girlfriends with those damn surveys and bottles and cans. Because those pennies and dimes? They WANT to be saved. They WANT to grow. I’m just helping to use those small coins to make big things happen.
So no, I’m not pulling in a full income off of these little side gigs of mine. And I’m by no-means replacing the income I gave up to be where I felt that I needed to be. But I am contributing to the household financially, and I am slowly but surely helping to make our dreams come true, the big ones and the small ones. And it’s happening one micro-hustle at a time.