Opportunity to Earn Cash or Amazon Gift Cards Through Opinion Outpost (Open Now, So Apply Soon)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie

It’s been a while since we have shared a extra money making opportunity with you all.  Well, a legitimate survey opportunity has opened up again for new applicants.

So, if you are looking to earn some extra money from home, we would suggest giving something like this a try! You can get paid in either cash or in gift cards. As a side note and tip from us: you will get paid more and quicker if you opt for gift cards instead of cash.  Amazon gift cards are the way we like to go as we do buy a lot of our household, diapers and groceries on Amazon and so this would pay for some of it!

We have talked about this company before when they were open – Opinion Outpost. But as a reminder, here’s what we have to say about them:

This is a decent survey company and one worth trying out.  Their sign-up process is pretty simple as it is just one fomr like what you would fill-out for a free sample, and then you will receive an email confirmation and need to fill out a demographic questions which is very short. That’s it to get started, so it is quite simple compared to most. 

What is Opinion Outpost? Opinion Outpost conducts surveys because businesses, governments, public bodies, and similar organizations are interested in the views and attitudes of the people who use their products and services. The more they know about what customers and citizens think, the easier it is for them to improve and adapt what they supply. Take Surveys to give your opinion and shape the future.

It takes a little longer to earn cash as it does to earn Amazon gift cards.  You can cash out your Amazon gift cards when you hit $5, which happens pretty quickly! So you could earn a couple of these a week with little time!  You can also go the cash route and cash out once you get $10 – cash is paid via PayPal.  You could probably do a few of these per month with a little bit of your time.  We think that Amazon would be a better route for us as this is just as good as cash.  Yes it won’t pay your electric bill, but if you snatched a $5 Amazon gift card a few times per month,  it can help with your grocery bill (Amazon has great food and household deals), diapers, Christmas, or other necessities which means that the money you save can go towards another bill or financial goal!

Here’s how to get started – we just went through the steps and it was just a couple of minutes:

  • Register through this link HERE by filling out a very short contact form
  • Then you will see the first Thank You window letting you know to watch for your email in order to confirm your registration and to start earning cash or gift cards.

  • Then click on the link in your email.

  • You will then fill-out a second short form that asks the demographic questions that all survey companies ask so that they can connect you with the right surveys.

  • Then you are ready to start taking surveys and earn!

*Please note, that since the demographic form is quite short, you will often fill-out the first page of each survey to see if you qualify further for that survey.

They do this because let’s say that Verizon Wireless hires Opinion Outpost to do a survey of smart phone users (as an example), when you start the survey, you will probably be answering questions that would be related to the smart phone survey.  Ultimately, you may or may not qualify for that survey if you don’t have a smart phone, etc.   This is just an example, but any company for any product/service will have surveys.  There are even cereal and other food ones.  If you don’t eat cereal, or a certain type of cereal, then you will not qualify for that specific survey, etc.

They do this as it would be near impossible or a never-ending registration process to answer every type of possible question.  This means that you will probably only qualify for about 20% of the survey’s in your account.  This is a common thing with every survey company.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying so that you can get in on those 20% or so surveys that you are able to take and earn money too!

Head to the Opinion Outpost Site through this link HERE to quickly register.

As a note, we did want to mention something important – you will not get rich, be able to quit your day job or make a fine living doing surveys – they can pay a bill or two a month with diligent survey taking. So if you plan to spend 15+ minutes a day or a few times a week, it can be a big help to you and your family. Either way, it is worth giving it a shot!

See our master list of Ways to Earn Extra Income: Over 100 and Counting

{ 1 comment }

Alex & Cassie

Summer Money Making Idea with a 500% Profit Margin Possiblity

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie


We have shared this idea each summer for the past few summers… why? Because it is easy, popular, successful, fun and productive.

It is a quick way to earn some extra money and a fun and enjoyable endeavor for the whole family.

As a kid we did things like this growing up! My parents were always helping to find ways that my siblings and I could earn money with our passion for entrepreneurship! It’s a great thing to encourage and to grow in your children and to help them understand the value and rewards of work.

We also have done many things to earn extra income as we worked our way out of debt and as we continue to reach our other financial goals now – this being one of them.

