This past year has been a hard one. There have been a lot of things happening which interrupted our routines, stretched us as a family, and still challenge us daily. In this season, I have learned to say “no” more often and even taken a look at where I have been spending my time. With my stress levels going up, I had decided that not everything could be kept going like it had been, some things had to be put aside for a season. One area I really cut back on, which I never thought I would do, was in earning Amazon and Paypal gift cards through the online activities. For years this had been an area that I used to have a little extra spending, something that I did not add to our monthly budget but would use for those fun or unusual items. When we changed our internet provider, we also changed the plan we were using. While the new plan saved us money, it had a limit on the amount of data we could use. Any usage above the limit we would pay more for, which would have negated the reason for changing – to save money. To say we are an internet dependent family would be an understatement. Here are just a few examples:
- Our phone service (Republic Wireless) works off of our WiFi service at home (and the Sprint network when we are out-and-about.)
- We watch movies from Netflix or Amazon instead of paying for cable (though we learned quickly that Amazon movies are in HD and used up a massive amount of monthly allotment).
- I show the kids Youtube videos to go along with what we may be learning about or to teach them something over breakfast.
- My husband enjoys playing online games in his (limited) free time.
- I write and post to the blog from home.
- We check the news, weather, and email online.
- I reserve books from the library and keep track of what is due when.
- We do most of our banking online.
- We use Skype to talk to relatives overseas.
There were two months where we went over our allotted usage and had to pay extra. It was not much, but it was more than we normally would pay. This was a time when too much was going on and I could not spend the time to keep track of how much we had used or how close we were coming to our limit. So I made the hard decision to stop watching all Swagbuck videos and doing other activities (surveys, Encrave, etc.). It really was a hard decision because it had become a routine part of my day, something I did without even thinking. Part of that routine also involved signing in to Bing everyday. When my Swagbucks routine changed, my Bing routine also suffered. That was in February. Wow, a lot has gone on since then. The light at the end of the (home remodeling) tunnel is fast approaching, my husband is about to begin his last year of school, and I feel so much better about the upcoming school year. These are/were the top three areas of stress for me. Yes, I realized two of them are things we brought on ourselves. Sometimes I wonder what we were thinking, but they are a season not the new normal. Last week I decided that it was time to start these routines again. It may not look exactly like it did before, but that does not mean I should not do them. Actually, I have a goal in mind which I want to save towards. A Big Hair Audacious Goal, if you will. Most of Jack’s 1st grade curriculum has been chosen, but there are a few things I want to add to what I already have lined up. The thing is, I am not looking to spend a lot on curriculum. That is where Bing and Swagbucks come into play. Between now and September, my goal is to save up enough to buy
- A math curriculum; something like math mammoth ($41.69 with shipping) or math-u-see ($73 plus $49 for supplemental items, $122 without shipping).
- My Calendar Book ($8.65 with shipping, can pay through PP)
I used this same method when saving up to purchase cloth diapers and was thrilled with how quickly I was able to fill the need we had.
In addition to saving up, I will also be looking for used sources online and perhaps even giveaways for this curriculum.
To be honest, I have not looked at my accounts before setting this goal. I know that I have some unused credits, as I was saving them up at the time I stopped earning them. However, I do not remember what they are or how much they are worth.
Bing Summary: At the end of January I had 776 credits. Seems I somehow earned 16 credits in the month of June without even knowing it. I must have somehow been logged in while doing some searches. Either way, every little bit counts, so I am happy about that. At the start of June 30, 2015 I have 1061 rewards. This is worth about $10.
Swagbucks Summary: At the beginning of June 25, 2015 I had 5,551 SB. This could be redeemed for 2 – $25 Paypal cards.
With 2 months left till I plan to shift to a full school schedule, and begin 1st grade, this would leave just over $70 needed to fully cover the math curriculum and book mentioned above. That works out to earning $35 in gift cards per month, or $8.75 per week. When broken down into the per month or per week values, the larger goal seems a lot more achievable.
The path to a goal is made up of steps; take one step at a time and soon you will find yourself at the end. Often I tell my kids, “Don’t worry about all that needs to be done. Just focus on what you need to do next.” Seems I will be reminding myself of that in the next few weeks.
I have posted several Swagbucks posts lately, and there will be a few more coming up. This is to help encourage myself as well as those of you who may be looking to earn a few gift cards for your own goals. If you have never tried Swagbucks, click here to get started. It takes only a few seconds and you will be on your way to acheiving your own BHAG!
How about you? Is there something large you are wanting to save up to purchase? Something fun you would like to get? Let’s work toward this together and encourage each other to keep going.
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