Well, we made it, everyone. After months of buildup, Christmas finally arrived in all its splendor last Friday. I sincerely hope that you had a wonderful holiday with family and friends. This year was our first Christmas with multiple children and while it was all kinds of magical, it was also incredibly exhausting! I think the world failed to mention to us that Christmas is just as exhausting (if not more) for parents as it is for kids.
Now we’re in that interesting in-between week where Christmas is behind us and we’re now faced with the impending new year. Maybe you’re avoiding it, or maybe you’re turned to the new year with open arms. Have you started thinking about your resolutions? I am kicking around a few ideas but want to be intentional with them this year, so it is taking me a little longer.
One resolution I know for sure that I want to make (and keep) is to slow down my spending habits and get our family in a better place financially this year. My husband and I have been taking baby steps towards a better financial life since graduating college, but having a couple of kids and looking ahead to preschool and beyond has kind of been a wakeup call for us, in the best way of course. I have a feeling that 2016 is going to be a big year for us and I want us to be ready for anything.
Pinterest must know what’s up, because recently a lot of my ‘recommended pins’ are titled something like “50 million ways to make money as a stay-at-home-mom.” After reading a few of these articles, I noticed one company that kept popping up: Swagbucks. It seemed to be a pretty legit company and I was surprised to see quite a few of my facebook friends had ‘liked’ their page (people I trust, so that’s something). I decided to sign up and check it out. Naturally, I wanted to share my honest-to-goodness opinion of it all because (a) I like you and (b) I think it’s worth trying out but you should know a few things first.
For those who aren’t familiar with the company, Swagbucks is a company that offers rewards points to users for completing several different tasks. Those rewards points can then be cashed in for gift cards to stores like Target, Amazon and Starbucks (which are, coincidentally, the top three places where I spend most of my money). 500 Swagbucks (“SB”) can get you a $5 gift card. If you earn 2500 SB ($25) or higher, you can choose to get paid cash via PayPal.
It is probably most commonly known as a survey site, but I was surprised to learn there are many ways to earn SB besides just taking surveys. Here’s a breakdown of how you can earn SB on their site:
- Surveys: A large portion of how you can earn SB is by taking surveys posted on Swagbucks. These surveys are for a variety of different industries and products, and can vary pretty widely in terms of what they are looking for and how much you can earn. Frankly, I started off trying to take as many surveys as I possibly could and I learned pretty quickly that I’m not the ideal candidate for many companies. I’m white, I’m a stay-at-home mom, our household income is high enough to allow me to be a stay-at-home mom, and on top of all that I have a master’s degree. For any given survey, at least one of those qualities disqualifies me. Might be a bummer, but there is nothing I can do about it. Just know that if you’re hoping to strike it big with points in the survey department, it may be hit or miss depending on what the surveyors are looking for.
- Shop: Swagbucks has contracts with several companies (like Amazon, Macy’s, Target, Gap, Old Navy, etc) where you can earn points for every dollar you spend. This, in my opinion, is the best way to earn SB because chances are you’re going to do online shopping anyway….why not get some sort of return on it? I did learn the hard way that you should read the fine print on what you can actually earn SB on for those sites. I did most of my Christmas shopping on Amazon and when I paid the bill I thought, “Man! I’m going to get SO MANY points in return!” Only to find out later that half of my purchases didn’t qualify for SB. Wah-wah.
- Watch: Companies want you to watch their videos, whether it’s little online clips about a product or an interview, or movie trailers. If you are looking to kill some time, this would be a great option. I haven’t had much luck earning SB this way on my desktop, mainly because I don’t want to sit at the computer while I’m with the girls. The Swagbucks phone app does have a “watch” option and only shows movie trailers. I will sometimes watch the trailers while I’m nursing little M, but it drains my battery. I do find a way to use the app to my benefit though, keep on reading and I’ll explain below.
- Discover: Basically, this is a way for companies to get their name out there with consumers. They offer a huge amount of SB to sign up for something, or to agree to a trial of their products. I don’t use this at all, because it’s counter intuitive for me to make a purchase on something just to get a few extra SB. I also don’t like giving out my personal information and don’t really want to get a bunch of junk mail, so I shy away from signing up for trials of products.
- Play: If you’re a gamer, this is for you. There are a ton of different games you can play on your desktop and you earn SB when you do play. I am the absolute opposite of a gamer, so I don’t touch this section of the website at all. It also looks like you might have to pay to play in the first place which, again, goes against the whole “trying to earn money without spending it” mentality.
