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  • Ways to Make & Save Money Update: I’m still enjoying ICS

    A few months ago, I recommended Instant Cash Sweepstakes as a way to make free money online. It’s a very simple site to use – you just answer a few multiple choice surveys, and every few surveys, you earn a few cents. I’ve won anywhere from 1 cent to 9 cents. You can withdraw your cash winnings as soon as you hit the $2 mark, which has been taking me about three weeks. When you don’t win cash, you win tickets and tokens, which can be used to buy more tickets. The tickets go into a pot for a daily $50 drawing. I haven’t won the $50 yet, but I’m holding out hope because My Good Cents has won it multiple times.

    It’s taking me less time to earn money via ICS than through other methods like MySurvey, and I like that I can earn it consistently, even if it’s just a few cents at a time. I’m not waiting for surveys to become available, like I am with MySurvey or Pinecone.

    No, I’m not going to become rich through ICS, but it’s a worthwhile investment for a few minutes of time a few times a day.

    Ways to Make and Save Money #8: Instant Cash Sweepstakes

    You can read the rest of the Ways to Make & Save Money series here.

    Instant Cash Sweepstakes is a market research site that offers cash payouts for taking surveys. The payouts are tiny – 1 to 4 cents, usually per session (you can take multiple surveys per session; the number per session varies). You can cash out via PayPal when you have at least $2 in your account. Each survey earns you “tickets,” which are entries into a daily $50 lottery, and “coins,” which you can use to buy more tickets.

    Some of the surveys are true market research. Most of the surveys are kind of silly, and written by other ICS users. And the rest of the surveys are used to gauge your truthfulness – ICS gives you a “TrustScore,” which you’ll see displayed at the top right corner. I’m not quite sure how it works, since I started with a 9, went down to a 6, and finally got back to a 10.

    It took me a little less than three weeks to reach the $2 payout level for the first time, and my money was in my PayPal account within hours. ICS definitely won’t make you rich, but it’s not a bad way to spend a few minutes a day if you believe, like I do, that every penny adds up.

    Plus, by inviting people to join ICS, you’ll increase your payout because you’ll receive 100% matching of their prizes. So, if they win 4 cents, you win 4 cents. If they win the $50, you’ll win the $50. In fact, Kimberly of My Good Cents has won $700 since last April. This is no longer the case, alas.

    If you’re new to ICS, I’d love it if you’d sign up using my referral link – your pennies + my pennies will help me reach my savings goal that much faster. Thank you!

    Updated: 10/4/2011

    Morning Coffee: Look for a Daily Grill deal

    The Daily Grill has locations throughout Southern California, and in other areas of the country as well. I’m never around to be able to post the info in a timely fashion, so I’ll just tell you to keep an eye on the Daily Grill Twitter feed today and every Tuesday. They generally have a Twitter phrase of the day that gets you a deal in the restaurant (dine-in only, I think). In the past, they’ve given out free dessert and free burgers, so if you like the Daily Grill, Tuesday is the day to go.

    I keep wondering when Amazon’s Holiday Toy Lightning Dealsare going to end, but today is not that day. Today’s deals just started with Strawberry Shortcake, and will continue with Transformers at 8 a.m. PST, a tea set at 9 a.m., and Star Trek at 2 p.m. The last deal of the day will be at 4 p.m. I finally gave in yesterday and picked up the Twilight Board Game and New Moon Board Gamefor $3.99 each (unfortunately, the New Moon game is back up to $14.99 now). The games would make for a fun girls night in!

    Reminder: This is the last week to get free-after-rebate batteries at Staples. The rebate checks should be mailed in January.

    CalItalian at SlickDeals explains how to make $10 while buying 8 bottles of Smirnoff Vodka.

    Check your email for an offer from Snapfish – I got one for a free 11×14 calendar collage poster when you buy a gift certificate from Snapfish. Because there’s no code needed, I think only people who got the email and click through that link may receive the poster. I am thinking of ordering myself a gift certificate, since I can easily spend $10 at Snapfish during the next year. (The offer expires 12/24.)

    Download the song “I Don’t Really Hate Christmas” from the Phineas & Ferb soundtrack for free from Walmart. (Via Frugal Dr. Mom.)

    Frugal Hacks reports that you can earn bonus money from Associated Content if you post new articles before year’s end.

