Update, Refresh, and Relaunch Coming Soon

Over the next several months, I will be working on updating, refreshing, and relaunching this blog. And I promise, when I’m done, I’m going to be a much better blogger than I’ve been for the last two years.

Stay tuned….

7 Ways To Build Extra Room In Your Budget

(Disclaimer: I have referral links listed throughout this post.)

Raise your hand if you’ve ever wished you had a little extra room in your budget for things.

If you have your hand up, put it down.  Cause you’re lying.

At some point or another, everyone has wished they had a little bit more money they could do things with.

7 Ways Build Extra Room In Budget

Now, let me start by saying that none of these are “get rich quick” tricks.  In fact, I don’t expect you to get rich doing any of these.  But finding an extra $25-$50 a month can be HUGE for some people.

And if you’re like me, and you have a new baby coming (or you already have kids), then every little extra dollar you can come up with helps.

So, here we go:

7 Ways to Build Extra Room In Your Budget

1 — Swagbucks

If you’ve never heard of Swagbucks, you’re missing out.

Join Swagbucks!
With Swagbucks, you can earn points by doing things such as watching videos, answering surveys, playing games, completing special offers, and even shopping online.  Then, you can use your points to cash in for giftcards to almost ANYWHERE!  You can even cash in for a PayPal giftcard (which results in the money automatically ending up in your PayPal account).  Plus, each month, you are allowed a discount on the first $25 giftcard you cash in your points for (excluding PayPal).

I started back seriously trying to earn with Swagbucks back in May.  Since then, I’ve gotten a $25 giftcard to Amazon for May, June, and July so far.  For me personally, since Amazon is one of the best deals for buying diapers (which I’m going to need a LOT of come this fall), I’m kinda stockpiling Amazon giftcards to use towards baby stuff I will need.

Your earning potential with Swagbucks is endless.  But don’t count on it being able to replace your income or anything; it’s not that good.

2 — EBates

EBates is a website that offers cash back for the online shopping you do.  It’s actually quite simple.  First, search on EBates for the store you’re going to be shopping at, click through to the store from the Ebates site, and voila!  You will be earning cash back based on how much you spend!

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back
Your saving/rebates from Ebates will accumulate, and they will send you a check every quarter.

I will suggest that you compare your potential cash back savings between Ebates and Swagbucks though, since you can earn money back for shopping from both places.

Also, if you sign up using my referral code, we each get $10!  How awesome would it be to get $10 JUST for signing up??

3 — ReceiptHog

ReceiptHog is an app for iPhone or Android that lets you take pictures of your receipts and turn them into either PayPal or Amazon giftcards.

When you take a photo of a receipt in ReceiptHog for a store that sells groceries, health items, beauty products, pet supplies, or items such as these, your receipt will grant you coins.  For receipts less than $10, you will earn 5 coins.  For receipts $10 – $50, you will earn 10 coins.  For receipts $50 – $100, you will earn 15 coins.  For receipts over $100, you will earn 20.  This payout schedule works for up to 100 coins per week.  After that, every receipt you take photos of will grant you only 5 coins.

For photos of receipts that do not come from stores mentioned above, you will earn “spins”.  You can use the spins on the ReceiptHog slot machine that is in the app.  If you are lucky, you can earn additional coins from your spins!

4 — Panel App

Panel App is another app available for iPhone or Android.  The drawback to this app is that you are allowing it to track where you are at all times, and I know that some people will be immediately turned off by that.  However, so far, I have seen no adverse affects to allowing this app to track me.

You will also typically receive a survey at least every couple of days within the Panel App.  These surveys ask you to verify what stores/location you were at, how much you spent at a certain store (if you purchased anything), and things like that.

The payouts for this app are a little more complicated as far as trying to explain them.  So far, I have redeemed $5 towards Amazon from this app.  And, it seems that since I have redeemed this, I have been accumulating points much faster, so that’s a perk.

