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  • Free Online Resources I Use {Almost} Every Day

    Free Online Resources - chieffamilyofficer.com

    There are some free online resources that I use every day, or almost every day. And since they’re so fabulous, I thought I should make sure that you know about them too:

    Gmail – You probably already know about Gmail, but in case you don’t, it’s a free email service from Google. And yes, there are privacy concerns {for example, they show ads targeted according yo your email content}. But it works really well, it’s FREE, and you get a ton of storage. And yet, I still have at least one friend who won’t get an email account … I don’t get it!

    Google Drive – Formerly known as Google Docs, Google Drive is like an online office suite where you can create and edit various types of documents. I especially like to use it for sharing documents with others, since you don’t have to deal with attachments – simply click on the “share” button, enter the other person’s email, and let them know the document has been shared with them. Google Drive also has templates like calendars that can be very useful. Finding them is not intuitive, but you can find instructions here.

    Google Calendar – I find Google Calendar to be the easiest way to keep track of all the different things going on in my life, although it can be glitch-y {I’ve been having lots of trouble lately with not getting email reminders}. I love the color-coded calendars, which allow you to assign everyone in your family a different color. It syncs with the calendar on my iPhone so I only have to enter the info once. And I recently discovered the interesting calendars feature, which allowed me to add all major U.S. holidays and important days {like when daylight savings starts}.

    Free Digital Photos – Free Digital Photos is a stock photo web site that allows images to be used for free, so long as you include an image credit according to their terms of service. {You do to have to pay if you want to use a larger size image.} Although visuals have always been important to web sites, thanks to Pinterest, they’ve been become even more important. And I really appreciate FDP as a resource for images I can use and edit for free.

    PicMonkey – Speaking of editing images, I use PicMonkey when the editor in Picasa and Paint can’t get the job done. They have free and paid versions, and I find the free version is adequate for my needs.

    Evreward – This is a great site that helps you see what cash-back site is offering the highest return. I use it whenever I’m about to make an online purchase. Just note that it doesn’t include all sites, like Swagbucks.

    Swagbucks – I mention Swagbucks all the time, but I have to mention it here too, because you can earn totally FREE gift cards just by using their search function, playing games, watching videos, and more. Learn more about Swagbucks here.

    Bing – I recently started using Bing as a secondary search engine, once I’ve had one or two search wins at Swagbucks. You can get a $3 Amazon gift card for 330 Bing credits, or even get 500 Swag Bucks for 525 Bing credits. It seems to take a lot longer to earn Bing credits, but I see it as a back up to Swagbucks since it too is totally free.

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Stuart Miles.

    Free Programs You Should Be a Member Of: Swagbucks

    Get free gift cards from Swagbucks!

    I’ve earned thousands of dollars in free gift cards from Swagbucks.com since summer of 2008. I got interested after a blogger I liked kept mentioning the free $5 Amazon gift cards she was getting from them, and not surprisingly, Swagbucks has since become my absolute favorite way to make free money online.

    The fundamental concept of Swagbucks is simple: Earn Swag Bucks and redeem them for fabulous prizes.

    It takes just 450 Swag Bucks to get a $5 Amazon gift card (my favorite prize), and for all other prizes, 1 Swag Buck equals 1 cent, so 500 Swag Bucks will get you a $5 Starbucks gift card, 1,000 Swag Bucks will get you a $10 Target gift card, 2,500 Swag Bucks will get you a $25 Nike gift card and so on. There are gift cards to most, if not all, of your favorite stores, and they vary in denomination – there’s even a $250 Amazon gift card, though I’ve never let my Swag Bucks build up that much!

    There are many ways to earn Swag Bucks, so you can really rack up the gift cards. Here are my favorites:

    Use Swagbucks as your default search engine. I recommend installing their toolbar or extension in your preferred browser. Your searches will be periodically rewarded with Swag Bucks, and even if you did nothing else to earn Swag Bucks, you should be able to accumulate enough for a $5 Amazon gift certificate in a month if you win several times each day. Plus, you get one Swag Buck per day when you open a browser with the toolbar installed.

    Take the Daily Poll and get 1 super easy Swag Buck each day.

    Peruse the NOSO offers {you can easily decline each one} for 2 Swag Bucks daily.

    Look through the Special Offers. You can sort by “Free” offers, and there are usually a bunch of 1 Swag Buck offers under the Radium One tab, and sometimes under the other tabs as well.

