Want to earn a little extra money, but don't want to sell anything? Try this! thesaltymamas.com
Cheapskating, microhustle, side hustle

MicroHustle Monday Presents: SurveySavvy

This post contains referral links, meaning that the Salty Mamas will receive a small commission when someone signs up for SurveySavvy using our link.  As always, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are our own. We cannot guarantee that your results and outcomes will be similar to our own. Thanks for helping to support The Salty Mamas!

Ahhh, the survey. The MicroHustle many of us love to hate/hate to love.  This is probably the MicroHustle I’ve taken the most heat over in recent years, because from a short-game stand point, it just doesn’t make sense. Sometimes I spend twenty minutes on a 50 cent survey, and those numbers just don’t seem to add up.  But the survey is the tortoise of the MicroHustle Universe.  You earn money in very small increments sometimes, it’s true. But eventually, you can win whole races- and pay for whole cruises– using these little guys.

I’m going to start by introducing you to the survey site that seems to have the most potential to make big money. It’s called SurveySavvy, and it works like most survey sites do- they send you surveys, you take them, and you make a little money.  (You can also earn referral credit when someone signs up using your link, so yes, I’d like you to use mine if you’re wanting to sign up anyways 😉 ) But the reason SurveySavvy ranks number one on my list of sites is that SurveySavvy is a screening site for CSpace, a company that businesses and brands hire to conduct panels.  And that, my friends, is how you make the big bucks.

I’m not on any panels right now, but when I was, I would make about $60 a month per panel, and I was on two.  They would ask me to do things like participate in discussion groups, or visit a store and take pictures of certain sections, or post a video of me discussing why I liked (or didn’t like) their brand. It is very much like a focus group, except you participate from the comfort of your home and on your own time.  I found the activities to be kind of fun, and it was neat to see products that I had weighed in on showing up in stores a few months later. And, of course, the money wasn’t too bad.

So there you have it, my first and favorite survey site. Do you do surveys at home? We’d love to hear about it in the comments section!

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Note: SurveySavvy also has an app, called SurveyConnect, that you can download. This app will give the company some access to your phone usage and browsing history and, for what it’s worth- I don’t use it. The idea of having someone tracking my phone just gives me the ick factor. If you don’t have the same reservations, feel free to try it out, but I can’t personally speak for, or recommend, a service I’ve never used. Just food for thought!

Want to earn a little extra money, but don't want to sell anything? Try this! thesaltymamas.com

 

Cheapskating, microhustle, side hustle, Tips & Hacks

MicroHustle Monday: Trash & Treasure

When I was growing up, every so often my Mom would hit a breaking point where we had TOO MUCH STUFF. Stuff in our rooms, stuff in the garage, stuff we did. Not. Need. We’d pick the hottest Saturday of the year, wake up at dawn and pull everything we ever owned onto the front lawn. My sister and I would post signs around the neighborhood and we’d inevitably spend the entire day sitting in the yard explaining to people that we weren’t selling our bikes that were still in the garage, but visible to all the gawkers. At the end of the day, we’d box everything up and just donate it anyway. It was such an inefficient system, but what else were you supposed to do with all your stuff?

Fast forward many years to today. And the internet. God. Bless. The internet. Because now, whenever I need to purge stuff from my house and/or need a few bucks, I take to the internet! In our house, we are pretty committed to systematically getting rid of STUFF. For instance, after my sons 4th birthday this summer, I held all of his new presents hostage until he helped us fill two boxes full of toys that he didn’t need anymore that we could give to other kids. He had some toys that were in great condition, hardly played with, that I knew another kid would love. And if I got a few extra bucks for Starbucks or a trip to Chick-Fil-A? Even better!

5 Tips for Selling Your Stuff

  1. Find a neighborhood sale site on Facebook

I’m in several “Trash and Treasure” Groups on Facebook. They may be called something else near you, but these are great buy/sell/trade sites where you can sell your stuff in a super easy virtual garage sale. It’s local so you don’t have to worry about shipping anything. You can either choose to meet at a central location or your home. Or my favorite – the porch pickup. God bless the porch pickup! I leave whatever I’m selling on the porch and the buyer drops the money in my mailbox. So easy!

  1. Take decent pictures

I want to make my items look as attractive as possible to potential buyers – but also be realistic about the item. You don’t want to think that your item sold only to have someone change their mind when they come see it. That takes more of your time – and time is money!

  1. Price to Sell

My husbands grandmother once gave us some art that she said was worth $1,000. But something is only actually WORTH what someone else is willing to pay for it. So when I want to unload, I price to SELL. I might think the item is “worth” more, I may have paid a WHOLE lot more, but if I’m not using the item and it’s just sitting in my garage or taking up space in my closet? Well that’s not making me any money either, is it? So personally, I’d rather have the item GONE with a few bucks in my pocket. So have I significantly undervalued some items? Maybe, but at least they’re not taking up space in my house anymore! Find the balance that works for you, but know that if you price to high you may not get the return you’re hoping for.

  1. Post!

You’ve found your group, picked your price, taken your pictures and now it’s time to post! Usually all you need to do is post a description of the item, plus the picture and the price, and maybe your cross-streets if you’re in a larger area where that could make a difference to potential buyers. Make sure you follow the rules of your group. For instance, some don’t allow cross-posting (attempting to sell an item in more than one group at a time) or have very specific rules of how to connect with folks interested in purchasing your items.

