Friday, May 3, 2019

Are People Who Win Sweepstakes Just Lucky Ducks?

I love to enter sweepstakes.   Most of my friends, acquaintances, and even random people tell me "You are so lucky!"  I try to tell them that sweepstakes is a numbers game and the more you enter the more likely you are to win.

Few people actually keep good records of how many sweepstakes they enter.  I do, though.  The reasoning behind it is because I can usually see trends that follow how much I enter and how much I win.  If I am not winning much, a quick look at the chart tells me if I was not entering as much and my wins SHOULD be fewer than usual.

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Each year I get a new incentive chart.  I need one that has at least 24 columns across and at minimum 31 rows down.  I always use a fine point Sharpie marker to help it stand out from what I write inside the boxes.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Pizza Hut on a Budget -- Use the app!

One of my travel tricks is earning points on everything I can. Another trick is getting things at a discount, and my third trick is when traveling sometimes I want something delivered, or if we are on the road, I want my meal ready when I arrive. 

I know that Pizza Hut and bargain are not words that often come in the same sentence for me, but I have been highly pleased with the prices we have found through the app.  I have ordered everything from $5.99 two topping large pizzas, $5 medium three topping pizzas, and 50% off regular menu prices.  What we order depends on what the special is.  I've actually found that Pizza Hut can be just a little over what a premium frozen pizza costs at the grocery store!  Who knew? 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Touring The World of Coca-Cola -- Atlanta Georgia

It's been a few years since I have visited Coca-Cola World in Atlanta, but every time my husband and I have driven through Georgia, I have told him we need to visit there sometime as he has never been.

I was at a convention in Atlanta, and this was back when Coke had the rewards program going.  You could turn in points for a ticket into the museum.  This is what I did, and so the visit cost me nothing.  However, Coke Rewards is a thing of the past, and the current admission price is $17 for adults.  This is very high by my "Small Budget" standards.  Even so, I still recommend this because it is a couple hours entertainment.  Plus, this is not something you can do just anywhere, you have to be in Atlanta to visit.

I have always loved seeing where things are made,  pop culture (no pun intended -- okay so pun was intended), and I've always loved junk food and sugary snacks (and my waist line shows it.)  I also love Christmas, and where better to visit than the factory of the company who invented the American Santa Claus?

Friday, April 26, 2019

How to Earn FREE DISNEYLAND ADMISSION TICKETS!


Visiting any Disney Park isn't exactly a budget friendly vacation, but I do regret that I never was able to visit one when I was growing up.  (In fact I still haven't been.)  So many people try to plan trips to "The Happiest Place on Earth" on a shoestring.  This isn't always very realistic, but did you know you can get your admission tickets to DisneyLand in Anaheim, California for free?

As is everything posted on Small Budget Big Travels, this is a legitimate deal!  It does take some work, but it's entirely possible.
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Swagbucks is a portal where you can earn points called SBs.  You can do this by doing searches, watching videos, surveys, printing and using grocery coupons, starting your online shopping there, plus many more ways of earning points.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

What Is The Best Choice For Your First Rewards Credit Card?


One of the ways I am able to travel and save so much money is by utilizing rewards credit cards to their maximum benefit.  When you get a credit card, treat it like cash.  Pay it off at the end of every month so you don't have to pay interest.  Using it wisely can net you some great benefits.  I sell on eBay as my main income.  I put my eBay bill, as much postage as I can, and even buying new inventory on a credit card.  It adds up quickly, as does my rewards.

FTC disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.

But there is always the question of "What card is best for me?" and "What is the best first rewards credit card?"

My opinion is the Discover Card.  Why this card?   It's a good all around card.  There are no annual fees.  (Those are not always bad, as I talk about in other posts.)  It's a basic 1% back on spending.  You can chose to redeem for gift cards at a lower rate than the value of the card if you would rather have gift cards.  You can get a $50 Best Western gift card for only $45 in rewards.  There are also restaurant gift cards which could help you with costs on your next trip.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Book Review: Wild & Wonderful (and Paranormal) West Virginia

FTC disclaimer:  I purchased this book myself.  All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

I went to school for a couple years in Tennessee having grown up in West Virginia.  As is typical of college kids, we would sometimes sit in a dark room and tell ghost stories.  (Even at a Christian college!)  There was one friend of mine who would leave the room when I would tell a story because she said they were so frightening.  I adapted most of my tales from Ruth Ann Musick's books.  So of course, when I saw this book, I was curious.

Wild & Wonderful (and Paranormal) West Virginia exceeded all expectations I had.  Unlike other books, it didn't just deal with one subject, but included The Moth Man, Flatwoods Monster, UFOs, ghosts,  Sheepsquatch (which I had never before heard anything about it) and also included other strange phenomenon and cryptozoological mysteries from across the Mountain State.

The thing set this book apart from others in this genre is that the author tried to give multiple explanations when possible, and some of them seemed quite plausible to me.  For instance, there have been reports of kangaroos getting loose from zoos and other places, so who is to say some of these monsters might not be part of a pack of kangaroos that live in a remote part of West Virginia? Obviously, he also leaves open the possibility for paranormal occurrences, but I really enjoyed reading the different theories.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio Book Review

When I was a child, I remember meeting someone who had been crippled with polio.  She was the first person I ever met who was in a wheelchair, and as children are apt to do, I was extremely interested in the fact she was in a chair that rolled around.  Of course my parents were embarrassed at the attention I was giving her chair, but she showed it off to me and told me about how she did different activities that many of us take for granted.  Of course, this is a great way for children to learn about handicaps.

