This is just a sampling of the items that I have received from BzzAgent over the years.
A program that I have mentioned many times and holds a special place in my thrifty heart is BzzAgent so it's about time (or very past due... either way) that I do a proper write up on it. I have been a BzzAgent since 2007.
The Main Program:
BzzAgent is a word of mouth (WOM) product testing program. They send you a product (often full size) or a coupon to get the product free in store in your "BzzKit". You try the product then spread your honest opinion online and in person. Sometimes your kit comes with samples or coupons to pass out to friends, family, or even strangers. After doing this, you report back on how you spread the word. The methods of doing this seem to change every few months. It used to be that you would just do a BzzReport. You would explain how you shared and what was said. Those are still available but there are other ways of sharing that vary from campaign to campaign. Some campaigns have the options to post a photo or write a review or tweet about it on Twitter. This sounds more time consuming and laborsome than it actually is. The reporting/sharing is not work at all as you are usually so excited to share that you got the item free that you want to talk about it. The actions that follow take anywhere from a minute to about ten. My husband actually joined during 2013 and joined at a great time for guys because they were the target demographic for several campaigns in a row. He got to test razors (free razors are never turned down by a military man), Dr. Scholls, some toys for the kids, etc.
Your BzzKit is the main reward and point of the program. I have gotten anything from three packs of gum (5 gum was one of my first campaigns) to an $179 Sonicare toothbrush for free! If you are near a Kroger (or affiliate) store, you are VERY lucky as they do Kroger exclusive campaigns frequently. Unfortunately I am no longer near one :(
When certain actions are approved or when you take certain surveys, you get points for the Mypoints program. This site I have been through even longer than BzzAgent. The points that you earn can be turned in for gift cards for many different stores, restaurants, and more. While I don't shop through MyPoints (I use Shopathome almost exclusively as explained here), it is an option. You can also earn points for surveys (I usually don't bother on this site), taking quick polls, printing and using coupons, and "reading" (really just clicking the link) emails. I have gotten many restaurant gift cards to treat the family to a night out.
--Patience is key with this program! You might get lucky and get a campaign offer within a week. You also might have to wait a few months to get picked. It's worth the wait. You don't do much while you are waiting. Make sure your surveys are up to date (once you get through the ones that are there when you join, there are very few throughout the year) as this is what they use to pick people. Even after you work your BzzScore up to a high number, you can have some months where you have multiple simultaneous campaigns, then go several months without any invitations.
--Quality over quantity when you are doing the actions. A few actions scored "excellent" is better than many marked "fair". Do try to do at least 2-3 actions per campaign though.
--Your actions expire after one year. This will affect your overall BzzScore so if it drops and you check that all of your surveys are done, there is nothing to worry about.
--While most campaigns are free, there are occasionally ones that are just for discounts. You do NOT ever have to accept a campaign that you do not want to do (no matter the reason). It will not affect your future eligibility (as long as you didn't accept it then not do anything for it).
--You really are encouraged to be honest. Your job is not to sell the product, it is to spread the word and provide useful feedback. You will not become ineligible for future campaigns by providing negative feedback. The only personal tip I have is to do it in a tactful way. Instead of saying "I hated product Z and would never buy it!", you might find something you liked about it as well or something that they could change to make you like it. For example, "While I liked the size and shape of product Z, it's performance did not live up to my expectations because of ____" or "I did not like how product Z performed but I think that if they made the lid wider, it would have produced better results".
--Along with keeping up with your surveys, make sure that you link up your shopper reward cards for any grocery stores that they offer like Kroger, Ralph's, etc. It expands your chances of campaigns.
