Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Top 10 Reward and Affiliate Programs {You Should Be Participating in!}

Recently people have been asking how we can afford to travel so often and with two kids and while you can find my full faq page here, I thought I could spend a little bit of time sharing how I make money with this blog and utilize reward programs to finance "extras" for our family.

1. Office MaxPerks now Office Depot Rewards {Recycling}
This one is most relevant to me so I'll start here.  As a teacher I started researching reward programs for recycling.  I saw how much the schools were wasting and thought I should find somewhere to recycle inkjet cartridges among other things, and at the time Office Max {now office depot} had a program that rewarded each ink cartridge with an instant $3 credit, and there was no limit, now, sadly it's still a $3 credit but it's a max of 10 cartridges a month AND you have to wait until the next billing cycle AND you have to spend money to "release" your rewards.  Even with all those stipulations I get my $30 in rewards every month.  Although, they do expire.  I work part time in an office and we use at least $30 in supplies a month, now that money doesn't come out of my pocket, but I do utilize my rewards program since I'm the one actually doing the recycling.  This one is really great for me, I collect the ink cartridges every month from my husband's print shop, my office and my school.  If you're in a similar situation you should be utilizing your recycling to make you an extra $30 a month for office and business supplies. This might not sound like a lot, but I recently saved up 2 or 3 months worth of rewards points to buy a camera, other months I've used it to purchase packaging supplies for shipping my apparel orders.

2. Expedia Rewards
Okay, this is specific to our travels.  I planned our last European adventure with expedia but didn't know about their new rewards program! Since then, I've only planned small trips and still had enough to use on a recent trip to Tucson.  With a little over 8,000pts I was able to knock $115 off our hotel in Tucson, staying at a luxury resort for only $58 plus resort fee.  It was a pleasant surprise at check out when I noticed all my reward points were redeemable.  I also earned points from booking that hotel {about 300pts}.  Expedia rewards program is great for people like us who travel when we need to but also look forward to smaller getaways during the year, I can save my points and redeem them for our just because trips.

3. Honest Company
These were all included in the FREE trial {just paid shipping}
I used this program and company a lot more when my girls were still in diapers, but I like their cleaning supplies and shampoo and conditioner.  For every friend you refer who buys something you get $20. Which is brilliant marketing because whenever I got complements on my kids diapers, I would tell the person where they were from and if they ordered them I would get $20, I already tell people where I get things from! I really appreciate companies that understand friends talk and reward women for sharing resources with their friends.  If you're still diapering cloth or disposable, you should check them out, even though I cloth diapered, when we were backpacking though Europe I needed disposables.  Now I use their dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent and soaps.

4. society6
For the Artists.  I joined society 6 almost a year ago, and have found some beautiful gifts from their site, now if I find something I love and I share it on facebook or on the blog I include my "curator" link and can earn money from purchases made on those item, again rewarding me for something I would do anyway, how often do we see something cool or interesting and share on FB, well if someone else likes it enough to buy it you can get money for that!

5. Amazon Associates
If I tell you how much I want this camera and then you click the link and buy ANYTHING on amazon I get a % of that sale.  You do have to apply for the program be approved, but once you are you can make a little extra cash.  I don't make a lot from this program but if you're building your blog, it's really a great thing to have, so often I share a product and just link back to amazon because it's the cheapest or quickest way to find it.  You can use it for sidebar advertising and in the body of your posts.  This is a program I use for almost every blog post.

6. Blue Bottle Coffee
I love coffee, hi, who doesn't? So if you're into gourmet beans and you want them shipped right to your door, then blue bottle is the thing.  When you're telling your friends on facebook how tired you are, but that you're coffee is amazing and look now you're awake! You can include your link for their free trial, and if they subscribe you can earn credits to pay for your coffee, which is cool because we all have friends and most of them drink coffee so sharing with people is effective. And this goes without saying but coffee definitely tastes better when it's free.

7. Air BnB
I mentioned Expedia above, but sometimes we go places that aren't best for hotels, they're rural or the hotel in the city is over priced, so I check Air BnB.  It's a site where people rent out their home or just a room in their home for guests to stay.  I've heard really great things about it, and since we have small children we always reserve places that rent the entire unit.  AND some rentals will say no kids, we respect that!  Lots of times, these are people's private homes and they rent their spaces out while they are traveling.  Each place has it's own black out dates and calendar so if you find somewhere you like, don't wait to book it, and just because you request a reservation doesn't mean you'll get it, sometimes the hosts want to make sure it's a good fit so they might ask a question or two before approving you.  Their reward program is pretty great though, when I refer someone, not only do I get $25 credit when they book something, they also get $25 credit when they book something!  This is another great way to save up for those just because trips I was mentioning earlier.

8. Shopbop
I'm new to shopbob, but as I start talking more about fashion and what I'm wearing I know it's going to be useful to share where you can find similar items.  This is a must have for any fashion blogger.

9. Credit Card Rewards
While I think credit cards are a generally bad idea, they have a time and place.  When I book plane tickets and hotels I always use my credit card.  And when I buy things online I use my credit card too, because it has a better security protection policy.  I always make that effort to pay them off though and not let any of the debt sit, otherwise it defeats what I'm going to talk about; the rewards points.  For cards like capital one, you can earn a point or "mile" per dollar you pay off and those can add up to some great gift cards.  I usually use these to finance home depot purchases but they can also be saved for more trips.  My citi card has a cashback rewards program, so I use it for those purchases mentioned above, then pay it off, then get more cash back.  I just got paid to shop for something I was going to buy anyway. American express also has similar points.

10. American Express Offers and Benefits
American Express also has "offers" and "benefits" these can be found at the bottom of the account page and usually sync up with what you're already spending and where, as the suggestions are based on places you already use your card.  Recently, there was an offer for Whole Foods, spend $50 with your Amex at Whole Foods get 1000 points applied to your rewards {keep in mind you have to "add" this offer to your card for it to work}.  I already shop there and I already have a grocery budget so I used my card and got 1000 in points.  Then, there was a total wine offer, and I had to buy alcohol for my upcoming birthday party so I spent the $100 on alcohol {it's going to be a big party!}and got $20 applied to my card.  But make sure to read the fine print, I recently used it to buy plane tickets because I thought there was an offer for "travel" but in the fine print it ended up being for hotel only.  I called and they gave me a partial credit which was good enough for me, better than nothing. But overall I've had a good experience with my offers and use them when they're applicable to my purchases.

So there you have it, with a hard working family, budgeting and rewards programs we're able to maximize our adventures and purchases.  I know money is taboo and most people don't talk about it, but we haven't always been as responsible as we are trying to be now and probably relied on our credit cards too much in college or unexpected purchases but we're working on being debt free and these little rewards help keep me on track, they're little bonuses or surprises that keep me from having a shopaholic relapse.  Hope this helps you find a program best for you and your blog or family!

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