Although credit card benefits, frequent flyer programs, and free travel are a big focus of this website, the goal is really to present any and all ways to create value. This page is intended to highlight some of the less glamorous tactics for creating value and earning money. This page should be considered a work in progress, and I plan on adding to it as I discover, hear about, or invent new miscellaneous value tactics.
- Save money
- Earn money or get free stuff
- Apply principles to find new ways of doing 1 and 2.
Providing details for a miscellaneous category doesn’t really make sense. So instead, I will list some examples of tactics I’ve used or heard of, and take a brief look at each one:
Scrappin’ ain’t easy
Scrap metal. Before you stop reading let me dispel the stigma that comes with this tactic. The second you read “scrap metal” you most likely form a picture in your mind. It’s probably e
ither a bum collecting pop cans (soda cans, to most of you weirdos) in a shopping cart, a wigged out meth head ripping the copper pipes out of a vacant house, or a colorful character like Sh*tty Bill from the TV series, Trailer Park Boys.
For various reasons I have dealt with a number of scrappers in my day. I’m not gonna lie, many of them do fit that stereotype. (On the other hand, many are hard working entrepreneurs who make an honest living recycling metal-containing products). But that’s not to say there’s anything inherently low quality about recycling metal for cash.
Take my cousin, for example. He’s a foreman with a construction company that remodels office spaces. At the end of every work day he does a walk through of the job site. Along the way he picks up electrical wire scraps. This doesn’t add more than a minute or two to his work day, but after 2 years of collecting he cashed in and earned enough to take his family of 4 on a vacation in Mexico! He’s a clean cut guy who didn’t have to do any dirty work, but he saw the value in those wire scraps and decided to capture it.
Checking account sign-up bonuses
Many banks offer cash incentives to open a free checking account with them. These offers usually have some strings attached, like a requirement to have a certain number of paychecks direct-deposited to the account. A common bonus I have seen around town is $100, but a friend just got a bonus of $200 after having his paychecks deposited for three months in the new account.
Whether or not this is worth it for you depends on what your time is worth and how much messing around with a new account is worth to you. I will likely take advantage of one of these offers some time soon because I would also get some value out of having a separate bank account aside from my wife’s and my joint account. (It’s more fun to give gifts or surprise dinners out when she doesn’t know I spent the money!)
Online savings accounts
Over the years I have come across several online banks offering higher interest rates than brick and mortar banks on savings accounts. While rates are currently not very appealing for regular savings accounts, you can still get a much higher interest rate than your local Wells Fargo or Chase branch can get you on a free savings account.
The one I use is CapitalOne 360 (formerly ING). You get a free $25 bonus for opening a savings account, and if you apply by clicking through a referral e-mail link, a current account holder (like yours truly) can get a free $10 for referring you. If you’re interested in this type of online account and you want to help a starving blogger out, e-mail me for a referral link.
Random free stuff
There are coupons and deals for free stuff all around you; you just have to attune your radar to recognize it. In the junk-mail ad flyer we get there is a monthly coupon for a free item (no purchase necessary) at the local auto parts store. These have ranged from car air fresheners to drill bits to cheapo gloves. My wife has ordered several photo calendars filled with pictures of our kids for their grandparents. She hasn’t paid for any of these; instead, she used free coupons that sometimes print out when she shops at Target. A few restaurants in our area give a free entree on your birthday when you sign up for their e-club. These deals are all around you. Just learn to keep your eyes open, scan through junk mail before tossing it, and be willing to sign up to receive emails!
I don’t go there, but some people do. Extreme couponing is a world unto its own. I have a friend whose wife has come home from Walmart with $30 in groceries which cost her negative $5. That’s right, they payed her to take the groceries. While there is obviously value to be had with this hobby,I haven’t had the time nor the desire to look into it.