How to make gift cards work hard for you


So, what do you do with all these gift cards you’ve been earning on Swagbucks or given for Christmas? Today I’m here to explain how to make them work harder for you. It’s tempting to hit the sales with them immediately after Christmas and before New Year, when the shops are pushing the fact that they have a sale big time. And whilst, if you really want a certain thing (especially something that’s bound to be popular) and want to be sure you don’t miss out, then that’s a good idea. Generally, it’s not – by this point in January most retailers are getting desperate to shift their old stock. We all know from the news, that retailers in the UK are generally having a very tough time out there and so, most of them have shed loads of stuff still left to shift.

By waiting until this point, and picking your day – you can hit retailers when they mark things down to 70%-75% off (or greater if you’re prepared to wait another week or so). This is when stuff becomes as cheap, or cheaper than buying it second hand in charity shops. So, take that stash of gift cards and hit the shops (but only if there’s stuff you really want or need).

Marks and Spencer went to 70% off in-store and online yesterday. I shopped both methods and found that the discounts were greater (nearer 80% in store, where they have shed loads of stock) and slightly less online (usually differing by between £1-£2). Mothercare have gone down to 75% off. Debenhams and H&M are at 70% off. You get the gist of it, most retailers will be dropping their prices now, on the stock that’s left. Just be aware that you have more rights when purchasing online, as they still have to give you 14 days to change your mind, under the distance selling regulations. Whereas, if you buy these items in-store – you’ll likely be told they’re non-returnable (unless faulty). This is certainly the case in M&S. So try things on, if they’re clothing or take the sizes you need with you, or a tape measure!


Free £179 Leather Jacket from M&S

My journey has evolved from Minimalism to incorporate a Zero Waste lifestyle. I have also been able to learn a great deal about money-saving and non-traditional work opportunities. Here I share some opportunities:

How did I do it? Read on dear readers, read on! I got this jacket for free thanks to a combination of my online earners; Swagbucks, TopCashBack and Valued Opinions. (I promise I will write a detailed post about Valued Opinions soon!)My husband needed a new leather jacket, as his was now very worn and discoloured. He set his heart upon this one a few months ago and so it became my new target for online earning.

If you sign up to Swagbucks through me, you can earn up to 500SB for free! If you earn 300SB they will match it and then, if you use their shop & earn feature (like cashback), you can get another 200SB.

If you sign up to TopCashBack through me and earn £10 worth of cashback, you can get £5 free! These will get you well on the way to whatever target you set yourself.

Come on, get started today and then post in the comments what you are aiming for. I want to see the pictures when you achieve your goal!

Swagbucks – How I got a free Nintendo Switch at launch!

March is here, and it’s bringing you the chance to get a 500 SB bonus from Swagbucks!

Swagbucks is a rewards site where you earn points (called SB) for things you’re probably doing online already, like searching, watching videos, discovering deals, and taking surveys. Then you take those points and exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, John Lewis, M&S, or PayPal cash.

When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a 500 SB bonus! Here’s how:

1. Sign up using this link

2. Earn 300 SB total before 1/4/17. You’ll get a 300 SB bonus for it!

3. If you spend at least £25 through Swagbucks Shop* you’ll get another 200 SB bonus on top of the cash back you’ll get from shopping. If you have some shopping to do online, just go to Swagbucks first and visit the store through them. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but you’ll get SB points for every dollar you spend (on top of the bonus)!

That’s it. It’s super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and I’ve earned £1,800 so far. My latest purchase is that I was able to buy my husband the new Nintendo Switch – Neon Blue & Red Console and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wind game at release. It’s lovely to be able to treat the ones you love without thinking! 🙂  I’m just sat here waiting for it to arrive now.