When I was in high school, the primary fundraiser we were required to participate in (yay, Catholic school) was the annual chocolate sale. Everyone was required to sell at least the minimum amount of boxes and, of course, there were incentives for those kids who wanted to sell more. There were always a few huge prizes that they dangled in front of everyone like carrots. I’m pretty sure one of the prizes was a trip to Disney World, which was given away as a raffle prize. All you had to do was sell ‘x’ number of boxes, and you would earn a ticket in the raffle. It always seemed like an easy feat, but in reality, I’m a terrible salesperson and never was able to sell more than the minimum amount of chocolate. I would always start out with super high expectations at the beginning, but about four days later I would completely realign my goals to be more realistic. What can I say, I’m a dreamer.
Anyway, I liken Swagbucks to the prizes offered in the chocolate sale. When looking at all of the ways to earn points, it seems like it would be easy to earn enough SB to get a $25 PayPal payout. In reality, unless you are glued to your computer for hours on end, it is a lot harder to achieve.
Here’s the deal. Earning 500 SB is not super hard. You’re getting a $5 gift card for doing very little. It wouldn’t make sense for Swagbucks to make it easy for you to earn much more than that in a short period of time, because it has to be a profitable business. As long as you are able to recognize this and understand that you are not going to get rich using Swagbucks, I would recommend giving it a try.
I earned my first $5 gift card (Target) within about 30 days. If I had it my way I would have earned it sooner but, again, it’s like free money so I have learned not to expect it to come right away. My second $5 gift card will be arriving much sooner. Here is how I earned my points:
- Online shopping: This was by far the quickest way for me to earn SB. It helped that I needed to get all of my Christmas shopping done and was not at all interested in going into an actual store with my girls. If you have any plans to shop online, I would definitely recommend checking to see how many points you would earn for every dollar you spend. Something to note, though, is that once you make your purchase your SB earned will not show up on your dashboard for at least a couple of days and when they are recognized, it will take another couple of weeks before those SB points are actually able to be used. They end up being in a “pending” status for quite some time. So yes, use Swagbucks when shopping online, but don’t forget to read the fine print to make sure you will actually earn points and don’t expect to use the SB earned anytime soon.
- Taking surveys: Out of about 30 attempted surveys, I qualified for ONE. That was incredibly frustrating. The one upside to this is for most of the surveys I didn’t qualify for, I did end up earning 1 SB for trying. So, when I am trying to pass the time while nursing M at night, I’ll go through each of the surveys that end up in my queue. It’s a pretty simple way to pass time if you’re bored.
- Watching movie trailers: While I would love to sit and watch trailers all day, I don’t want to be glued to my phone while I am with my girls. I feel like I do that enough already. I did find, though, that the trailers will automatically loop if I play them on my phone, meaning I very rarely would have to click anything. So, in an attempt to earn some SB while I am playing with the girls and completely removing my phone from my hands, I’ll plug my phone in during breakfast and press “play” on the first trailer that pops up. You earn 2 SB for every 6 trailers watched, which isn’t a lot, but it can add up over a couple of hours. The way Swagbucks earns money on this, by the way, is that you have to sit through a 30 second ad before you get to watch the trailer itself. Most of the time the ads will close automatically, but sometimes they require to be closed manually before moving onto the trailer. I’ll check my phone every once in awhile just to make sure it is not stuck on an ad.
- Daily SB codes: I allowed the Swagbucks app to send me push notifications, so I’ll get a note every time Swagbucks posts a code somewhere on social media for an extra 3 points. Honestly, I’ll only do it if I see the code right there in the notification. Rarely will I actually go hunting for the code they posted on Facebook or Instagram, though they do tend to post there more frequently.
One last opinion…I personally think the Swagbucks app is terrible. It has very limited functionality and I have had it close down on me in the middle of surveys and movie trailers. I usually do not believe in conspiracy theories, but I would not be surprised if the app is programmed to shut down after a certain amount of time to prevent someone from earning SB too quickly (say, by looping movie trailers). Speaking of conspiracy theories, I would also not be surprised if Donald Trump’s whole presidential campaign is a ploy to get someone else elected, but that’s another topic for another day.
Anyway, if you’re serious about earning that $5 I would still download the app to watch trailers, try out surveys and check your SB balance, but just expect gliches every now and then (again, it’s free money so we can’t really complain).
I know this is a lot of information, but I do think it is important to know some of the nuances of Swagbucks before signing up. I do recommend checking it out if you are interested in saving a few extra bucks at your favorite store. Just know that it is not something that happens overnight but over time, it can be helpful when you need to lower your bill (or just cover the sales tax).
Any Swagbucks users out there? I’d love to hear your thoughts or tricks, if you have any.