  1. Sit. Wait. SELL!

Remember when you used to sit in the blazing sun waiting for someone to come by and make an offer? Well now you can do that inside your house. Or at the movies. Or at Disneyland. Or wherever you want to be. Make sure you’re notifications are on and wait for a bite! Most sites have rules about how to make the sale – like accepting offers in the order they are received, no cross-posting (meaning posting the same item on multiple sale sites), no sale via PM (where you could be cutting off people that made offers through the comments). Make sure you follow the rules – you don’t want to lose out on potential sales, or worse, get banned!

Get your offer, put your loot on the porch, collect and you’re done! All you have to do is decide how you’re going to spend your new green!

Hope y’all have fun turning your trash into treasure!!

 

Micro Hustle Trash and Treasure
Caffeine, Cheapskating, MicroLuxuries, Tips & Hacks

Mini MicroHustle- Have You Had YOUR Break Today?

There’s a bright spot in my day lately.  A beautiful oasis in a hot, hot landscape.  The promise of refreshment, enjoyment, a tiny little break.  And this magical oasis? It is likely very near to you indeed- just under the Golden Arches.

Today’s post is spotlighting the rare combination of both a MicroHustle and a MicroLuxury. Odds are, most of you already know about the glory that is the $1 Any Size Fountain Drink campaign, a rare bird that flies in each summer to make the long, warm days more bearable.  And since there is a McDonald’s on basically every corner, and most people are able to carve out a dollar here and there, and you can get to it in a drive-thru format, it is the perhaps the most accessible and the most attainable of all of life’s little luxuries.Me, Lila, Diet Coke.And as if that wasn’t enough (which, if you’ve met me, or read my blog before, or seen my Instagram -you get the idea- you know it would be enough), McDonalds had to go and outdo themselves by making an app.  A pretty darn good app, at that. Not only does the app offer perks like mobile ordering and location finders, but they have some SICK coupons and deals.   They’ve got some of the more standard discounts, like $2 off a $10 purchase, which of course I won’t turn down. But they also regularly offer a TON of good freebies. When the Dodgers win, for example, I get a free six piece nuggets with any purchase (including those $1 fountain drinks!).  Hello, snacktime! And when the Angels win, I get a free signature sandwich with purchase of fries and a dollar coke (so basically a whole meal for $3ish). On FRYdays, you can get a free Medium fry.  And, for most of the summer, I have been able to get a free McFlurry with purchase.

You heard me right, that soft-serve Oreo goodness has been within my reach somewhat regularly for free.  So basically, I can bribe  reinforce my children’s good behavior with ice cream almost any day of the week, AND get myself a Diet Coke the size of my head, for just a buck and tax. Because dreams DO come true people (as long as your dreams are as little as mine, that is).

So if you’re as into either McDonalds or Diet Coke (etc.) as I am, do yourself a favor and download the app. Then find yourself a McDonalds with a Playplace and move on in.  WiFI, endless soda, and free ice cream? Your summer has been solved. You’re welcome.

This is so not even a sponsored post. I just love McDonald’s that much.  But, how you doin’, McDonald’s? Feel free to hit me up if you WANT to sponsor us.

 

Using the McDonald's App to Get Free Stuff
Cheapskating, side hustle

MicroHustle Monday- OhmConnect

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.

OhmConnectThe 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.ohmconnect screenshot

 

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.

 

 

Cheapskating

MicroHustle Monday presents Mystery Shopping

collage-2017-07-06-08_32_59.jpgWhen 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?

Cheapskating, momlife

Intro to Cheapskating

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.

19720418_10102346426085417_878980260_o

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.

Cheapskating, Kids' Activities, momlife, parenting

Those “Cheap” Summer Movies

Let’s talk about those cheap summer movies for a minute.
On the one hand, you’ve got the glory of being the cool mom for a second. You took your kids to the movies! It’s air conditioned! The kids are happy, they’re enthralled, they’re living the dream. This experience was MADE for little kids, so you don’t have to worry if they’re wiggly, or chatty, or if they shout/sing along with the chorus to the movie’s theme song. Because there is a concert of 50 other lispy little voices telling Poppy to get back up again, too. Kids are dancing, kids are laughing boisterously, moms are sneak-opening cans of cherry coke (I’m looking at you, Christine) and relaxing back into their soft, squishy chairs for what almost passes as a break.
But. BUT.
Those concessions, y’all. You pay $1 for the movie, and $16.50 for one ounce of popcorn. This has got to be the whole point of the $1 movie experience from the theater’s perspective, cause you know they have to be making a profit somewhere, and it ain’t from my pocket change.
Collage 2017-06-29 07_47_51

Now, if you have somehow managed to make it into the movies without your kids knowing the concession stand exists, or they are content with your smuggled in snacks, or your kids are just so lovely they take no for an answer, we salute you. We applaud you. We envy you.

If someone (I’m looking at you, Daddy) has ruined the movies forever with a kids’ snack pack that has been upgraded to include an Icee AND a full size candy? We are so sorry. We feel you. We are here for you.

So when you get to the front of the concession line, because you’re gonna get them SOMETHING , because AVOIDING TANTRUMS, don’t try to ask for a large Icee split into three cups, because I’m here to tell you, they won’t do it.

Order a large Icee and three water cups, hold the water. Then get to work, mama. You’ve got a movie to see and that Icee ain’t gonna split itself.