    Play Games. You get 2 Swag Bucks per 2 games, up to 10 Swag Bucks per day. (Tip: you don’t have to finish each game; just get a feel for how long you have to play before you can click “Give Up” to get credit … though the Games can be very fun!)

    Watch SBTV. There’s a huge selection of videos, and a meter at the top right of the page that will go up at regular intervals. When it gets to 100%, you get 3 Swag Bucks. And the best part is, you can earn up to 150 Swag Bucks per day through SBTV. I like to leave SBTV running in the background as much as possible throughout the day – when I’m cleaning, doing dishes, folding laundry, etc. It’s a bit of a pain, so it’s not for everyone, but it’s a super easy way to accumulate Swag Bucks each day.

    Watch SBTV Mobile on an Android or iOS device using the free SBTV app. You get 2 Swag Bucks for every 5 videos, up to 50 Swag Bucks per day. These Swag Bucks are independent of the web-based SBTV, so you can earn an additional 50 Swag Bucks per day through the app.

    Do the Encrave Activities. Most involve watching videos, and the Swag Bucks add up quickly.

    Hit the Daily Goal. You’ll see the Daily Goal in the meter on the left side of the Swagbucks homepage. Reaching the first goal earns you a 10% bonus of the goal, plus you’ll earn extra bonuses for hitting the goal on consecutive days. If you’re doing all of the above-mentioned activities, you’ll have no trouble at all hitting the daily goal. And if you complete the second, bigger goal, you get even more bonus Swag Bucks!

    Finally, keep an eye out for Swag Codes. If I see an active code, I’ll alert you through the CFO Facebook page and CFO Twitter stream. You just enter the code at the top of any Swag Bucks page for easy Swag Bucks.

    And here’s a special bonus just for CFO readers: Join Swagbucks using my referral link, and be entered to win a $50 gift card of your choice from Swagbucks when you earn at least 50 Swag Bucks in total from any combination of Shop, Search, Watch, Play, Answer or Discover before Nov. 29. Good luck!

    If you’re new to Swagbucks, you even get a bonus 70 Swag Bucks when you join using my referral link and use the code CFO70SB (to redeem the code, be sure to click on “I have a signup code” when registering). Everyone gets 30 Swag Bucks upon registration, so you’ll have a total of 100 Swag Bucks just for signing up, which puts you well on your way to the 450 Swag Bucks you need to redeem for a $5 Amazon gift card!

    Disclosure: I get bonus Swag Bucks if you join Swagbucks using my referral link – thank you! Swagbucks will track giveaway entries on their end, so all you have to do is be my referral and earn at least 50 Swag Bucks through Shop, Search, Watch, Play, Answer and/or Discover by Nov. 29, 2013 to be entered in the giveaway. Read Chief Family Officer’s full disclosure policy here.

    Free Programs You Should Be a Member Of: Kellogg’s Family Rewards

    Kellogg’s Family Rewards is a relatively new and free program from (of course) Kellogg’s. You can find rewards codes inside specially marked Kellogg’s products, but they also release free codes via email and other sources (and you can find those free codes on the Hot Offers page).

    One of the nice things about Kellogg’s Family Rewards is that it offers high-value coupons as rewards, so you can redeem your points to get cheap Kellogg’s products (and then earn more points by entering the codes inside the packages you bought using the coupons). A few years ago, I could regularly buy cereal for $0.49 per box, but that price has been hard to come by lately and the common stock-up price has gone up to $1 per box.

    Thanks to the $1.50/1 Kellogg’s Cereal reward, I’ve picked up boxes of my family’s favorite cereals for $0.75 or less. If you like cookies or crackers, you can use the $1.50/1 Keebler Cookies or Crackers coupon to get Keebler Town House or Club Crackers or Cookies for just $0.49 through Tuesday at Ralphs.

    Kellogg's Family Rewards

    The rewards are rather high-value, in that the $1.50/1 coupons are 1,000 points and the $0.75/1 coupons are 500 points. Most product codes I’ve entered have been in the 80 to 100 point range, so you do need quite a few product codes to accumulate enough to redeem points for a reward. But another nice thing is that free codes come out frequently, and the program regularly offers bonus points. For example, now through Sunday (11/3/2013), you get double points when you enter codes from any product – so the points will add up quickly!

    If you’re not interested in purchasing Kellogg’s products, you can use your points on other rewards like gift cards, kitchen gadgets, photo gifts, sweepstakes, downloads, and more.