While I am not in love with Crowdtap anymore, they have been trying to butter me (well not me but all of the disgruntled members) up with new offers. My newest was a sample for Hershey's new chocolate spreads. They come in three flavors: chocolate, chocolate with hazelnut, and chocolate with almond. Of course they sent me the one I was hoping I wouldn't get... the one with almonds. I don't mind almonds but they certainly are not my favorite. Nevertheless, it IS chocolate. Our duty was to try the spread with many different items. The shipments were very delayed so I haven't tried it with many things but its pretty good with cookies (especially Pepperidge Farm's Sausalito) and fruit. The next time I make waffles, I would love to try making sandwiches with this and sliced banana. I've done it before with peanut butter and it is soooo good. The spread is very cream and spreads like a dream. It's not good for you. At all. Not even a little bit. Use sparingly especially if pairing it with other junk like above ;)
Considering it was shopping I was going to do anyway, this is a great chunk of change to get back (there were some other checks back from other sites but this is the main one I use).
As a thrifty online shopper, utilizing a cash back site is a must. Every time you shop, you earn money back. My favorite site to use is ShopAtHome. In fact, I use it almost exclusively. The only time I don't use it is if the store I am shopping at is not available on ShopAtHome or if I am joining a new cash back site to get the new member bonus. All of the sites that I have seen (and I am a member of several) have rules about using coupons not listed on their sites (so if you use one, they don't have to give you the cash back) but I have never had a problem getting the cash back from ShopAtHome.
Another thing I love about the site is that they often have one of the highest cash back percentages but when they don't, they have a 110% guarantee. This means that if you find a better offer from another free (so not one of the credit card ones like Discover), they will match and surpass it. So if they offer 9% on Store A and Ebates is offering 10% on Store A, you copy Ebates' Store A page and paste it in the guarantee. ShopAtHome will then give you 11%. This sounds like a complicated process to search different sites but luckily there is a shortcut. A site called Cash Reporter
(no registration necessary) allows you to search multiple cash back sites at once. You go there (bookmark it), type "Store A" in the search bar and click on the highest link. It will have a popup ask you if you are a member of that site. Click "yes" whether you are or not (otherwise it won't take you to Store A's page, it will take you to a sign up page). This process is a bit tricky at first but after doing it a few times, it will be very quick and second nature. Once you reach $20, they automatically send you a check in the mail. I actually just got one this week from my pre- Black Friday sale shopping.
Add this process to searching for a coupon code on retailmenot and you will save a pretty penny. If you would like to join ShopAtHome, you can click here
(this is my referral link which earns me a bonus, you may go to the main site if you don't feel comfortable). When you join and make your first purchase within 30 days, we both get $5 bonus.
Another program that I use is called SheSpeaks. The program has gone through some major changes (moving from more of a product testing site to a discussion site) so I don't use it that much anymore. I do occasionally log in to see if I have any good offers to apply for. I have gotten tests from frozen potatoes to makeup to this
neat kit of P&G products. The reason I bring up the program now is because they have a sweepstakes going on now. Every time somebody signs up using my referral link, we are both entered to win the Philips Airfryer (shown above) which supposedly results in crisp food without the use of oil (retails for $299). It sounds great so if you would like to enter to win, the link is here.
And if you do win, come back and let me know so I can be jealous, I mean happy for you ;)
So today did not start out very well. I am not a morning person to begin with. I'd rather stay up two hours later than normal than wake up 15 minutes earlier. This morning my oldest son was dragging his butt to get ready for school. I kept telling him to hurry up and leave. He did leave at at time that would get him to the bus stop on time but we prefer to have him leave a couple minutes early in case it comes early. Guess what happened today? Of course it was early. Of course. And my son who sometimes surprises me with his lack of common sense didn't realize that "no kids at the bus stop" + "leaving about 2 minutes later than normal" = "you missed the bus!" until a whopping 15 minutes later. When he walked in 10 minutes before school was set to start (which is a 15 minute drive) I was none too pleased. Little one was in the bathroom so I quickly packed his lunch into his bag because we would be missing his bus (and really hoping to even have him to his school closer to the house on time) while taking the oldest to school. Once he ... finished up and threw some clothes on we headed out the door. I was in my pajamas still but had no time to change. Then I see the frost on the windshield... of course. My husband took my ice scraper out of my car a few months ago and never put it back in. So I scraped it off with an old gift card that I had in my car. Then we were stuck traffic. It was awesome (not!) running into the school to sign my son in with pajamas and messy hair especially since I also saw two parents I know... fantastic, really. We barely got to my youngest's school on time (technically I think he was 1-2 minutes late but I didn't get out and he said they let him to class without going to the office). I got home and was cold and cranky but went about my day. As the time went on, I wanted something warm to beat the cold.