We have shared this idea as it has been one of the more successful endeavors that we have engaged in. And this year, our older three children are begging to do this to earn extra money this summer and so we will be diving in again this year!

What is it? Well, it is an idea to capitalize on the summer months of celebrations, park gatherings, parades, city sponsored park events and more. It is an idea to invest $100 and make $600 profit! The profit comes from selling cold bottled water, treats and novelties.

That is a HUGE profit margin! Many in business can only dream about that type of outcome.

You will get out of it what you put into it, but this opportunity has been one of the most profitable for least amount of effort.

We have outlined the steps, product ideas and investment approximation in our previous post HERE titled Invest $100 and Make a $600 Profit This Summer.

You do need to follow city ordinances as far as this idea goes.  City ordinances will vary greatly! We actually will be working with four cities as all four are very close to us.  Each one has different rules and small fees.  The fees we will be will be $25 – $75 depending on what events we choose to be a part of.  We are still deciding on which 4th of July events to be a part of, but we will probably be walking in a parade and selling water/popsicles as the parade walking fee is the smallest fee, although the other events are for a couple of days all day… so we are going to determine what level of commitment our kids can do for the first year (again…despite what their eager attitudes want…we think a parade is a good start for them ;))

We also plan to have booths at various events this summer, some are very low cost and others are free.  At these booths, we will also sell the water/treats that we plan to sell at parades and park events along with some homemade crafts and activities that our kids have been making.  So we will get double traction at the booths from this idea shared.

The city fees are not included in the investment, but many have very small to no fee depending on the event.

Our kids are looking forward to a summer of fun and working as they too work towards their financial goals.

Again, check out the post HERE titled Invest $100 and Make a $600 Profit This Summer.

See more Money Making Ideas HERE 

See our Money Making Ideas Pinterest Board HERE

{ 1 comment }

Alex & Cassie

How We Pay $64 a Month for Auto Insurance on Two Vehicles

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Alex


Early this week we posted our $27K budget for this year.  We did this for a couple of reasons:

  1. Many of you asked for us to share this so you can get an idea of a real budget, and
  2. We thought we could use it as a sound board to share articles on how we save in each area.

We have had many articles in the past on how we have saved, like our 10 Ways to Save on Car and Home Insurance, but when you can attach a real-life figure to it, it makes it that much clearer!

So when we shared our budget, we honestly didn’t know how this would compare to others’ budgets.  In fact, we know that we still have more to learn from many of you as you are finding ways to drop your budget. Everyday is a new learning experience and we consider our site as bringing you along on our journey – sharing both our successes and our failures – and hoping they can be a benefit to you in whatever financial situation you are in.

Well, one thing that many have commented on in regards to our budget was our car insurance.  Basically, the question asked hundreds of times was “Why is your car insurance only $64 for 2 vehicles?”

We don’t want this to discourage anyone, but to be an encouragement on finding ways to lower insurance on cars.  However, our factors are not going to be like yours, but we hope that some of the tips we use to pay $64 a year just might help you lower your rates as well.

*Please note, this article is not intended to tell you what you should do with your insurance as everyone’s situation is so different and you need to be advised under an agent.  We are just sharing EXACTLY what we have and our circumstance since so many were asking.

1. We don’t have teenagers – we are only insuring 2 adult drivers.  And even more we certainly don’t have teenage boys on the policy (yet and not for 9-10 more years – WHEW!). But teens -and especially teen boys – will drive your insurance through the roof!

2. We own our vehicles so we only need liability instead of full coverage - However, neither do we want you to think we have the bare minimum insurance either as we appreciated some of the tips from our insurance agent on why raising some of the limits could be beneficial in an accident.  (On a side note, finding an agent you can trust is a real bonus – it took us years to find one that we believe is answering our questions fully and thoroughly with our best interests in mind.)

3. We selected a higher deductible plan - As we mentioned with our home owners insurance, so we do with our auto insurance.  Selecting a higher deductible will help lower your premium.  As our agent tells us, the hope is that filing a claim from an accident could result in a bad day but shouldn’t be something that will ruin our family’s finances.