*You must receive your shopping SB before 1 May

Cyber Monday Deals

Looking for the best deals on holiday shopping this Cyber Monday? Swagbucks is offering increased cash back from stores like Amazon, Argos, Marriott, or Thompson and get (Paypal) cash back or gift cards to your favourite stores! Swagbucks will also offer amazing one-day deals to try out new products and services, earning you even more free gift cards.  This page has everything you need to take advantage of some great “shopportunities” for Cyber Monday!

I must confess that I have purchased a photo book from Truprint over the weekend. It was something I was intending to do anyway, as a memento of my beautiful cat Willow. You can read more about her here. They are offering 50% off everything site wide with the code MEGASALE16. My top tip is to always read the small print when looking at cash back sites – some sites will not let you combine offers and some cash back sites state that if you use a code not posted or approved by them, you will invalidate your cash back. You want to get the best deal you can and not be disappointed if your cash back doesn’t show up. It’s also a good idea to always clear your cache, before clicking through. This ensures that the website can properly track your purchases and you have a higher chance of receiving your payout.

If you’re new here and you haven’t heard of them, is an easy, quick way to earn cash back and gift cards by shopping online or doing other everyday activities like taking surveys or watching videos. When you do those things, you earn points (called SB) that you redeem for PayPal cash or gift cards to places like Amazon, John Lewis, Argos, Starbucks, and more!  Just for signing up through me, you can earn a 300 SB bonus if you earn 300 SB before December 1st – if you spend at least £25 shopping through Swagbucks during that time, you’ll get another 200 SB bonus!  Take advantage of these great deals – sign up now.

Swagbucks Holiday Deals

Have you checked out today’s deals on Swagbucks? For anyone in the UK I don’t know how relevant these are, but I can see increased cashback offers on M&S, Argos, Currys, The Body Shop and Very to name but a few! I’d really recommend also checking out MoneySavingExpert’s Deals Predictor. Use this to work out when is the best day to buy the things you want to get maximum discounts! I’ll be keeping an eye-out as things ramp up towards Friday and over the weekend.

I’ve been talking about them a lot lately, Swagbucks is an easy, quick way to earn cash back and gift cards by shopping online or doing other everyday activities like taking surveys or watching videos. When you do those things, you earn points (called SB) that you redeem for PayPal cash or gift cards to places like Amazon, Walmart, Target, Starbucks, and more!  Just for signing up through me, you can earn a 300 SB bonus if you earn 300 SB before December 1st – if you spend at least £25 shopping through Swagbucks during that time, you’ll get another 200 SB bonus!

I am personally currently saving up all my gift cards for some larger purchases, including Christmas presents for my family. If you have family in the States like me, then you can buy USD gift cards for them. I personally use these Barnes and Noble gift cards a lot, as they are easy to email on.

So tell me, have you got any Black Friday purchases planned or do you hate the whole thing? Get in touch 🙂

Swagwarts Team Challenge

Who doesn’t love a good challenge? Especially when you can get points to redeem towards free gift cards!

Enrol today in the Swagwarts team challenge hosted by Swagbucks, a website where you can earn cash back on everyday tasks you do online. It starts on Monday, 21st November at 4pm GMT and runs until Friday, 25th November so you have a whole week to contribute points to your assigned team. It’s so much fun to see which team you are placed on, and discover all the ways you can earn SB while you contribute to your team’s goal!

How will you contribute? Watching videos, completing surveys, shopping online? These activities and more will help your team get ahead. If you’ve never used Swagbucks before, now is a great time to join, especially if you participate in the Team Challenge because it’s an opportunity to win an extra bonus for trying out the site.

All members who participate and contribute at least 300 points to their team’s total will receive a SB bonus in the form of a SB Swag Up Rebate! I can’t wait to help my team come in 1st place for that 40 SB rebate. The challenge lasts until November 25th so log in or make a free account! Pre-registration is open now.

Swagbucks- A ‘How To’ Guide

As many of my regular readers will know, I am talking about the ways I earn money on-line. These help me to pursue my Minimalist and Zero Waste ideals, allow me to work less and stay at home more and allow me to be more generous in my giving. Many of you have recently signed up to Swagbucks, following my endorsement of the site as one of the best ways to earn money on-line. I thought a ‘how to’ guide might be of use – I know it took me a while to get the hang of it.

