Wednesday 2 March 2016

Earn Cash While You Shop or Surf The Internet

One of the biggest problems of moving to a new country is finances. I can't work here in St Louis yet as my work permit is still processing and the cash I had saved is dwindling as time goes on. Who knows how long it will take me to find a job once I have my permit too. So when Cold told me about Bing, Mypoints and Swagbucks, it seemed sensible to check them out and I thought I'd share them with you too. Just clicking and running videos in the background is easy money and who doesn't like easy money!

Bing Rewards

This is a really easy, 2 minutes a day to click around and earn Bing Reward Points. Once you have 475 points (the first time, it's 500 points) you can cash them in for a $5 Amazon gift card (or Sephora, Macy's, GameStop and quite a few others). If you do both desktop and mobile searches, that's a total of 25 points per day and then there are between 3-8 points available for doing certain tasks that pop up in your account drop down. That works out at $5 every 16-17 days which isn't huge but for 2 minutes a day of clicking? It's money for nothing!


Mypoints is a portal site with a wide variety of ways to earn points. You can take surveys, do searches through their search bar, watch videos and refer friends etc but the fastest way to earn is to go through their links when you do any online shopping. There are loads and loads of different stores available to shop from and the points are credited to your Mypoints account after 30 days.

Once you have enough points, you can redeem them for gift cards from lots of different stores including Amazon, CVS, Chili's, Applebees, Groupon and Gamestop to name just a few. The best thing about Mypoints is that unlike Bing, they have gift cards for up to $50 if you want to save up your points. We're both doing the video watching and surveys and we're saving our gift cards now for Christmas presents. It will make Christmas so much easier!


Swagbucks is a fairly new one for me but Cold has been doing it for a while. He runs videos in the background at work to build up points and is doing way better than me! But, as with Mypoints, there are lots of ways to earn points and lots of stores to shop with to earn Swagbucks. Just go to Swagbucks website and select your store to shop from - once your order is placed, the points are credited to your account a few days later.

There's also daily targets to reach if you want to - each target reached gives bonus points and if you manage to do them every day for 7, 14, 21 or 28 days, you get an even bigger bonus too.

As for the gift cards - there are hundreds available from most of the big name stores and restaurant chains, you can even cash out to Paypal. When you shop through your Swagbucks link, you get varying amounts of points per dollar - some are even as high as 10 points per dollar which is effectively 10% cashback!

Again, we're saving up these gift cards for Christmas and birthdays but if we buy our Christmas gifts through the Swagbucks portal, then we'll earn points on those too! It all adds up to easy and free money for a little bit of time each day. You gotta love free money!

If you do decide to give any (or all!) of these sites a try, let me know and I'll give you some tips to speed up your points earning. You can leave a comment below or message me on Twitter @Nevahaddict.

Even if you decide against the daily points earning opportunities, I'd definitely recommend signing up if you buy stuff online regularly - that really is money for nothing and builds up quickly too.


Tuesday 9 February 2016

Life in a New Land - In St Louis At Last

Early Morning View from the Diner
Well, it's been a while since my last post but I'm happy to report that everything came together in the end and I made it to St Louis at the start of December. I took a couple of weeks to catch my breath and get over any jet lag and then my darling man and I finally took the next step and got married!

It was just the two of us at City Hall which, for my British readers, is nothing like a Registry Office wedding or like the wedding chapels in Las Vegas that we often see in movies & tv shows. Nope, we queued to get a licence then went to the Courthouse building next door and queued to see a judge, 5 minutes later we were officially married and heading out of the door to get some lunch!

With all the expense of visas and moving, we just wanted to 'get it done' but I wasn't prepared for the starkness of the courtroom. I didn't care though - here I was at last with my man beside me and rings on our fingers.

Since then, we made a huge roast ham for Christmas and I learned how to make candied sweets -that's sweet potatoes slow cooked with brown sugar and butter then topped with melted marshmallows before serving. Really not my thing to have any sweet stuff on the same plate as meat but apparently I nailed it and my candied sweets were pronounced to be awesome!

Scott's Mom gave me a big Betty Crocker cookbook for Christmas so I could learn about cooking with measuring cups and American style foods. It's been a godsend so far but luckily, a lot of American cooking seems to involve canned goods, packet mixes and pre-made stuff. It's very different in that respect but it is definitely easier, if not as satisfying as prepping a full meal from scratch.

I finally got my next set of forms filled in and posted so hopefully, I should have a work permit within the next 2-3 months and eventually my green card sometime after that. Banking and finances is a nightmare though - I haven't been able to open a bank account yet so I'm still using my UK cards which means sometimes they get refused for no obvious reason. Getting a money order for the visa stuff took about 3 separate trips to ATM's and the grocery store to actually get the check sorted out and 2 trips to the photo place for passport photos.