4. Our vehicles are old and not fancy - Its possible – even probable – that our rates may go up in a year or so when we need to retire Thrifty Helena with about 200K miles on her right now, but until then we enjoy our low rates and no payments.  But while our cars are old and paid off they are definitely cheap to insure.

5. We qualified for the lowest possible rate because of several factors - no claims in the past and with our current company, no traffic tickets or violations in the years that they track – both of which make for a safe driver discount. Good credit was another big one as it shows responsibility (trust us, if you’ve been following our Deep in Debt to Debt Free story, you’ll know that our credit would have never been close to qualifying in the past).  These three factors contributed to putting us in the lowest rate category, and then the rates were based on the other factors within that category.

6. We always make sure to discuss all our additional possible discounts that we might qualify for - With that we qualify for “professionals” and low mileage discounts (see those tips here on discounts).

7. We bundled all of our insurances with one company - The more policies we had, the bigger the discount – currently home, life and car are bundled.

8. Finally, we pay for the whole year at once –  They had three payment options (monthly, semi-annual, annual) with two discount options – pay for 6 months at a time for a small discount or 12 months at a time for a larger discount.  We pay annually, but break it out in our monthly budget throughout the prior year so we have the lump sum each year when it is due.

So, using our personal experience and 10 Ways to Save on Home and Car Insurance ideas, check to see if you can get some lower rates.  Some of you actually mentioned that area/region may have something to do with it based on number of car break-ins, traffic, and other factors as well; it seems like our area might be included in a lower risk area so if that is true it might contribute to our lower premium as well.

See our Finance and Managing Money Section of our site for more ideas

See our Finance and Money Pinterest Board for even more ideas


Alex & Cassie

Our Budget – The Breakdown of the $27K Annual Budget

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Alex


So, we are finally sharing our personal living expenses budget with you again this year.  Many of you have asked for us to share our 2014 budget just like we did in 2013.

Honestly, it is always a little hard to share our personal budget as it is just, well….. personal.

But after hearing from a number of you that this was a help and an encouragement to you when we shared this last year finally made us decide to post it again!  As promised, we are sharing our living expenses budget with you to show you what we budget for and changes made from 2013 and what our lowest budget was historically. We encourage you to read our post HERE regarding setting your budget.  It also includes a free download to fill-out for your high level budget view.

A few points to make:

  • We are out of debt, so our budget could look a lot different than yours
  • When our budget was the lowest, we had the two of us and 2 babies (who don’t eat a lot), and I (Alex) worked 1 mile from home.  All factors that make food/gas (the biggest expenses) a lower option.
  • We are a family of 7
  • This is a base bottom budget.  We base our budget and stick to a budget with a low income in case of famine in business/work.  But when business is booming, we still stick to this budget, but it means that we can add to our home improvement, Christmas and travel/fun fund as well as our savings. But we have learned to live off of this in case we lose some of those extra income outlets.
  • We also have a savings as this budget is less than our normal income and so the excess from our normal income and from our extra businesses goes into savings to pay cash for future purchases like a new mini-van, basement finishing, etc.
  • We are not sharing our mortgage nor our tithe and charitable giving as these are very personal.

Monthly Bills Category

2014 Insurances

  • Term life insurance $160 (all 7 family members)
  • Car insurance for 2 vehicles $63.85 (details on our policy here)
  • Home Insurance $30

2014 Utilities

  • Phone $38.25 ($25 a month plus taxes)
  • Cell Phones $75.59 ($55 a month plus taxes and fees)
  • Gas bill $70
  • Electricity $152
  • City Utilities $96

2014 Entertainment

  • HuluPlus $7.99
  • Amazon Prime $6.58 monthly (this also covers us in our grocery, gift and household category, but easy to categorize here, and….next time we renew, it will be $99!)
  • Netflix $8.51 (with tax)
  • Sermon Audio $4.99

Medical Bills

We do have some medical expenses as well that are not calculated above as it is so random and often without planning.  But we do have an HSA that this comes out of and has covered our medical bills every year for the past few years.

Total in the Monthly Bills Category

$713.76 monthly = $8562.12 this year

Living Expenses Category (This category also shows previous years’ amounts)

Groceries/Household/Personal Care: A note, as a family, we try to live a whole, natural and even organic life when and where we can.  We modify recipes to meet this desire and we shop according to this desire without our allotted budget. We implemented this living goal last year and it was a success and so we will continue this again this year! 