Homepage tabs  – top to bottom on the left hand side

Shop: You can earn Swagbucks by shopping online with a wide variety of merchants. Click through to the site from Swagbucks to earn SB. I generally prefer to use the cashback sites I have previously mentioned, as I find the rates here poor. But they do have special offers from time to time. If you do choose to use Swagbucks, then make sure you clear your cookies and cache first, to try and ensure it tracks your purchase.

Watch: Earn points by watching Swagbucks TV, can watch videos from watch or via the SB toolbar (10 videos to fill the meter = 3SB). I find this fairly painful to do, as it doesn’t progress unless you sit with it open all the time. So I generally don’t bother – unless I’m really desperate!

Answer: Surveys, Daily Poll, Tasks
Gold Surveys: Answer surveys to earn points from various sources, including GlobalTestMarket, ResearchNow and Toluna. Points/length vary, usually you will get 1SB per survey disqualification (up to 5SB/day), unless it is starred to indicate no payout (usually when it goes through another router). These are your best bet to meet your target quickly and easily, so make sure to fill out your survey profiles for which you will also get awarded 2 SB per 10 questions. This is quick and easy to do. Sometimes you will get screened out for a variety of reasons, including; disqualification because you do not meet the criteria (usually established within a few questions), disqualification because you made an error (sometimes progressing too quickly, writing nonsense answers or making another validation error) or because the survey has met its required number of participants.

I recommend you take a screenshot of the completion page for every survey you complete, in case you are not credited and need to raise a support request to be credited later. This does not happen often, but it usually ensure you are credited for you time.

Peanut Labs Surveys (sometimes referred to as PL) are usually lower paying, so look here second. But they are useful on slower days and are sometimes really short & easy to complete. They will also give you up to 5SB per day in disqualification credits (useful on a slow day!)
Daily Poll: 1 question, 1SB per day (also appears on the homepage menu)
Tasks: Requires signup to Crowdflower. I’ve never believed tasks to be worthwhile and I feel they pay an absolute pittance. There are better and more reliable ways to earn. But if you’re used to crowd-sourcing sites, then you might like to give it a go.

Discover: Usually not worth bothering with, many of the offers won’t pay out or will require payment of some kind. Almost always they require either an email address or a phone number which will then get spammed constantly. My advice is to sign up for a separate email account or phone number to use for these sign-up offers. You can also download and install iOS/Android apps onto your phone for SB. These must be brand new apps that you have never downloaded before. I do these from time-to-time, but often they don’t credit. But they can be an easy way to get fast SB, or a total pain if you have to chase it up with the offer wall!

Search: Random amounts of Swagbucks are won from random searches, up to 3 wins a day, sometimes you might be lucky & get 4 wins. But these days I only get 1 win per day and some users report even less. Still worthwhile doing your searches here for the SB, although they use Yahoo which isn’t a patch on Google! I always use the search bar at the top of the homepage to do my searches. You will almost always need to input a captcha to claim your search win SB.

Play: Earn points by playing games for free, 2SB usually awarded for every 2 games completed, up to a max of 10SB a day. I alternate between Swag Jump and Swagasaurus run as these are the fastest. You need to wait 30 seconds between each game, to try and ensure credit but they don’t credit reliably for me and I have to go out and come back in to it later. You don’t need a specific score, so click to play and allow the dinosaur to fall off the cliff or the man to fall.

Rewards: Rewards Store, Swagstakes
– Rewards Store: Link to the Swagbucks store where you can redeem your swagbucks balance against e-giftcards such as Paypal, Amazon, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, etc
– Swagstakes: Use your swagbucks balance to buy tickets for draws to win prizes. This is gambling, so I don’t know why you’d bother to waste your hard earned Swagbucks here, but maybe it’s your thing?

