Other Ways of Earning Money

In my last post, I talked a lot about writing as a second job. Well the inherent problem with that is that it doesn’t exactly get me money right away. I am totally dedicated to the idea, but it is a long term method of gaining money, rather than an immediate method. I have developed a few other things where I might be able to get some extra cash here and there to supplement my income and thought I’d go through them.

Most of these ideas in reality are kind of pyramid schemes. They are rewards programs of various sorts on the internet. I don’t expect that these things make me rich or anything, but if I get $5 here and there, why not? You know? I have checked a lot of these sites out and have been trying to relegate myself to only going to services which require little work for decent rewards. I also have not been interested in scams wherein I only get rewards for signing up for things and giving out a crap ton of personal information for a few measly bucks.

MyPoints

I actually started using MyPoints 6 or 7 years ago now. The original idea I had with them was to get points in order to help save for a trip to Disney World. I figured that I could use the points for gift certificates to aid in hotel costs and/or car rentals while down in Flordia. I still could do that but it isn’t as much of a focus as it used to be. Over the last few years I started turning in my points for gift certificates to various places which I then gave to people as presents. It has been a life saver during some hard times because of that. They have many ways for earning points, from clicking on email offers, little lotteries, buying stuff off their site, doing polls, or signing up for stuff. I actually have waned a bit on this service in recent months but I still like their concept.

Ebates

My latest emphasis on these incentive programs has been from the discovery of ebates. If I shop through ebates website, I gain cash back. This definitely beats out MyPoints points back. There are actually a few of these type pages and to a certain extent I have compared them, and for most things I side with ebates. They also give a gift card just for signing up, so overall not a bad gig. I highly suggest signing up for it.

Bing Rewards

I don’t particularly like Bing, and I don’t suggest you use them. After all, they literally just take their search results from Google so why not just use Google right? However, in order to entice people to use their site, they bribe you. And well whatever, if they want me to use their site and get free stuff then I will do so. Generally every day they have you click on something to get 3 credits, and then you can do 20 searches to get another 10. I generally search complete gibberish just to get the quick credits. They used to have some really cool rewards, but now they just give away amazon, x-box live, and groupon giftcards, plus subscriptions to hulu. I will usually take the $5 Groupon giftcard, then buy something on Groupon. For instance, I recently bought $15 worth of food for only $2.50 with the gift card, and then I did it through ebates which got me another $.23 back. Not bad really. Only takes a few minutes a day and I wager you could get a $5 gift card once every couple of months. Worth signing up for.

Swagbucks

Another newer one for me. I don’t really use this one as much as some people do, I’ve heard of some people earning tons of cash on this. I’ve been signed up for about a month and earned $5 on amazon. They have a ton of stuff you can redeem for including gift cards, electronics, and even baseball cards. But from what I’ve heard the $5 amazon gift card is the most efficient, but you can only do like 5 of the same thing per month, which people often beat, but not me. You can earn a number of ways including using their search engine, doing their daily poll, using their toolbar, watching their videos, signing up for things, doing other polls, etc. I generally just use the toolbar, do the daily poll, and use the search engine. Sometimes I will run their videos in the background, but you only get like 3-5 points per 10 videos watched so this isn’t entirely efficient, it only works cause I’m not paying attention. It isn’t bad, I seem to be able to earn enough points to get gift cards fairly quickly and if you really use it right, you could earn a lot.

Instant Cash Sweepstakes

I have a love-hate relationship with ICS. It is really easy to sit and do the surveys, but it really doesn’t pay well. Each survey consists of 3 questions, you gain tickets and coins and sometimes cash for answering each. Sometimes you get modifiers which get you even more tickets and coins. Tickets automatically enter you into the daily $50 cash prize. And then you can use coins for either entering into a $2 prize that draws every 3 hours, or you can use them to buy more tickets. You can only do like 7 surveys every 3 hours, and i have entered probably around 25 on average per day every day for the last month… I have never won any of the sweepstakes and have only $3.82 to show for my work. On the bright side, I can already withdraw that money, it is cash not a gift card, and as you do more surveys, you get higher in level and get to do more surveys per 3 hours and get more tickets and coins per survey done. I also think you have a higher chance at getting a slightly higher cash prize for doing surveys (so .05 instead of .01 for a survey). It is a site I do most consistently, but one I also get most frustrated with. <sigh>

Paid Viewpoint

This site is done by the same guys as ICS. It is essentially the same idea but you have longer surveys to complete, get more money per survey, no sweepstakes involved, and has a big giant level instead of a bunch of shorter levels to gain. They only give you a single survey a day (and sometimes not even). But to give it a comparison, after a month of filling out surveys, I am at $5.09. It takes much less effort than ICS and has a much better payout, but obviously ICS has the upside in that you could win big…

I’ve tried a few other sites in addition to these, but have had little to no interest and or return. As I said in the beginning some seem like big scams, some don’t let you progress because they are too new, and some just don’t make sense. At best some just seem like they take too long to get any rewards.

I figure the above is enough to keep my occupied for any given amount of time. They give me the ability to get a gift card and/or cash once a month on average and the hope is that with these I can lower the cost of living and thus be able to pay off more bills faster. It isn’t much, but money is money, and this stuff is stuff that I can easily do in between tasks at work.

