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Three Ways to Take Advantage of “Free” Money

10:31 AM

Who doesn’t love free money? I know I do.

I work hard as a work at home mom, and though I may want some niceties in my life such as Starbucks and a meal out, I am honestly usually too cheap to pay for them. Every time I spend my money on extras, I think of how much more work I have to do to pay for those.

Instead, I started finding ways to get money for free to indulge in the little conveniences that are just part of life. You can use these strategies whether you are trying to find ways to get “free” money for luxuries or to make your dollars stretch further or to get gifts for your kids.

Here are my favorite ways to “find” free money:

Enter giveaways. Lille Punkin has many giveaways running at a time as do many other bloggers. When I have spare time, I enter the giveaways using an e-mail strictly dedicated to giveaways. I have won a few times including a toy for my kids and a $100 Amazon gift card. I don’t get obsessed about entering; I usually spend no more than 30 minutes a night entering, and when life gets really busy, this is the first activity that falls by the wayside. It is a fun little hobby that sometimes reaps me rewards.

Use Swagbucks. Swagbucks is a search engine much like Google or Yahoo. Since I do some freelance writing and blogging, I am frequently searching the web, and I use Swagbucks. In return, I am sometimes rewarded with Swagbucks (usually 7 to 16 Swagbucks, but sometimes as many as 79!). While searching, you will occasionally be notified that you have just won Swagbucks. Let your Swagbucks accumulate and then cash them in for a prize. I have cashed them in for restaurant gift cards, Amazon gift cards and PayPal cash. Another great way to earn is to look for codes for free Swagbucks points. For instance, if you sign up forSwagbucks now and use the code  FINCON2012 you can get 80 free Swagbucks. (Code expires on 9/28/12.)

Credit card rewards. If you can use your credit card and pay off the balance every month, you can take advantage of credit card rewards. My credit card company lets patrons turn in their accrued points for anything from restaurant gift cards to prepaid cards to a payment on the credit card itself. For several Christmases in a row, I was able to give my mom a $50 Red Lobster gift card simply by cashing in my credit card points. (Another nice way I have found to earn more points is to occasionally negotiate the terms of your card, such as asking that your annual fee be waived. Often, the agent I work with voluntarily gives me some extra rewards points, which I don’t complain about!)

What is your favorite strategy for getting “free” money?

Melissa, a mom to three little ones (ages 7, 3 and 1) blogs at Mom's Plans where she writes about living a fulfilling life on less and focuses on cutting expenses, budgeting, paying down debt, saving money and once a month cooking.

*Photo by 401(K) 2012 via Flickr.

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