I think I must have walked about 10 miles last week just getting it all sorted - I really miss having a car here but living in the city, it's just not worth the hassle or expense. The bus & train service is great but still involves a fair bit of walking. That's not a bad thing as I need to get out of the apartment regularly but when the temperatures drop to 20F and below (-7C and below, eek!), it's a bit of a shock to my system and of course, I don't have the proper cold weather clothing sorted out yet.

I'm settling in well though - I've made a few new friends and reconnected with friends made on prior trips and I'm trying to focus on my online business too. Once I can get a proper job, things will really be so much easier all round and of course, I'll be meeting new people and hopefully widening my social circle a bit more.

In the meantime, it's business as usual with my photos, blogs and websites and looking after my lovely new husband too. It still feels a bit like a dream to be here and not have a leaving date but I'm not complaining about anything, I'm happy to be here with him at last and content in my new life in St Louis.


Monday 23 November 2015

Moving Day is Looming!

Today marks the beginning of my last week of living here in my own apartment and I have to say, I am so excited for what the future may bring! The last 8 weeks (since my previous post) have been super busy - my temporary contract got extended twice and the boxes of sorting and packing seemed to multiply while I was out each day!

I'm finally seeing a hole in the pile of crap I had managed to accumulate over the years and I've been having some good luck on eBay and Gumtree so my savings are bumped up a nice little bit too. This week, the plan is to throw all the last bits & pieces up onto a local sales Facebook group and then send anything left to a charity shop or to the refuse centre.

I have found a few more bits to add to my 'must take with me' box but it's still a really small pile so I'm pleased about that. I've also found some cheaper alternatives for taking my PC with me so hopefully that will come in under budget.

Moving is stressful enough but at least when you move across land, you can box everything & sort some out when you get there! I wouldn't change this for all the money in the world though - not only am I off on a great big new adventure in a new land, I'm going to have my sweetheart right along by my side as we tackle whatever life throws at us.

We've had some rough stuff to get through over the last few years with only Skype to connect us and we've managed that so I am super hopeful that side by side, we can finally find some good stuff to deal with! This will probably embarass him a bit but he has made such a change in my life, I can't imagine where I would be now without him.

I'm having a hard time being patient but the worst part is not knowing when the damn paperwork will be finished! It has been confirmed that a visa will be issued but until I have that piece of paper in my hand, I can't book a flight. I may be moving out next Monday but after that, I'm stuck at my Dad's to wait for the visa. On the bright side though, at least I get to spend a few days with my Dad before I disappear into the West!

I feel like a 5 year old waiting for Christmas and I just can't wait! /squeeeee lol


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Thursday 24 September 2015

Decluttering is Hard!

Some of My Best Portraits
As my visa to the USA is progressing nicely now, it's long past due for me to start clearing out all my stuff ready for the big move. I wouldn't call myself a hoarder as such - not in the over the top obsessive way but after years of living away from my parents when all my prized possessions fitted in one bedroom, I have definitely accumulated a lot of items as keepsakes and 'oh, that will be useful one day' type stuff!

The last week or two have been ok as I've just been sorting the more recent things but now I'm delving into boxes I haven't unpacked since I left my ex-husband and those are the boxes full of memories all the way back to my childhood. It's heartbreaking to just throw it all away but I can't afford to ship it, there's nowhere to really put it in Cold's apartment and I definitely can't justify storing it here either!

I might keep this set!
I also didn't realise quite how much camera and photography related gear that I've hung on to. Not only do I have a full studio lighting system but cables, props and additional lenses all add up to a lot of weight & space! I used to be a member of a camera club with monthly competitions. I was the only digital photographer there at the time so I also have loads of CD's full of photos as well as mounted photos from all the competitions!

So today, I have stripped all the camera club prize labels from the back of the mount boards and taken all the photos out of the mounts so I can try & sell the boards on ebay or maybe at a boot sale. For my American friends, it's kind of like a yard sale except you load up the car and take it to a field with loads of other sellers & hope someone buys your bits and pieces.

I have 2 boxes of books to go as well - some of which I've had since I was a teenager. The urge to keep a few is very strong but so far my 'to keep & take with me' pile is very small. I'm working on taking only 2 large suitcases with me and one of those will definitely be clothes.

My first sale went well I think and now my Mum is digging out stuff for me to sell too! I'm like 'Mum, noooo!' but I haven't the heart to tell her that.

So if any Brits want some camera gear going cheap, let me know & I'll send you a list of what I'm selling.