To Do List

  1. Daily Poll (mentioned above) – 1sb/day
  2. Daily nCrave (watch 1 series of nCrave video, takes about 1 1/2 mins)
  3. Daily Search (mentioned above, make 1 winning search win)
  4. Daily Watch (Earn SB on your phone)
  5. Daily Discover (Use one of the offer walls successfully, look for a 1 SB video or download an app if you can). But this is the one I generally don’t achieve most days).
  6. Daily Answer (Complete 1 survey)
  7. Deal of the Day (Click through to be taken to a shop & earn page, you don’t need to make a purchase).

If you complete 6 out of 7 on this list, you will be awarded a random SB bonus (usually only 1 SB, but sometimes more).

Quick Links
— SwagButton: Browser extension that will alert you about swag codes, some swag codes are only valid when submitted via the SwagButton (not the Swag Code box at the top of the homepage). I personally don’t use this as I had a bad experience with a previous version crashing my computer and it was full of spyware and malware. Use at your own risk!
— Mobile Apps: There are 6 apps (see below for more info), can get 60sb/day minimum (more if bonus offers appear). These are the main way I get to my daily target as they can usually be left to run unattended and on silent.

Homepage Top Nav – left to right at the top of the homepage

Search: Can search the web (for possible SB wins) or shop (to see current offers)

Swag Code: If there is a current swag code, can enter it here (see above re: some codes only being valid via the SwagButton). Codes are generally valid for 1 hour when posted and copying and pasting is the quickest way to redeem them. Some are only valid for a specific country. There is a thread dedicated to Swag Codes here: so you can subscribe to get e-mail alerts instantly. I highly recommend you use this!

Daily Goal: You can enter more SBs by meeting your first or second daily goal (see below for more info)

Refer & Earn: Gives you forms/links to use for referrals

Inbox: Swagbucks may sometimes send you offers to your Swagbucks inbox found here, this can occasionally include survey opportunities and extra videos. Most of the time I find these hugely irrelevant and annoying, so I just trash them immediately. Unfortunately you cannot opt out currently.

[XXX SB]: This is your current Swagbucks balance

[SB Icon/Your Avatar]:Drop down menu
– My SB: Swagbucks ledger of points received over the full history, can be filtered by earning types and date, and record of collectors bills received (see below)
– Redeem SB: link to Swagbucks store
– My Shop & Earn: record of shop & earn qualifying orders
– My Swag Ups: list of earned swag ups (can be instant rebates when redeeming SB, or be linked to SB shop purchases)
– My Gift Cards: Your received gift cards
– Order Status: Record of all giftcard orders
– My Referrals: record of your referrals and how much they have earned for you.
– My Swagstakes: Record of Swagstakes entries
– My Settings: including survey profiles

Daily Goal (Bonus Targets)
Swagbucks have individual daily targets for users, your target is shown at the top left of your homepage with a meter showing your progress. By hitting the target they have set you you will earn yourself a bonus for that day [daily meter bonus] (generally 10% of the target, so 100SB target = 10SB bonus).

You will have 2 targets each day (1st = blue and 2nd = red), if you meet the 2nd target you get that amount of SB, not the total of 1st/2nd targets (e.g. 1st target 70SB for 7SB bonus, 2nd target 90SB for 9SB bonus; if you earn 72SB you will get 7SB bonus, if you earn 90SB you will get 9SB bonus). You can earn larger additional bonuses when you consistently meet your daily targets in a ‘winning streak’, winning streaks are recorded by meeting your 1st/blue daily target only and run by the calendar month. You can see which winning streak you’ve achieved by clicking “Show My Winning Streaks”). A day can only count in 1 winning streak and it is the maximum number of days you get in a row, ie 15 days in a row in 1 month you would get paid 1 bonus for 14 days only plus the daily bonuses for all 15 days, you can get separate winning streaks though ie 2 runs of 7 day streaks that were separate in that month.
Winning Streak Bonuses (meter super bonus)
– 7 Straight Days: 25 SB + Daily Bonuses
– 14 Straight Days: 100 SB + Daily Bonuses
– 21 Straight Days: 200 SB + Daily Bonuses
– Full month: 300 SB + Daily Bonuses

I highly recommend you try to meet your full month target, as it adds a nice top-up each month for free! It is doable, I meet it everyday.