  • 2014: $430 per month (about $107.50 per week). However, we usually only shop once or twice a month at the grocery store since our milk is delivered and produce from co-op and meat in the deep freezer. In addition, much of our excess $250 goes for bulk food buying for nearly all of our dry foods (cereals, grains, beans, etc.) and so just a little at the actual grocery store.   Pretty much all we buy at the grocery store are eggs, cottage cheese, cheese, sour cream, a few of the sale items that week and a few markdowns.
    • Natural fresh milk delivery $30 per month
    • Fresh produce either through Bountiful Baskets or the Warehouse/Grocery stores for $100 per month.
    • Meat Savings for our bulk grass-fed beef and natural chicken orders twice per year $50 per month (this is $600 per year.  Our 1/4 cow usually costs around $400-$450 and chicken is just over $100 – $150)
    • Everything else is $250 per month or about $50 per week at the grocery store/ bulk foods store on needed odds/ends.
  • 2013:$500 per month ($125 per week)
  • 2012: $300 per month or $75 per week
  • Lowest in our budget history:  $150 a month or about $35 a week (not necessarily healthy or organic)

Eating Out (one of our favorite luxuries)

  • 2014: $160 per month
    • Date Nights $60 mo.
    • Alex lunch with clients $20 mo.
    • Mom and Kids lunch outs on field trip days $35 mo.
    • Family Meals out $45 mo.
  • 2013: $200 per month
  • Lowest in our budget history:  $40 a month

Automobile Expenses

  • 2014:
    • Gasoline/Fuel $290 mo. (I commute quite a bit, but much less than last year)
    • Oil Changes for all vehicles  $40 per month (we get high mileage oil and usually a extra service every third time)


    • Gasoline/Fuel $433 mo.
    • Oil Changes for all vehicles  $40 per month (we get high mileage oil and usually a extra service every third time)
  • Lowest in our budget history: 
    • Gasoline/Fuel $100 mo.
    • Oil Changes for all vehicles  $15 per month


  • 2014: $15 per month (we now only have 1 in diapers and we are using cloth during the day at home and it takes us about 5-6 weeks to get through a case of diapers that costs us around $22 on Amazon with the cloth option – Details on this here)
  • 2013: $20 per month (nearly the same)
  • Lowest in our budget history: Now – this year 2014


  • 2014: $80 per month (essentially just over $11 per person)
  • 2013: $80 per month (same)
  • Lowest in Budget History:$25 per month ($300 per year)

Health Products/Supplements

  • 2014: $55 per month
  • 2013: $50 per month (essentially just over $7 per person)
  • 2012: $20 per month
  • Lowest in budget history: $0

Hair Cuts/Salon

  • 2014:$10 per month (Just the girls get hair cuts at the local beauty college – Cassie cut bangs and the boy’s hair at home)
  • 2013: $10 per month (no change)
  • Lowest in budget history: $5 per month


  • 2014: $20 month
  • 2013: $20 month (Same)
  • Lowest in budget history: None – $0

Allowances: for the kids, we give them .50 per year per week

  • 2014: $108 total
      • Alex – $20
      • Cassie -$20
      • 10 year old – $20
      • 9 year old – $18
      • 7 year old – $14
      • 5 year old – $10
      • 3-year old – $6
  • 2013: Same formula but $96 due to younger ages
  • Lowest in budget history: none – $0 (not a good idea as we couldn’t stick to it – give yourself something)


  • 2014:
    • $150 per month for supplies, books, curricula, etc.
    • $198 Tutor fees ($2375 annually in tutoring fees for 4 kids)
  • 2013: $160 per month (covers supplies, books, curricula, etc.)
  • Lowest in budget history: none as it wasn’t needed with 2 babies

Totals in Living Expenses:

2014: $1,556 per month (it is actually $1,600 as we also give ourselves nearly a $100 incidentals) – which is $19,200 this year

Past years:

2013: $1,609 (it is actually $1,700 as we also give ourselves nearly a $100 incidentals) – which is $20,400 for the year

2012: $1,349 (Actual amount we budgeted $1,450 to include incidentals and the biggest change was in the groceries from $300 to $500) – which is just over $16,000 for the year.