I need to sell as much as I can because this visa process isn't cheap! The medical is £250 (about $375) and the visa itself is £150 ($225) too so although I'm never going to do a gofundme thing, if you feel like helping out a little, maybe you could use one of my Amazon links next time you go Amazon shopping? Or, if you're into photography, you could always buy my book - Improve Your Flower Photography - every little bit helps after all!


Sunday 6 September 2015

One Minute Gaming #62 - Blokshock Revolution

This week, I've been playing a skill based arcade style game called Blokshock Revolution. You control a blob that spins around a central point by tapping and holding the screen. It releases a fireball when you release your hold but it's kind of hard to control the direction!

Large and small squares are coming towards you from the top of the screen and you can earn boosts by hitting 2 with one shot or hitting several in a row. You can also bounce your fireballs off the sidewalls and control the speed of them by how long you hold down your finger to make your blob spin.

There is a goal line running out from each side of your central blob - once the squares pass that line, you have only a few seconds to shoot them. You can shoot behind you if you're good but the only time I manage to shoot behind that line is by accident!

It's a pretty straightforward game to learn but it takes skill and speedy reactions to release your fireball at just the right point! Not a skill I've gained yet but I'm getting there.

The graphics are clear and simple, the control is one finger touch and the music is an EDM trance style track. There isn't a cash shop but you can pay to get rid of the adverts and get more music tracks too.

I'd give Blokshock a 7 out of 10 - it's fun for a while but it's frustrating too.

If you have a game you'd like to suggest, you can contact me on Twitter @NevAHAddict or leave a comment below.

So until next time, have fun!


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Sunday 30 August 2015

One Minute Gaming #61 - Endless Pacman 256

Endless Pacman

This week, I've been playing a game called Endless Pacman. It's the old Pacman game but with a twist - instead of individual maps to beat, this one just keeps scrolling and disintegrates behind you.

This makes it really difficult to clear a whole area of dots but the good thing is that the ghosts disappear too if they are in that part of the board.

There are all the original power ups and bonus items but in Endless Pacman, you also earn weapons and other useful power ups. The first one you earn is a laser so when you eat a laser dot, you shoot everything in a straight line in front of you. It's great fun seeing a whole line of ghosts die to your laser!

The graphics are true to the old game and so are the sound effects. It took me a little while to remember how to even move - I was trying to drag my Pacman around but of course, it doesn't work like that! You have to swipe a direction and he will take the next turn in that direction when he gets there.

I enjoyed it for the first 10 minutes or so but then it all came back to me why I never really liked the original game! I probably won't be playing this one regularly but for fans of old school games it's a definite 8 out of 10 at least. It's also a great way to show your kids some of the origins of video games too.

If you have a game you'd like me to try, you can contact me on Twitter @NevAHAddict or you can leave a comment below.

So until next time, have fun!


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Blaugust Day 30 - Wrapping Up Early

Almost Made It To The End of Blaugust!
Last weekend, I did a whole bunch of posts to catch up with the days I had missed the week before but this last week was even busier than the previous one so here we are on Sunday morning and I haven't posted for a week. I think it's safe to say I didn't quite manage to post every day but I'm not disappointed.

I knew the timing wasn't great, with my job kicking my butt as I'm flying solo there now (after just 4 weeks training!) and I'm sorting out all my stuff, ready to emmigrate to the USA. I've taken 2 bags of junk to the dump already but it doesn't look like I've touched anything! I guess I'm more of a hoarder than I realised!

The thing that has hit me most about Blaugust is the traffic boost. My best month ever here on She Rides Dragons was in April last year when I did the A to Z Challenge but Blaugust was on track to beat that. I'm about 6 days short of my best month ever which means that if I had kept up last week, going by average daily visits, this would have been best month ever.

But although that's great, it has made me realise that writing regularly for the sake of posting because my traffic is down is not a great reason to be writing. When I do my sporadic posts, it's usually because I think I have something to say on a topic or something I find interesting to share.  I started this blog as a side place for WoW stuff that wasn't gold making related like AH Addict but even that blog has suffered this mental block I have currently.

Having said all that, I'm not going to stop writing, this is just a bit of a brain dump today as I realise that when I'm in the right frame of mind, I can write for hours, just like I can talk for hours, given half the chance! I'm quite pleased with myself for writing 6 posts last weekend even if that isn't the idea behind Blaugust! I felt good getting them out and I didn't feel like I was waffling on.

Next time I talk about starting one of these writing/blogging challenges, someone please kick me - hard! I have enough going on anyway, I really don't need to be adding more stuff to my to-do list! lol

Big congratulations to all those bloggers who managed the whole month of Blaugust. I've found some interesting new blogs to read, followed a few new people on Twitter and I enjoyed the whole process - up to the point where I got snowed under anyway!

Image © Tim Norris under Creative Commons licence