I got this free sample of Gevalia Mocha Latte in the mail last week. It is not something that I had to do a write up on but I decided to share since I was trying it for the first time anyway. I was always an anti-coffee person. Not only did I HATE coffee, I could taste the slightest bit in a recipe that claimed you couldn't taste it. Over the years I have tried some of the heavily flavored/sweetened coffees since the smelled so wonderful but still hated it. This year it changed. I now like the heavily flavored/sweetened coffee drinks like mocha fraps, pumpkin spice latte (with some extra sweetener), etc. My favorite so far is the English Toffee cappuccino from Wawa... so delicious. Don't tell me how many calories are in them because I don't want to know but I do only have them every once in a while like a liquid dessert. So back to the sample. These at home lattes come in two parts. You pour the packet in the mug first then brew the k-cup in your Keurig like normal. As it drips, you can see the packet mix start to foam up instantly. The bottom middle photo is the latte before stirring but after it was done brewing. It sounded kind of like Pop Rocks as it foamed up. When I tried it, it tasted too much like coffee for me... shocking right? I added a squeeze of hot fudge and it made it mocha enough for me. I'm not sure how much these cost to buy but it wasn't bad so if they aren't too expensive, they would make a nice treat. I could probably get the same effect using a hand blender and some milk but I've never tried it.
I get free K-cup samples frequently by following deal blogs on facebook. They are a "hot" deal so they are posted all over otherwise I would just miss it. Just in the past month or two I have received a couple packs (2-4 cups each except this latte which just had one) that included a couple different kinds of Lipton tea, Green Mountain coffee, etc. Since I don't drink coffee or hot tea often, this is a few month's worth for me. They almost always come with coupons as well. Some blogs to follow (I follow a ton but these are good to start with) would be Swaggrabber
. And if you like the fancy beverages but not paying full price for them, Starbucks has their holiday drinks for BOGO from today through the 17th 2-5pm.
When Smiley offered me a campaign for the kids that was a healthy snack, I accepted right away. I have seen these types of applesauce pouches before but never bought them. This is mainly because they are so pricey (even the cheap brands) and seem wasteful as far as the thick pouches plus box. I haven't ever seen this particular brand GoGo Squeez at the store I usually shop so I can't comment properly on availability. According to the website, they are sold at Target and CVS which I do shop at frequently. ***Edit: I happened to find them at Walmart while looking at canned veggies and they carried about 4-5 flavors!
--They are 100% fruit so no added sugar. This is how I like applesauce in general. It is sweet enough, why ruin the nutrition with extra sugar.
--It comes in 11! different flavors according to the information they sent me. They sent us the "appleapple" flavor which is just regular applesauce but the applepeach really sounds yummy.
--It is convenient. This would be the reason these things are so popular (and pricey). You can take them anywhere, they do not have to be refrigerated, and the lid is resealable (if for some reason you can't finish a 3oz pouch?). A spoon is also unnecessary which is good if your little one often forgets.
--If your child is in a "nut-free" classroom (this would be my youngest's situation for the last two years), applesauce cups and pouches are on most of the "approved snacks" lists.
--It is non-GMO, no added colors or flavors
--The packaging. While it's BPA-free so not a health issue, I try to be as green as I can without putting in too much extra effort in. For snacks away from the home, I prefer to send fresh fruit or use a reusable container to send dry snacks.
--The price. For the cost of one 4-pack, I could buy two medium jars of applesauce and give my kids a loooot of 3oz bowls of applesauce. If I really wanted pouches, they do even sell reusable ones now. These are cheaper than some of the other brands though at about $2.50 (Walmart) per four-pack. Like I said above, I'd really just rather send fruit or dry snacks and leave the applesauce for at home though.