Voting Day 2010

I don’t vote in every election that comes up. But I do think that I tend to vote every other year. Which is more than most Americans. Most Americans tend to limit themselves to just presidential elections. But on the other even years, there are usually some pretty important elections in there to do as well. For instance, in Wisconsin we have a highly contested Governor and Senate race, both of which seem to be really close.

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OMG Pizza and Sandwiches Review

Nestled within the Market Square strip mall, a new pizza place opened this weekend named OMG Pizza. It was opened by a friend of mine who has had years of experience managing pizza joints and finally decided to strike out on his own. Last night a couple of friends and I decided to go check out the place that he has been working hard for months to get into existence.  

Upon entering the place, we immediately noticed the movie posters on the walls of iconic geek favorite movies, generally of the sci-fi variety. The decor was nice, nothing overly spectacular but it was nice. The employees are dressed in black outfits with name tags outlined in green that are reminiscent of mechanic outfits. The employees themselves all had a bit of a punk flair to them which seemed somehow appropriate as well.

We decided to forego some of the more interesting pizza choices, like Chicken Cordon-Bleu, for this trip and instead order the more tame OMG Supreme which had the usual fare that the name suggests. The pizza came out in a timely fashion in a plain white box.

Upon first look, I worried that the large 16″ pizza wouldn’t be enough to truly feed the three of us who were splitting. However, this pizza was very deceptive and each of us were full after only two slices. An often unheard of feat at other places. The ingredients were perhaps the freshest that I have ever had at a take restaurant. I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of ingredients that the owners were able to acquire. I did have issues with the pizza sauce personally, and one of my friends seemed to concur, I found it to be rather fruity for my tastes, but my other friend seemed to enjoy the sauce so this may be more of a personal preference. The crust was to me to be the real gem of a pizza, it was a nicely crispy crust that was covered with a buttery garlic sauce that made the crust feel like a bread stick when you were done with your pizza.

Overall, I enjoyed the pizza barring the sauce. I think it would have been a worthy pick up in and of itself. But there was one fairly big problem with it. The price. A large 16″ pizza cost us $25 including tax. With the two sodas and the blue slushy that we had for drinking, we totaled $30.50. We added another $4.50 for a tip, though I don’t think normally I would have done this on a carry out dinner. I feel tip for this type of service is down in the 5%-10% range rather than the full 15%, but these were friends.

While I am more than willing to pay a premium on a pizza with fresh ingredients at an independent pizza restaurant, I felt that it was a little steep for what we got. I didn’t feel that they had done enough to really distinguish themselves to warrant this high price. If I look at the price of their normal pizzas, it is $16 for a hand-tossed 16″ pizza, interestingly costing slightly more per inch than the smaller pizzas. I don’t expect that it would be as cheap as the national chains, but I do think that they should stay in the ball park. As it stands, these pizzas were closer to twice the price of the chains than the same price.

There were many small things abounding at OMG Pizza that I chalk up to a new opening. The decorating wasn’t quite done, there was no menu posted as of yet, you had to look at a brochure that they had taped to the counter. There were no plates if you decided to stay and eat at the restaurant. The owner was talking about how they were still going to put up more posters and other decorative touches. Their website also doesn’t seem to have anything other than that they will begin hiring a couple of months ago. But these things I can kind of brush aside. I understand why they happen to a new place, and I assume that they will get fixed in a little time.

All that being said, I will probably still get a pizza from OMG Pizza from time to time. It would be a special treat, and probably not even one we enjoy every month. I am interested in trying out their sandwiches and other specialty pizzas.

I look forward to seeing how the store will do. It will be interesting to watch them progress. I think their location is great. They have a Game store just a couple of stores down so the fact that they cater to geeks will do well. There is also a movie theater really close so I could potentially see people stopping by after a movie. And in the entire strip there isn’t really any other real food that one could eat at so they have a distinct advantage here. However, there is a wealth of pizza places in the Madison area already to choose from so it may be difficult for OMG Pizza to find a place in the soup that is our restaurant culture.

I wish them luck.

Hulu Plus

Hulu Plus

Hulu recently made their much awaited announcement of a subscription based plan which allows you to pay for Hulu. Why would you pay for a free service? Well that has always been the question that buggers free services. Hulu’s answer for Plus was to provide full current seasons of new shows, full seasons from old shows, higher resolution, and the ability to watch it on different platforms such as your TV if you happen to own a TV that supports it.

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Little House on the Prairie: The Musical

On Friday night, with the first of four Christmas shows for my roommate, we went to the Little House on the Prairie Musical that was in the Overture Center. The show starred Melissa Gilbert (the original Laura Ingles) as the mother. Going into the show I will be honest in saying that we were a little warry of it. My roommate loved Little House on the Prairie as a child which is why I bought the tickets for her, and why I’m sure many people did. It is this reliance on the name brand that made us unsure of the quality of the show.

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Snow

I really love Madison as a city. It is a great city all in all. We have good schools, good homes, good stores, great restaurants, good beer, good events, good sites, and burgeoning tech industry. I like the history of the town, and I like the politics of the town. One thing I have always been able to do without is the location of the town. Unfortunately, it somehow manifested itself in the confines of Wisconsin, and with that comes the cold dark winters that Wisconsin is known for. No where did we see that better as we did this week as I’m sure many people have heard by now.

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