Lowest in budget history for living expenses category: $335, but we had it at $400 to cover incidentals and Christmas.  BUT… we really, really struggled to stick with this and found it nearly impossible.  This was in our unsuccessful 3 years of only paying off $15k debt.  It wasn’t until we became realistic and started our 2×2 plan that we were successful in sticking with our budget and seeing big debt changes by paying off $85k the next 3.5 years.   The 2×2 plan is how we would recommend making and sticking to a budget and you will get to your rock bottom budget soon and much less painfully!

The GRAND total of both bills and living expenses category = $27,762.12 this year

So you may be asking about…… Christmas, Travel, fun and home improvement. Well, we have saved for Christmas before at $5 – $15 per paycheck ($5 x26 = $130 at lowest and $15×26 = $390) but we have done something different the past 2-years.  We’ve mentioned many times that we run our own home businesses and so we now save a percentage of our excess income to pay for these extras.  This would be a fun way to motivate you and your family to earn extra for travel and Christmas if you wanted. Check out our Over 100 Ways to Earn Extra Income post HERE. If you don’t want to do this, we would highly recommend saving monthly for those events in your normal budget.

Here’s what we do with our extra income:

  • 10% tithe
  • 30% Home Improvement (we have a lot of projects we want to complete)
  • 5% Christmas fund
  • 15% Travel/fun fund
  • Remaining in savings and other charitable giving

So for an example, between our extra businesses (we have about 4), we could bring in $1,000 extra per month.  $300 goes into home improvement, $150 for travel/fun and $50 for Christmas.  The rest is savings and tithe.  Some months are more and some are less, but that gives you an idea of what we do! It is also a great motivator for us!

Extra links:

See our Finance Category for more helpful articles

See our Financial Tips and Resources Pinterest Board


Alex & Cassie

Time For May 5th Penniless Week Challenge Plus Tips and Free Tools

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie


It’s HERE! Are you ready?

Penniless week has arrived and thousands of you are joining us for “do not spend a penny on anything” week. We hope your first day is going well and that you are figuring out ways to use foods in your house to eat and make meals (as the grocery budget savings is the biggest savings of all). We also want to remind you what the “exceptions” and the “rules” are. The only exceptions are:

  • Emergencies – thankfully we haven’t had one in the weeks we have done this as emergencies are generally a rare thing, but it is an exception.
  • Gasoline to get to work – This hasn’t been a problem yet either as we also try to gas up before the week starts or Alex takes public transportation with his prepaid card. It is important to minimize your driving as much as possible to save as much gas money as possible.  You do need to get to work though, and that is the one exception.  If you have alternative ways to get to work, we encourage you to choose these instead.
  • Still pay your regular bills - what we are talking about here is the living expenses that you spend after you pay bills, you know…. the things you write checks for or slide your debit or credit card for.  You are still obligated to pay your debts, heating, insurance, electricity, mortgage, etc.  This is different!
  • Any absolutely necessary expenses – We have to be very careful with this one; absolutely necessary means just that – not because its a “want”; We really try to cut out the reasons we would “need” to spend.

And here is a reminder for the RULES for the week:

  • Before the week starts, buy just the fresh foods (produce, milk) that you may need for the week, but don’t make up for penniless week by double spending the week before in preparation! Your produce purchases need to be bare minimum. We also don’t buy milk ourselves for this week, but we know that this is a necessity, especially for family’s with babies/toddlers.   We use the milk we’ve on hand from the previous week and then use our powdered milk in the pantry if we run out. The goal is to make a bit of a sacrifice, eat the foods in the house and be creative with those foods.
  • Gas up your vehicles for the purposes of getting to work and try not to drive them to the point that you need to refill that week!
  • Literally eat what’s in your house (penniless week is also a great way to eat foods you’ve been needing to eat before they expire!). Sometimes your meals are a hodgepodge and sometimes they may not technically be a meal.  But you are getting food, so everyone is sacrificing and happy with the end result!
  • Find free ways to entertain yourselves and to have fun. Date night in is GREAT (we do this almost every week anyway) an make something to eat at home, watch a movie you already have, or play board games, etc.
  • When the next week starts, don’t overspend to make-up for not spending the week before.  Just do your normal grocery shopping and your activities like normally planned/budgeted.