If you would like to try them out for yourself, click here
for a $.75 off coupon.
Remember how I promised to share my new favorite program after announcing that I no longer recommend Crowdtap? Well here it is. Expo is a great program that earns rewards quickly
The main program:
The main point of the program is to provide short 1-2 minute video reviews. When you go to your "dashboard", there are two different places you can look to see what videos they are looking for at the time. One is "Invitations" and the other is "Most Wanted" on the right. For both of them, there is a little "see all ___" on the top right of the column that you can click on to see more. Points vary from 300 points to a few thousand (usually those are for specific models of more expensive items but hey, you never know, you might have the item) that you turn in for rewards. Most videos are reviews of products (some are very specific model numbers, others are "any ___ product" types) but they do have some that are asking you questions. Recent examples of that type would be "what is your favorite thing about the fall?" or "how does your schedule change for back to school?" Occasionally there will be a quick survey in the invitations section that will give you points (I recently took one on solar panels for 50 points that was very short).
There are many rewards to choose from but the one I always go for no matter the program is the gift card section. For Expo there is a "Gift cards" section, an "e-gift certificate" section that will be emailed to you, and an "Amazon e-gift certificate" section. Applebees $5 gift cards start at 550 points, printable $5 Brinker (Chili's, On The Border, etc) e-gift certificates start at 563 points, and $5 Amazon gift certificates start at 600 points just to give you an idea of the value and how quickly they add up. You get 500 bonus points for your first approved video so even if you do a video that is only 300 points, that is 800 points right off the bat. There are many other rewards as well from movie tickets to electronics to household items.
Tips for video approval:
--The video *must* be horizontal or it will upload sideways. I use and ipod Touch so I had trouble with this at first because I am used to holding it vertically. Even if it autocorrects on your device, it will still load sideways to the site.
--Don't forget that you must be in the video and if it is a product review video, the product must be shown as well.
--Write down on a sticky note the information that you will need so you won't forget when shooting the video. You must state the brand name, product (or model) name, and model number if applicable, as well as any info that particular video might ask for. I had a small appliance that I just stated the model name but not the actual number and it was not approved so don't forget all of those details.
--Have somebody else hold the camera or prop it on something so that it is steady, they do not like shaky videos.
--Don't know what to say to fill the time? After stating the above info, you can say how long you have had it, what color/pattern you chose, what you like about it, what you dislike about it, where you bought it, what you would change about the product if you could, etc. If it's not something really loud (or with copyrights for things like dvds), you can demonstrate how it works as well.
--Smile, have fun. I have only done a couple videos and was stiff and nervous in them. They still get approved (as long as they follow the above, my first couple did get rejected because I forgot things here an there) but it's kind of painful to watch your own boring videos.
Other ways to earn:
--Referrals. When you refer a friend AND they upload their first video, you get 200 points. The link I posted below IS my referral link. If you don't feel comfortable, you can always just go to ExpoTv's main site to join.
--Surveys. They have a survey panel called Outlook Panel where you can take surveys for sweepstakes entries or for points. I only do the ones for points and even though they have a separate sign up for this part of the site, the points still go to your Expo account. I used the same email but not sure if that is required.
--Tryology. Tryology is their product testing program. There is not a separate signup, it is part of the Expo program. Every once in a while they will have a Tryology program where they will send out a free product in exchange for a video review of it. When you have an invitation to apply, it will appear in the Tryology column on your dashboard right above Invitations. If it is something that you would like to try, you fill out a short screener. You get 10 points just for filling out the screener (they are very quick) and if accepted, you'll find out a while later, usually a couple weeks. They will mail you the product, you try it out, then make the video. Sometimes the product has not been released to the general public yet so you will have to sign a confidentiality agreement saying that you won't talk about the product (online or in person) until the product launches. I have gotten a couple neat products from this program. Since they want an honest review, you do not receive points for your video but a free product in exchange for a 1-2 minute video is still a great deal.
If you would like to join, you can click here
. I will be doing other write-ups like this on the other programs that I use as well in the near future so that you can see the pros and cons of each before making a decision to join or not.