I remember coming home and telling my mother I hoped I never got polio.  She told me I never would and reminded me of the little cup of liquid I didn't like the taste of but was required to drink.  She explained that would keep me from getting polio.  Of course I asked why that lady didn't drink that liquid and it was explained when she got polio there was no vaccine.

Polio was a very real -- and very scary -- part of life before the vaccine was developed.  The iron lung, a machine that helps patients breathe was developed in the 1920s.  In 2017, there were still three people alive living in an iron lung.  Polio was highly contagious -- and when she was twelve years old, Peg Kehret had a twitching thigh muscle in chorus, then went home for lunch.  She collapsed, and was diagnosed with polio.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Book Review: Goodbye Clutter, Hello Freedom

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Goodbye Clutter, Hello Freedom:  How to Create Space for Danish Hygge and Lifestyle by cleaning up, Organizing and Decorating with Care is by Lena Bentson.  It is a relatively short book, only 82 pages, but I would rather a book be the right length than too long or too short.  (The right length is explaining what the author wishes to express, but not rambling.)  This book is the perfect length.

I read this book because I'm dealing with a lot of clutter.  I sell on eBay which creates a lot of clutter.  Plus I am still going through my mother's possessions.  My husband and I sometimes disagree as to which item we should keep and which we should get rid of.  As a result we have multiple computer desks in our garage!  :)

If you are looking for an inspiring book to help you want to get rid of the excess in your life, look no further.  Lena Bentson does a great job of this.  She is a Dane, and while geared towards the Danish people, it is relevant to everyone.  (I mean, don't we want to be like the Danish when we think about hygge?  And who wouldn't when they are one of the happiest countries on earth.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Voice, Story, and Humanity



Last night I was listening to a Catholic Stuff You Should Know podcast.   I've been pondering it ever since.   Everyone has a story.  I've heard it said that everyone has a book inside them.  Life is not without adversity, and it's often the adversity that makes our story.  Adventures are either due to facing adversity or going out of our comfort zone.  The ones that are funny are just often not the normal.   For instance, I once crossed the Baltic Sea at 3 in the morning with a Ben Stein look-alike.

I think of some of my family stories and am both amazed and horrified.  My grandfather, whom I never met as he passed away before I was born, had to drop out of school in 6th grade. Yet, he took to educating himself and often read the dictionary for fun.  (I loved to read the encyclopedia when I was young.  Everyone thought it was strange, but I think my grandfather would have been proud.)

My grandmother was orphaned before the age of ten.  When she was a toddler, she poured a kettle of boiling applesauce over her.  I remember as a child sitting and listening with rapt attention as she and her brother told stories of growing up, how the doctor thought that tomatoes would kill her because of her burns and Uncle Ira sneaking her the forbidden fruit so she would snack on them without adults knowing.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Saving Money on Heating bills

As part of our "Ditch Debt" effort this year, I was totally shocked when I saw that our heating bill for our home was almost $250.  I am determined to find ways to lower this bill.

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I cannot fathom what other people pay for their heating bill because last year I read the Kindle book How to Save Money on Utility Bills.  I then ordered Magnetic Vent Covers to place over heat ducts in rooms we don't use and close the door so we aren't heating unused rooms.  (It's just my husband and me in a five bedroom house.)

My husband installed Under Door Draft stoppers on our doors that lead outside and to our utility room which is not as insulated as the rest of the house.  I have also used a towel or an energy door guard combined with that.

When I was in high school my mother and I lived in poverty.  We weren't eligible for any assistance, and some weeks I had to stretch $2 into food for the entire week.  That is how I learned to coupon.  I acquired that skill before it was cool because if I didn't we wouldn't have eaten.  One of the things we did was turned our heat down to 58 degrees in the day, and 54 at night.  Both my mother and I had a good electric warming blanket from when times were better, so we loved night when we could be warm!

When my mother was in her final years of life, she was often cold, and we kept the house at 72 degrees in the winter much of the time.  After she passed, I can remember I dialed it back to 68 and how my step-mother-in-law was miserably cold at that.  This year, I told my husband we were dialing the heat back even more.  For the heating bill that was $250, we had the heat at 64 degrees.  I told Terry we were going to try and go for 62 degrees.  I couldn't take it, so we turned the heat up to 63.  We seem to be surviving just fine.  I wonder if once we get used to 63 if we can bump it down another degree.

When my grandmother passed away this year, I told my husband we weren't getting rid of any of the afghans she had made.  A good hand crocheted afghan is warm!  And we have a stack that seem to be migrating to the living room.  Never overlook these finds at thrift shops and garage sales.  Grandma also knitted a number of slippers, and I wish I had more of those.  I often find socks not as comfortable because I feel like my feet are restricted.  I like loose footwear and other than hand knitted slippers I feel like there is a straight jacket on my feet.

My husband and I also replaced our drafty windows a few years ago.  We purchased the windows and a Catholic Church youth group installed them for us as part of a missions trip.  That saved us over $800 a year in heating.

But right now, we don't want to pay $250 a month for heating.   So we are going to try to cut costs even more.  At this point, we're going to try to keep the house at 63 degrees in January, and I'll see if we can go to 62 in February.  I was able to go colder than that when I was in high school.

Space heaters aren't an option for us because our electric bill jumped significantly and they use a lot of electric.  I am currently sleeping in the living room because I've been sick and our upstairs bathroom isn't working, and I haven't felt able to navigate the stairs.

So I'll report in next month at how much cheaper our electric bill is because of lowering the temperature one degree.  I've heard 1 degree gives a 5% difference, so we'll see.