Cash Back Archives

Is Plastic Jungle safe and legit? For a buyer of gift cards, it’s virtually risk-free, but it is important to understand the potential harm from buying off Plastic Jungle especially for stores such as Lowes and The Home Depot. I have written in the past about saving money at Lowes and The Home Depot and many of my suggested methods use Plastic Jungle as a tool for maximizing your savings, but I’m here to break some sad news, Plastic Jungle is most likely helping criminals cash in on theft.

Let’s backup and start at the beginning, you are doing a home rehab in an urban neighborhood. You purchase tools, materials, etc. and get to work, your day ends and you lock up the house. You arrive the next morning to find everything gone. Your Dewalt cordless screw driver, your ladder, and even your basic building material such as flooring and copper tubing. What would these criminals do with my flooring material you might ask. They might return it to the store.

That’s right, they pull up to Lowes or Home Depot and return the items without a receipt. They are asked for a driver’s license and are given a store credit on a “merchandise card.” Let’s say they get $1456.55 for your flooring material. Now what do with this merchandise card… Oh wait, let’s convert it into cash using plastic jungle.

Now it isn’t to say that all the gift cards on Plastic Jungle are obtained this way, but I think it is a very safe assumption to think that many are obtained this way. You ever wonder why there are so many odd amounts of gift cards/merchandise cards on plastic jungle? Odds are, most of them are returns.

That being said it isn’t really your responsibility as a plastic jungle buyer to confirm how the store credits were obtained, and it’s arguably not the responsibility of Plastic Jungle either, but I am confident this has become a channel for laundering.

My suggestion to correct this? Plastic Jungle should have harsh limits on how much a person can sell. If you sell $52,424.41 a year of Lowes or Home Depot cards – questions should be asked.

A side note: I wonder if Plastic Jungle serves people with large payouts Form 1099’s.

Downsizing Your Home to Live With Less or No Debt

small-house-togoI have personally become a very big fan of people who are opting into smaller housing options to live frugally. Something about actively deciding to live blow your means is a powerful mentality. That being said, some people have taken small housing completely too far. Shipping container housing, mobile cabins on trailer as full-time housing, etc. Many of these extremely cheap housing alternatives do not even have plumbing. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for sacrificing, but plumbing has a fairly high dollar value to myself. Furthermore many of these individuals do fairly questionable things to make sure they don’t have to pay taxes on their structures, and many of them flat out hide and lie about their occupancy rate (some counties have limits to how long you can reside in some of these small housing options.)

So where is the balance in finding a smaller home? Is there a formula for what is acceptable like  (per person) x (square footage)? Sadly there is not. Although I cannot give you a magic formula for the size or price of a home, I think you should have no problem assessing  your family’s needs and honing in what is the minimum.

When I look at this alternative living style, I see a few ways to make small and cheap housing viable.

1) Find very cheap land in the middle of no-where and build a cheap structure.

Downside to this? You have kids or plan on having kids, good luck with schooling. Now if you plan on home schooling your children in the middle of no where, that’s a personal decision – but for many that’s not very viable. You plan on living there until you have children? Well just a quick head’s up, that structure you just built in the middle of no where is probably would about 0 to 40% of what you put into it. You also have to remember building structures is expensive, and getting utilities to your structure can be painfully expensive. Some people have started using solar panels and alternative methods of energy and water, but usually these alternatives are fairly capital heavy. This method of going out in the middle of no where also tends to be viewed as the “more granola” way of approaching cheaper housing.

2) Find a very cheap existing structure and rehab it.dilapidated-house

Seems like a relatively straight forward plan, but finding a cheap existing structure in a good location can be near impossible. We have nearby cities in Cincinnati that have 1000 – 1200 sq foot homes for $30k or less, but they usually tend to be a little questionable and/or crime ridden.

Normally you are going to have to settle for poorly kept properties in good areas, but don’t forget those repairs can be costly. Also remember that people almost always under-estimate repair costs. Make sure you factor in something for your time as well (unless your time is worthless).


 

This whole discussion is relative as well. Maybe you currently live in a 500k house and your idea of downsizing is to a 300k house. It’s hard to say what is right for your family, but with the way things are with employment and the housing market, many people are searching for a new lifestyle. A lifestyle without the worry of a giant mortgage and the burden of needing to sell your home. To the people who explore these options, I applaud them.

A great site to checkout is tinyhouseblog.com for more examples of tiny housing alternatives.

More to come on this trend.

Southwest Gives Away Free Money.

swSouthwest is currently offering 50,000 miles after your first purchase. These miles can be used for two round-trip tickets or can be redeemed for approximately $600 worth of amazon gift cards. This is free money.

For all of the details and discussion – Check out:
http://slickdeals.net/forums/showthread.php?sduid=0&t=3437240

How to Get $15 or More of Free Ebay Credit

$15Right now eBay is pushing their eBay Bucks program. Similar to credit cards, they have special offers that if completed give you extra rewards. Right now there is one offer you should do and immediately cancel, Netflix. Sign up through your eBay Bucks tab and get $15 + a free month of Netflix. Set an alarm to cancel on your smartphone and you are good to go. I plan on getting 3-4 rentals out of it as well.

The eBay Bucks are usually transferred the minute you do the offer (be sure to click the provide links in your eBay bucks page). They have other offers, but most aren’t that appealing to me. Offers such as Freecreditscore.com ($10), Restaurant.com ($5), Gamefly ($15), Zagatwine ($25), People ($30), Credit Karma ($2), Mint.com ($2), Proflowers & Gifts ($10), Angie’s List ($15), US Weekly ($15), SimplyInk ($5), and Entertainment Book ($5). Now if you were already going subscribe to Mint.com or Angie’s List or buy the Entertainment Book– This might be free money to you, but be skeptical of these offers. Restaurant.com for instance has coupons that offer –60 to 80% off and the eBay offer restricts you from using them, so it’s not a very good deal.

I myself have done three offers for a total of $25 of eBay Bucks

  1. Netflix $15
  2. Emusic.com – $5 – I don’t recommend doing Emusic.com, this looks like the kind of company that might come back later and try to improperly charge your credit card and/or paypal account and they charge you a $1 fee without telling you up front. In my opinion, Avoid.
  3. Brain-teaser site – $5. Sadly the offer is only offer may have expired and/or only so many of them are available per month. I canceled within 10 seconds of subscribing.
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