Well tonight I got to spend some time with E (the person not the drug o_O) shopping for some activewear for free courtesy of Crowdtap and Old Navy. After my amazing trip for the winter Active sample share (you can read about that here
), I was expecting a lot. To be honest, when I first walked in, I was a bit underwhelmed. Then as I started browsing, it got a little worse because somethings from the somewhat small selection were already clearance. From my selection photos, it looks like there is a lot of selection but most of the tops were sports bras and a good portion of the tops and bottom from the photos were clearance and just mixed in. All of the things that are crossed out in red were not available at all in my store (I was really looking forward to that top, faux layered tank). As you can see, it's a lot of red. Then the orange was because the padded cami was not available in those colors. In fact, it was only available in gray.
I actually really liked the padded cami (if I had chosen this, I would have had to go up a size though because my girls could not breathe) and strongly considered it. In the end I chose to get another compression jacket even though I know that I won't be able to wear it for a few months because of the heat. You already know how much I love them. The padded cami looked great and was both practical and versatile. Since I was going to get it free, I chose the $35 jacket to put away for the fall. I figure that Old Navy will more than likely have a 40-50% off and since the cami is regularly priced at $20, I am taking the chance that I can grab it for a reasonable price. The bubble top was ok but probably not something that I would wear to workout. Many of it's colors were clearance already. The mesh tee was ok but not my favorite.
My biggest disappointment was the selection of bottoms. It has already been hot in this area and almost all of the bottoms were long pants. There were some shorts (not my thing) and only one type of capris (in 3 I think? colors) that were not clearance. They did not have the skort that I really wanted to try to see if it was long enough on me. I honestly was shocked the proportion of pants that they had. Most stores have already been taken over by shorts and capris by now and just have a few pants for those that use them year round. I got the black with pink detail capris shown above. I love them. I loved the way they felt and fit. I wasn't sure which ones I was going to get between those and the same pair with blue but I went with the pink since I have a hot pink athletic tee. I love the two pieces that I got so overall the trip was success. I think that E got the outfit from the bottom right photo.
I forgot to post this preview earlier but better late than never right? I love love love the top faux layered tank. It has coverage and comes in great colors. The padded cami is cute and look versatile (able to be worn with non workout clothing). Since the pants are too long, there are several capris that I want to try. My favorite item though? The skort. It has compression shorts (love compression gear but don't like the lack of modesty of tight, thin material on my bum) but is covered up with a skirt. If it fits longer on me than it does on the model in the photo (which Old Navy clothing usually does), it will be the perfect bottom for hot summer workouts.
The image is from the Tastykake site. For more information on the product, click on it and it will take you there.
One of the items from the Spring Fever Voxbox that I recently got for free from Influenster was the new (I think it's new anyway, I've never seen it before) Tastykake Kandy Bar Kake. I got the S'mores flavor which at first really bummed me out because I can't eat marshmallows now (gelatin... ground bone and stuff... boo). But after reading through the ingredients a few times, found that there is no gelatin so they must use a marshmallow fluff/creme type product. Yay I can eat it! "You're going to share with me right?" says the husband. Crap really?! "yes of course" I say grudgingly. I grew up loving Tastykakes (I am a Jersey girl after all) then didn't have them in CA and the selection in TX was lacking. We are back on the east coast for now and let me tell you, they are still as good as they used to be. When I was in high school, I used to tutor another student who paid me in Butterscotch Krimpets. I kid you not, I worked for Krimpets. And Kandy Kakes? Yuuuummmm. These Kandy Bar Kakes are light fluffy cakes with a creamy center and covered in the best food group ever ... chocolate. What? Chocolate is not a food group? Crap. Well anyway, these were delicious. By looking at the three available flavors online, I think that the Reeses is probably the best but the S'mores were great as well. They do not take over as my favorite but they are right up there. The product information that I was given says that they are about $4.49 for the family pack but I have seen the Tastykake packs for as low as $2 on sale. You can get over to their website where you can see all of their products and where you can buy them by clicking on the image above or here