    Kellogg’s Family Rewards is free to join, and even if you don’t buy Kellogg’s products, you can still get great rewards with the free codes. And if you do buy Kellogg’s products, then you’ll earn rewards even faster!

    To join, just click on the banner at the top of this post (and thank you for joining through the banner, because it’s my affiliate link!).

    Save Money, Time & Stress by Using Free Programs

    I just spent over an hour working with spreadsheets on Google Drive for our PTA, and that got me thinking about how amazing it is to be able to do so much for FREE these days. The other members of the PTA committee and I use Google Drive to share spreadsheets, so that we can all view the same document, make changes, and see what everyone else is up to. As room parent for my older son’s class, I just created a free classroom web site on Shutterfly, and both my sons are on sports teams that have their own Shutterfly sites. So I thought it would be fun to share some FREE resources that can save you time, money and stress:

    Google Drive – Google, of course, has other great free programs like Maps and Gmail, but in this instance I’m really focused on Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) because there aren’t many free programs like it. You can create spreadsheets, word processing documents, PDFs, and more. I particularly like the capability to create different formats all in one place. There’s also an easy sharing mechanism so multiple people can have access to the same document, and free templates.

    Shutterfly Share Sites – Shutterfly makes it really easy to create a private web site for a sports team, classroom, family and more. Having a my own web site, I found it a little frustrating that the template was more customizable, but it’s very easy to work with and has some great options. For sports teams, you can post the team’s record and a snack schedule; classrooms can have a roster and volunteer list. Not surprisingly, all templates encourage posting pictures, and I discovered that I can download another parent’s pictures of my child to my own computer. I was so grateful, because I ended up with some amazing shots of my older son playing soccer that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

    Volunteer Spot – If you coordinate events that require volunteers to sign up, you might want to give Volunteer Spot a try. I haven’t created anything there myself, but I’ve used it to sign up for volunteer slots at events coordinated by others, and it was really easy.

    Random.org – This is a great web site for generating random numbers, which is perfect for blog giveaways but also for any kind of raffle. (We just used it for a PTA raffle, in fact.) It’s also a fun site to let kids play around with.

    Rafflecopter – If you host giveaways, Rafflecopter makes it really easy. You might have noticed I use them for all of my giveaways now. I know there are paid services that might be better, but I love that I can use Rafflecopter for free. :)

    Firefox Extensions – I always blog in Firefox because there are some great extensions that I use all the time when drafting posts, most notably Clippings, which makes it easy to paste frequently-used text. There are many other useful extensions, like ad blockers, screen capturers, and more. Google Chrome also has extensions, if you prefer Chrome.

    What are your favorite free programs to use?


    Banner ad via Escalate Media Network

    Morning Coffee: McCann’s Irish Oatmeal coupon, new SavingStar coupons & more

    The new coupons at Coupons.com that I mentioned last night for $1.50/2 Mars seasonal products, $2/1 Eucerin, $1/2 Pepperidge Farm crackers and puff pastry, and more are still available. Plus, I just spotted a coupon for $1/1 McCann’s Irish Oatmeal, which usually isn’t available to SoCal zip codes.

    SavingStarThere are a couple of new digital coupons at SavingStar for $1/1 U by Kotex and $1/1 Rhodes Traditional Roll Dough.

    Amazon’s $0.99 Instant Video rental of the day is Colombiana with Zoe Saldana from Avatar (3.8 out of 5 stars in 104 reviews).

    Daily deal site Mamapedia is again offering a one-year subscription to Draft magazine for just $12 ($36 value) – plus get $2 off with code DRAFTMAG2 at checkout, making your cost just $10! This would be a great gift for the beer lover in your life.

    Amazon’s free Android app of the day is Horoscope HD Pro ($1.99 value; 3.6 out of 5 stars in 67 reviews).

    There are lots of free cooking-related Kindle downloads right now:

    Note that there seems to be a limited number of free downloads per book, so make sure the price is $0 before ordering. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can use one of the free Kindle reading apps to read Kindle material on your computer, smartphone or tablet. (Via eReader Love.)

    Get a printable coupon for $0.75/1 pouch of Betty Crocker Molasses Cookie Mix via MyBlogSpark.

    Firefox
    Banner via MySavings.com.

    This post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for clicking through them! You can read CFO’s full disclosure here.

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