5 — Checkpoints App

Checkpoints is another app for iPhone and Android that I actually came across on Clark Howard’s website.  The way to earn the points the quickest is by scanning the barcodes of specific items when you are in certain stores.

You can also earn points with Checkpoints by “checking in” to certain stores that it says you are near.  The neat part about this form of earning points if that you don’t actually have to be at that particular store!  As long as you are close enough for the app to recognize that you are near the store, you can check in!

Additionally, you can earn points by watching videos within the app or completing special offers.

AND!  If you input my referral code (jhfoster413) when you join, we can both earn some free points!

Then, when you are ready, you can use your points to cash in for giftcards to any number of various stores!

6 — Ibotta App

Ibotta is another iPhone and Android app.  This one grants you cash back (either through PayPal or Amazon giftcard) for purchasing certain products or shopping at certain stores.

I typically use Ibotta to save on groceries, but you can also use it for baby items (I’ll be using it for that eventually), clothing stores, restaurants, etc.

There are even special bonuses the app offers for special occasions or for meeting goals with your team (which is most likely going to be all your Facebook friends).

7 — Checkout 51 App

Checkout 51 is yet another iPhone and Android app.  This one updates with new deals every Wednesday, and it offers cash back if you purchase certain items.  One of the neatest things I like about this app is that it allows online purchases to qualify.  Which means when I start buying diapers from Amazon, I can still qualify for the offers with this app!

When your Checkout 51 account balance reaches $20, you can cash out and Checkout 51 will mail you a check.

7 Ways Build Extra Room In Budget

So, there you have it.  There are 7 ways that I am using to try and build a little extra room in my budget.

Do you have any tips or tricks that you are using to find extra money or save money to help your budget?  If so, please share in the comments so that the rest of us can benefit!

And Baby Is A….

Since I wasn’t being active on my blog when we found out if I was having a boy or girl, I didn’t get to do some grand reveal for you guys.  But don’t worry, I didn’t do any grand reveal for anyone.  So you didn’t miss out on anything.

baby is a girl

I’m quite the impatient type.  So the idea of waiting till birth to find out if Baby is a boy or girl is just NOT something I could do.  Some people can.  I couldn’t.

I needed to know!

I needed to be able to plan.  Nursery decor, clothes, etc etc etc.

And honestly, I needed to know in order to help me connect with Baby.  Plus, Boyfriend’s kiddos were dying to know too.

From the moment I told Boyfriend I was pregnant, he said it was a boy.  He was convinced.  He’d been right with “knowing” the gender for his other kids (so he says), so he was certain I was having a boy.

I, on the other hand, was not convinced.  And I was disappointed in the idea of having a boy.  I’d always wanted a girl.  And years ago, Boyfriend had a dream of him with a baby girl who looked like me.  It was a premonition of him with OUR daughter.  Yet, here he is telling me I’m having a boy.

The more I got to thinking about it though, a boy might not be so bad.  I’m not exactly a glamour girl.  I rarely wear make-up.  I suck at fixing hair.  I just don’t do the whole girly-girl thing.  So, in that respect, I realized a boy would be easier for me.  And I started to come around to the idea of having a boy.

Then, around 15.5 weeks, we scheduled an appointment for a gender ultrasound at a private place (not associated with any kind of doctors office).  I actually looked into a couple of different places, and chose the one I did because they were the cheapest.

On the one hand, it was a great experience as far as getting to see Baby.  But it was a crappy experience as far as getting to find out the gender.  Baby was being super difficult that day.  Didn’t want to uncross or unfold legs at ALL.  And, based on the website for this place, if they can’t determine the gender, they will have you come back in a week to check again.  That’s what they should have done for us.

But they didn’t.

Despite not getting a “potty shot” during the ultrasound, the lady that was doing it said she was 100% certain about the baby’s gender.  I was having a boy.

