Swagbucks, Netflix, and Ebates
How have they worked for me so far? Let's investigate.
What is it? Mainly a search engine where you earn fake money every time you do a search. This fake money adds up and you can swap it for real prizes i.e. Amazon gift cards, etc. You can also earn fake money by doing surveys, answering questions, etc.
How complicated is it? Not very. It's pretty easy to register, and then you just need to remember to use this website for googling, instead of, well, Google. Since I'm using Chrome as a browser, this is actually not super-convenient (I can just enter my search into the address bar, rather than even going to a search engine website). But, I think if you are really dedicated to earning fake money, it can really pay off for you in terms of real-world prizes.
Best thing I got from this website so far: A free Netflix membership! And OK, you can get one month free from Netflix just by registering, but by registering through the Netflix link on Swagbucks, I also earned 1,000 fake dollars. Which is about half as much as I need to get a $25 Amazon gift card. So... yay?
What is it? A subscription movie-and-TV-streaming service heavily promoted by Dan Savage, Roger Ebert, and every personal finance blogger in the universe.
How complicated is it? Not very hard at all to register. They get you to rate a bunch of movies to make up a baseline for your interests, which helps them to suggest titles to you. This is very nice; the EXTREMELY limited amount of things available in Canada is pretty annoying, though. Also, it streams through Blu-Ray players, media boxes, and some gaming setups but not my very old TV. So if I want to watch stuff, it has to be on my small laptop screen (annoying).
Best thing I got from the website so far: Well, one free month of movies and TV shows to watch. Not that I've actually done this yet, but it's nice to have that availability. And if I pay for a subscription, it's like $8 a month, which is substantially cheaper than paying for cable. Although - TV has much more selection and I get to watch it on a TV, rather than a laptop screen. I was briefly tempted to buy a Blu-Ray player as some sort of misguided investment in using Netflix instead of cable, but I quickly realize that the frugal answer is just to borrow DVDs from the library and read books instead.
What is it? Some sort of website where, when you buy stuff from their affiliated partner websites, you earn a certain amount of money back. I don't know how this works or why.
How complicated is it? Not very. You register (I think you can just log in with your Facebook or Twitter account, even) and then look at their listing of stores. As with Netflix, there are way less options for Canadians. However, this tricked me into buying some stuff I didn't want beforehand, in order to "earn" money back. Note to self: buying something you don't really need in order to get 4% back is not actually saving money. It is losing 96% of the cost of the item.
|The bottom line|
These are all nice services, and I think in the long run could add up. For instance, if I cancelled TV and decided that watching all of the episodes of Being Erica sounded like a fun way to spend my time, while making online purchases from Sears and Roots, then I would be saving money.
But there really isn't a quick and easy way to save money. Like Gail V-O would probably say, it all comes down to willpower. I have to focus on saving money, not on looking for shortcuts/loopholes.