For most of the DIY projects I test and write about here at The Make Your Own Zone, I try to use common ingredients that can be found at places like the grocery store, the drug store, or the dollar store. This is in part because I want the recipes to be easy for my readers, but it’s also in part simply because I don’t want to go all over searching for ingredients or spending a lot of money either. I like to keep things simple!
Sometimes there are exceptions like the homemade blush I made with beet root powder (yeah, they don’t have beet root powder at the dollar store last I checked). By far the most common exception to my attempt to use every day ingredients is my use of essential oils. I’ve grown pretty attached to my essential oils and like finding new ways to use them for different projects.
When I include an essential oil in a homemade recipe I often put that it’s “optional” because people usually ask me that question. Many times essential oils are just used for fragrance (which is great) but not absolutely necessary. Sometimes though the essential oil is very important to the recipe like the tea tree essential in oil in my homemade toilet bowl cleaner, or the citronella oil in my homemade citronella candles, and it should be included to make the recipe work as intended.
It’s also fairly common for people to ask me where to find some ingredients (like essential oils) if they live in a small town without many shopping options, or if they are overseas with different types of stores. My usual response is, “Well, you can always try Amazon”. You can find almost anything on Amazon, including lots of essential oils. The one down side is that you have to pay for shipping.
So today, in the interest of trying to keep costs low for our DIY mixtures (even when we want to use essential oils!) I thought I would share my experience with a couple of online reward programs that I’ve used for several years where you can earn free Amazon credit, as well as credit to other retailers too. It may seem a little contradictory to use the words “earn” together with the word “free”. But because I control how and when I want to use the rewards programs for “earning” and I’m doing things I might already be doing anyway, to me the Amazon money I receive does seem “free”.
Earning Free Amazon Credit With Swagbucks
Swagbucks is a fairly popular program and may already be familiar to many of you. You earn points or “swagbucks” for doing various tasks.
There’s lots of things you can do, but I pretty much just use the search function. I found when you’re a blogger you do lots of online research! I decided I might as well earn some reward points while I search. You can use the Swagbucks toolbar for searching, but I think it’s just as easy to go to the Swagbucks home page and there’s a “Search and Earn” field right at the top to use. After you do a few searches a little box will pop up telling you “You’ve earned 10 points” or something like that, and you then enter the code that pops up to claim your points.
Usually the only other thing I do on Swagbucks once in a while is their Daily Poll which earns you 1 point. There are other tasks you can do too such as surveys, watching videos, printing coupons, or shopping. Here’s a good article from the Snail Pace Transformations blog to check out for earning more with Swagbucks:
Once you’ve accumulated some points you can redeem them for gift cards. The most popular of these is the $5 Amazon gift card which costs 450 swagbucks. This “gift card” is simply a claim code which you can use online at Amazon. This is the only gift card reward I have ever chosen through this program and it’s always worked well.
Some other gift card options are a $5 Walmart e-gift card for 500 swagbucks, a $5 Target e-gift card for 500 swagbucks, and there are many larger denominations of gift cards for more points too.
Swagbucks Summary: For me, Swagbucks has been a pretty painless way to earn some points and get Amazon cards simply by using their search engine. They don’t bombard you with emails or anything, so that’s nice too. If nothing that great is turning up on their search results, I just keep another tab open in my browser with Google and do a quick search there. If you want to spend more time doing surveys, etc., you can earn more points and more gift cards. It’s up to you how much of your time you want to spend to earn points.
Here’s the link again if you want to check it out: Swagbucks
Earning Free Amazon Credit With My Points
The second program I use is called My Points. I’ve actually been using them longer than I have Swagbucks. The main function of My Points is to earn points when you do your online shopping through their site, but for me, the two ways I earn points is by clicking through their advertisement emails and by using their search engine.
You may have mixed feelings about the email advertisements. They send you emails with point earning opportunities and for many of them you can earn 5 points just by clicking through to visit the site of the vendor they are advertising. For instance the screen shot below is of a My Points email for Naked Juice where I could earn 1000 points if I clicked through, printed their coupon, and then made the required purchase. BUT, I could also earn 5 points just by clicking through and visiting the website.
I personally don’t mind clicking through a few emails and earning 5 points for each. I click through, let it open up the new page, and then I close it. It usually takes just a few seconds. If I’m having a busy day, I just delete the emails and don’t worry about missing out on a few points. You can also go to your My Points member profile and change the settings on your email subscriptions to opt out of emails you don’t want to receive.
I’ve also downloaded their search toolbar on a second computer and use that for searching sometimes too. You earn points based on how many searches you do per month as follows:
1 – 10 searches: 1 point
11 – 25 searches: 10 points
26 - 40 searches: 50 points
41+ searches: 100 points
As you can see, the searching really earns you the best points if you’re at least in the tier of 26 to 40 searches and preferably you want to do at least 41 searches to get to the 100 point level. Once in a while they have a bonus month where you can earn 150 points for 42 or more searches.
The Amazon card choices on My Points are a $10 claim code for 1,700 points, a $25 claim code for 4,000 points, and a $50 claim code for 7,900 points. Last year I just let my points pile up for a long time and redeemed them for a $50 Target gift card for 7,800 points.
My Points Summary: Over the past few years I’ve earned several gift cards through My Points for what didn’t feel like much extra work on my part. I don’t mind clicking through a few emails, and I earn points through searches I would have done anyway. Just as with Swagbucks, if you want to spend more time doing surveys, printing coupons, or shopping, there’s the potential to earn more points. I’ve found it to be a good program and I’ve stuck with it.
Here’s the link again if you want to check it out: My Points
These are the two programs that I’ve settled on for earning a little extra Amazon money without much effort. Again, the amount you earn directly relates to the amount of time and energy you want to give to it. Both of these sites have more than just Amazon cards to choose from but Amazon tends to be a favorite for a lot of folks because you can find almost anything on Amazon!
I’ve found it’s kind of nice to have a little extra something available for spending on Amazon. Sometimes I treat myself to a book I might not have ordinarily bought, or some household item I’m having trouble finding in the store, or something I want for a DIY recipe like an essential oil. Some people like to put quite a bit of energy into these type of sites and earn lots of gift cards to help with the Christmas shopping each year.
Also – my opinions on this post are my own experience and I have not been compensated by either of these programs for writing this. The links above are not referral links either. I’m just a thrifty sort of person that’s enjoyed earning a little extra from these sites and thought all of you might like it too.
I hope if you sign up and use these sites that you’ll find they work as well for you as they have for me and that they’ll be a simple way for you to earn a little extra fun money at Amazon and maybe help you buy an interesting ingredient or two for any DIY project you may want to try.