You can see your history of daily targets if you click the calendar icon in the top right next to today’s date, from there you can click on any day and it will display what your targets were and how many SB you earned that day.

Bonuses are paid once a month by the 5th of the following month (e.g. Dec bonuses paid 5th Jan), they are not paid daily. They are paid as 2 amounts 1 for the Daily Meter Bonuses and 1 for the Super Meter Bonuses (winning streaks). You have to opt-in to collect your bonus. Your Daily Meter dropdown will have a large badge telling you to check your bonus, if you click on that it will display the bonus you’ve earned. You have to click Claim Bonus to get your bonus amounts. You generally have 2 weeks to do this once the bonuses have been calculated at the start of the month.

Can be found on the Watch page, but does not appear all the time/for everyone. Usually the offerings are links that you can click on (need to stay on the pages for a set amount of time for it to credit), or pages with content/videos (sometimes these can auto-update if there’s a Discover toggle in the top left, you need to stay on the page for it to progress). Generally it’s 2-3SB per page and this can be repeated many times, so a good earner when it’s available. I usually only do 1 or 2 of these a day, as I think they’re a slow and painful way to earn!

Instant Surveys
These appear on the homepage in the Answer section. They will always be the first card displayed (immediately to the right of Answer) – they are green and say “Instant”. They usually go quite quickly (sometimes in a couple of minutes). Generally they’re only 1-2 questions and are worth anywhere from 4sb to 20+ sb. Well worth doing!

Mobile Apps (Available on iOS and Android)

All award 2SB for watching videos (15 videos for 2SB on all except SB TV which is 5 videos for 2SB). You can earn 10SB per app, plus any bonus rounds. Bonus rounds are awarded once you’ve reached your 10SB. It will say you’ve reached your earning limit but you’ve qualified for a bonus round and tell you to watch X videos for 2SB more. These can repeat so if you’re willing to let it sit for a long time you can earn quite a bit extra. Bonus rounds are random, so don’t count on them. Do SBTV first, as it’s quicker to pay out if you need the SB.

SB Blog (
Top right: Hourly Random Winner: If your picture/username comes up here you can claim 1000SB, check regularly while you are online.

Homepage cards
The majority of the homepage under the search box is made up of ‘cards’ these are links to various earning opportunities.

Other Useful Info
The Swagbucks day starts and ends at 8am our time in the UK (except when UK/US daylight savings times are offset, then it’s 7am). Their Facebook pages are a good source of info, though tends to be relating to offers in US rather than here (Swagbucks and Swagbucks UK).
Collectors Bills
Sometimes Swagbucks release limited edition collections of ‘swagbills’ of various denominations on a theme which you can earn on searches randomly (as you normally would get a search win). If you collect them all during a specified time limit, you earn a bonus (usually 25SB  which does not count towards your daily target).

Sometimes Swagbucks run ‘team challenges’, you can join one of the teams to contribute points to that team by going about your normal daily earning, the members of the winning team get a bonus (usually 25SB does not count towards your daily target).

Pay outs take between  1-10 days to receive once requested (they send an email once it is fulfilled), occasionally it takes longer! It is up to you when you cash out, but I personally cash out at the lowest amount I am prepared to lose (often £10, sometimes £25). Swagbucks has been around for years, but sometimes these internet earning sites do go down without warning. You will be asked to verify your order – this is via the verify link which will ask you one of your security questions OR by email. I use security questions. At some point, often when placing your first order, you will be asked to verify your account. This only needs to be done once. The option to do this via mobile phone does not work for UK users, so will have to be done via postcard sent to the address in your profile. Postcards take around 7 to 10 days to arrive and will contain a PIN number for you to enter.