    Consumerism Commentary shows that if you own your own business, it really pays to have a professional look things over.

    Five Cent Nickel has a list of codes for free in-flight internet service on various airlines.

    Common Sense with Money explains how you can get two $5 off Huggies diaper coupons.

    Get a printable coupon for 20% off at The GAP – it expires 1/30/10, so you can use it in the after-Christmas sales. (Via Bargain Briana, whom I want to thank for letting me win free Snapfish prints!)

    Get a printable buy one, get one free coupon for Steaz tea (redeemable at Target only). Expires 2/28/10. (Via Swag Grabber.)

    Coupon Geek has links to some good printable coupons, like Chinet and Skinny Cow.

    A blog I’ve been reading for years – Fabulous Financials – is no more, but for all the right reasons. Single Ma’s pretty much achieved all of her financial goals! I’ll miss her though. Good luck, Single Ma!

    Free Money from Lending Club

    I haven’t mentioned peer to peer lending in a while, mainly because I haven’t been thinking much about investing. As a refresher, peer to peer lending sites allow people like you and me to lend money to other people like you and me. The borrowers sometimes can’t get loans through traditional means (like from banks), or sometimes they’re just looking for a better rate. Lenders can pick and choose who they want to lend to, taking on the risk that they’re comfortable with.

    I mentioned Lending Club a while back, when they gave me some money to play with as a lender. I invested conservatively, in borrowers with the highest grades and therefore the lowest risk. So far, they’ve all paid consistently and my rate of return is over 8% – pretty awesome in this economy.

    Now, Lending Club wants to give everyone money. Right now, when you sign up to be a lender, Lending Club will deposit $64.62 into your account for you to invest (because bank profits were $6.462 billion last quarter). Last time I checked, you only needed a minimum of $25 to invest in a loan (investments are pooled until they total the amount requested by the borrower), so you could invest in two loans with the bonus money and find out what peer to peer lending is like for yourself. Some restrictions apply (for instance, residents of certain states cannot become lenders). Offer expires 12/31.

    Disclosure: The email I received from Lending Club instructs me to tell you to use this referral link so you can get the bonus, but as far as I can tell, I don’t benefit from it.

    Review and sign up opportunity: Pinecone Research

    Update: I’m sorry, but it appears the link is no longer working and that they are no longer accepting new members. However, given your interest, I will definitely let you know when I get another email like this!

    I first heard of Pinecone Research several years ago, in a very positive way – they paid $5 per survey and always paid in a timely, reliable fashion. I think it was the first time I’d heard about getting paid for doing surveys online, and I was intrigued, but Pinecone membership was restricted and they weren’t accepting new members at the time.

    Fast forward to a little over a year ago, and I managed to sign up for Pinecone after spotting an ad on Slickdeals. Now that I’ve been a member for a while, I thought it was time for a proper review.

    The first thing to note is that they now pay only $3 per survey. If you’re going to be sitting around watching TV anyway, you might as well get paid to answer a few questions at the same time. But, each survey does take 5 to 20 minutes, and when time is precious, $3 may not seem like much.

    At the end of some surveys, you’ll be asked if it would be okay for the company to send you a product to try out. You’d test it out, and then complete another survey (and receive another $3). In my experience, I’ve also gotten to keep the product, so I have no idea if there are ever instances when you have to send it back. Sometimes the company sends the product, sometimes not. I was hoping I’d get the last one I agreed to, but I haven’t seen it yet and am actually kind of bummed about it.

    I wish I could tell you what it was, but to become part of Pinecone, you have to agree to keep the products you learn about confidential. I take it very seriously because I wouldn’t want to be the cause of a major product development leak. All I will say is that Pinecone seems to work with major, well-established companies, who are looking for input on products they are developing.

    It’s been my experience that Pinecone pays very reliably, by paper check or Paypal. I usually get a Paypal deposit within two days of completing a survey. However, I get surveys very infrequently, and I’ve wondered if it’s because of my demographic.

    If you are interested in Pinecone, you’ll be happy to know that they’re currently taking new members. I got an email giving me carte blanche to invite all of my friends – and we’re all friends around here. Just keep in mind that only one person per household may register.

    Go here if you’re interested in signing up with Pinecone.