In the end, you could potentially end up with $100 or more saved for the week. Just think about what your savings could be if you set aside the week’s grocery money (or if you shop monthly/bi-weekly, cutting your shopping trip down to save a week’s equivalent of money), your gas money that week, your “fun” money that week, etc.; the savings add up! The other point is to realize and stop frivolous spending.  Often, we do not realize how much we are spending when we only see a little bit here, $1 there, .50 over there, etc.  This frivolous spending could possibly even equal your money needing to be saved as part of our 52-week savings challenge! Other things that you may learn:

  • It is character building for everyone to learn to temporarily sacrifice and to learn to “live without” to reach a goal.
  • It is a test run to see if you really can live without and help identify perhaps problems your family has or addictions that are developing, like coffee out, unnecessary snacks, movie theater addiction, etc. We learned something similar when we have done no electronic entertainment weeks! It is quite eye-opening!
  • The value of your hard work and sacrifice.  Each time we do this, we seem to come out of the week being even wiser with our allotted budget for the rest of the month. It also helps us to value each penny and consider how much meaningless spending actually ends up costing you ($1 here, .50 there, etc.)
  • A good chunk of “seed” money to help you reach your financial goals and dreams!

Now… on with a very personal story and us being real…..

We’ve had many of you that have stated…..”I already live this way every week,” and it seems that the point of this challenge is being missed by many due to this statement. We get this….we understand this…. in fact, we too at one time lived with this thought…… 

So let us relate our situation to you and how that story is different today: There was a time in our lives that we were in such financial crisis that we couldn’t go even ONE day without a paycheck, let alone a week. We had no savings, not a penny to our name = we were penniless. We were in over $100K of consumer debt and could not longer pay our obligations monthly. BUT….we got to work when we realized our crisis (and just in time as we were literally days from bankruptcy) and that hard work changed our financial situation. It wasn’t an easy road and it wasn’t quick.

Today, after years of hard work, we are free from our $100K debts (debt-free day was four years ago! YAY!) and in the process, we learned to live a very frugal, happy, full life. As a family of 7, we live on MUCH less than we ever did as the 2 of us. The point of this challenge is to not “live” frugal everyday, but to encourage everyone to do better from where they were at today. WE HAD NOTHING, but we figured out how to do better. 

Today, we do have a weekly budget and it is a tight budget because we choose to live as frugally as possible now.  We save our excess for future goals and paying for things with cash.  Our weekly budget accounts for groceries, gas, eating out, entertainment, clothing, etc. We spend within our allotted budget and try very hard to not spend more. After our experience, we started our site to encourage and share with you what we have learned and how we try to live a little better every day!  So, no matter your financial situation, this challenge could help propel you into a better financial future.  Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater – try to understand what we are attempting to accomplish and join us for some penniless (not just frugal) fun this week! 

We already have thousands of you joining us and seem to understand what we are trying to accomplish. We hope this has clarified for the rest of you why we are presenting the challenge. You’re welcome to join us!

Now for some tools to help! One of the BIGGEST tools to help us this week is the No Food Waste Menu Planner.  If you haven’t already downloaded this menu planner, we highly recommend it for this week especially. no-waste-food-menu-planning-download It is a cool little planner that my awesome husband Alex made for me when I was trying to find an easy way to use all of our foods each week in my recipes and cooking.  Along with that, you will want to utilize the google recipe search to help you create recipes with foods you have at home now! See all of the details on this HERE.


In addition, it might be a good week to put together a home binder and get on track to a more organized life, which leads to an easier frugal life in future weeks. Find out the details of  the Home Binder HERE along with the downloads to go inside!

Next steps: (leave comments below so we can all have fun and learn!)  

  • Live Penniless and leave comments below telling us about your progress.
  • Tell all of us the funny meals you eat!
  • What did you do for fun and entertainment this week?
  • We would also LOVE to know how much you think you saved over previous weeks?


Alex & Cassie