I hope that helps you to get started and isn’t completely overwhelming. There is a great thread about Swagbucks on the MoneySavingExpert Forums which you really should read. I would like to acknowledge their thread as my source for this post. Please ask here if you have any questions too. Happy Swagging!

How to buy a brand new Siemen’s fridge/freezer for free!

OK, so this month has been killer for us financially. We are doing major renovations on our house – now these were planned and budgeted for. However, then we found out one of our pets has a terminal illness cue a small fortune in vet’s bills. The kind where they give you a quote and it ends up being double. Now I wouldn’t change anything because our pets are part of the family, but if I didn’t save money like it’s going out of fashion – we would not have been able to pull these kinds of sums out of a hat. So when on top of all of this, our fridge/freezer decided to say goodbye – we could have been turning to Freecycle or worse, trying to do without. Or I suppose actually, most people would just put it on a credit card and end up paying many times the item’s original price. I’m writing this post to show you exactly where a little bit of on-line earning can get you in just a few months. I bet I’m not the only one facing unexpected strains on their finances, or you might just want to avoid getting into debt over Christmas.

I was just able to buy this Siemen’s Fridge/Freezer from John Lewis for free! Yes, you read that correctly- FREE! (If you are reading this tomorrow 29/09/16 onwards, then unfortunately their great deal will have ended. But here is something similar on Amazon and you can save up Amazon vouchers from all of these sites towards your purchase).


I want to show you something really tangible, more so than me just giving you the figures for what I earn online. Although, this fridge/freezer represents less than half of what I can earn online each month, just to give you an idea. But I’m not sharing this to boast, I’m sharing this because if I can do it – you can too! You can effectively give yourself a pay rise and make thousands of pounds every year, from the comfort of your sofa or bed!

The majority of my gift cards which were put towards this purchase came from Swagbucks, with a little from Pinecone, a little from a site called Valued Opinions (comment or message me if you want a referral link, as it must be sent to your email address) and 1 voucher from The Wise Society (comment of message me if you want to join up, if they ask for the name of your referrer and I will give you my name. I am not currently certain if they are taking new members). I will aim to write a little more about those last two survey sites ASAP. The small remainder was covered by sites like Newvistalive and Populuslive which pay in cash.

I was lucky enough to catch the last day of a deal offering a 3-year extended warranty for free, taking it to 5 years in total, free disposal of my old appliance (normally £9), £70 cashback which I was given instantly off the purchase price at the checkout and free delivery which is also standard on any item over £50. John Lewis comply with the UK Government’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations which came into force in 2007. This means that all recyclable elements of our old appliance will be recovered to make new consumer goods. I also love the fact that John Lewis offer eco delivery slots, so I was able to choose a time for delivery when they are already in my area – meaning that more fuel is saved. How very Zero Waste of me!

I am looking forward to receiving my fridge/freezer next week – not least because it will work, but it is an A++ rated appliance and should only cost about £22.50 per year to run. I don’t know what our current appliance rates at, but it’s around 10 years old and undoubtedly won’t be as efficient. I hope that this appliance lives a long life, as I hate the throw away and disposal nature of our society. We inherited our last appliance, so we didn’t have any choice, but it was a cheap brand not known for their longevity. Here’s hoping we have made a better choice. I know none of this makes our purchase ideal, but we are doing our best, along with having chosen an ethical retailer who is doing their best.

I hope this post encourages you to start using some of the methods I have mentioned recently. I will be posting about a lot more and although it seems overwhelming at first, just try to incorporate 1 at a time. Once you’ve built it into your daily routine, you can add another. Until it just becomes normal to check these sites in your spare time. I hope that by starting in the order I am listing them, you will get some good earners in place quickly and see the fruits of your labours. Please comment and let me know how you are getting on! I would love to hear how others are being helped by my posts. That’s all for now folks!