I expected to feel SOMETHING after that ultrasound, but I didn’t.  No excitement.  No disappointment.  Just.  Nothing.  Annoyance with Boyfriend for being right, but that was it.  And that just upset me more.

All of a sudden, I knew what my baby was, but I still didn’t feel connected to it at all.

We told The Kiddos they were going to have a little brother.  Oldest Child wasn’t surprised.  Despite the fact that she said she’d rather have another sister, she expected it to be a boy.  Little Bit was disappointed, because she wanted a sister.  But, she was still super excited simply over the fact that she was going to get to finally be a big sister.  But Boy Child, his response was the greatest.  He squealed like a girl with excitement over getting a brother.  He wasn’t going to be the only boy anymore!

However, we told very few people about our trip to the private scan place.  We didn’t want to officially announce what we were having until we had the actual 20-week anatomy scan from the doctor.

The night before my 20-week ultrasound (the 2nd and last ultrasound my doctor will actually do unless I go past my due date), I went with my family to a private scan place (a different one than I’d gone to) for my sister to find out if she was having a boy or girl (I found out on Easter that she was also pregnant, and due a month after me).  On the one hand, I was annoyed with her urgency to find out what she was having and the need to schedule her appointment before I found out.  My sister and I don’t get along super well, and this is just one of the many ways she’s been a butt during our pregnancies.

So, we’re at my sister’s gender reveal scan, and she finds out she’s having a girl.  And I get so upset.  She’s getting the little girl that I wanted.  And my nephew – he was PISSED!  He wanted a little brother.  Not a girl.  And since he wasn’t getting a brother, he said that mine “better be a boy”.  At least that much was amusing.

I had invited my mom to come with Boyfriend and I for my 20-week scan.  Partly because I just felt like that is what I was SUPPOSED to do, not so much because it’s really what I wanted to do.

And OMG!  Let me tell you, that 20-week scan was full of surprises!

They start off checking all the body parts and measuring stuff, and everything is looking great.

And then.  The gender part comes.

And baby is a….. GIRL!



The emotional roller coaster was insane!  Excitement.  Shock.  Disbelief.  Confusion.  All of which we had to hide from my mother, because she didn’t know we’d gone for a private scan and been told I was having a boy.

My mom didn’t stay after the ultrasound for my appointment with the midwife (I’m actually seeing the midwives at the practice I go to, not the doctors).  So, as soon as the midwife came in, we immediately asked her about the gender and how we were confused because we’d been told something different just 4.5 weeks previously.  We showed her the picture from the private ultrasound (the side view shot they used to “prove” it was a boy).  And even for someone who admitted she wasn’t great at reading ultrasounds, she said “that’s not a boy” and how you can’t even really tell from that picture.  The midwife when back to ultrasound tech and they double checked, and yes, it was real, I was carrying a girl.

Turns out, I am not the first patient the practice I go to had seen that had been told the wrong thing by the private place I went.  The quality and accuracy of this place had apparently gone downhill in recent months.

Needless to say, Boyfriend and I were both in complete shock when we left the doctor’s office, and we were still trying to process everything that had just happened.

We hadn’t been gone from the doctor’s office long (maybe 20 minutes) when I got a call from my mom.  My sister was bugging her to know what I was having, but she wasn’t telling my sister, because I wanted it.  So I turn around and call my sister.  And rather than being excited for me, my sister is pissed at me.  For not “including her” enough.  For not calling her until my mom told me to call her.  Nevermind that I may be dealing with things and nevermind that we hadn’t even been gone from the doctor long.  She yelled at me on the phone and then hung up on me.  As if my I wasn’t on enough of an emotional roller coaster as it was.

It took a little time, and a LOT of processing, but I finally got super excited about having a girl.

I finally felt connected to Baby Girl.

I’m still a little freaked out about the idea of having to learn how to fix hair, but I’m sure I’ll learn and figure it out.

For now, I can’t wait to meet my little girl!